I have been worrying about lead poisoning since I came across a newspaper clipping published in 1986 regarding a couple from Seattle falling sick due to ceramic coffee cups.
The ceramic cups contained lead that was leeching out into their coffee. They were diagnosed with lead poisoning.
This piece piqued my interest and I started to frantically search for anything made of ceramic in my kitchen. Recently I noticed it, inside my dearest crockpot- a ceramic insert!
I want to find out whether the ceramic insert inside my crock pot contains lead. Let us begin.
For a long time, crockpots have been made of ceramic, as ceramic offers excellent heat distribution all across.
Because of ceramic, it is easy for the crockpot to maintain low temperatures for a long duration.
The problem is the glazes coated around ceramic. These glazes release a good amount of lead in the low heat temperature setting.
As the crockpot cooks at low heat, there is a high chance of lead leaching into the food. The more the duration of cooking, the more lead gets leached out.
The quantity of leaching also increases with foods containing tomatoes. For example – chili and sauces.
However, a higher temperature setting is slightly safer as the glaze stays sealed and the exposure time duration is also less.
This does not mean you have to throw out your crockpot. Allow me to tell you how the lead is leached out, how to detect it, and how to avoid lead completely.
I will be sharing with you some safe slow cooker options as well.
Lead is used in the glaze used to finish the ceramic pot.
Once the glazing process is complete, it is baked in a kiln. The baking process should be for a long duration at a hot temperature.
If the baking process temperature and time duration are not fulfilled, there are high chances of lead poisoning the food cooked inside the ceramic pot.
In 2004, an investigator names Gephart found that 20 percent of the slow cookers leached a good amount of lead.
According to Professor Edward Puzas, orthopedic dept at the University of Rochester Medical Centre “lead has been in soil and elsewhere in our environment for a thousand years. But there is no safe amount of lead in human blood.”
Even in the Roman Empire, lead line aqueducts contributed to public health problems.
The FDA has set guidelines that help to keep lead levels low in ceramic pots. They have set the level of 1mcg/mL as an acceptable level for slow cookers and other large ceramic pots.
All slow cooker manufacturers including the brand crockpot have to follow this guideline of acceptable levels.
Many manufacturers have completely done away with the lead.
However, older crockpots do contain significant amounts of lead that can easily leach out into your food. Do away with antic and old crockpots.
No amount of boiling or cleaning can rid the lead, so if you are emotionally attached to an old crockpot, it is best to keep it for display and not for cooking.
According to WHO, levels as low as five micrograms can cause derogatory changes to your health.
Let us now proceed with the harmful effects of lead on the human body
Let us look at some popular slow cooker brands and whether they have lead in them.
- Crockpot and Rival: According to the brand, their products meet the FDA guidance for lead content.
- KitchenAid: The brand stated that its slow cooker glaze does not contain lead
- Precise Heat Stainless Steel Slow Cooker 12-Inches: The brand stated the insert is made up of surgical grade stainless steel and does not contain lead
- Cuisinart: The brand states that their slow cooker glaze does not contain lead.
- Proctor Silex: According to the brand, there is no lead or cadmium presence in the crockpot.
- Hamilton Beach: The brand states the presence of lead satisfies the FDA heavy metal requirements.
- Sunpentown SC5355 Zisha Slow Cooker: It contains a lead-free clay insert according to the manufacturer
- West Bend: The company states that the lead content in the glaze is under USDA guidelines. If the glaze is cracked or chipped, it should not be used for cooking.
Allow me to tell you how to protect yourself from lead contamination.
Californian Proposition 65 is the “safe water and toxic enforcement act of 1986”. Under this act, the limit of lead is 0.1 parts per million.
This is about 10 times lower than the USDA limit of 1 part per million of 1mcg/ml.
If your crockpot is leaching out lead more than California prop 65, you will find a warning label and a link: P65warnings.ca.gov/product
If you are purchasing a crockpot from a second-hand store or a flea market, always check for labels or signs. Beware of signs that say for decorative purposes only.
Avoid purchasing slow cookers without any labels. The cooker may not be baked well or have a dangerous coating.
The older the crockpot, the more the chances of significant lead contamination.
Do not purchase cracked, worn-out slow cookers.
Avoid hand-painted decorated crock pots with bright colors. Such ceramic pots often contain a high amount of lead.
Always purchase cookware from a reputed or known brand.
It is best to opt for stainless steel inserts. These will ensure there is no lead leaching into your food.
Crockpots that are made in china should be avoided. This is because there are fewer regulations in china for metal toxicity in cookware.
Use a Lead Testing Kit
When in doubt, it is best to check the crockpot with a lead testing kit.
Here is a link to an instant lead testing kit. All you need to do is crush, shake and put the swab on the pot. If it turns red, it means there is lead in it.
The testing kit is quite useful and contains eight disposable swabs.
If you have already been exposed to lead contamination, do not worry.
I will tell you a few ways to remove lead naturally from the body and avoid poisoning
Use Bentonite Clay
Purchase this clay and mix it with water and apply it over your body. Bentonite Clay along with water creates a negative charge.
Lead has a positive charge and will get attracted to the negative charge. The clay will absorb all the lead toxins from your body.
A warm water bath helps to speed up the absorption of lead from clay.
Consume Vitamin Supplements
Vitamin C and E are often prescribed while detoxifying the body from heavy metals like lead.
Increase the dietary intake of calcium as it competes with lead to get absorbed inside the human body.
Garlic is another natural lead detoxifier. A research study was done on participants by giving them 1.2 milligrams of allicin made from 1000mg of extracted garlic.
Garlic was found to be very effective in the treatment of lead poisoning.
Two Lead-Free Crock Pot Options
Although the crock pot brand and many other well-known brands now have ‘lead’ within the prescribed USDA limits, if you wish to have crock pots without any lead content whatsoever, consider the two good options below:
The Vitaclay clay pot contains unglazed, organic zisha clay. This clay is found in the south china mountains and is completely lead-free.
The clay used helps to seal the nutrients and taste.
Being an earth element, it is naturally porous and absorbs food. The results are deliciously done meals with earthen flavors.
The best part is it meets proposition 65 standards and FDA safety requirements.
It functions as a slow cooker, a rice cooker, a steamer, and even a yogurt maker!
This electric multi-functional cooker works as an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, and warmer.
It has a full stainless steel insert pot with a 6 quarts capacity. The best part is the 20 menu options. You can slow cook stew, soup, porridge, broth, cook rice, simmer, make chili, and even yogurt!
You can adjust the temperature and pressure levels according to your recipe.
The insert pot is made up of 100% stainless steel and is dishwasher safe.
This pot can be used for many hours of cooking and is perfect for all crockpot dishes.
Harmful Effects of Lead
According to Professor Puzas, as the chemical structure of lead is similar to calcium, it gets easily absorbed into the human body.
The human body can store lead for decades.
Using a lead-leaching slow cooker once or twice for a meal may not harm much but consistent cooking inside the slow cooker can make you vulnerable to lead poisoning.
I have broken down the harmful effects into two categories- Adults and Children
- Memory loss and decline in mental functioning
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Raised blood pressure
- Abdominal cramps
- Premature deliveries
- Muscle and Joint Pain
- Stunted growth
- Hearing loss
- Reduced IQ
- Abdominal pain and anemia
- Loss of appetite
- Blue tinge around their gums
You are now aware that some crockpots contain lead. Manufacturers are now taking care to follow strict FDA and proposition 65 standards and avoid using a lot of lead in their ceramic glaze.
While some have acceptable levels of lead, some crockpots are lead-free. Go through the protection tips written above to completely steer away from harm.
I have also mentioned two lead-free options, so you can stay healthy and lead-free!
With all the understanding of the above, you are now well informed to make healthy decisions for yourself. All the best!
Other articles you may also like: