Appropriate handling and maintenance are required for wooden products such as Handai and Ohitsu (rice container). Here are the tips for handling before and after use, removal of stain, and prevention of mold.
Below is the product we used this time:
Before First Use
Before first use, put hot water in the container. The water may leak from the seams at first, but it will stop once the wood absorbs the water and expand.
Add 150 mL to 200 mL of vinegar to the hot water and leave it until it gets cool spontaneously. This helps remove lye and strong smell from the wood. When the hot water gets cool, take it away and rinse. This should be performed only once before first use.
Before Each Use
Before each use, fill the container with full of water to let the wood absorb it quickly. Then, take the water out right away and wipe the container. This helps prevent smell or color transfer from food as well as stains and mold. It is even effective to only wipe the container with wet kitchen cloth.
Remaining water or stains will cause mold. Wash and dry the container thoroughly each time. If you prefer to use a detergent, choose a neutral detergent.
When drying the container, leave it in a well-ventilated shade. Direct sunlight may cause crack or discoloration.
For Smell Transfer
In case strong food smells transfer to the wood, leave the hot water inside with vinegar until it gets cool spontaneously, the same as the process before first use. This can remove most of smell, but in some cases, the smell may be not fully removed.
How to Remove Wood Resin
If there is wood resin coming out, soften it with hot water and remove it with alcohol. It is impossible to fully remove the resin, but stickiness can be removed at least. There is no safety issue for use as wood resin is harmless to human body.
If you don’t have medicinal alcohol, substitute it with vodka or another high proof liquor.
What if the Stains Stand Out?
If the stains stand out, rub with a scourer and lemon juice. It is impossible to fully remove the stains, but they would be less visible by bleaching effect of lemon juice.
Stains of wooden products occur due to black mold or chemical reaction of minerals in water. For this reason, it depends on water quality in locale when and how much satins occur. To prevent stains at most, it is recommended to use soft water.
What if Mold Occur?
If mold occurs, remove it with sandpapers. If it cannot be removed by rubbing the surface, it may root deeply inside. In such case, it can be removed by using a bleaching agent, but it may cause discoloration and loss of good appearance. There would be no issue for use, but mold should be prevented and removed as soon as possible in case it occurs.
Mold often occurs when the following conditions are met.
- Dirt or stains (the source of the nutrition for mold)
- Temperature (appropriate for mold to grow)
- Water and humidity (appropriate for mold to grow)
- Time (for mold to grow)
The most effective way to prevent mold is frequent maintenance so that there isn’t enough time for mold to grow. Besides, choose well-ventilated place with low humidity for storage.
What if the Copper Hoop Comes Off?
If the copper hoop comes off, turn the body upside down to get the hoop through. Then hit the hoop with a wooden hammer gently to fasten it. In order not to damage the hoop, do not hit it directly but hit it with a buffer in between such as disposable chopsticks.
Wood expands in humidity and shrinks in dryness. Excessive dryness may cause the copper hoop to come off. After getting it back to the original position, make sure to let the wood absorb enough water and dry it thoroughly.