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Please don't write on your cakes with pencil......

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

I received my July/August issue of American Cake Decorating magazine today.  The final article in the issue begins with the author telling readers to use a graphite pencil to draw a complex design on a white fondant covered cake.

 

PLEASE DON'T DO THIS!!!

 

Although in another section, the author also gives the option to use a very light color food safe marker, the use of a graphite pencil is what is most obvious in the accompanying photo instructions.

 

Obviously, the food safe marker is the perfect way to do this and there are many other ways to get a pattern on a cake--using a tool, a cutter, a pin, a toothpick, etc.

 

Years ago, using a pencil to transfer a pattern to a cake was acceptable practice and some cake decorating books and courses actually taught it.  This was before the advent of edible markers, impression mats, etc., and perhaps even before people even thought--or cared--much about edibility and food safety.  Around the same time, some people were painting cakes with acrylic craft paints because, of course, they were non-toxic...............

 

But, this is 2013 and things have changed.  There are other, better food safe options like I mentioned above.

 

I don't care that as far as "you" know, no one has ever gotten sick from it (who really, honestly "knows" that?).  I don't care that it's the way you were taught.  I don't care that kids eat pencils--many eat their own poop, too, and I don't put that on my cakes, either.  I don't care that it's not "a lot" of graphite.  I don't care that there are other, more harmful things to worry about.  I don't care that "everyone else is doing it" or that "everyone else is doing a lot worse than that".

 

Today, I care about knowing about food safe options and actually USING them, not rationalizing about why and how NOT to use them.

 

I won't argue with people who feel compelled to say it's OK to write on cakes with pencils.  I'm saying that I don't think that it is OK because techniques have evolved to provide better options.

post #2 of 41

Can I just ask why? People think it's not safe for a variety of reasons but I wanted to know what is behind your particular reasoning.

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post #3 of 41
Thread Starter 

Really???

 

As I said, there are several other food safe options.  Graphite is NOT edible, nor is it considered food safe and that's all that needs to be said.

post #4 of 41

Oh, the matter must be closed then.

post #5 of 41

Not considered food safe or edible by who? 

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post #6 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcaulir View Post

Oh, the matter must be closed then.


:)  Think this is the best course of action

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A sense of humour is a wonderful thing  - without laughter, the world is a SUPER boring place

PS..... only smart people can read truly WITTY comments and chuckle instead of getting all miffed

Hero of all time - GODOT

 

 

www.facebook.com/applegum

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post #7 of 41

While I agree with you that they shouldn't be used, everyone IS entitled to their own opinion. Right or wrong as it may be. Sometimes I feel as though we are overly cautious these days. I used to chew on my pencils and pens all the time and I don't sit around licking the walls because of it. 

post #8 of 41

There are opinions and then there are scientific facts. Although I do live in Texas where those lines tend to blur!

 

Graphite is non-toxic and is therefore technically edible. Does that mean you should eat a pencil for breakfast? No. But if you wiped your counters down with anything containing bleach and then put food on them you're in more danger than you would be eating my cake with a faint pencil line drawn on it.

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post #9 of 41
I don't write on my cakes with pencil...but, you do know that graphite is just a soft form of pure carbon, right? As carbon is the basic unit of all organic molecules, and we are composed of 18% carbon, and carbon in the form of charcoal is given to patients who have ingested poisons to assist in its absorption, I'm going to have to say that scientifically speaking, a faint line of graphite across the back of my piece of cake I'm eating is not going to bother me.

If you bake from boxed mixes, the vast list of non-organic additives as listed on the packet are probably going to be a bigger concern!

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post #10 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir View Post

If you bake from boxed mixes, the vast list of non-organic additives as listed on the packet are probably going to be a bigger concern!

Completely agree. SO many chemicals in that stuff. 

post #11 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by kikiandkyle View Post

There are opinions and then there are scientific facts. Although I do live in Texas where those lines tend to blur!

 

haha! funniest thing I've read all day. thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir View Post


If you bake from boxed mixes, the vast list of non-organic additives as listed on the packet are probably going to be a bigger concern!
 

 No doubt!  Thank you!

post #12 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir View Post

I don't write on my cakes with pencil...but, you do know that graphite is just a soft form of pure carbon, right? As carbon is the basic unit of all organic molecules, and we are composed of 18% carbon, and carbon in the form of charcoal is given to patients who have ingested poisons to assist in its absorption, I'm going to have to say that scientifically speaking, a faint line of graphite across the back of my piece of cake I'm eating is not going to bother me.

If you bake from boxed mixes, the vast list of non-organic additives as listed on the packet are probably going to be a bigger concern!

I know when my son is ill, I burn a piece of toast for him to eat and absorb all that is bothering his stomach. Carbon/graphite is safe to use. It gives you more control than an edible marker, scoring or poking into a cake. It also makes corrections much easier if you make a mistake.

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post #13 of 41

I'd actually be a lot more concerned with what was on the pencil/where it was stored, than I would be with what is IN the pencil.

I had toxic poisoning, and as a result my digestive system was totally destroyed, I was actually given graphite pills to help with it. My only concern with pencils would be that they are not produced in a food safe environment, and are rarely stored in one.

 

My pencils are all in my 'junk' drawer, and who knows what goes on in there :/ hehe

 

I must be out of the loop though, because I wasn't aware that people used pencils on cakes. I've never had the need.

post #14 of 41

As you know, pencils do not contain lead, but are made of graphite which is a carbon based material.  Sometimes the "lead" also contains inert clay for smoother writing. Both of these pass through the system essentially unchanged.   I searched graphite toxicity, and there is a paucity of information, leading one to suspect that there has not been issues. Given the number of individuals who chew on pencils with no problems, I am not surprised.   I found a few cases of nausea and vomiting in individuals who ate huge amounts ( boxes of pencil lead refills).  Anything becomes toxic, even water, at some point.  As long as you don't stab yourself with it or shove it up your nose, it is unlikely to cause any problems, especially in the minute amounts being discussed here.  That being said, I agree that if edible alternatives are available, it is best to be conservative and do the safest thing. I do not write on my cakes with pencil, but I don't worry about it if there is some pencil marking on my parchment cake liners.   *Disclaimer - I am not a graphite specialist, and this is my opinion only.  

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post #15 of 41
There is an authority that certifies pencils as being completely non-toxic, from the lead to the wood to the paint on the outside, so you can look for PMA certified if you want to be sure.
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