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September 26, 2023 4 min read

When it comes to grinding and crushing spices, mortar and pestle sets have been a choice for centuries. But with options available in wood and stone, which one should you pick? Let's break down the differences between these two popular materials.

Wooden Mortar and Pestle


wooden mortar and pestle on grey table
Credit: Envato Elements/ nblxer

Wood mortar and pestles are made from various types of wood, such as beech, oak, walnut, olive wood, or bamboo. They are a classic choice in many kitchens due to their evenly round bowl shape and versatility. Typically carved from a single piece of wood, they offer durability and sturdiness, making them reliable tools for a variety of culinary tasks.

Features of Wood Mortar and Pestles

1) Material

Wooden mortars and pestles have a fairly smooth surface, which is great for grinding softer ingredients like fresh herbs, spices, and garlic. Additionally, this natural material is less likely to scratch or damage other kitchen tools compared to stone alternatives.

2) Weight

Wooden mortar and pestle sets are lighter than their stone counterparts. This lighter weight makes them easier to manage, especially during extended grinding sessions, which can be beneficial for individuals with limited strength or dexterity.

3) Maintenance

Wooden mortar and pestles require a bit more attention to maintenance to keep them in good shape. They are susceptible to staining and moisture damage, so it's important to take care of them regularly.

How to Care for a Wooden Pestle and Mortar

1) Hand Wash

To keep your wooden mortar and pestle in good shape, avoid submerging it in water or using harsh detergents. Instead, give it a gentle hand wash using warm, soapy water along with a soft brush or sponge.

2) Dry Thoroughly

After washing, make sure your wooden set is completely dry. This is crucial to prevent moisture damage and the growth of mold or unpleasant odors. Always store it in a well-ventilated area.

3) Oil Maintenance

Periodically, apply a food-grade mineral oil to keep the wood in good condition and prevent cracks from forming. This simple step is especially useful if you have an olive wood pestle.

Stone Mortar and Pestles


marble mortar and pestle with spices inside
Credit: Envato Elements/ baspentrubas

In contrast to wooden mortar and pestle, stone mortar and pestles are carved from a single solid block of stone, typically using materials like granite, marble, or basalt. These heavy-duty tools are known for their outstanding grinding power and long-lasting durability. They are often preferred not only for their elegant appearance but also for their capacity to preserve the flavors and aromas of ingredients.

Features of Stone Mortar and Pestles

1) Texture

Stone mortars and pestles are known for their coarse and abrasive surface, a defining feature that sets them apart from their wooden counterparts. This texture provides exceptional friction when grinding, making them particularly well-suited for hard ingredients such as seeds, grains, and nuts.

2) Weight

One of the standout attributes of stone mortar and pestles is their substantial weight. This weightiness provides extra stability when grinding herbs and spices, reducing the need for excessive force.

3) Maintenance

Stone mortar and pestles are less prone to staining and moisture damage compared to their wooden counterparts. However, they can absorb flavors and odors from the spice mixes, which may then transfer to subsequent preparations.

How to Care for Stone Mortar and Pestles

1) Hand Wash

Cleaning your stone mortar and pestle, whether it's a granite or marble mortar, is easy. Simply use warm water and a brush or sponge. Avoid abrasive cleaners that could harm the stone's surface.

2) Seasoning

To prevent the stone from absorbing flavors and odors, occasionally grind a handful of uncooked rice until it turns into a fine powder. This cleanses the stone and keeps it fresh for future use. This is especially useful if you have a Thai granite mortar or a ceramic mortar.

3) Drying

Ensure your stone set is completely dry after washing to prevent mold or mildew. Store it in a dry, well-ventilated place to maintain its quality and longevity.

Which One Is Right for You?


hands holding marble mortar and pestle with green table
Credit: Envato Elements/ Wavebreakmedia

Now that we've explored the characteristics of both wood and stone mortar and pestles, it's time to make the right choice for your culinary needs.

Choose Wood If:

  • You frequently work with delicate ingredients such as herbs and spices that require a gentle touch.
  • You prefer a lighter and more portable option for ease of handling during prolonged grinding sessions.
  • You're willing to invest time and care in maintenance to preserve its natural beauty and longevity.

Choose Stone If:

  • You often grind tough ingredients like seeds, grains, or robust spices that demand a more sturdy and abrasive surface.
  • You value the stability and weight of a heavy-duty tool for efficient and precise grinding.
  • You appreciate a tool that can retain and enhance the flavors and aromas of your ingredients, adding depth to your culinary creations.


In the battle of wood vs. stone mortar and pestles, the best choice ultimately depends on your specific cooking needs and preferences. Both materials have their advantages and can be excellent additions to your kitchen arsenal. So, go ahead, make your choice, and start crushing, grinding, and blending with confidence.

And if you're looking for a mortar and pestle that embodies both quality and style for grinding spices, consider Pepe Nero Granite Mortar and Pestle. Our meticulously crafted mortar and pestle sets are designed to elevate your cooking experience. Shop with us today.

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