While the prime time for many antiques has long since passed, there are quite a few antique dishes out there that are either making a comeback or have simply never lost their style. Pyrex is among those dishes that are starting to be seen a lot on shelves in many homes. However, while Pyrex might be popular for its looks, can it still be safely used in the kitchen?
Vintage Pyrex can be used for cooking and eaten out of, but much of it does contain copious amounts of lead. If a set of Pyrex dishes is fairly old and has experienced a lot of use, there might come a point when the dishes could begin to leach lead into the food they are holding.
That certainly doesn’t sound very promising, especially if you are someone who has been using Pyrex for years. Newer Pyrex is safe without question, but the vintage Pyrex has some questionable components. Let’s find out whether vintage Pyrex should have a place in your home.
Is Vintage Pyrex Safe to Use?
It may not be best for you to use Pyrex bowls and other dishware, but many people still do it and they’re completely fine. A few things that should be taken into consideration when asking this question are when the Pyrex was made and how much lead it contains.
Do Pyrex Bowls Contain Lead?
Technically, vintage Pyrex can be used, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it should be used. Some of the older dishes contain lead in the glass itself, but the highest concentration of lead is most commonly found in the paint on the outside of the dishes. Since this is the case, a lot of people believe that there is absolutely no harm in using them for cooking.
While this is partially true, there is still a problem. The paint on the outside of vintage Pyrex will stick around for quite a while, but eventually, it will begin to rub off. This means that you’re likely getting it on your fingers which means it could also travel to your food, your children’s mouths, and countless other places. It’s up to you how much of that you’re willing to put up with.
Can You Cook in Vintage Pyrex?
It is up to you to decide whether or not to use vintage Pyrex. Vintage Pyrex lasts for quite a while and it is more than capable of handling fairly high heat in the oven without breaking. However, there is still the problem of lead paint rubbing off and contaminating your food. Can you cook with it? Yes. Should you cook with it? Perhaps not, if you want to be as safe as possible.
What Happens if You Use Unsafe Pyrex?
If you end up using Pyrex that’s too old to be safe, what exactly is going to happen? Over time, lead could potentially start to rub off on your fingers and thereby be transferred to your food. However, the lead that rubs off will probably be in small amounts and likely won’t harm you.
Vintage Pyrex is tough, durable, and can last a long time if it’s well cared for. However, it is by no means invincible. If you are in the habit of using it in the kitchen frequently, you may chip or crack your Pyrex at some point.
It is not recommended that you use cracked or chipped Pyrex. While the chances of lead leaching out of the glass itself aren’t extremely high, the structural integrity of the dish is going to be severely compromised. Pyrex was designed to handle sudden and extreme changes in temperature without breaking. But if it becomes “penetrated or compromised” so to speak, the likelihood of it breaking in the oven or refrigerator is going to be much higher.
Old Pyrex: What You Can Do With It
Now you know that vintage Pyrex is of questionable safety. But now you’ve got a bunch of vintage Pyrex on your hands and possibly no idea what to do with it. Should you just get rid of it if you can’t use it in the kitchen anymore or is there something else that it can be used for?
Believe it or not, vintage Pyrex does have something to say as far as style trends go. It is becoming more and more common to find Pyrex collectors here and there that have amassed impressive amounts of vintage dishes over the years. These dishes can be used as decorative centerpieces for your home on shelves in the kitchen especially. Get creative with it!
If you want to get rid of your vintage Pyrex you can, but make sure you’re getting a good price for it. This is not the case for all Pyrex dishes because they are not all created equal, but there are a few select pieces out there that are fairly valuable. You can tell what is vintage pretty easily by specific patterns and colors. For example, the 1958 balloons and golden hearts designs are both rare and popular among collectors.
If you find yourself in the possession of a Pyrex bowl with a rare design, you could likely sell it for $4,000 or more. The price will probably not be as high for all Pyrex pieces because designs and values vary so much. However, you can probably fetch a pretty good price for some of your vintage Pyrex ware.
Can You Restore Vintage Pyrex?
Pyrex restoration is possible. All that is required for Pyrex restoration is some serious cleaning. Wash the dishes carefully with soap and water and get as much grime off as you can. You could also try using Barkeeper’s Friend on it to get off some of the more stubborn gunk.
You can use toothpicks and razor blades to pick at anything that is stuck in the crevices of your dish. If you find yourself needing to use a razor blade, just make sure you’re extremely careful while using it. You don’t want to scratch the surface of the dish or the surface of your skin with that.
Above all else, make sure you’re being careful to keep your dishes out of the hands of little kids and try to prevent dropping them as much as possible. If you’re using your Pyrex as collectibles rather than kitchen dishes, this shouldn’t be very difficult. Take care of your Pyrex and it will take care of you!