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What sort of wood found in Southeast Asia is lightweight and can be used to build teething toys for children?

  • Perhaps it would be best if you can give a short list of what woods are available to you to buy, from which we can then point out appropriate choices? There are probably over a dozen species you might be able to get throughout Asia but your local sources will determine what you can actually buy, which if you're a little unlucky may have none of the species recommended even though they are Asian species (e.g. rubberwood or luaun).. – Graphus Nov 30 '16 at 8:28
  • Why do you want "lightweight"? Given the typical size of teething toys, even ebony wouldn't be too heavy. The important point (obviously?) is "non-toxic". – Martin Bonner supports Monica Nov 30 '16 at 10:50
  • Graphus, I'm currently considering hardwood including teak, mahogany, albasia, rosewood, and jabon. Any of these work, you think? Martin, you're probably right, but since they would be solid blocks the size and width of an iPhone, don't want them too dense. Thank you for all your thoughts! – C. Shim Nov 30 '16 at 13:34
  • @Karl, the site didn't work. Mind re-sending? Thank you - – C. Shim Nov 30 '16 at 13:36
  • I could not edit, so I deleted that comment and fixed the typo here: Regarding toxicity, this site is a good reference. – Karl_S Nov 30 '16 at 13:51
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Based on the woods listed in the Comments:

Rosewood would be a great choice in terms of durability. Potential for toxicity is a concern but anyway "rosewood" doesn't mean much these days. Much wood sold as rosewood is either of a lesser species of dalbergia or something that looks (a little) like rosewood but is actually a completely unrelated species. So I think you have to discount this because what you'd buy is an unknown quantity.

Teak may be a poor choice in part because it has a high natural silica content that may wear baby teeth down excessively. Also unfortunately when you buy "teak" these days that isn't always what you're getting and one of the common substitutions in particular is splintery and might be extremely hazardous to use for a teething toy.

Mahogany..... I hate to say it again but "mahogany" has the same issues as the above! The most likely mahogany being sold there is probably not quite as robust as you'd like for this purpose, being soft enough to easily mark with a fingernail. It is fairly smooth-textured and easily worked however.

Albasia is a lightweight wood and light woods are generally quite soft and weak (balsa being the supreme example of this) so I think that rules that out.

So of the woods you list only jabon is left and I think it may be the best choice anyway. Jabon, also referred to as kadam (Anthocephalus chinensis or Anthocephalus cadamba) is a tree that has edible fruits, which is often a sign the wood from the same tree won't give toxicity problems. It is not overly hard so easily worked, but note that it has a wide range of listed densities, so try to pick pieces that seem heavy in the hand as the wood in those boards will be denser and more durable than lighter boards of the same species.

I also like that jabon is a tree that is heavily planted, so not restricted by CITES or on an endangered list like some of the others.

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