The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Lead Problem? in Clay Baking Pots

BreadHound's picture

Lead Problem? in Clay Baking Pots

I am not sure if this is being posted to the correct forum or not.  I just purchased an oval 2 piece clay baking pot in a thrift shop with the idea of baking bread in it.  It has the design of a chicken on the top half (lid) and on the bottom half it has the mfg name of    scheurich keramik 838, W. Germany on the bottom.  It appears to be vintage and possibly never used.  I was doing some research to learn how to use it when I stumbled upon the lead in the glaze problem. Now I am not sure if it would be safe to use or not!  The inside of the lower half is GLAZED!! (where the food or bread would go).  It would be great if anyone on here had some knowledge about this specific baker.  Also the terminology is confusing.  I dont know if this is considered a terra cotta baking pot, a clay baker, or just what and I am not sure how to use it since it is glazed inside and the soaking instructions I found at various sites might not apply to a glazed inner half of the pot.  I hope someone out there might know.  I welcome and appreciate all input, 



LindyD's picture

Breadhound, I believe  you can purchase a kit to test the glaze for lead.  Check at your local hardware store.

You also might check out eBay as there are a number of clay bakers from that manufacturer for sale.

davidm's picture

I can't tell from the description of your pot whether it's a lead glaze or not. Even if it is, it may or may not be safe. The key is less whether it's a lead based glaze but more whether lead is leaching out, though they are best avoided in my opinion.

Try this link as a starting point;

Have you tried a web search for the name on the pot?

Terra cotta pots are usually unglazed, and the soaking instructions you refer to would likely be for just such a pot. Unglazed, low-fire pots absorb water (like a plant pot). If glazed they will not.


RFMonaco's picture
RFMonaco do with a clay pot is to place it in a pre-heated oven. Let it come up to temp. with the oven.

socurly's picture

Jolly, how does this cork mat remove lead?  If Lead is present in the glaze or clay body, it gets baked into the piece.  Nothing can remove it.  It will leach out with acidic foods, heat, and general use.  Its not worth using something that is toxic.  You can test it with a home testing kit.  If you are in doubt, throw it out. Lead can be absorbed into the skin just by touching it, it can be inhaled when heated or become airborne when scratched or sanded. 

davidm's picture

I've been a potter for thirty years as a hobby. I've been to many seminars on glaze chemistry. That doesn't make me a world authority of course, but come on, setting a pot with a lead glaze on a cork mat ain't gonna help. 

Sorry, but there it is.

The attraction with lead based glazes is that they vitrify at a relatively low temperature into a glossy and smooth surface, they 'flow' beautifully, and they are an effective vehicle for other ingredients giving bright colors. Many country potters over the years have used them in part because they have trouble firing to higher temperatures in more rudimentary kilns. To get comparable results with lead-free glaze you must fire much higher, relatively. More energy etc etc.

Some lead glazes, if fired correctly, will not leach lead in ordinary use, but you can't tell just by looking at the pot, only by proper testing. 

Letting the pot sit full of water is NOT proper testing! Sorry, it ain't.

The best plan is to avoid lead glazes in all cooking operations. The next best plan is to test the pot properly and if it does not leach lead then use it if you must. Not my recommendation though. There is no known way to "transmute the energy" in lead to render it non-toxic. Lead is lead. If there are any cracks in the glaze, however small, don't cook with that pot, or use it for food at all. Just don't. Use it decoratively as a bowl on the table for oranges or bananas by all means, but no hot or liquid foods. It's just not worth the risk. Seriously.

I looked at Jolly's link above. It's a total con, in my opinion, and a hazardous one at that. I don't mean to be offensive, but this is serious stuff. 

jackie9999's picture

Is this lead concern only with 'glazed' pots? I bought an unglazed clay pot from my local Canadian Tire garden center and use it as a lid on my didn't occur to me there may be lead in it ?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The bisque pottery does not contain lead.  Shiny glossy low fire glazes may contain lead, they may also not contain lead.  The company that makes The Schlemmertopf is a reputable one in West Germany.

They go on to state:     4. Clean production Continuous investment of significant capital in machinery to ensure the environmental aspect of our production process is always the top priority. Examples range from recycling heat from our kilns to dry pottery prior to firing; modern filter systems for water; energy saving kilns and 100% use of clay through complex recycling system usage. All products are decorated without the use of solvents or heavymetals (e.g. lead).

There you have it in black & white.  If you are worried about a particular pot, then test it.


BreadHound's picture

The company's statements sound great for now but what were they thinking and doing back when these vintage aged pots were made is my concern.  Even they might not have been aware of lead dangers at that time.   I guess there is no way around getting a lead testing kit.  Thanks for all the wonderful posts with the exception of the hockus pokus giizmo lead remover one.  That post is pure junk and  dangerous to any gullible folks out there. If it hasnt already been flagged I am going to flag it off of here now.


sphealey's picture

I don't claim to be a scientist, but I worked for a number of years for a refractory manufacturer with industrial and medical product lines.  Short answer:  based on my knowledge of refractory manufacturing - further amplified by my current experience in high-marketing consumer goods - I only use ceramic and refractory products for food that are specifically labeled/sold as safe for food (NSF seal is the best in the US, but much home gear does not go through NSF testing).  You will get all sorts of detailed arguments about why this or that industrial or non-food ceramic is perfectly safe and how you can save $23 by using it.  I am not persuaded by those arguments, and I _have_ seen the stuff manufactured.


The post above in this thread about the "magic lead remover" is in my personal non-lawyer opinion close to criminally dangerous and should be removed or annotated to make that clear.

dstroy's picture

I think the comments and responses to that product idea are well written and make it pretty clear that the product is a bunch of baloney - so I don't think further action is needed.

Alas, if only...

then again, a pair of rocket boots and xray goggles that really worked would be neato too!

ejm's picture

This is fine for people who read all the comments. But based on "you can fool some of the people all of the time", I too would be inclined to either add a note to that particular post, remove the link to the miracle lead remover or simply flag the questionable post as offensive.

edit: does it actually say that the product removes lead or does it only claim to remove the negative energy frequencies?


SulaBlue's picture

Negative energy frequencies.

Floydm's picture

Every page has a disclaimer in the footer saying that the TFL doesn't endorse the views expressed in each and every comment.   The responses to the comment in question have more than adequately pointed out the silliness of believing a magic plaque can slurp the bad juju out of a leaded pot.

This thread was dead for 3 weeks and, I thought, a thing of the past.  I'm not sure why it is flaring back up now.  As a NYC cop would say, "C'mon, people, shows over.  Move along now."

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven