Published: December 30, 2016
Updated: December 4, 2021 – Saturday
How to choose a safer mixing bowl
As many of Lead Safe Mama friends and readers know already most of the vintage dishware and kitchenware I have tested (and written about on this website) has tested positive for Lead (and sometimes also Cadmium and Arsenic) when testing the items with an XRF instrument.
Unfortunately many new pieces will also have Lead at high levels, especially if they are ceramic or enamel coated in any way. Highly decorated and colorful kitchenware may also test positive for high levels of Cadmium and Arsenic among other heavy metals. Cadmium is most often found in Red, Purple, Orange and Yellow enamels and glazes, while Lead can be found in any color glaze – from white to black to fuchsia!
How much Lead is too much Lead in cookware?
The level of lead that is considered safe for an item intended for children is anything UNDER 90 ppm Lead in the paint, glaze or coating of that item. That said, dishware and kitchenware is not regulated in the same way (they are not considered to be items intended for children even though children may use these items daily in their normal life) and therefore even modern kitchenware can LEGALLY(!) test positive for Lead (using XRF technology) in the many hundreds of parts per million range to 10,000 ppm or sometimes even higher. Since I have children in my home and since my children cook with me and eat food prepared in my cookware and served on my dishes – I try to choose only 100% Lead-free options for my own kitchen.
Why is the issue of “Lead in cookware” a problem?
My overall argument (as a mother of Lead poisoned children – including one child who has a permanent brain injury as a result of being acutely Lead poisoned as an infant) is that Lead is one of the most potent neurotoxins known to man and has no place in our kitchens, even in trace amounts (regardless of what any relevant federal regulatory standards and limits are for toxicants in these specific types of products). You can read more about the specifics of the concern on this link.
“Well Tamara, can you share some Lead-free alternatives?”
To make your life a little easier – and in response to unrelenting requests from my readership, I started sharing product recommendations in December of 2016. I write these product recommendation (#SaferChoices) posts in response to other posts on this site that share similar items that test positive for high levels of Lead (or other toxic heavy metals) – so readers here have a little hope for moving forward in what otherwise might seem like a fairly toxic world. Earlier in 2021 I also created the www.ShopLeadSafeMama.com website (which is linked in the header on every page of this main website) with safer choices for products in many of the categories that I most often get questions about.
This link will take you to the “Mixing Bowl” category of posts on the website – where you can see all of the Mixing Bowls I have tested and reported on here at LeadSafeMama.com.
Most important point to remember:
YES there are a lot of items that have Lead in them (including vintage and new mixing bowls) BUT for every category of items that has Lead there is almost always a selection of Lead-free (and otherwise toxicant free) choices if you stick to a few simple guidelines (regardless of which actual options you choose to buy.)
Guideline for choosing a mixing bowl
(or serving bowl!)
- Avoid vintage (all of the vintage!) Many vintage bowls are made with brightly colored Lead painted exteriors – or high-Lead ceramics and glazes. Vintage wooden bowls can have high-lead stains, sealants, varnish or clear coats. Even clear glass vintage Pyrex mixing bowls can be very high in ARSENIC – check out this example!
- Avoid modern ceramic mixing bowls (many are still decorated / finished with very high Lead glaze – here’s an example from 2021!)
- Stick with modern clear glass if possible (with no painted markings or designs).
- Modern stainless steel is also a great alternative (as long as it has no additional non-stainless components.) Many these days have silicone footers which can test positive for trace levels of Cadmium which is not necessarily toxic in that application – but I personally avoid those on principle.
- Natural wood can be great too – as long as it has no stain or finish of any kind other than food-grade oils or waxes. It’s harder to care for but some of my fondest memories are of cooking using old natural wood bowls and spoons! AGAIN: Please be careful to avoid ANYTHING that is wood that has a clear shiny finish – vintage wooden cookware can have very high levels of Lead in the shiny clear original finishes – and sometimes it can be difficult to tell if a vintage or antique wooden bowl has been finished or not (oftentimes because so much of the toxic finish has already worn off!)
Some specific options that follow the above guidelines
I am suggesting the following choices (links below) because they are likely to be Lead free. Each line below in blue is an Amazon affiliate link but you might find these or very similar choices available for less $$ in person at Target or Walmart.
The choices selected below are the same as (or similar to) the mixing bowls I have in my own kitchen here in Portland, Oregon, or other bowls I have tested with an XRF Instrument and found to be consistently lead-free. The great thing is that – in addition to being safer choices for your family – these items are also fairly inexpensive across the board. A silly rule of thumb that I have found to apply consistently for consumer goods (not just cookware – but including cookware): the more expensive it is, the more likely it is to have unsafe levels of toxic heavy metals! – think… Le Creuset!
Prices noted below on each line are from 12/4/21
(& may change)
- Modern clear-glass mixing bowls – 3 bowl set – $17.05
- Single 4-quart clear glass mixing bowl – $15.33
- 10-piece clear glass mixing bowl set – $22.49
- Set of 6 Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls – $22.99
Thanks for reading! Happy shopping! And, as always, please let me know ifyou have any questions, I will do my best to answer them in person although it might take a while!
Lead Safe Mama, LLC
Thank you so much for the work you are doing! I’m replacing kitchen items and mixing bowls are on my list.
Am I missing the webpage and links on recommended cookware such as a pot and skillet?
I was looking at the link for the anchor hocking 10 piece mixing bowl set. The page gives the warning of proposition 65. Do you think anchor hocking has changed the glass composition of these bowls since you made this post and they now contain lead?
Oh- hmmm – I will look into that! It might be for silica or some other prop 65 concern.
I looked at that link. They are the same product that should be lead-free. It’s possible that they are adding a prop 65 warning to everything they sell on Amazon just to avoid any potential inadvertent risk of not being in compliance with the regulations.
Hi so is glass and stainless steel usually lead free in mixing bowls? I’m in the U.K. so can’t purchase the items linked to.
Yes – in new items!
If you have any ideas for a potential agency sponsor in the U.K. that might help me come there to do some outreach events, please let me know! Thank you.
Cody Zervas says
I’m a filmmaker and graduate of Northwestern University’s film school. I am passionate about the lead-free cause and baffled and enraged by our society’s blindness to it. I’d like to lend my filmmaking skills to you in any capacity that might be useful. I know you’re a filmmaker yourself, but if there’s one thing that’s true about film it’s that the more hands you have on deck, the better. Please let me know if there’s any way I can be of help.
In addition, I had a question: in your experience, what is the proportion of unpainted unglazed glassware that contains lead? If I purchase a set of glass cups online, such as these for example https://amzn.to/2Tqb4Lt, what can I expect my risk to be? Thanks in advance.
Thank you for being in touch. I will also send you an e-mail (about the film stuff!) I really appreciate your offer.
Modern unpainted clear drinking glasses are generally Lead-free (unless they are advertised as being made of recycled glass, or made of leaded crystal). The ones you linked to here say “lead-free” in the header – and with clear glass I have no reason to distrust that advertising claim. All bets are off when there are any painted decorations (including logo markings on the bottom or similar.) I also avoid things with a slight tint (like a green or blue tint) – because even if they are advertised as lead-free there is still a chance that they contain trace lead (the blue or green tint is often – but not always – indicative of recycled glass.)
Most pyrex glass bowls have blue or green tinge. https://amzn.to/2HUsXf1 (aflink) Not truly coloured but not clear colourless either. Have you tested any of them? What are your opinions? We use them often.
The new clear Pyrex like the ones you linked to (without any swirls of color) are generally lead-free. The tint in this case appears to be more an artifact of the thickness of the piece, not a colorant additive that has potential toxicants.
I have some green glass Pyrex mixing bowls – a set of three that look like the clear ones you recommend. Just wondering if you have tested any like that? They are clear but green tinted.
I bought some plastic Martha Stewart mixing bowls with lids in 2014 from Macy’s. Is it safe to say they are high in lead?
La Rita Gillispie says
What dog bowls do you recommend? Thank you!
Jay Cervantes says
Could I assume these stainless steal ones are lead-free? Made in India, it doesn’t say “food grade” in the description, but does say high gauge or something like that. (We need a set with lids…)
hi! did we decide if these with the lids are safe? thank you!
Can we test our old pyrex and anchor hocking somehow ourselves? If not how do we know if it contains lead or not or how old it is?
Thank you for this great list of lead free bowls! Just purchased the stainless steel set for my family. Love your work!!
Thank you for commenting! 🙂
I have the Anchor Hocking 10 piece clear glass mixing bowl set from around 1990. Should I be concerned with lead in them? There’s also a stacking 5 piece Himark stainless bowl set with matching plastic lids from Korea from the late 80’s. Thanks for all you do.
Sarah W says
What about Corelle cookware? Like casserole dishes (white with blue flowers and clear glass lid) ? Small pots too for reheating soup or oatmeal?
And Visions cookware (brown glass) pots and cookware?
I am so shocked at this website. I used the vintage Corelle plates with all three patterns and vintage Pyrex mixing bowls almost exclusively because I thought they were a safe alternative to plastic. I am sick at the thought of getting rid of them but I do NOT want lead in my kid’s food or our food!! I have gotten rid of all my ceramic “made in China” coffee mugs too.
Are Watercolor Pyrex mixing bowls safe? I bought them a couple years ago. Thank you.
I was also wondering if Emile Henry stoneware is safe. Thank you.
All the Emile Henry pieces I have tested have been positive for at least some amount of Lead (generally a fairly high amount – generally in the 1,500 to 2000 ppm range). Here’s the Emile Henry category on the blog. There are three posts with test results: https://tamararubin.com/category/emile-henry/
Thank you for commenting.
I am using Corelle dishes that are sandstone color. They are plain and do not have designs. Are they safe.
How about ceramic bread pans?
Libbey mixing bowls on Amazon do not post the proposition 65 warning and declare that they are lead free.
Thank you so much for informative post. I dislike Amazon to the core, mostly due to environmental issues but also alot of the sellers sell knockoff brands. Amazon does not check up on their sellers or authenticity.
I have in the past emailed companies asking if they sold on Amazon, and the response was a blatant no. Research it, many articles about this problem. I personally experienced make up, Pyrex, shoes toys etc being a knock off brand. For example I have an air purifier and on Amazon the seller’s name is under my brand but the company Winix, adamantly denied and told me to contact Amazon. I know it’s hard to affiliate with separate companies but I really recommend it. Anyway my search will continue. Thanks
I agree it’s really hard to trust anything from Amazon! I’m surprised there aren’t links provided to real stores that vet the manufacturers. Kind of discouraging. I’m guessing we can look for these brands in a real store … what do you think?
Teresa Weber says
Thank you for all you are doing. My youngest was a lead poisoned child in 2005. We redid all our windows since that is where they found she was getting the lead from. Thankfully I was still nursing her and continued to nurse her until she was 3 years old to help counteract the damage the lead did. We also upped the amounts of vitamin c and iron into her diet. Our church helped out so much as well through prayer and cleaning all her toys. We never imagined that our dishes and cook ware could also be a cause. I’m thinking about having my daughter retested to see if her levels have gone up since we went through it so many years ago. She is now 16. Does it affect older children as well? When we originally learned of this issue, they said that it is dangerous for young children and the elderly.
Have you ever tested Tupperware products? I use their mixing bowls and have their containers in my pantry.
Wow! You are amazing Have you ever tested Eric Norstad’s mid century modern stoneware?
Thank you for all you do.
Thank you for such valuable articles and helping us become more aware and healthier with all the wonderful information that you post. I was wondering if the coffee mugs we buy as souvenirs (with bright colors, logos, pictures, writings, etc.) during our travel can be assumed to have high level of metals ? Thank you in advance
I found the colour of the Anchor Hocking measuring batter 1.9L bowl with spout has changed from clear glass to darker sort of look. I couldn’t find any of the clear glass ones available. Ist it safe to use their dark ( blueish, greenish, dark greyish) glass bowls or jars?
For new Anchor Hocking I would be okay with a tint in the glass. It is likely still Lead-free.
BARBARA SMITH says
Since PYREX measuring glass cups have lead in the RED WRITING on the outside…
Are we to Also assume that the Anchor Hocking brand of similar glass measuring cups
with red lettering ALSO has Lead etc?
Or did you test only Pyrex?
Hi Barbara! Yes – it is on both brands, different colors too – check out all of the examples listed on this post:
My mom turned me on to you & I can’t get enough! I too am outraged by the careless, pointless & blatant use of toxic chemicals in almost every product on the market in every category. It is disheartening & aggravating, but what you do makes it more bearable & easier to navigate, so THANK YOU!!!
Maybe you’ve already discussed this on your site, so I apologize for asking if it’s been addressed, but I noticed that Pyrex uses tempered glass & I read that glaze for tempered glass often contains lead but is only release when heated. So safe to use when cool, but could be unsafe when the glass itself becomes hot. Is there any truth to this? Are Pyrex’s newer tempered glass products still safe when hot? If you heated a glass dish or mixing bowl & then tested it in your XRF machine could it produce different results than when cool/in its original state? If the temperature of a dish could make a difference, have you tried/tested this with any products, specifically Pyrex?
Michelle Ramagos says
I have vintage Pyrex bowls #17,22,34,21,29,7,1,23 from 1964 maybe. Should I throw them out? Is royal stafford a good brand toxic free? I have many coffee cups with that stamp. I bought new glass cups that you recommended. I appreciate your response. Thanks!