Ask Tamara: Which mugs are lead-free?

Tamara Elise Rubin, Lead Safe Mama #LeadSafeMama

Originally Published: December 24, 2016

Ask Tamara

Question: Which mugs are lead-free?  What mugs do you use in your home?

Answer: When I first got my hands on an XRF and started testing things for lead one of the very first things I tested was my favorite set of Chantal mugs.  I actually had a whole set of these mugs in different colors & I had purchased them to go with my favorite Chantal tea-kettle.  I was really upset and surprised that these mugs that I had purchased new at a reputable store in 2003 (made by a reputable company no less) tested positive for lead.

Purple Chantal Mug Postive for Lead Tamara Rubin Lead Safe Mama

Which mugs are lead-free?

Those “favorite mugs” tested positive at 679 parts per million (ppm) lead.

Read more about XRF testing here!

Total lead content in mugs (as detectable with an XRF) is not regulated, however – for context – the amount of lead considered unsafe in an item manufactured as intended for children is anything that tests positive for lead at 90 ppm lead or higher. [The good news is that since children’s items are regulated, newly purchased children’s mugs legally must have coatings below 90 ppm lead.]

Since testing my first mug I have probably tested close to 1,000 mugs (they are one of the most popular things that people ask me to test) and almost all of them have had some amount of lead, some at ridiculously high levels (in the tens of thousands of parts per million!)

Please click here for some #LeadFree mugs.

A few years ago I learned a story of a Seattle couple who were both sick with an illness that their doctor was having difficulty diagnosing.

After some investigation it turned out that this couple were lead-poisoned from drinking their morning coffee from the same leaded-mugs each morning (as part of their morning ritual.)  Please check out the articles linked below for more information on that as well.

Coffee is very acidic (as is juice and many other beverages) and will leach lead from mugs, especially mugs that have high lead content and are heavily used on a daily basis.  If you have coffee every morning like I do, it is a good investment in your health to make sure you have a lead-free mug.

Click here to read about French Presses,
my preferred way to make coffee!

Since there is not a reliable consumer method for testing mugs for lead and other toxic heavy metals (outside of free XRF testing which may or may not be available in your area, the most reliable cost-effective measures require “digesting” [aka destroying] the mug to determine the lead content – and that is generally in the $40 to $200 range per item depending on the scope of the test) it makes sense to stick with known lead-free options.

#SaferChoice: In the absence of an XRF available to test every potential mug choice – it’s best to stick with clear glass (as long as you can be assured that it is not leaded crystal.)

Click HERE to see some of the mugs I have tested for lead and their lead-levels.

Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links where a purchase made
after clicking will earn me a small commission without costing you extra!

Mugs that are the same as (or similar to) the lead-free or lead-safe ones we use in our home:

I also recommend anything new from Ikea and pretty much any clear glass mugs that are not crystal (including vintage clear glass).

I used to recommend mugs purchased at Starbucks because I had a streak there where every Starbucks mug I had tested was either lead-free or below 90 ppm lead.  However that streak ran out recently (I think with the expansion of their mug selection and likely the expansion of the manufacturers they are using) so I no longer recommend them for a guaranteed lead-free mug.

Another great option for lead-free mugs is something made by a local potter who sources and mixes their own glazes.  Potters will usually mark their wares “lead-free” these days (if they are lead-free) because that is a good selling point!  If the mugs are not marked, just ask the potter if they know if they use lead-free glazes or not.

My favorite potter on the planet (who also happens to use lead-free glazes) is Greg Williams / Ceramic Generations of San Anselmo, California.  I have known him for 27 years and his pottery is so beautiful, each piece is a true work of art. (I don’t know if he has a website these days but if you google him you can quickly find his contact information!)

Read more about the concern for lead in pottery here.

Things I avoid when purchasing mugs:

#HappyMugShopping

As always, please let me know if you have any questions… and thank you for reading!

Tamara Rubin
#LeadSafeMama
Environmental Activist
Unexpected Lead Expert
Mother of Four Boys

Some articles that may be of interest:

  1. http://www.web-pub.com/library/brochure/leadmugs.html
  2. http://www.lead.org.au/bblp/silent-epidemic.html
  3. http://www.ehow.com/about_5474957_dangers-glazed-ceramic-coffee-mugs.html

Bottom of 2003 Purple Chantal Mug Made In China Tamara Rubin Lead Safe Mama

Which mugs are lead-free?

2003 Chantal “Made In China” mugs
As high as 679 parts per million (ppm) lead
Non-detect for arsenic

These were my mugs (before I started testing everything I own with an XRF!) … I was totally bummed to let them go, but now I have only lead-free mugs in my house!


Affiliate link disclosure: If you choose to purchase any items after clicking the Amazon links above, Amazon pays me a small kick back as a thank you for sending business their way. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps support this website, allowing me to keep sharing information about childhood lead poisoning prevention (as well as making it possible for me to keep sharing about safe products for your home and family) ... Sharing this information in turn helps families everywhere protect their children from potential environmental toxicity in their homes. I only link to products that are the same as (or very similar to) ones that I either have direct personal experience with in my home or that I have personally tested with an XRF Instrument and found to be lead-safe or lead-free. December 2016

63 Responses to Ask Tamara: Which mugs are lead-free?

  1. Tara January 28, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

    Hi Tamara!

    Thanks for all the information about safer mugs. I actually have Corelle mugs right now. =( I had considered going with glass ones like the options you listed but I found myself afraid the glass would explode and cause injury (I came across a ton of reviews describing that). So I started hunting around for additional lead-free options.

    Some folks on Amazon are under the impression that these Le Creuset mugs are lead and cadmium free, and Wellness Mama endorses them as well. I was wondering if you’ve tested any? I know a lot of other Le Creuset items came back with lead, cadmium, and arsenic in your testing.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003F24D12/ref=twister_B003F24D26?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
    http://www.lecreuset.com/mug

    • Tamara January 30, 2017 at 1:19 am #

      I may have tested some of those, but I don’t recall doing so (I have tested thousands of items and they’re not all stored in my head at this point!) However I HAVE tested some ceramic Le Creuset things that were positive for very high levels of lead, so when I have tested an item that is inconsistent in that way I am not comfortable making a recommendation. To wit; I recently tested a new white Corelle mug purchased in October 2016 with a set of Corelle dishes, and I was surprised that it was lead-free! Since I have tested so many of their mugs and found them to be high lead, and only tested this one that was lead-free – I am not willing to make a blanket statement about the newer Corelle mugs (like I could say “Newer Corelle mugs appear to be lead free” – but that would be an irresponsible statement as lead content is as much dependent on color as on age… and it is still possible that the new white ones are unleaded but the new ones in other colors may still have lead (as their recent counterparts have.)

      • Tara February 14, 2017 at 11:38 am #

        Thank you so much for your swift and thoughtful reply. I truly appreciate all the work you do!

  2. Sarah February 15, 2017 at 6:13 am #

    Do you have a recommendation on non glass, lead free mugs? Thank you so much for all you do BTW. You are a beacon of light in the fog. 🙂

    • Tamara February 16, 2017 at 12:50 am #

      All of the items I have personally tested from Ikea recently have been lead free. Some Ikea items might test positive for lead below 90 ppm and that is considered safe by all standards today (US and European), so Ikea is a good place to start if you want ceramic mugs. I don’t have any other recommendations though – in terms of another brand of ceramic mugs that have consistently tested lead free. I personally use a stainless mug or a glass mug… plus I have a few handmade ceramic mugs made by local artists that are also lead-free.

      • Sarah February 16, 2017 at 5:52 am #

        Thank you that is helpful. IKEA sounds like a good place to start. Do you have any recommendations about which colors might be more likely to be no lead vs low lead?

      • Todd Richardson July 15, 2017 at 2:33 pm #

        I am looking for a stainless steel mug. I presently use a Yeti Rambler but have come to suspect that it has lead in it. Which stainless steel mug do you recommend?

      • Beate Nilsen March 10, 2018 at 11:37 am #

        Seems to me, Ikea has a LOT of Made in China prods. Why do you think their stuff is safe?

        • Tamara April 15, 2018 at 12:48 pm #

          I base my statements specifically on the XRF testing I have done.

  3. Aaron March 7, 2017 at 5:41 am #

    Hi Tamara,
    I googled “lead in Chantal tea pots” because I found a Chantal tea pot I really like. However, it’s made in China, 2003, and I wonder if it’s likely to have the high lead level you detected in the mugs you have.
    Any thoughts?

    Thank you ~
    Aaron

  4. Denise March 21, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

    Tamara,
    I was wondering about Fiesta brand mugs?
    They claim to be lead free.
    I have a set of 4 mugs from them and drink coffee from them every morning.
    Thank you for sharing all this wonderful information.
    Denise

  5. Tapia April 18, 2017 at 3:49 pm #

    Mega gulp! Why do you warn against the speckled enamel mugs? My daughter’s Waldorf school uses them

    • Tamara April 20, 2017 at 8:43 am #

      They are almost always positive for lead, and sometimes very high lead.

      • Tara August 6, 2017 at 12:37 am #

        Tamara, my child uses these in our home.
        https://www.novanatural.com/collections/kitchen/products/enamel-cup-bowl-plate-set

        I am wondering if enameled items such as these that are made in Poland might meet higher standards than some of the others that are manufactured elsewhere. I purchased these a few years back with the understanding that enameled items like this are generally safe (I also have some Graniteware brand kitchen items and wash basin), and I tend to trust items from a reputable company like Nova Natural that sells items made from safer materials, often from Europe. Is this set something I should remove from our home?

      • Kayleigh March 20, 2018 at 4:38 pm #

        I have a few Graniteware pieces at home because they claim on their website that their products are “lead free” & inert. I bought them when I tossed my non-stick several years ago. Have you tested any current/newer granitware brand pieces? They’re made in the USA & more black with speckles than blue. A lot of the blue speckled come from other companies out of China (not that I think everything from China is harmful).

        • Tamara March 21, 2018 at 9:21 pm #

          I am not familiar with Graniteware as a brand. Here’s an affiliate link to one of their pots on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2uehJwe
          If this is representative of the types of pots and pans you are talking about, I have not found that type to be consistently lead-free. Look up “enamel” on my site and you will see similar items that I have tested (or enamelware.) https://tamararubin.com/category/enamelware/

  6. Denise April 23, 2017 at 10:46 am #

    I just bought VM International (located in Riverside, CA) 14-oz. red coffee mugs. I found them at Smart&Final…The label says made in China. Do you know if these contain lead? Thank you!
    Denise

  7. Dianne Feeney April 26, 2017 at 8:27 pm #

    Dear Tamara,
    Do you know if all Stainless Steel doing mugs are lead free?

    There are ones for cold drinks like water and other for hot drinks such as the portable coffee mugs with lids and handles. Trudeau makes many styles.

    Thank You,
    Dianne

    • Kayleigh March 21, 2018 at 8:59 am #

      Dianne,
      Klean Kanteen insulated mugs are lead free. Not all brands are though. Some may have lead hiding in the paint or solder.

  8. owen May 12, 2017 at 11:05 am #

    Are you testing lead content or lead leaching? Because I thought the numbers for leaching were MUCH lower than 90ppm.

    • Tamara May 14, 2017 at 10:53 am #

      Just lead content, as measured with an XRF.

  9. owen May 12, 2017 at 11:17 am #

    According to this page:
    https://www.fda.gov/iceci/compliancemanuals/compliancepolicyguidancemanual/ucm074516.htm
    Cookware can leach no more than 3ug/mL (microgram per milliliter, also equivalent to 3ppm or parts per million) for flatware, and no more than 0.5ug/mL for things like mugs, cups and pitchers.

  10. Andrew June 8, 2017 at 12:02 am #

    Hi Tamara,

    I recently bought a set of RCR Cristalleria Italiana lead-free crystal classes. Is it possible for crystal to be lead-free?

    Thanks!

  11. Shari Bayes June 12, 2017 at 3:49 am #

    Tamara, have you tested Fiesta brand mugs?
    Thank you,
    Shari

  12. K patenaude June 24, 2017 at 10:35 pm #

    Have you tested Disney mugs at all?

  13. TJ August 4, 2017 at 8:40 am #

    Have you ever tested any items from Crow Canyon Enamelware?

    Thanks,
    TJ

    • Elissa December 6, 2017 at 11:19 am #

      I’d love to know this too! I was looking into enamelware such as roasting pans and have looked at Falconware but am not convinced they’re safe, then came across Crow Canyon for the first time and they actually claim they are lead free. I’m guessing someone may have to post you one to be sure though?

  14. TJ August 6, 2017 at 5:36 am #

    I have been wondering about Padilla mug sets.. They have a unique Southwestern look and I’ve been thinking about buying a set. They claim ‘entirely lead free’

    Another I’ve wondered about, I have a couple pieces from, is Sunset Hill Stoneware. They claim to be the ‘america’s cleanest greenest pottery’ I have a few of their souvenir-style mugs. Unfortunately for me they’re gigantic portions, but they are quite heavy-duty.

  15. Chantal August 11, 2017 at 11:20 am #

    Hi Tamara,

    Thank you for testing items to help make our homes safer!

    Am I correct in assuming that the only lead-free glass mug on your list is the one that actually says “lead-free and the others are lead-safe? The lead-free one happens to be the jumbo one, which I don’t really want; but if the others aren’t lead-free, I’ll go with it. Thanks for your help!

    • Tamara December 24, 2017 at 10:55 am #

      The clear glass ones are generally lead free (the modern/newly manufactured ones with no marks or writing.)

  16. kimberly December 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm #

    Hi! Firstly, THANK YOU Tamara, for all your hard work helping us all! It is definitely appreciated. I’ve been doing my own minor research as I switch to healthier choices and found that we have to beware that just because a particular dish tests positive or negative apparently doesn’t mean the whole brand is safe (or not). We also cannot judge by if something is white, or clear glass, made in China vs. France, etc. I just realized this while browsing the Luminarc catalog, where they have symbols on each style of dish/glass/etc to indicate different things, like “lead/cadmium free”, dishwasher safe, tempered, etc. I was shocked to learn that one company could make such a variety of products, which by our naked eyes, we would never know the difference between them!

    I am not associated with Luminarc, nor have I even bought anything by them yet. I am merely sharing their catalog so everyone can see that SOME (even with designs & colors) are lead/cadmium free, while OTHERS (even clear glass) are not. So I guess we need to ask companies about very specific items when we contact them. Apparently we cannot judge ANYTHING with our eyes or even our common sense. And as you can see in this catalog, they have some children’s character dishware (Disney, Hello Kitty, Coca-Cola) and again, SOME is safe and SOME is not!! We cannot think “Disney” is a brand that makes dishes; they sell their images &/or have other companies make their stuff, and apparently don’t care what they use as long as it brings in the bucks. (sorry, true)

    http://ecatalogue.luminarc.com/html/catalogue_luminarc_2016_pdf_303/

  17. Grace January 5, 2018 at 4:01 pm #

    Hi Tamara,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog. I found a company called HF Coors it looks really promising. Do you have any experience working with this brand? They say they are made in America and lead and cadmium free.

    https://www.hfcoors.com/faq-answers/

    I also found these double wall insulated glass mugs from Epare. They say they are made from Borosilicate glass.
    https://www.amazon.com/Eparé-Insulated-Coffee-Cups-Set/dp/B00GG0SMLM/ref=sr_1_4?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1515196058&sr=1-4&keywords=epare+insulated+coffee+cups

    Do either of these look safe and good to you? I wanted to check with the expert before I purchased. Thanks! And Happy New Year

    • Tamara January 5, 2018 at 6:17 pm #

      Here’s an HF Coors mug I tested: https://tamararubin.com/category/hf-coors/

    • Tamara January 5, 2018 at 6:19 pm #

      Those glasses ARE likely lead free, they are exactly the type of mugs I recommend. I haven’t tested that exact one but new clear borosilicate glass is generally a good choice. Here’s my affiliate link for that same product (I receive a small percentage of your purchase at no extra cost to you if you purchase something after clicking on one of my links!) 🙂 http://amzn.to/2CYSpLe

    • Lu January 13, 2018 at 5:11 pm #

      I’d never looked at HF Coors until now… My husband and I are currently salivating over the “Mimbreno” line… Love these! Very expensive, though!

  18. Grace January 5, 2018 at 4:21 pm #

    Hi again, I found one other company claiming lead and cadmium free.

    http://pillivuytusa.com/100-lead-and-cadmium-free/

    Their stuff is simple and classic looking, but all white. Let me know what you think!

    -Grace

    • Tamara January 5, 2018 at 6:15 pm #

      Interesting. Based on the work I have done, it is possible they are basing their lead-free claims on leach testing, not on total lead content. I have not tested those.

  19. Lu January 13, 2018 at 5:08 pm #

    Is cadmium ever found in plain clear glassware? I don’t know anything about it and I’m having trouble finding info. I am wondering about the Libbey Robusta coffee mugs (which you linked above) as well as some Luminarc “Baroque” drinking glasses (that I received as gifts). I am not even sure if the Luminarc are lead-free, as I can’t find info on it anywhere.

    • Tamara January 14, 2018 at 12:31 pm #

      Not in my experience. (or if so very rarely, it’s not something I have made a note of.)

  20. W January 22, 2018 at 8:48 am #

    Have you seen this latest FDA report of lead in worldwide ceramic ware? Helpful.
    https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_122.html

    • Tamara January 22, 2018 at 9:04 pm #

      This is WONDERFUL! Thank you for sharing it with me. I hadn’t seen it. Maybe this work is making a difference!

  21. Patsy January 22, 2018 at 5:22 pm #

    I just received a mug that was supposed to be made in England, Harliqun by Churchhill. On the box it says made in China. Is that the box or mug that is made in China?

    • Tamara January 22, 2018 at 9:01 pm #

      Most likely the mug.

  22. Alyson Coleman April 18, 2018 at 7:59 am #

    Are osaka boroscilicate glass mugs on Amazon lead free?

    • Tamara April 18, 2018 at 3:28 pm #

      I’d have to see the product, but most borosilicate glass is lead free if it has no painted markings or decorations.

      • Alyson Coleman April 18, 2018 at 3:49 pm #

        It has small white logo on the front of the glass. That’s it everything else is clear. There’s no colored paint.

        • Tamara April 18, 2018 at 7:30 pm #

          The small white logo is usually lead paint, and it is often very high lead content lead paint (between 5,000 and 28,000 ppm in my experience.)

          • Alyson Coleman April 18, 2018 at 7:37 pm #

            Well, I just bought these and I threw the box away to return em in so I’m stuck with em. Guess I just won’t the kids drink from them. I have a hard time finding coffee mugs that don’t have lead potential.

          • Tamara April 18, 2018 at 9:59 pm #

            You can test the logo with a lead check swab, it will turn red if it is lead. Can you email me a picture of the cup/design? TamaraRubin@mac.com

  23. Janet walker July 12, 2018 at 8:38 am #

    I have two favorite mugs that were gifts and can’t find out about lead…one is from lighthouse Christian products and the other from tri-coastal design (which has a raised “mom” that I can feel) and both made in China…how can I get info?

    • Tamara July 12, 2018 at 5:49 pm #

      Most mug companies are not regularly testing them using an XRF. If you want you can e-mail me photos and I can make an educated guess, or you can scroll through the mugs I have tested and look for similar mugs. TamaraRubin@mac.com

  24. Tara August 9, 2018 at 10:57 am #

    Hi there. great info! I have been using simon pearce pottery for years along with their glassware. I assumed that this was all lead free cadmium free given the cost. I just spoke with a customer service agent from simon Pearce and was told that the glass does contain cadmium – no lead and the pottery is lead free/cadmium free. would you think that the cadmium in the glass is dangerous? I spend a fortune on this stuff bc I want to be safe and now I am surprised and disappointed to know that there is cadmium in the glassware.

    • Tamara August 10, 2018 at 8:52 pm #

      I think it really depends on the levels and which components might have lead or cadmium. You could send me a picture and I could give you a better idea if I have tested something similar. TamaraRubin@mac.com

  25. Krista Pederson September 15, 2018 at 8:58 am #

    Hi! I was wondering if dinnerware made in Germany is less likely to be leaded. I’m looking at Johan Haviland Bavaria white dinner plate set.

    • Tamara September 15, 2018 at 10:34 am #

      Nope. I have found some incredibly high lead pieces from Germany, both old and new!

  26. M November 15, 2018 at 7:25 pm #

    Hi
    I googled this topic after watching an episode of house in which he suggested someone always got sick because of his mug having lead. I’m an adult who drinks tones of coffee daily and have been suffering from a lot of cognitive issues. I had never suspected lead as a possible culprits. What are the symptoms of such an exposure ? Is there a way to heal after exposure ? My mugs are glazed and are from crate and barrel but they no longer sale them ( I got them in 2008) I happen to love these mugs, just noticed they are from china … do I need to throw them out ?:( thanks

  27. Abby November 28, 2018 at 1:16 am #

    Hi Tamara,

    I was looking for mugs on the Ikea website, and there they have some mugs that have a note “No cadmium or lead added” under the “Materials and environment” tab of each product, while there are some mugs that don’t have that description. Do you think those mugs that have “No cadmium or lead added” are safe to use? Thanks!

    For reference:

    https://www.ikea.com/ms/en_US/usearch/?query=mugs

    https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60318492/

    • Tamara November 28, 2018 at 8:44 am #

      I haven’t tested brand new mugs from Ikea – so I can’t really evaluate that. In recent years nearly all th Ikea examples I have tested have either been negative for lead or came in well below 90 ppm. There was one exception that I recall but the year made was unclear.

    • Tamara November 28, 2018 at 8:45 am #

      It’s possible it is marketing and they have always been doing that (last 5+ years or so) but haven’t gotten around to switching their branding on all the models yet (perhaps they are doing additional testing and factory compliance before auditing that?) This is pure speculation though.

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