If you’ve just been gifted a set of vintage Jadeite dishes, recognizable by their signature rich green hue, you might be wondering if the kitchenware will be safe to use at your next dinner party. The safety of vintage Jadeite is a concern for many, especially when considering lead content, usability, and the question of microwave safety. These issues have left many wondering whether or not Jadeite dishes are a safe and usable addition to their current kitchenware, which will be addressed within this article.
Jadeite dishes can be safe to use, depending on your risk aversion and level of caution regarding lead contaminants. Although vintage Jadeite dishes will require intentional cleaning, and may not be microwave safe, the lead quantity found within vintage Jadeite kitchenware is generally not severe enough to warrant harm to you or your loved ones. Alternatively, the dishes look lovely in a display case or cabinet.
Read on to learn more about the safety and usability of vintage Jadeite kitchenware, and how to maintain and clean vintage Jadeite.
Does Vintage Jadeite Have Lead?
Potential collectors of vintage Jadeite may feel concerned about the lead quantity within their vintage kitchenware, due to the fact that vintage Jadeite contains traces of lead. Lead has been used in vintage Jadeite glassware, to create a smooth glassy surface that glazes over the rich hue of the Jadeite dishes, and allows decorative patterns to show through. Lead is a naturally occurring, highly toxic metal located in the Earth’s crust. It is a “cumulative toxicant,” which means it is a slow acting poison which may linger within the body for extended periods of time. (Source)
If lead enters the body it can be distributed to the liver, kidney, bones, and brain. Ingestion of lead-glazed or lead-soldered containers can be a route of exposure to lead poisoning, which understandably raises concerns for collectors planning to use vintage Jadeite dishes to consume meals or beverages. Furthermore, younger children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning because their bodies can absorb four to five times the amount of lead that adults absorb, which has raised concerns about the safety of vintage Jadeite kitchenware for families.
Because lead can have serious effects on the body, it is understandable for vintage collectors to be concerned about the lead content of Jadeite dishware.
When considering lead exposure and vintage kitchenware, it is helpful to note that levels of lead found in dishware that are below 90 ppm (parts per million) can generally be considered safe, even for children. An expert called Tamara Rubin, from Lead Safe Mama, uses a method similar to that of the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission to test consumer goods for toxins. She tested a vintage Fire-King Jadeite cereal bowl for lead, and found that it was well within the range of safety for lead exposure (20 ppm). (Source)
This can suggest that vintage Jadeite is generally safe to use. At the same time, it must also be noted, that for the risk averse, any exposure to lead has the potential to be harmful, so one must use their own discretion when using vintage Jadeite kitchenware.
Those concerned about the safety of vintage Jadeite kitchenware due to its lead content may be even more surprised to discover the amount of lead and toxins evident in the modern dishware we use every day. A lot of modern dishware contains even higher quantities of lead than vintage Jadeite, and some contain carcinogens like cadmium. Likewise, you will have to determine your own levels of risk aversion to the lead content in your vintage Jadeite dishware, although it is generally no more unsafe than the kitchenware you likely already own.
However, if you still feel uncomfortable consuming meals or beverages with your vintage Jadeite, it will also look beautiful in a display case, as well as in photos.
Can Vintage Jadeite Go in the Dishwasher?
No, unfortunately vintage Jadeite cannot go in the dishwasher. If you put your vintage Jadeite in the dishwasher, it will not be able to withstand the heavy duty nature of the wash cycle, and will likely corrode over time. Furthermore, due to the harsh chemicals found in dishwasher detergent, vintage Jadeite kitchenware washed in the dishwasher will eventually lose luster and shine.
How Do You Clean Vintage Jadeite?
In order to clean and maintain vintage Jadeite without using your dishwasher, you will have to wash the dishes by hand. Fire King Grill’s recommended cleaning supplies are as follows: Barkeepers Friend, Magic Eraser (or a sponge), and hot water. (Source)
Barkeepers Friend is a very popular cleaning product within the vintage glass and antique collector community that will be perfect for hand cleaning any vintage Jadeite kitchenware.
Just put some Bar Keepers Friend on a cleaning sponge, and scrub any residue off of the plate under warm water.
Towel dry, and your vintage Jadeite kitchenware is ready to use!
Can You Microwave Vintage Jadeite?
No, you cannot microwave your vintage Jadeite kitchenware. Any vintage Jadeite dishware will heat up tremendously within the microwave. Thinner points within the dishware may even catch fire, and the heat from the microwave can cause the vintage Jadeite to break.
The heat from the microwave will disrupt and break down the molecular structure of the vintage Jadeite and make the dishware fragile. If you would like for your vintage Jadeite kitchenware to have longevity please do not put it in the microwave. (Source)
So, that new set of vintage Jadeite dishes that you just laid eyes on? Yes, it most definitely would be perfect to host your next dinner party. Vintage Jadeite dishware will make a delightful addition to any kitchenware or vintage glassware collections. Though there are a few safety concerns that may arise for anyone who is concerned about lead contamination, microwave safety, and the overall usability of the dishware, vintage Jadeite is a safe and charming alternative to the dishware you may be using in your kitchen. If all else fails, it also looks lovely in a display case or china cabinet!