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How to tell if pottery is food safe immediately
Food and Drinks

How To Tell If Pottery Is Food Safe Immediately

Pottery dishware are served in every family meals. But we don’t know that there might be a hazard to our health. Let BestLifeTips help you discover how to tell if pottery is food safe.

We all love those family meals served in beautiful, handcrafted dishware. Many of us use dishware that have been in our families for many years. But we don’t know that there might be a hazard to our health. In this post, BestLifeTips will help you discover how to tell if pottery is food safe.

How to tell if pottery is food safe with naked eye?

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carries leach testing to classify pottery dishware as food safe. Even if the glazed contained lead before firing the piece, it can still be food safe if it meets the FDA standards.

It’s important to note that food-safe and non-toxic are different and are not interchangeable. Food-safe refers to the after-fire state of pottery, while non-toxic refers to the product in its pre-fire state.

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Here are some things you should consider whenever purchasing your home’s pottery dishware.

  • Check the label

Remember to check the items for labels warning whether they are safe to use with food or drinks.

The FDA requires that unsafe ceramic pieces have a conspicuous stick-on label or permanent statement that warns consumers about it.

  • The older pottery dishware, the higher amounts of lead it has

If you buy antique or handmade pottery, especially those crafted before the 70s, they might have a higher amount of lead residues.

Old, bright-colored pottery in shades of yellow, red, and orange are more likely to have high amounts of lead.

Also, be wary of antique pieces handed down from generation to generation and those in flea markets.

  • Watch out for imported pottery

You should be wary of imported potter. This is especially true if they come from South America or Asia, and if they display colorful and bright designs.

Lead makes the paint and glazing brighter and makes pottery products glossy. Even if they are no longer used in the US, they might still do so in countries where regulations are lax.

However, don’t worry since you don’t have to test everything. Plain white dishes rarely test positive for lead.

  • Make sure decorations on any items you purchase are beneath the glaze and not on top of it

Run your fingers over the surface. If you can feel the decorations or if you see they are raised, there might be a problem. When these decorations wear away, they can lead to a higher risk of leaching.

If you are still unsure, ask the store if the dishware you are planning to buy complies with FDA regulations.

How to tell if pottery is food safe by support tools?

1. How to tell if pottery is food safe by lead testing kit

You can buy a lead testing kit to check your ceramic ware. The kits contain swabs with instructions on proper use of the swabs and reading of the results. Those are sold in hardware stores or online, and you can easily apply them on your favorite items to make sure they are safe to use.

Here are the instruction to use lead testing kit:

Step 1: Clean and remove all dust and dirt from the painted or glazed surface to be tested.

Step 2: Activate the test swab by crushing the two marked ends of the swab stick with your fingers. Shake a few times to mix the testing agents inside.

Step 3: Gently squeeze the swab so that the swab tip is moistened with the liquid testing agent. Rub the activated swab tip on the cleaned surface for 30 seconds. If the swab tip turns pink or red, that means lead is detected.

2. How to tell if pottery is food safe by water and lemon juice

There are a couple of really simple methods for testing the robustness and suitability of your food safe pottery.

The first one is to squeeze some lemon juice on a glazed area of your project and then place the rest of the lemon on to the ware, leaving it overnight. The next morning, remove the lemon and rinse the ware. If the color of the glaze has changed, then this shows that the glaze is not sufficient for foodstuffs.

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The second one is to test your work in a microwave. Fill your pottery dishware with water and place in the microwave for 1 minute. If the glaze is insufficient, then the ware will absorb the water and the work will become very hot. The glaze may crack if it is not sufficient.

3. How to make food safe pottery at home?

There are a few considerations that need to be made when creating a food safe pottery piece.

  • What does a food safe pottery design look like?


It’s important to consider the pitfalls of a pottery piece design before creating a food safe project. Some designs do not lend themselves to food safe items, especially when they have crevices and nooks which can harbor bacteria or are difficult to clean. So you’d better consider something smooth and easily maintained over consistent use.

Food safe pottery also needs to be strong. An intricate design is nice, but after continuous washing and using, the ware might eventually break.

  • How should food safe pottery be decorated?


Try to avoid decorating any part of the pottery that will contact with food. There are special food safe paints that you can purchase from most art and craft stores, which you can apply with a brush or stamp. Ceramic paints works better and last longer than acrylic paints.

The important aspect of ensuring the paint remains food safe is through the glazing. You should completely glaze the ware so that the entire body is sealed and none of the paint or raw pottery is exposed to foodstuff or wear and tear.

  • Select the correct glaze for your pottery

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It’s best to use glazes that have not only been tested for stability but also do not include any toxic materials. A stable glaze ensures durability and a robustness that is required for continuous washing and use.

Also, it’s necessary for food safe pottery to resist abrasion from cutlery. Visible bits of metal residue can be left behind after scraping. To avoid these issues, avoid matte glazes for food safe pottery.

  • Firing your food safe pottery


It is important that your food safe ceramic ware is fired properly and consistently. Using an electric kiln, with a programmable element, will ensure that you will achieve a suitable temperature and the wares can be left within the kiln for the optimum time.

In conclusion, glaze is perhaps the key element as this ensures that not only does the food don’t contact with any potential harmful substances, but also ensures that the ceramic ware is strong, lasts for a long time and it’s suitable for its intended purpose.

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