The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is Travertine a safe baking stone?

foxfox1's picture

Is Travertine a safe baking stone?

Just found a 18" x 18" piece of Travertine @ HD. Is it safe to use?

 Here's a general description of it:

 Travertine belongs to the larger family of stone called limestone also known as Calcium Carbonate. Marble is also a type of limestone that has had additional heat and pressure applied to it by the earth’s crust. Travertine is formed by minerals dissolving in ground water and then being deposited on the earth’s surface by rivers, natural springs, or geysers.

It is unglazed.

 Thanks a lot. Looking forward to learning from everyone.

squatteam's picture

Travertine is in the marble family and when heated starts to deteriorate into calcium that in Europe is mixed with water and then used to 'paint' the houses because it forms a sealing bond. Sorry, the size is perfect though. oz

siuflower's picture

I'm glad to know that it is not safe to use Travertine to bake bread. I alway use baking paper on top of it. But it start cracking already and good thing to know.  Any suggestion  what kind of tiles i should get in my HD store?



rideold's picture

Here in Colorado flagstone is pretty cheap and abundant (I have some lying around the yard right now).  According to a couple of articles it sounds like flagstone is predominantly sandstone mixed with feldspar and quartz, fused with calcium, silica and iron oxide.  Does anybody know if it falls into the same "don't use to bake on" category as travertine?

Elagins's picture

flagstone, like slate, is a sedimentary rock, which means that it has layers and air pockets. while the minerals themselves may not be toxic, you can look forward to cracking, disintegration, and maybe even an occasional "pop!" when the moisture inside the bubbles and natural fractures expands into steam.

you can try it, but don't expect the flags to last very long.

Stan Ginsberg

K's picture

Unless your stones will be heated well above 1000 degrees farenheit, it won't turn to lime...the kind that is caustic, asuming we're talking about calcium carbonate. This chemical appears to be used in a variety of applications, from paint to mineral supplements. Anacid anyone?

I'm new to the whole baking stone thing, but I really love the results. I have enough stones to cover two racks. Oh, and I'm using travertine pavers, by the way. What really turned me on this was Alton Brown's pizza episode. I got the pavers from Home Depot, as they were light weight. I considered other stones, but the limiting factor outside of cost was weight. I use two rectangular pieces, and that pretty much covers one rack. The stones are an inch thick.

There was a bit of apprehension on my part about using the travertine. How could I be sure I was really getting travertine? (Although it seemed chalky enough.) However, it seemed like the only good alternative to tiles that were described in the show. (Couldn't find them at all.) There doesn't seem to be anything too nasty that is involved with the formation of travertine. ( The only problem I can forsee immediately is cooking anything overly acidic on these stones.

Cements and ceramics are probably going to be a bit tricker. Man can add all sorts of crazy things to the mix, but nature seems to have a set recipe.

If piece of mind is what you're after, by all means, but a "food grade" stone. It seems to me that people were cooking on stones even before they were aware of the hazzards that possibly lurk within the stones. However, since you're trying this, I'm guessing the price is probably too good to resist. When AltonBrown said the tiles could be purchased for about a dollar a piece, I thought of lining my whole oven with the stuff...alas, I opted for stones, and I got them for three dollars a piece on sale. (Good sale though!) So I have my oven lined at a total cost of 12 dollars. (Still better for me than shelling that much out for a small stone, as I am a poor college student right now.)

I think travertine is generally safe, since my oven can't get hot enough for any adverse reactions. (Baking bread in a kiln would seem silly...but there is naan, and I don't know what temps that bread requires) I also won't be pouring acid on the stones, although I do wonder about sour doughs. The thing is, the acid should be weak (nothing that will burn through flesh and clothes), but since the stones have this anacid property in them, I wonder if the bottoms will be neutral.

I guess I can wait until next Christmas to get a chemistry kit...

Happy Baking!


psymonkey's picture

you ever make pretzels or bagels? than lime stone will make a very hard bottom pretzle tasting crust. Careful some limes and marble are radio acrive and release toxins when heated

KipperCat's picture

It would be nice for a dough working area on your counter.

ctlu008's picture

I read on another site that holes in travertine tile are filled in.  The filling would tend to not be safe.  I was at HD about an hour ago and saw the travertine tile and wondered if it would work for baking but stayed away from it because I noticed it was not 100% natural.  It appeared natural holes had been filled in with something.  Our fireplace was done natural stone a year ago and they filled in the holes with mortar.

I would stick with baking stones and possibly an unglazed ceramic tile (which Alton Brown used) assuming I could verify it safe to use which would be difficult.