How to Know if Your Antique China Contains Lead

1128197_74978027Another 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

7 thoughts on “How to Know if Your Antique China Contains Lead”

  1. Do you know if Fulper pottery cups with the mark from aroun 1916 would contain lead? The glaze is primarily green. The glaze is somewhat glossy to semi-gloss.

  2. Oh no!!!

    Would an old Redfern and Drakeford art nouveau teacup contain lead?

    I didn’t actually realise this could happen with china…it’s a little late for me! :-/

  3. I have a set of briar rose china made by Salem and it was madei n the USA that my great aunt gave me and I was concerned that it was made with lead paint. How cani fine out?
    Thank you

  4. I have some old plates that say HBCM France on the back. I cannot find any info on them whether they contain lead or not, would you know this answer? They are a cream color with lots of bright 3-D fruit with a shiny glaze. Thank You!

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