- Which dishes are Lead-Free?
- How can I tell if my dishes are Lead-Free?
- How do I find Lead-Free dishes?
Answer: I constantly get this question, and there isn’t one answer that makes everyone happy, but I will share my guidelines here and a few links and places for you to start your inquiry.
First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I am a lot more comfortable telling people what NOT to buy (vs. suggesting what you “should” buy.)
The reasoning behind that is as follows: If a company makes a product with Lead once (ever), then it is easy for me to tell you to steer clear of that brand because they have a history of Lead in their products. In most cases (with very few exceptions) there are just too many possible variables out there with manufacturing to consistently guarantee that any one brand or style might always be Lead-free.
That said, in recent years I have probably tested thousands of different types of dishes and am confident (like in the 99% range) that the following brand and style (or specific pattern) recommendations are likely to be either Lead-free or Lead-safe — when looking only at new product inventory (2018 and and newer.)
I also want to be clear that this could change at any time.
Continue reading below images…
A company can change their manufacturing source, can change their labeling, can change their glaze or substrate and any of these changes could make my recommendations no longer valid. SO please – DO NOT just read the names of the brands on the images below and assume those brands are Lead-safe across the board. This is simply NOT true.
Instead, please take the time to click on each of the images and read the related posts which have specific XRF test results, along with reasoned arguments as to why that product may (or may not) be a good choice, based on the testing I have done personally — and my personal experiences with the companies and the materials used by each company, as a rule.
Here is an overview of some additional considerations before you start clicking:
- New Corelle is going to be Lead-free as long as it is any of the plain white patterns. This includes the embossed patterns [one of which is my favorite Corelle pattern, Bella Faenza!]. This assessment has held true across decades of their products. The colorful decorations on both old and new Corelle can be high in Lead, high in Cadmium (or both). [The older they are, the more Lead and/or Cadmium they generally will have.] This is the brand I choose for my home – in the Lead-free plain white style.
- Old Fiestaware is high Lead and other toxicants (very unsafe!). Brand-new Fiestaware is either low-Lead (below 90 ppm generally) or Lead-Free. Some of the colors do have trace Cadmium or even trace Arsenic, so I do encourage you to read through all of the different posts for the different Fiesta colors that I have tested before making a choice to go with that brand. Also I cannot guarantee that the Lead, Cadmium or Arsenic levels in the glazes of this brand might not go up in future years… so please stay tuned for additional test results here. I think they are generally a safer choice, although I would not choose these for my home personally.
- New clear glass products (with brands including Libbey, Anchor Hocking and others) tend to be consistently Lead-free. They are a great choice. Even the cheap ones at Target and Walmart are generally Lead -free. Sometimes the tinted ones – with a slight bluish or greenish tint in the clear glass (from these brands) – will test positive for low levels of Lead , but generally I do not have a concern for potential Lead toxicity with new product from these brands in these styles.
- Lenox: I have tested a few newer versions of their traditional patterns. Some of these newer versions have been Lead-safe or Lead-free. All bets are off for older versions, though — and given their history of Lead-use in the past, I don’t have a ton of confidence that all of their new patterns will necessarily be Lead-free (but the specific ones I have tested and shared about on this blog that are linked via the image below are.)
- Princess House seems to be a magical anomaly. From what I understand, they are no longer manufactured [and were sold via a Tupperware-style sales model through the early 1990s (?). Every single piece of Princess House that I have ever tested has been Lead-free! [Why did they stop making them!!! Darn !!!]
- I personally LOVE the feel, look and color pallet of Heath ceramics. They are a relatively small pottery studio based out of Sausalito in California. The recent pieces I have tested from them have been either Lead-free or Lead-safe. That said, my bestest friend from Marin – who got married c. 1997 – got Heath for her wedding china that year. When I tested her particular wedding set a few years ago they were, in fact, very high Lead! Accordingly, I re-emphasize my word of caution here: only.buy.new.
- I had actually put a call into Health recently to discuss the possibility creating a Lead Safe Mama-branded line of dishes… I do intend to follow up with them about that as well. As with any glazed ceramics, it is always possible in the future that Lead and Cadmium levels can vary by batch and that is why I don’t choose these for my own home. [If I did a co-branded signature line of ceramics, I would adopt extra measures to ensure the items in my line were perpetually 100% Lead-free in both the substrates and glazes.]
- Lastly, Crate & Barrel and Sur La Table… These lines are essentially the same, in my opinion, so my comments about them apply to both brands. There are several Lead-free style options from these brands (usually only the plain white ones can be guaranteed to be Lead-free on the food surface.) In the past, the back logo area of even the plain white ones (that are otherwise Lead-free) were high Lead. The main indicator of whether or not the back mark is Leaded is if you can feel it when you run your finger over it. If you cannot feel it it is very likely that the white dish is all the way Lead-free [this applies only with these brands and only with their latest models]. Please read my specific posts from testing I have done on these brands for more information. NOTE: I would not trust anything with colors from Sur La Table — as historically, a lot of their colorful tableware has been positive for high levels of Lead. Pottery Barn white dishes might seem to fall in this same category, but as a rule I don’t like Pottery Barn because they have had too many products with Lead in their history (across the board – not just dishes — tables; children’s water bottles; decorative items; children’s toys; etc.)
There are many more Lead-free dishware options here on my site than the ones listed on this blog post, and there are a few tools here to help you find them (among the 1,400 posts and pages of information here that you can sort through.) Here’s how to use my site to find even more options:
- Check out the Index of my site. The whole opening section is items sorted by tags that start with “Lead Free”. The very first tab there is “Lead-Free Dishes”.
- Use the search-bar on my site. Put in any key words, like “Lead-Free Mugs” and scroll through the search results. [You can also search by brand and material – like “Lenox” or “glass”].
- On each and every post – at the top of the post (under the post title, but above the text and images of the post) is a fairly exhaustive list of tags and keywords for that post. Click on ANY ONE of those keywords to find all of the other posts with that keyword (like “Lead-Free” or “Mugs” or “Lead-Free Mugs” or “Starbucks Mugs”.)
- Check out the recommendations on the LEAD SAFE MAMA AMAZON STORE.
- Check out the recommendations on my “SAFER CHOICES” post.
At one point a good friend asked me… “…but which pretty dishes are Lead-free?! I want some nice (fancy!) dishes that don’t have Lead!” The answer to that question, my friend, is… I just don’t have an answer for you. The more “fancy” your dishes are, the more likely they are to have Lead (with newer dishes especially.) Consequently, my recommendation across the board is that you should “rely on your food to decorate your table, not your dishes”!
As always, please let me know if you have any questions at all. I will do my best to answer them personally. When you ask the questions as a comment on this blog post, that helps others as well as yourself, because other readers will benefit from your question and my answer, so that is my preferred way to receive questions.
Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts. I earn money from advertising income when people read my posts (you don’t need to click on the ads for me to earn $), so just sharing my posts on your Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere (in an e-mail with friends) helps to support my work to keep me doing what I do.
Mother of Lead Poisoned Children
Each of the images below is a link to posts that mention Lead-free choices from the brand in the image. Thanks again for clicking!