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Hi everyone,

I've gone through the search results on this site, plus many other posts, to try to determine if my molcajete is safe to use. I've read some conflicting advice, so I figured I would come on here to see if I can get to the bottom of it. For a bit of background, I bought my molcajete years ago when I lived in San Antonio, TX from Market Square. I never thought that I could possibly be buying a "fake" molcajete, because I honestly had no idea there were ones out there not made from volcanic stone. The person I bought it from told me I could take it to a carwash and use the pressure hose to get out some of the grit, so a few days after purchasing, I did that. Then, I gave it a rice grinding, but only once. From then, I never used it because I moved, and I never got around to using it. Fast forward to now, I pulled it out from the back of my kitchen storage, and after doing some research, I discovered that mine possibly might be made from other materials besides volcanic rock. Here are some of the "tests" I put it through and the results I've gotten:
  • I gave it another rice grinding, and there are some small specks of grit I'm seeing, but I figure I probably need to give it another grinding (or two).
  • Water test - I poured about 1/4 c. water into it, and at first, there were a handful of tiny bubbles that came up to the surface, but after 10-15 minutes, water was still there.
    • I will say that when I poured the water in, I leaned in to smell it, and what came to mind was the smell of a parking lot after it rains. Weird, I know, but this made me suspect I could be smelling concrete?
  • Vinegar test - just like when I poured the water in, no reaction.
  • I scraped the side of the base with the tejolote, and when I smelled it, I could smell sulphur, but it also smells like rock/concrete. It also created a dust that coated my fingers when I rubbed it, and I don't know if that's just from the volcanic rock or something else.
I keep going back and forth on whether or not this molcajete is useable, and perhaps I'm just overthinking it. What's funny is that I have fond memories of my mom and grandmother using their molcajete, but I cannot for the life of me remember how it smelled. If anything, theirs were seasoned from many years of use, so they probably just smelled like garlic and comino (which really doesn't help me).

I would really like to start using one, so if anyone has any experience in determining if certain molcajete are "real," please lend any and all advice. Thanks!

Also, here are some pictures for reference:
Hair Circle Soil Fashion accessory Pattern

Molcajete after pouring the water out of it
Plant Grey Asphalt Grass Road surface

Close-up of the surface
Finger Cuisine Rock Fashion accessory Dish

Bottom of the molcajete
Finger Gesture Cosmetics Nail Thumb

Side after scraping with tejolote and dust on fingers
Scale Postal scale Blue Art Gas

Weight... if it's in any way a determining factor

And here's a video of the molcajete surface catching the light
 

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I'm bumping this up. I know nothing at all about how to answer this, but it's a very good question and that should be encouraged. Surely somebody here knows?

A little google searching produced a claim that a wet masonry / concrete smell indicates a non-"authentic" molcajete. HOWEVER (1) the people saying this have a vested interest in your buying their products, (2) they don't produce any actual evidence to support the claim, and (3) the real question isn't whether this molcajete is "authentic" but whether it can be used for food, not only safely but also without long-term problems.

A couple of suggestions:

1) Try writing to Rick Bayless via the "contact us" thing on the website Contact Us - Rick Bayless -- and be sure to start your note by explaining that you are looking for advice about the proper care and feeding of your molcajete. With luck, whoever fields these emails will forward it to someone on the cooking/research end of the organization.

2) On a similar note, you could try begging for help from a big-name Mexican chef on Instagram, like Enrique Olvera ( enriqueolveraf on Instagram). If anyone knows of any hard-core Mexican chefs on Instagram who aren't in the top 20 chefs worldwide, and thus are more likely to have time to actually see and deal with an email, that would be nice.

3) There are several Etsy pages for people who make and sell the things. Etsy pages are often (not always) very small businesses, just a couple of folks who are passionate about what they do. You could try getting in touch with some of those people. I bet you'd pretty soon turn up someone who's really into all things molcajete, and is less interested in making money than in sharing their knowledge.

Good luck!
 

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also try a water test. pour some water in it and let it sit for half an hour. a real one will not absorb the water.

that being said, IMHO, I am not an advocate of natural stone because of the sediment that will always find its way into your ground product - this was a huge cause of flattened, ground-down teeth of native peoples who use(d) them
 
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