Thread Number: 74180  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Vintage Pyrex and lead content?
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Post# 979620   1/23/2018 at 20:01 (265 days old) by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

Had a moment where I became curious regarding vintage Pyrex and the safety regarding using it for baking. I did not want an explosion or other mishap using my 1950s, 60s and 70s Pyrex baking dishes. I never knew there was a problem with the element of lead?

I have begun to read about lead seeping in from the outside of bowls and dishes. I was completely clueless. I am wondering if lead in Pyrex ( vintage) is truly a concern?

Post# 979622 , Reply# 1   1/23/2018 at 20:21 (265 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

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As crazy as I am about contaminants, I never thought of that.

Post# 979624 , Reply# 2   1/23/2018 at 20:30 (265 days old) by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

Yep, Toploader.. same here.... I really read some fairly alarming articles with regard to this issue and the actual content of lead in the Pyrex. I have A LOT of this vintage Pyrex in my collection. Had no idea it could be hazardous?

Post# 979628 , Reply# 3   1/23/2018 at 20:53 (265 days old) by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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Link to the Snopes article.

Post# 979634 , Reply# 4   1/23/2018 at 21:09 (265 days old) by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

Yep Speed... I read the link/article..... Educate me, Is vintage Pyrex dangerous or is vintage Pyrex not dangerous? What is your take on the information provided in the article?

Post# 979637 , Reply# 5   1/23/2018 at 21:37 (265 days old) by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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I don't think I'm qualified to say, but I do think that everything today is overblown, with all the things they claim are toxic, we should all be dead by now. I have a feeling that using a soldering iron for 25 minutes gives a person more lead exposure than 50 years of Pyrex ever could.

What the article sounds like to me is that one persons tests were the basis for all these claims, in a medical study or any scientific study at that, to be trusted, it really should be peer reviewed and done with the utmost of accuracy and show the margin of error. It also should be repeatable, which the Snopes article said it was not. I therefore conclude that while there may or may not be lead in old Pyrex, there isn't enough evidence in my mind to discontinue usage until further study shows otherwise.

Post# 979647 , Reply# 6   1/23/2018 at 23:13 (265 days old) by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

Yep, Speedqueen...I am not so sure there is a study being done on decades old cookware.

I guess, I will keep on, keeping on with my old Pyrex.

Post# 979675 , Reply# 7   1/24/2018 at 09:02 (264 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        

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Pyrex is probably fine and safe to use.

It's the lead crystal decanters that you store alcohol in, that you have to be wary of.

Post# 979707 , Reply# 8   1/24/2018 at 11:30 (264 days old) by washerboy (Little Rock Arkansas)        

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I have a lot of vintage pyrex I use all the time...I put mine in the microwave...if there was lead in the dish wouldn't that cause a problem in the microwave?

Post# 979709 , Reply# 9   1/24/2018 at 11:34 (264 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
"problem in the microwave? "

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Yes, you would think it would arc and spark... if it had metal content.

Post# 979716 , Reply# 10   1/24/2018 at 12:03 (264 days old) by RevvinKevin (So. Cal.)        
problem in the microwave?

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For Pyrex No.

IF there was any lead added when the glass was being made, it's only a small percentage as part of the "recipe" for the glass. For metal to cause problems in the microwave, it needs to be a much larger amount.

You can use small pieces of aluminum foil to cover a portion of whatever you are heating/cooking to prevent it from over cooking, by covering that area with the foil. As long as there's a lot more of what you are heating/cooking, than aluminum foil.

For example (OK amount of foil): You decide to reheat a whole, already cooked chicken, but in doing so (as an example) the wings will overcook and dry out during the reheating process. So you cover the wings with pieces of aluminum foil just large enough to cover them, then proceed to reheat. Leave them covered for 1/2 to 2/3 of the heating time, then remove the foil for the rest of the time. Covering them with foil prevents the microwaves from penetrating, so no cooking/heating occurs while covered.

Look at microwave popcorn, the bags have some sort of metal in them on the one side of the bag, which heats up, heating the oil/corn kernals, which helps them pop more uniformly and completely.

Obviously if you cover a large bowl with aluminum foil and put it in the microwave, yes that will cause problems and it will look like 4th of July in there. Not good!

The link below says some metals are safe (in small amounts) in the microwave.



Post# 979726 , Reply# 11   1/24/2018 at 14:06 (264 days old) by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        
Microwave use of Pyrex

I had never really thought about some of the situations mentioned above and the potential of lead being present in a dish or what may happen in a microwave oven situation.

I had originally started wondering if Pyrex became less stable with age. I did a Google search and then realized there was a potential problem with lead being a component of Pyrex. This was news to me.

In the article it also mentioned many times there was a decorative finish, which contained lead, is placed on the outside of mixing bowls and other Pyrex items. When the bowls are stacked or if some of the outside finish is rubbed off by hand, it could be potentially dangerous.

I had learned several years ago about lead crystal and alcohol stored in leaded crystal could be dangerous as the liquid can contain lead that was leached out of the decanter and into the liquid, as mentioned above.

No medical background here, however I do know that lead is quite poisonous and even in small amounts can really be a problem.....I was originally worried about the vintage Pyrex being unstable and brittle when I learned about the other potential problem with lead.

Post# 979731 , Reply# 12   1/24/2018 at 14:51 (264 days old) by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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I doubt that there is very much danger of lead poisoning in using vintage or new Pyrex. People have been using it since at least the 30ís and there was never any know problem with lead contamination before.

If you live in an older home, built when lead pipes were used for plumbing that would probably pose a far greater risk of lead exposure and posssibe lead poisoning than the use of Pyrex. Now the exterior paint on Pyrex ware would probably pose a risk for lead exposure, but the Pyrex glass itself, probably not so much.

I am no expert and donít know everything, but Iím not going to fret over using Pyrex. And now, with the current threat of nuclear attack by North Korea, maybe having some lead in your system will create a barrior to radioactive fallout, just joking, LOL.

This post was last edited 01/24/2018 at 21:14
Post# 979801 , Reply# 13   1/24/2018 at 21:09 (264 days old) by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

Here's the thing with glass: you can only have one or two out of three -- it's either very stable against thermal shock, or very stable against mechanical shock or very stable chemically.

Real Pyrex (borosilicate glass) expands and contracts very little with heat, so it's good against thermal shocks. The fly in the ointment is that it has never been much resistant to mechanical shocks, like bumping it against a sink for example. Over the decades, that led to enough people complaining that it broke easily that the company stopped selling real borosilicate glass and started selling tempered soda glass. Now, tempered glass (soda glass is ordinary glass) is very good against mechanical shocks (although not as good as say, laminated glasses like Vitrelle, also known as Corelle), and it can resist going into the oven for regular oven duty, but it's not as good against thermal shocks as Pyrex, or Corningware or, on another extreme, glass-ceramics (Ceran). Old, real borosilicate glass was good enough to be used on the stovetop, for example (particularly gas burners) and it's still used that way in chemistry labs.

Post# 979813 , Reply# 14   1/24/2018 at 22:23 (264 days old) by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

Interesting...I wonder if age has any effect on any of the types of glass?

I collected the baking dishes that were included in Westinghouse Roaster Ovens. The early ovens used Hall China and the roasters produced later used the Pyrex versions.

Several years ago I inadvertently left one of the Pyrex roasting pans over the oven vent on the range. The dish was filled with dressing and after several minutes of the dish blocking the oven vent the pan literally exploded.

Glass shards went everywhere, hot dressing as well. It was as though an explosive had been detonated. I knew not to place Pyrex on a cold surface while hot and did not realize I had blocked the oven vent. So I do wonder if age make the older glass items more prone to fail?

Post# 979830 , Reply# 15   1/25/2018 at 00:21 (264 days old) by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

Age has less to do with glass failure than usage, that is, if one has left a pyrex measuring cup, for example, stored away for 50 years, it tends to behave like new.

What "age" does to glass, when it's used, is introduce stress -- when the glass is bumped against something, it can develop, for example, a tiny crack on the lip which is felt as a rough spot; or scratches on the surface also tend to introduce stress. Later, another bump, or thermal shock can make the stress become too great and it shatters.

Post# 979848 , Reply# 16   1/25/2018 at 05:55 (263 days old) by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Metal in microwave

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I've seen an opaque plastic measuring jug (which had a metal foil measuring scale applied to its exterior) spark and flash. The measuring scale burnt off.

Post# 979852 , Reply# 17   1/25/2018 at 07:08 (263 days old) by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

Makes complete sense with regard to usage and the behavior of the glass. The measuring cup analogy was a good one. One assumes that a dish or other item, fifty plus or so, years of age, would be subjected to many bumps and dings. When the stress becomes too great...pop.

Post# 979856 , Reply# 18   1/25/2018 at 07:48 (263 days old) by vacbear58 (Sutton In Ashfield & London UK)        
@ RollsRapide

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There was quie an interesting programme on Radio 4 9pm last Monday night about lead and a history of its use. Still available on BBC iPlayer

Post# 979860 , Reply# 19   1/25/2018 at 08:31 (263 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
I think this 'falls under 'urban legend'

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There is no evidence, none, zero, zip, nada, niente, nichts that lead was ever used in the Pyrex formulation. Same absolute nonsense as the anti-vaccinators believe.

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