Mortars and Pestles Information

Mortars and pestles crush, grind, and mix small solids or slurries. The mortar is a small cup with thick walls, while the pestle is shaped like a small, heavy club, with the end used for either crushing or grinding. Mortars and pestles are constructed using hard materials—including ceramics, glass, basalt, marble, and less commonly bamboo—able to withstand repeated grinding.


Mortars and pestles are useful in preparing food, powderizing drugs and pharmaceuticals for rapid absorption, and grinding up substances and chemicals for increased solubility. Due to their long-standing usage in preparing medicines, they are closely associated with pharmacology. Shapes and sizes of the instruments vary by application. 



 mortars and pestles specification guide

The substance to be crushed, ground, or mashed is placed in the cavity of a mortar, and the pestle is impacted onto the element to break it up. In food processing, larger pieces of edibles are broken into smaller chunks, grains, powders, or pastes. Solid-state chemistry engages the tools in the preparation of reactants.


The pestle is used to crush or grind products against the surface of the cup. Selecting a material that is tougher than the grinding instrument may lead to sample contamination. As a result, porcelain is not preferred in solid state synthesis. It possesses increased porosity, making cleaning for laboratory activities problematic. Under these conditions, the rigidity and low porosity properties of agate or diamonite are superior to less expensive porcelain sets.


When solid state synthesis reactants are positioned in a mortar for grinding, acetone or alcohol is added at times to facilitate the process. When the solvent has evaporated, the mixture is homogenous, particle reduction ceases, and grinding is complete. For large-scale production, ball mill machines automate sample preparation.


Automatic mortar grinders serve advanced laboratory procedures. The automation aids in eliminating inconsistency in samples created by hand grinding. Automated devices permit scientists to adjust the task duration and other parameters, saving time and ensuring a uniform product.


Food preparation applications


The food industry employs mortars and pestles in an extensive range of activities involving both dry and wet foodstuffs. In addition to achieving the desired ingredient texture and consistency, they help release fresh flavors and oils from items such as spices, garlic, nuts, and seeds.


Foodstuffs processed using mortars and pestles include rice, peppercorns, herb and spice leaves, and sea salt. However, alternative, automated equipment is often more practical in delivering blended, chopped, and pureed mixtures.


When making spice mixes, raw ingredients are added to the bowl prior to the commencement of grinding. The tool is filled to less than one-third full of raw content to yield an even grind. The constituents are ground in batches to accommodate greater product quantities.


Pounding is involved in handling sizable spices and seeds. Also referred to as bashing, this method cracks the spices, allowing the switch to a rolling or grinding motion to acquire a finer consistency. The following is a list of techniques and applicable situations for use:


  • Grind: This catches the crushable ingredients and makes it easier to pound them.
  • Pound or bash: The grinder is lowered gently using its wide end. Rapid, sharp pounds save time and energy.
  • Prevent spills: The free hand is cupped over the open side opposite the mortar and pestle to stop the contents from spilling out.
  • Grind again: If necessary, repeating this step prepares any bits missed the first time around. 

For particular spice blends, crushing instead of grinding is preferred to keep the spices partially intact:


  • Uncrushed items are added to the cavity.
  • The implement moves over the spices with a rolling motion, so they tear and burst.
  • The process continues until the ingredients are broken into flakes or small chunks before they are converted to powder.



The equipment covers numerous industrial, agricultural and household activities, including:


  • Masonry
  • Construction
  • Chemicals
  • Apothecary
  • Husking & dehulling



Mortars and pestles support an array of shapes and dimensions and comprise of diverse materials to serve multiple purposes. Several factors are involved in their selection, including:

 mortars and pestles specification guide

  • For culinary applications, wooden alternatives are durable. However, the wood's porosity allows stains. Traces of the flavors from earlier actions can remain, altering the taste or essence of future mixes.
  • Sets made from ceramic serve to yield highly granular textures though they are susceptible to cracks and fractures.
  • Stone instruments have properties that permit superior powdered consistency. However, unless the units are properly conditioned, minor stone fragments may end up in the mix.
  • While the tools require firmness to absorb the stress generated by the procedure, brittle versions are subject to breaking. Cohesive materials are best suited for preventing tiny pieces of the devices from mixing with the constituents.
  • Elements with both smooth and non-porous characteristics are appropriate for limiting absorption or trapping of substances. In addition to the possibility of combining flavors, rough or absorbent components can retain food particles supporting microorganism growth. Furthermore, the interaction of residual drugs with new formulations is possible, resulting in contamination of contents.
  • Glass constructions are more fragile than other products. Their resistance to stains facilitates the use of the equipment with liquids. They do not generate grinds as fine as the ceramic versions.

Image credits: 

CoorsTek | U.S. Plastic Corporation



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