Although slow cookers are becoming increasingly popular in households due to their time-saving and delicious meal delivery benefits, there is a rising apprehension about the presence of lead in these appliances.
Is there lead present in slow cookers?
Lead levels in mass-produced slow cookers such as the Crockpot or Instant Pot shouldn’t exceed the government’s guidelines. Other generic brands should be tested for lead (even though most have switched to lead-free glazes). This is done with a lead check kit, which can be found on Amazon. To fully avoid lead, the best option would be the completely-lead free Instant Pot.
Before you discard your slow cooker or make a decision to never use it again, let’s examine how lead enters into slow cookers, the consequences of lead, and whether there are secure slow cookers available.
Do Ceramic Slow Cookers Contain Lead?
Lead is utilized in glazes for ceramic cookware to provide a glossy finish and vibrant colors such as red and yellow. After being glazed, slow cookers are fired in a kiln.
For slow cookers to be safe for use, the ceramic should undergo a prolonged baking process at high temperatures. In cases where the baking conditions are inadequate, the glaze may not be adequately fired, leading to lead leaching into food.
Ceramic slow cookers and inserts are a better choice due to their ability to endure prolonged periods of slow cooking and low temperatures required for ideal cooking.
It is important to note that ceramics can release almost 10 times the amount of lead they normally would at room temperature when heated to 80-degrees, and slow cookers can reach temperatures of 250-degrees or higher.
Gephardt’s 2004 study revealed that measurable amounts of lead were leached by 20% of the tested cookers, and it remains unclear whether any action has been taken by the government to address this issue.
Although lead is a naturally occurring element in our environment, the FDA cannot completely prohibit it; instead, they have established specific measures to maintain low levels of lead.
The FDA has set an acceptable leach level of 1 mcg/mL for large vessels such as slow cookers, and many manufacturers now use non-lead glazes during production to maintain safety. Additionally, some manufacturers ensure that their slow cookers do not surpass the established guidelines.
The agency has released a list of manufacturers and their products that have high levels of lead and/or cadmium residues to raise awareness and ensure the safety of American consumers.
Chances are, your preferred slow cooker was not included in the list for a valid reason. Popular brands have their websites where they conduct safety and compliance tests on their slow cookers. Therefore, there may be no need to dispose of your slow cooker.
When new, slow cookers generally do not release detectable amounts of lead, but as they age and become damaged, such as with dents or cracks, it becomes easier for the lead to seep into the food being cooked.
The agency advises consumers not to buy handcrafted or antique ceramic cookware as they might have been baked in old kilns that contain lead residue, according to their website.
When buying slow cookers, it is important to exercise caution especially when purchasing from flea markets since it can be challenging to verify the credibility of the manufacturer.
It is impossible to remove lead from cookware through washing or boiling, therefore, if you possess an antique cookware, it should only be used for display purposes.
Do Stainless Steel Slow Cookers Contain Lead?
Opting for stainless steel slow cookers may be a more secure choice since they do not present any recognized danger of lead exposure. Nevertheless, there are some individuals who are worried about the existence of nickel in stainless steel, which is a well-known cancer-causing agent.
Moreover, acidic edibles like tomatoes can escalate the quantity of nickel that seeps out from a stainless steel slow cooker.
Which Crock Pots Have Lead?
According to FDA safety standards, slow cookers are considered safe as they contain an acceptable amount of lead. However, ideally, there should be no permissible level of lead in any appliance. Due to the presence of lead in our environment and surroundings, a limit has been set for the acceptable amount of lead that any appliance can release, which is 1mcg/ml.
Do All Crock Pots Have Lead In Them?
Slow cookers do not contain lead. However, it is difficult to determine which ones may have lead as it can vary from batch to batch. The glaze is responsible for containing lead, but the models that have been tested either have very minimal levels of lead or none at all.
While it cannot be guaranteed that all slow cookers are free of lead, several tested models have been found to be lead-free, so the most effective approach would be to conduct a personal test on the appliance at home.
Why Do We Want To Stay Away From Lead?
Although the FDA sets permissible levels of lead in cookware, there are no secure levels of lead exposure from a medical perspective.
While consuming a meal or two cooked in a slow cooker that leaks lead may not result in immediate fatality, it can have negative consequences on the health of you and your loved ones if exposed to this toxic metal over an extended period.
Lead is distributed to different organs in the body, such as the brain, liver, kidney, and bones, when it enters the human body, as per WHO. The accumulation of lead continues in bones and teeth where it is stored.
Lead has the potential to harm various bodily systems such as the nervous and immune systems, heart, reproductive organs, intestines, kidneys, and bones. Those who are under six years old are at a higher risk of lead poisoning and may experience permanent damage to their mental and physical development.
Lead stored in bones of a pregnant woman can be remobilized into her blood, which can expose the fetus to its effects.
Experiencing a metallic taste and nausea are common symptoms of poisoning, with varying indications across different age groups, as reported by Medical News Today. Children who suffer from lead poisoning may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Gums with a bluish hue
- Abdominal pain and constipation.
- General fatigue.
- Hearing loss
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced IQ.
- Slowed body growth
Adults may experience indications and manifestations such as:
- Abdominal pain.
- Raised blood pressure.
- Experiencing hallucinations and having trouble sleeping.
- Impaired cognitive abilities and decreased ability to remember.
- Women may experience miscarriage or preterm birth.
- Decreased quantity and quality of sperm.
- Joint and muscle pain.
Are There Any Precautions I Can Take?
If you are uncertain about how to handle your existing slow cooker, there are some safety measures you can implement:
- To determine if slow cookers contain lead, it is recommended to check the manufacturer’s stance on lead leaching by contacting them directly or visiting their website for details regarding the production process and materials used.
- Take a look at your slow cooker for any chips, cracks, or other indications of damage. If you spot any, it’s best to be safe and discard it.
- Acquire a kit for testing lead and examine your cooking vessels.
Next, we will explore alternatives that are free of lead which you can choose instead.
How To Test Your Slow Cooker For Lead
Lead test swabs can be used by anyone to check their equipment for lead, and these swabs are affordable, costing only a few dollars and can be purchased on Amazon.
The process is easy and fast, with immediate results provided by the test kit. The kit includes test swabs containing two inner glass vials within a plastic tube, which can be utilized to test any item for lead, not just cookware.
Here’s how it’s done.
- Press the plastic tube firmly to shatter the glass vials
- Gently press the plastic tube to expel the mixed liquid from the end of the swab.
- Take the swab and gently rub its end on the surface of the object you want to test for lead.
- After swabbing, you can determine if the lead test is positive or negative by comparing the color of your swab with the control samples provided in the package.
Shake the swab to blend the fluids.
Testing for lead in glaze is a distinct process from testing for it in painted wood, which is what the test sticks were initially intended for.
Typically, I conduct two tests when examining cookware or crockery.
- For the initial examination, the swab is rubbed against the pot surface.
- The second examination involves boiling water in the slow cooker and observing the swab’s response to the water.
If lead is present in the slow cooker, it would be detectable in the water.
The Lead-Free Slow Cooker Alternatives That I Recommend
Those who frequently use their slow cooker, potentially on a daily basis, may be concerned about the health hazards that these devices could present. Fortunately, there are various substitutes for slow cooking available.
The Multicooker Instant Pot DUO60
If you are concerned about the possibility of lead leaching into your food, we suggest using the Instant Pot DUO60 Multicooker as a safe and effective alternative. This 6-quart multi-cooker offers seven different functions, including slow cooking, sautéing/searing, pressure cooking, and rice cooking.
The slow cooker permits you to regulate the level of heat, supervise the temperature, and track time.
VitaClay Organic Multi-Cooker
There is no need to rephrase this text as it is already a product name and should not be altered.
If you are concerned about the potential presence of lead in slow cookers, consider using the VitaClay Organic Multi-Cooker which utilizes unglazed organic clay as a natural insulator to cook food evenly and impart earthy flavors.
The VitaClay multi-cooker is primarily a rice cooker, but it also has the capability to slow cook roast meat, stews, and soups.
Although there are slow cookers that release lead, it doesn’t necessarily imply that you should stop using your crockpot. Nowadays, manufacturers have become more conscious of the importance of creating cooking utensils that are secure for consumption.
Now that we have given you the information, you are in a better position to make the optimal choice for yourself and your loved ones.
You can also check this video about “Do Slow Cookers Contain Lead?”
Check out our 10 reviews!