Can I Burn Things In A Mortar And Pestle?

This post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.


Can I Burn Things In A Mortar And Pestle? Although it really isn’t ideal, however, you can burn things in your mortar if you need to, sometimes in the kitchen you may need to simulate a smoker or a grill and if you live in a studio apartment where you aren’t allowed to own one of these, it can become problematic.

However, with your mortar and pestle, you can use it as a hack and get the job done. There are some drawbacks to burning things in your mortar and pestle though, that are irreversible and depending on the level of damage may affect the taste of the things you grind in the future.

Why use a mortar to burn things?


Most people use their granite mortar and pestle to burn things (with a strong emphasis on granite), because as it’s basically stone, it is fire resistant— unlike other kinds of mortar and pestle like the wooden When you light a flame in the granite mortar and pestle, it stays in the tool and does not burn it.

Controlled environment

The best way to avoid a full-blown fire is to burn whatever you need in a controlled system, and your mortar and pestle can serve that purpose.

The deep and hollow silhouette makes it ideal to contain a fire or hot substances without spilling into the surrounding environment.

Nuance flavours

When you need to give your spices a depth of flavour by roasting them, without an oven, you can work them into your mortar and torch them for like 10-30 seconds. By doing so, the flames remain controlled and you get amazing smelling spices with elevated taste.

Things you can burn in your mortar and pestle

Below are outlined some of the things you can burn in your mortar and pestle—

Wood chips

In order to get that smoky taste from your meat or vegetables, and you don’t own a smoker (A smoke gun) or simply don’t have access to any.

The most popular way of simulating this smoky taste would be to use a smoker, or you can simply get some wood chips— dry of course, get the one that gives off a nice fragrant smoky smell to boost the umami flavour in your meat.

Simply place the wood chips in your mortar, not too much in order not to crowd the mortar, then ignite the chips with a flame and put out the flame, it will keep burning slowly and create smoke

Which is then used to marinate the meat by placing a stainless steel mesh or net across the face of the mortar, place the meat on the net and cover with a tin foil then allow to smoke for as long as you need to. Be careful though and keep watching it so the chips don’t burn out of control.


In your mortar and pestle, you can burn some coal if you wanna simulate a supermini grill in your kitchen, however, this has the potential to get very dangerous especially if you’re not used to working over open flames.

When you get the charcoal you want to use, you get some kindling and you ignite the coal in your mortar and pestle.

You put a metallic tray-like net across the face of the mortar and get to grilling, always remember to be careful when working with these kinds of hot objects in order not to burn down your kitchen. If you can, I’d advise you to do it in an open area.

Roasting spices

There are some spices (dry spices and herbs) which are elevated in taste when you roast them over an open flame, for example— cumin, coriander & dry curry leaves.

By using a butane torch or a lighter, you can gently char the spices while they’re in the mortar, only do as much as you need, because after roasting, the shelf life of the spice reduces significantly.

When you’re done roasting it, be careful not to go for too long in order not to burn it— grind with the pestle until it becomes a powder.

Trending Searches

Pros and Cons of burning stuff in your mortar and pestle

Before you burn any of the stuff outlined above or go wild and burn even more things in your mortar and pestle, it is important to take note of all the pros and cons to find out if it’s gonna be worth the hassle.


  • Portable countertop grill— Grills can be super expensive if you want to purchase a standard grill to make some barbecue, with your mortar and pestle you can easily get similar results that a grill may give you in your kitchen, super easy, super fast.
  • Makes cooking fast— When you need to roast any herbs or spice, instead of using your fry pan or an oven to do so, you can easily put the spices in your mortar and torch it till it roasts to the consistency you need.
  • Easily simulate smoky taste— If you wanna get that smokey taste in your meals and you don’t own a smoke gun, as long as you’ve got some wood chips that have a great aroma, you can make it work with your mortar by burning the wood chips in the tool and dowsing the food item in the smoke.


  • May damage your mortar— Dealing with flames can be tricky, and when you put coal or wood in your mortar to set fire to them, the soot (which is basically carbon residue) which it produces will stain the mortar, it can get super difficult to wash off no matter how much you try to scrub. That’s a major “L” to take just for some Smokey meat in my opinion.
  • Can cause a fire— When dealing with flames, it can easily get out of hand if you don’t keep an eye on it, and we tend to multitask while in the kitchen cooking. This has the potential to lead to a fire when we burn things in the mortar, as a potential fire hazard, it’s not worth the risk.


Is it safe to use a mortar and pestle?

Yes, it is, as long as you properly cure the mortar and pestle when you purchase it newly, which is basically a tedious process where you sand the insides of the mortar with the pestle using a dry ingredient like rice until you get all the specs and dust off and fill the crevices & pores, this is done to protect you from eating dust which may mix in your spices when you grind with the mortar and pestle.

Also, do not keep your mortar and pestle at countertop edges so it does not fall onto your legs and injure you.

What are mortar and pestle good for?

They are good for grinding spices, making pesto and guacamole. Basically, whatever needs mashing or grinding, dried or fresh, as long as it can be done in small batches, your mortar and pestle can get the job done.

Always remember to wash after each use in order not to get a cross-contamination between the tastes of the spices.

What material is good for mortar and pestle?

Depending on what you prefer, I would say biodegradable materials are best for making mortar and pestle. Also, materials that have the potential to “off-gas” should be a no-no, like plastic, for example, avoid those at all cost. Which makes your choices, granite or wood.

How do you grind spices in a mortar and pestle?

As easy as putting the spices in the mortar, a little bit at a time so it does not spill when you start pounding.

Then use the pestle to keep stomping the spices in a vertical motion until it reaches the desired consistency and smoothness you need them to be.

Are granite mortar and pestle “dishwashers safe”?

I would say, No. They are not. They are made out of granite. Which makes them super heavy, putting them in your dishwasher will either lead to the dishwasher breaking or you hurting yourself in the process.

It’s best to hand wash your granite mortar and pestle with a sponge and just water, no soap, the soap smell tends to linger in the mortar for some reason.

How do you clean a mortar and pestle?

As mentioned above, all you need is a sponge, a super abrasive one to scrub and a streaming water source and you’re good to go.

Can I Burn Things In A Mortar And Pestle – Conclusion

When burning stuff in your mortar and pestle, remember to follow every safety measure you can think of, keep a fire extinguisher on hand and do not let the mortar out of your sight.

As a lover of everything Smokey, I understand the appeal of needing to burn wood chips to smoke some meat, however, if it would threaten your safety in any way, then it is not worth it.

That being said, Stay safe, eat healthy— drink water and mind your business when you need to, cheers!