#AskTamara: Which dishes are Lead-Free?

#AskTamara

Question (s):

  • 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can change their labeling, can change their glaze or substrate and any of these changes could make my recommendations no longer valid.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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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 !!!]
  6. 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.]
  7. 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:

  1. 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”.
  2. 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”].
  3. 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”.)
  4. Check out the recommendations on the LEAD SAFE MAMA AMAZON STORE.
  5. 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.

Tamara Rubin
#LeadSafeMama
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!

34 Responses to #AskTamara: Which dishes are Lead-Free?

  1. kimberly berghauer December 5, 2018 at 4:53 pm #

    Tamara…Your the Best!!!

    • Tamara December 5, 2018 at 6:33 pm #

      🙂

  2. Brianne December 5, 2018 at 10:26 pm #

    What about HF Coors?

    • Tamara December 5, 2018 at 10:32 pm #

      Just follow the instructions on the post to look for examples on my site. I’ll also see if I can get you a link.

    • Tamara December 5, 2018 at 10:35 pm #

      Here’s one example – it looks like I only have one up on my site right now (I have not tested very many from this brand): https://tamararubin.com/category/hf-coors/

    • Tamara December 5, 2018 at 11:25 pm #

      Hi Brianne, so I looked through my files and found two other HF Coors examples. One was a Lead-free white plate and the other was a low-Lead / Lead-safe white plate. Someone also brought up Duralex plates as a possible Lead-free choice. I have tested quite a few Duralex items but I don’t recall that I have ever tested a Duralex plate so I cannot speak to that with 100% certainty, but an educated guess would be that Duralex glass plates are also likely Lead-free or Lead-safe. Additionally I recently purchased an assortment of plates from the Dollar Store and those have also turned out to be Lead-Free or Lead-Safe, and the Chip & Joanna ceramics seem to be in the Lead-safe range, as do the Chrissy Teigen Cravings Ceramics (Lead-free or Lead-safe.)

  3. George Andrews December 14, 2018 at 5:02 am #

    What about Luminarc clear glass plates (in design called Canterbury)? You often see the salad plates from this line used in dining establishments. We’ve been using the entire set in our home thinking they would be a safe alternative to the Doulton Everyday (Jacobean design) that we had been using.

  4. Lisa December 22, 2018 at 7:55 pm #

    Crate and Barrel have white plates in a few different styles/lines. Is there a particular line that you are referring to?

    • Tamara December 23, 2018 at 11:38 am #

      The link clicks through to the ones I have tested.

    • Tamara December 23, 2018 at 11:40 am #

      The squares on the bottom click through.

    • Tamara December 23, 2018 at 11:41 am #

      Read point #7 on the post.

  5. Alex December 23, 2018 at 12:52 pm #

    Hi Tamara,

    Do you have any information regarding lead in the dishes sold in Ikea. I purchased white dining plates and bowls manufactured in France and also clear glass mugs manufactured in Russia a couple of years ago. Now the identical dishes, according to the labels on their bottom, are made in China. If you have any information on those items I would greatly appreciate your comment.

    Thank you in advance
    Alex

  6. karen January 2, 2019 at 11:31 am #

    Hello –
    Is clear glass safe? Clear glass pyrex, and clear glass drinking glasses?
    I realize that crystal can be leaded. I am asking more on basic drinking glasses that are clear glass.
    Also do you have experience with herend china?

  7. Letty January 3, 2019 at 12:08 pm #

    Hi Tamara,
    I have recently purchased Libby and Anchor Hocking products. You mentioned for plates these brands are safe, but I wanted to get ur thoughts on the items below… A few said they were made form recycled glass. They are all clear glass except for the red writing on the measuring cup…

    * Anchor Hocking Café Glass Coffee Mugs
    * Anchor Hocking Presence 6 Inch Glass
    Cereal Bowl
    * Anchor Hocking Oven Basics 15-Piece Glass
    Bakeware Set with Casserole Dish, Pie Plate,
    Measuring Cup, Mixing Bowl, and Custard
    Cups with Lids
    * Libbey 12-1/2-Ounce Vibe Storage Jars
    * Libbey Small Glass Bowls with Lids, 6.25
    ounce
    Thanks for all ur help!!

    • Tamara January 3, 2019 at 2:13 pm #

      Hi Letty!

      The clear glass should be fine. The red writing on the measuring cup will likely be high Cadmium.

      Tamara

  8. Jing January 8, 2019 at 7:37 pm #

    Hi Tamara,

    Would you please test the Mainstays dishes in Walmart next time when you were there? Because I as well as many of my friends are using this economical 12-pc Mainstays dish set. Would really appreciate it!

    Thanks!
    Jing

    • Tamara January 8, 2019 at 9:54 pm #

      Hi Jing!

      I’ll see what I can do! 🙂 Thank you so much for your support of my work!

      T

  9. Nydia I Leon January 31, 2019 at 11:16 am #

    Dear Tamara ,Thank you for all your efforts on the job that you have done in trying to awere people in how to stay healthy.

    Can you please test for this Corelle
    French White Stoneware .
    They have a lot of different serving casseroles ,cups ,bowls etc.From 4 oz to lo larger ones.
    I’m new on your web,please let me know how to communicate with you.

    Thanks ,Nydia

  10. Veronica February 1, 2019 at 3:47 pm #

    Hi Tamara,

    I was wondering what your thoughts are on the potential for tempered glass like Corelle or Duralex to spontaneously explode?

    I was about to replace all our dinner/glassware with Corelle and Duralex when I came across all of these complaints and articles about tempered glasses or dishes just exploding on their own, and not in safe pieces (people have been cut by shards like shrapnel).

    I’m wondering if trace lead within safe levels below 90ppm like in Fiesta ceramics is better than potentially losing your eyesight from a glass explosion near the face.

    I am stuck, and would love your opinion. Thanks so much for the invaluable work you are doing!

    Best,
    Veronica

  11. Cheryll March 15, 2019 at 12:44 pm #

    I am now freaking out. I have lived many years now attempting to buy only safe products for myself and my family. Using vintage Pyrex assuming that it was safer because it’s not made in China. Only organic. No VOC’s. Etc. Now I’m looking around my kitchen realizing I haven’t done enough. I’ll be clearing out my Pyrex. I have Heath dishes, but made back in the early 90’s. They were our wedding dishes. 🙁
    I’m concerned that I exposed my son with these. Glad I get to keep my Corning Vision glass dishes/pots and glass mason jars, which we use for drinking and storing. What about Corelle white dishes with the little design on the edges? We use them daily. And the vintage brown drinking glasses with the honeycomb like exterior? Ugghh… Thank you so much for what you do.

    • Tamara March 15, 2019 at 2:13 pm #

      Hi again Cheryll,

      Baby steps and a deep breath! It’s easy to find lead-free options. My best friend got married in 1998 and had Heath for her wedding too. I tested them a few years ago and they were VERY HIGH LEAD (like in the 60,000 ppm range). While the company is under new ownership I think they are a great company and stand by their products and their new products (that I have tested) are either Lead-free or Lead-safe (I have a few examples here on the site) and they may accept an exchange for like dishes that are modern – if you ask. I don’t know for sure about this, but it would be worth asking.

      There are lots of examples of the Corelle on my site. Just pop “Corelle” in the search bar and scroll through them. The designs are almost always positive for some amount of either Lead or Cadmium (the older they are the more toxic they are, generally.)

      Tamara

  12. Miranda Carter April 12, 2019 at 11:15 am #

    Hi,

    I recently purchased the wheatstraw bowls and plates from iTavah because we have toddlers and our bowls and plates kept getting broken. We have been using them for a few months, but I am now concerned about lead or other heavy metals after discovering your page. Have you done any testing on bowls such as these?

    Thanks,
    Miranda

    • Tamara April 12, 2019 at 12:29 pm #

      Hi Miranda,

      I don’t believe I have heard of this brand. Can you share a link?

      – Tamara

  13. Alex April 14, 2019 at 11:44 am #

    Hi Tamara,

    Do you have any information on BENNINGTON POTTERS?

    Thank you.

  14. marci April 20, 2019 at 7:04 am #

    Hi Tamara,

    We have been using the Churchill Blue WIllow dishes made in Staffordshire, England for about 23 years.They look exactly like the Blue Willow Johnson ones you have above. Now on your site I see that they may be toxic. My son is ill and has been using these since he was about 8. I am very concerned and don’t know how to have the XRF testing or another method for testing the dishes. Also, how do I test for leaching? As soon as I read your article we stopped using them, but the damage would have been done over 23 years.We need to know if these dishes have lead, cadmium, etc. I have googled XRF labs but cannot find anything. I don’t know how to go about having the dishes tested to see if they are what have made him so sick.

    • Tamara April 20, 2019 at 11:08 am #

      If you want to send me a small saucer to test, I could do that for you. I usually charge a small fee to help cover the cost of the testing, but if you send it to me and I write about it for my blog and included it in my collection of leaded things (hopefully for a future museum exhibit) then I don’t need to charge. Wrap it well so it doesn’t break. The lead level will not tell you for sure if it is leaching, but if it is vintage and comes in at 20,000 ppm or higher – then it is most likely leaching… (and a lot of these Blue Willows come in at 40,000 or 50,000 ppm or higher.) Here’s a post about a dish that poisoned a kiddo that you might find interesting: https://tamararubin.com/2018/04/a-short-story-of-a-small-vintage-ceramic-bowl-from-wisconsin-and-a-boy-that-was-poisoned/
      Here’s a post about the testing I do: https://tamararubin.com/2017/07/subscribe-in-support-of-my-advocacy-work-you-can-become-eligible-to-send-in-a-box-of-your-things-for-testing/
      You can send me a dish with a note (reminding me who you are – as I get a lot of packages) to:
      Tamara Rubin
      #LeadSafeMama
      7933 SE 15th Avenue
      Portland, OR 97202

      Thanks!

      • marci April 20, 2019 at 3:10 pm #

        Thank you so much for responding so quickly. I will overnight mail it on Monday morning, April 22. Of course you can keep the small bowl. It is not vintage, I purchased the set new some time between 1992 and 1995 at a supermarket. If it does have the amount of lead 40,000 to 50,000 ppm higher then who can I send a piece to for leach testing?

        Again, thank you so much for your help.

        Marci

        • marci April 24, 2019 at 4:18 pm #

          Hi Tamara,

          My Churchill bowl was delivered to your side door around 2:50 your time today. Thank you for your help. We have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow so when you get a chance to test it It will be most appreciated.. Thank you so much.

          • Tamara April 24, 2019 at 5:17 pm #

            Oh! k! My husband is home. I am out of town for 6 days and will get back to you when I return! 🙂
            Tamara

          • marci April 24, 2019 at 6:06 pm #

            Thanks. Do you know of anyone in south florida that does XRF testing?

            Thank you.

          • Tamara April 24, 2019 at 6:25 pm #

            No – but I will send you an e-mail and see if we can find someone to help you!
            T

          • marci April 25, 2019 at 4:44 am #

            thank you

          • marci zmijewski April 25, 2019 at 7:31 am #

            Hi Tamara,

            I guess I will wait for you to return to get the results from you. It does not seem that I can get results any sooner from somewhere else.At least the bowl has reached your home and is there waiting

            Thanks again so much for your help and I will wait to hear back from you when you return.

            Have a safe trip.

            Marci

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.