Wikipedia tells me that: Essential oil distilled from the root-bark or the fruit was used as a fragrance in perfumes and soaps, food (sassafras tea and candy flavoring) and for aromatherapy. The dried and ground leaves are used to make filé powder, a spice used in the making of some types of gumbo. It is also used in the manufacture of the drug ecstasy, and as such, its transport is monitored internationally. The roots of Sassafras was used in the flavoring of root beer until being banned in 1960. In 1960, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of sassafras oil and safrole in foods and drugs based on the animal studies and human case reports. Several years later, the sale of sassafras oil, roots, or tea was prohibited by law. Subsequently, both Canada and the United States have passed laws against the sale of any consumable products (beverages, foods, cosmetics, health products such as toothpaste, and others) that contain more than specific small amounts of safrole.[/I] All very interesting i guess, but never having worked with it my question is: when I'm done carving this paddle, would oiling it be preferable to varnish? thanks Wow, what a smell.