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.
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!)
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