Ceramic Rae Dunn brand “Calm.” coffee mug (Made in China) were purchased at a Marshall’s in Portland, Oregon for about $5 in August of 2018.
Introduction: Tamara Rubin is an independent advocate for consumer goods safety, and she is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children. She began testing consumer goods for toxicants in 2009 and was the parent-advocate responsible for finding Lead in the popular fidget spinner toys in 2017. She uses high-precision XRF testing (a scientific method used by the Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for metallic contaminants – including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, and Arsenic. She is trained and certified in using an XRF instrument and has been doing this type of testing for more than 11 years now.
Tamara, why are you testing Rae Dun pieces?
I’ve chosen to test products from Rae Dunn periodically (when I have access to new examples) because, while many of their products are in the “lead-safe” range (a label I personally reserve for items that test at or below approximately 100 parts per million [ppm] lead when tested with an XRF instrument), since I first learned of Rae Dunn ceramics, I have found a few items from this brand with lead levels that I would not consider within an acceptable range. I have therefore been curious to learn if this was more one type of product over another from this line (dark glaze vs. light for example or matte glaze vs. gloss) or if it was a random set of findings for just a few specific pieces.
Rae Dunn “Calm” Mug
Description: Matte finish inside in out. Appears to be clear finish over white clay base. Black glazed decorative writing depressed into the ceramic. Continue reading below the image.
XRF test results for the mug pictured here:
Back (matte finish) outside white side [no black writing within scope (=the testing window)]
- Lead (Pb): 100 +/- 20 ppm
- Cadmium (Cd): non-detect (negative within the testing limits of the XRF)
- Mercury (Hg): non-detect (negative within the testing limits of the XRF)
- Arsenic (As): non-detect (negative within the testing limits of the XRF)
- Barium (Ba): 360 +/- 61 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 17,700 +/- 600 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 1,290 +/- 196 ppm
- Bismuth (Bi): 117 +/- 24 ppm
- Vanadium (V): 607 +/- 75 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 1,201 +/- 123 ppm
- Zirconium (Zr): 2,704 +/- 89 ppm
Section with black writing in scope:
- Lead (Pb): 63 +/- 16 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 10,500 +/- 800 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 9,088 +/- 314 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 101 +/- 41 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 12,600 +/- 600 ppm
- Bismuth (Bi): 120 +/- 20 ppm
- Cobalt (Co): 3,008 +/- 240 ppm
- Manganese (Mn): 6,544 +/- 522 ppm
Some additional reading for those new to my page:
- To see more examples of Rae Dunn pieces I have tested, click here.
- To learn more about XRF testing, click here.
- Read More: Can I test my dishes with a LeadCheck swab?
- To learn more about the concern for ANY lead in functional pottery pieces, click here.
In summary (for this mug and other Rae Dunn pieces):
- This particular mug would fall in the “Lead -safe” range (about or below 90 ppm Lead when taking into account the margin of error for the reading.)
- The Rae Dunn white surfaces seem to consistently in the “low-lead”/ “lead-safe” range for glazes.
- The brightly colored Rae Dunn decals are higher lead content (in the 600 to 1000 ppm range) than the white backgrounds.
- The matte vs. shiny white finish makes a slight difference in the lead readings, but not significant.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions!
Thank you for reading.