August 12, 2009
How to Know if Your Antique China Contains Lead
Another question that was posed to me the other day was “how do you know if there is lead in your antique or vintage china?” Again I didn’t know the answer to this. I decided that this is an important thing to know about the dishes we use and eat off of everyday.
Some of the old glazes on vintage china and pottery does contain some level of lead in them, so we have a right to be concerned. Even new china, if not stated lead-free, most likely contains some lead also.
They sell test kits that you can use at home to test your own dishes for lead.
Abotex/Lead Inspector Lead Test Kits – They come in 8, 24 and 100 test pack kits.
What Potential risk factors to look for:
- China handed down from a previous generation. These heirlooms were made before lead was recognized as a hazard.
- Homemade or handcrafted china, either from the U.S. or abroad, unless you are sure the maker used a lead-free glaze or high-temperature, commercial firing practices.
- Highly decorated, multi-colored inside surfaces (the part that touches the food and drink).
- Decorations on top of the glaze instead of beneath it.
- Corroded glaze, or a dusty or chalky grey residue on the glaze after the piece has been washed. This type of china could be quite dangerous. Stop using it at once!
To minimize your risk of lead leaching off vintage and possibly newer china:
- Do not eat off of it every day. Get some plain dishes for everyday.
- Do not store food on vintage china in the refrigerator.
- Never put vintage china in the microwave.
- Avoid eating off vintage china that has painted or printed metallic decoration.
- Be most cautious of very brightly colored china, as it is more likely to contain lead