I have a love of vintage dishware and mismatched plates. There is something about the beautiful patterns and artisty from old dishware. I love using them in my own place settings for holidays and even every day use. There are a few things to know about using vintage dishes safely on the table since they can have high levels of lead depending on the dish.
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If you ever eat at my house you will find that none of my plates or cups match. I love using vintage plates and cups and even have my grandmother’s china we use every family holiday. Since old glazing techniques and materials were at a different standard than they are now, you might wonder… are old dishes are safe to eat off of?
According to this article from the Smithsonian magazine, old ware such a ceramic and especially Fiestsaware can contain high levels of lead and high levels of lead can be in the decorations themselves.
So while searches turned up some unclear answers these are just a few tips (not a comprehensive list) I found while looking that you can do when using old ceramic dishware:
-Don’t use any dishware that has any cracks, scratches, chips, crazing (spidery cracks in the finish) or damage at all as that can cause any possible, underlying lead to leech through. Also , they are not recommended to use vintage dishware with food that need to be cut with a knife as that could scratch the finish on the plate.
-Never microwave vintage dishware and only microwave dishware that states it’s “microwave safe“
-Don’t use acidic foods such as tomato sauce or soy sauce that could cause led to leach into the food.
-Test for lead with a lead check kit on any plates, dishware or cups in question. You can find some here on Amazon.
If there is any question at all use the vintage plates only them only as decoration such as a plate wall, or display, or use a modern white or clear glass plate over the top to actually eat off and serve food on. Here are is more information from the Herald Media Newspaper about about using vintage plates for food use.
I think their uniqueness makes them even more beautiful, and I love using them, I just want to make sure my family does it safely, so checking them for lead is a priority. My grandmother’s porcelain set luckily tested negative for lead, but we don’t use any that have any damage, cracks or crazing.
Vintage dishware is so well made and the patterns are so pretty and have some amazing patterns. Many of these are hand-painted as well. They are works of art on their own so even just using them as display is a great way to reuse them.
Being able to safely use vintage dishes could be considered eco-friendly too, even if they are just for decoration underneath a modern plate they are still beautiful.
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