Overhead Shot of non toxic dinnerware

Here you’re laying out your dinner table, your favorite dish cooking in the background. Ever stop to think, “What’s actually in my dishes?” It’s not just the design or color that matters.

Lately, there’s been growing concern about something we often overlook – toxins in our dinnerware.

Yes, the plates and bowls we use every day might be hiding some unwelcome chemicals. A bit alarming, right?

In this guide, we’ll explore why opting for non toxic Dinnerware matters for your health and the environment.

I’ll guide you through the best materials to choose, the ones to avoid, and share the top, safest dinnerware picks for 2024.

And don’t worry, I’ve also got some great tips on how to keep your dishes in perfect condition.

Craftsman doing Finishing Touches at non toxic Earthenware Plates

Why Non Toxic Dinnerware?

Non toxic dinnerware is a good choice for both health and environmental reasons.

Traditional dishes sometimes contain harmful chemicals like lead, cadmium, and BPA, which can leach into your food and pose health risks.

For example, lead exposure can harm brain development in children and cause various health issues in adults, while BPA has been linked to developmental problems in young children.

By choosing non toxic dinnerware, you’re not only safeguarding your family’s health but also contributing to a healthier planet.

These eco-friendly choices help reduce waste and prevent toxic chemicals from contaminating the environment.

Lead in Dinnerware

Ceramic dishes often have glazes or decorations containing lead. This toxin accumulates over time, posing significant health risks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified lead exposure as particularly harmful to young children and pregnant women, leading to neurological issues like learning disabilities and behavior difficulties in kids, and kidney dysfunction and hypertension in adults.

There’s no safe level of lead exposure, as confirmed by the WHO and the FDA. The FDA also emphasizes diversifying our diet to limit lead exposure from contaminated food​​​​.

Cadmium Hazards

Decorative paints in bright red, yellow, and orange colors, often found in glassware, tableware, and pottery, use cadmium.

This metal, found in most people’s blood, accumulates with age and can leach into food and drinks.

Identifying high cadmium levels in dinnerware by appearance alone is challenging, but Prop 65 warnings can serve as indicators​​.

BPA Concerns

BPA, used in plastics, resins, and coatings, has raised health concerns, especially its effects on babies’ development and the female reproductive system.

Responding to these concerns, the FDA has revised its Food Additive Regulations.

This includes removing approval for BPA-based polycarbonate resins in baby bottles and sippy cups, and excluding BPA-based epoxy resins in infant formula packaging​​.

Melamine’s Heat Sensitivity

Melamine, found in cooking utensils, plates, and packaging, releases toxic molecules like formaldehyde when heated.

High levels of melamine exposure can cause kidney stones, kidney failure, and in extreme cases, death.

Symptoms of melamine poisoning range from irritability and blood in urine to kidney infection and high blood pressure​​.

Past incidents of melamine poisoning have raised significant health concerns.

For instance, in 2007, there was a notable case where pet food manufactured in China was contaminated with melamine, leading to the deaths of over a thousand household pets.

In 2008, infant formula in China was also contaminated with melamine, affecting over 294,000 children, causing kidney stones, and resulting in the deaths of 6 children.

These incidents highlight the serious health risks associated with melamine exposure, particularly its links to kidney dysfunction and the increased risk of kidney stone formation and kidney injury.

best materials for non toxic dinnerware

Ceramic / Stoneware

Lead-free ceramic dinnerware is a great choice for everyday use. Its durability and resistance to chipping and scratching make it suitable for families.

Ceramic dishes are also versatile and heat-friendly, meaning they can be used in microwaves and ovens.

However, they can be breakable and heavier than other materials.

When choosing ceramic dinnerware, it’s crucial to ensure that it is heat-resistant and dishwasher-safe.

Ceramic is eco-friendly, being made from natural materials like clay and water, and can be recycled, although finding recyclers for ceramics can be challenging​​.

Glass

Glass dinnerware is stylish and safe, especially when recycled. It’s free from contaminants like lead and cadmium and is eco-friendly, as glass can be endlessly melted down and recycled.

However, glassware is more prone to breakage, so it should be handled with care to avoid injuries​​.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel dinnerware is safe, durable, and nonreactive, making it a good choice for everyday use.

It is heat tolerant and doesn’t typically react with acidic foods, though it’s better to avoid using stainless steel for highly acidic foods.

Bamboo

Bamboo dinnerware is an eco-friendly and sustainable option.

It’s lightweight, durable, and made from sustainable bamboo fibers bonded together with nontoxic resins.

Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, resisting bacteria and fungi growth, and is nonporous, making it easy to clean.

However, it’s important to choose high-quality bamboo products free from synthetic additives or binders.​

Materials to avoid in dinnerware

When considering dinnerware materials, it’s crucial to understand the potential health risks associated with certain substances like BPA (Bisphenol A), phthalates, lead, cadmium, and melamine.

Plastics (BPA and Phthalates)

BPA and phthalates, commonly found in plastics, have raised significant health concerns.

BPA, used in making polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, can seep into food or beverages from containers made with it.

It’s linked to potential health effects on the brain and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children, and may also affect children’s behavior.

There’s also a suggestion of links between BPA and increased blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Phthalates, used to make plastics more flexible, can potentially disrupt the endocrine system, with detrimental impacts on development and the reproductive system. The concern is heightened for children, who are more vulnerable to these exposures​​​​.

Ceramic dinnerware on Brown Wooden Shelves

Certain Glazed Ceramics (Lead and Cadmium)

Some ceramics, especially older or brightly colored ones, might contain lead and cadmium in their glazes.

These heavy metals can leach into food, posing serious health risks. Lead exposure is associated with neurological issues and kidney problems, while cadmium can negatively affect the kidneys and bones.

Melamine

Melamine, a durable material often used in dinnerware, is unsuitable for hot foods. When heated, melamine can release harmful substances.

Studies have shown that melamine can leach into food, particularly when used with acidic or hot foods, leading to health problems like kidney dysfunction and increased risk of kidney stone formation.

It’s safer to use melamine dinnerware only for cold or room temperature foods

Stainless steel is made from a combination of iron, nickel, and chromium, which forms a protective layer that prevents corrosion and leaching of metals into food.

However, some people may have an allergy to nickel, which is present in most stainless steel alloys.

Using a magnet can help determine if stainless steel dinnerware contains nickel​​.

The best non toxic dinnerware brands and products

a set of non toxic dinnerware from gibson

Gibson Home – Rockaway Dinnerware Set

This set is made from stoneware, a material free from lead, cadmium, and other toxins. It features a modern look with a matte glaze and coupe shape.

The set is practical too – microwave, dishwasher, and oven safe up to 300°F. Available in various colors, it offers both aesthetic appeal and functionality.

HANDMADE SOUP BOWL

Elfin View – Sand Collection Dinnerware Set

Handcrafted in Portugal. This set is US Prop 65 approved. It’s made with sustainable and vegan materials, third-party tested to be cadmium and lead-free.

The minimalist design with a crisp ivory glaze makes it both earthy and timeless.

Uncommon Goods – Color Drip Handmade Dinnerware Set

Created by potter Bruce Larrabee in Utah, this stoneware set features vibrant glazes creating fluid patterns.

Each piece is unique and dishwasher safe. The set includes dinner plates, side plates, and bowls in various colors.

Etsy – Modern Picasso Face Dinnerware Set

This artistic set from Manya Art Studio is handmade from stone clay with a certified eco glaze (lead-free).

The set features stoneware plates and bowls with hand-painted faces, available in black and white or colorful glazes, and is microwave and dishwasher safe.

Earth Hero – Handmade Ceramic Saucy Plate

These plates are made from ceramic, a durable and lightweight BPA-free and FDA-approved material. They have a classic and minimalistic design and come in different colors, perfect for outdoor dining.

Artful Home – Inkblot Porcelain Dinnerware Set

Created by Lisa Neimeth, this set features porcelain plates and bowls with unique designs featuring inky drips around the rim. They are microwave and dishwasher safe.

Pottery Barn – Cambria Stoneware Dinnerware Set

This set is known for its aesthetic appeal and sustainability. Made from responsibly sourced materials, it offers a blend of style and eco-friendliness.

Pink Ceramic Cup Inside the Ceramic Bowls

Take Care of Your Dishes

Taking care of your dinnerware properly can ensure its longevity and maintain its aesthetic appeal. Here are some tips based on the type of dinnerware you have:

  1. Porcelain Dinnerware:
    • White porcelain dinnerware, typically made from clay, silica, and feldspar, is usually dishwasher safe. However, avoid using lemon-scented dishwasher detergents as they can damage the material.
    • For decal or hand-painted porcelain, be gentle. Hand-painted items should not go in the dishwasher and should be washed by hand using a mild detergent. Check with the manufacturer before microwaving such items.
    • If you have dinnerware with metal decorations, avoid microwaving as it can damage the metal. Instead, use a “plate-warm” cycle in your dishwasher or a low-temperature oven.
  2. Glassware:
    • Most glassware items, except for blown glass, are dishwasher safe. Printed glassware should be hand-washed to preserve the designs.
    • When drying glassware, let it drain to remove excess water and then air dry.
  3. Bone China:
    • Bone china is fired at lower temperatures than porcelain, so it can be more delicate. Rinse bone china items before a final wash and use detergents with low-chlorine content to avoid damaging the ornamentation.

General Care Tips for Dinnerware

  • Avoid Scratching and Damage in the Dishwasher: Place dinnerware in the dishwasher with enough space between each item to prevent rubbing and scratching. Make sure the dishwasher base is free of debris that could scratch the dinnerware.
  • Temperature Control: Be mindful of the material’s tolerance to high and low temperatures. Not all materials are oven safe, and some may not be suitable for dishwasher use.
  • Smart Storage: Store your dinner set in a china cabinet, wrapping each piece separately to avoid scratches. Store plates vertically to reduce the likelihood of breakage. Use bubble wrap for extra protection.
  • Handling Care: Handle dinnerware carefully to maintain its appearance. Avoid sudden temperature changes. Use mild cleaning agents on expensive and decorative pieces. When shifting storage places, handle one piece at a time to prevent damage.
  • Non Toxic Cleaning Products: Choose mild, environment-friendly, and plant-based cleaning products. Avoid harsh chemicals and strong scents to ensure the safety of your dinnerware.

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