Chopsticks are a pair of thin sticks used to eat Asian food. They were first developed 5,000 years ago, in China, from where they then spread to Vietnam, Korea and Japan. Chopsticks are commonly found at Asian food eateries, as well as in homes. Although chopsticks can also be made of ivory, or stainless steel, they are most commonly made of wood. There are several varieties of wood chopsticks, including aspen, bamboo, sandalwood, teak, and pine.
Disposable chopsticks are available at most chain restaurants that serve Asian food. These varieties of wood chopsticks are made from either pine, or aspen. Because they are for single use, they are not lacquered, which leaves a rough finish that may result in splinters. It is advised to rub the disposable chopsticks together to remove any loose wood particles. Disposable chopsticks cost approximately $9 US Dollars (USD) for 80 pairs. The price gets lower with the purchase of large quantities.
Higher quality, non-disposable chopsticks are often made of bamboo. Bamboo chopsticks are relatively inexpensive, costing around $4 USD per pair. Due to the fact that they are coated with lacquer, they are able to be washed and reused. This variety of wood chopsticks is often mixed with a darker shade of wood for aesthetic purposes. Higher end bamboo chopsticks may be decorated with Asian designs.
Teak chopsticks are manufactured in Vietnam, where teak trees grow rampantly due to the tropical monsoon climate. Teak is a dark, tropical hardwood that makes beautiful, warm colored chopsticks. This variety of chopstick is often decorated with mother-of-pearl, or gold plated designs. Teak chopsticks are often handmade. This variety of wood chopsticks cost approximately $30 USD per pair.
Wood chopsticks that are made of sandalwood are very elegant. They are often given as gifts because of their intricate designs and fine craftsmanship. Sandalwood chopsticks are sanded, polished and layered with lacquer, giving them a smooth, shiny finish. Sandalwood chopsticks are more for decorative purposes, as the food slides off the slick finish making them difficult to eat with. These types of chopsticks cost approximately $70 USD.
Chopsticks that aren't lacquered should be disposed of immediately after use. Food catches in the crevices of the wood causing bacteria to build up. Like all wood products, wooden chopstick must be hand washed and allowed to air dry after use. Don't wash wooden chopsticks in the dishwasher, as the heat will cause the lacquer to crack and the wood to splinter.