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How to Test for Lead in Ceramics

This article will give reasons to test for lead in ceramic glazes and clay bodies. Then, we’ll discuss why it’s necessary to avoid lead products and how to test for lead in ceramics.

To test for lead in ceramics, you’ll need an oil-based felt-tip marker and a pair of rubber gloves:

  1. Put on the rubber gloves and use the marker to color over the glazed portion of each ceramic piece.
  2. Take white vinegar and pour it over each piece, allowing it to soak for 10 minutes. You can then remove the vinegar, which will carry away any released lead from the ceramic.
  3. Use a paper towel to clean off any remaining residue.

If the color reappears on your paper towel, that’s a sign that your ceramic contains lead. 

However, not all these testing methods are reliable enough. Some of the methods that you may try include using an x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer and a do-it-yourself testing kit for lead content in ceramic or porcelain that can be bought online or at a variety of retail stores.

Does All Ceramic Contain Lead?

How to Test for Lead in CeramicsNo, lead is not present in all-ceramic. Ceramic is made into tiles by baking clay in a kiln. However, some ceramic glazes may contain lead. Lead is fired on the glaze surface and generally does not leach into food or drink from glazed ceramics. You can use a home test kit to check for the presence of lead in ceramic.

Moreso, most ceramic dishes do not contain lead, though glazed ceramics are more likely to be contaminated. In 1978, lead was banned from residential paint, so if your dishes or pots have a speckled colored pattern on them, you should be in the clear. If you are still unsure about the safety of your ceramic dishes, double-check with tests available at your local hardware store.

Although Lead, arsenic, and cadmium are common ceramics additives, they increase the ceramic’s strength and durability and change its thermal properties. Lead is used in some glazes. It makes the glaze more durable and speeds up drying in low-temperature firing. 

How Do You Test for Lead?

The best way to test for lead is with a kit. You can buy a kit and do the testing yourself, or you may hire someone to test your home. These Kits are available at stores and home centers. If you can’t afford one or choose to hire a professional, here are some tips for hiring a lead inspector or risk assessor.

You can also follow these guidelines to test for lead paint safely: Only use a kit approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Always follow the kit’s instructions. Test in several different areas since surfaces may have been painted at different times with different materials. Be sure to keep children and pregnant women away from the testing area. 

When using the test, do not allow children to touch the surface until it has fully dried. Some surfaces (for example, ceramic surfaces) should not be tested for lead because they are more likely to break during testing. Do not use kits if you live in California. They are prohibited there.

How Do I Know If My Glaze Has Lead in It?

How Do I Know If My Glaze Has Lead in ItLead can be harmful to human health in the lead glaze on some ceramic items. However, it is possible to test for lead using a device such as an XRF gun, which tests for lead content without harming the item.

There are many ways to determine whether or not a glaze has lead in it. The most straightforward and most thorough test is to bring it to a lab for Xray fluorescence testing. Specialist ceramic labs can do this for you.

Another method is if you put a magnet on the bottom of the glaze and it sticks, it likely contains iron and is made with metal oxides rather than lead.

However, lead is no longer added to glazes or earthenware clay bodies, but some older pieces may still have lead. In general, glazes used before the mid-20th century often contain some lead, but most pieces are considered safe to use if they’re not chipped or cracked, and you’re not using them to store food and drinks. 

How Do You Test a Mug for Lead?

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As a mug is made up of different materials, it may contain lead, especially if it was made in another country. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to test your mug to see if it is safe to use. If your mug fails any portion of the test, consider throwing it out or using it in a manner that does not involve ingesting liquids from it.

It is recommended that you test your mug before use. Use only single-use lead testing strips, available at hardware or paint stores. First, clean the mug thoroughly with soap and water and dry. Next, soak a single-use lead testing strip for about five seconds in a small container of water diluted with vinegar (equal parts). 

Next, place the testing strip on the outside of the mug for about one minute. If the square turns from gold to red or tone matches its color, your mug contains no more than 90 ppm lead and is generally considered safe for use at this time. Do not use this test on decorated mugs; contact us for more information. 

Does Stoneware Contain Lead?

Does Stoneware Contain Lead?Stoneware is made out of clay fired at extremely high heat. This process makes the stoneware durable and nonporous. Stoneware is available in a wide range of colors and glazes.


Lead is a natural element found in the earth and other heavy metals such as arsenic or mercury. These elements can be mixed with clay to create ceramic products. The lead content of both ceramic and glass products is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which requires these products to be safe for use in contact with food or drink.

However, stoneware is a general term for stoneware ceramic ware fired at a high temperature. The chemical and physical properties of different clays, glazes, and firing conditions are the main factors that determine the characteristics of the stoneware products produced. Generally, it is somewhat less fragile than porcelain that has been fired at a similar temperature.


Finally, if you would like to test a piece of ceramic stoneware for lead content, we suggest contacting a reputable testing laboratory. I hope this page content on how to test for lead in ceramics will help you live a lead-free life.

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