Is there lead in our pottery?

Does your pottery have lead in it?

Have you been freaking out about the viral posts showing someone using a 3M home lead testing swab on random things throughout their house and losing their minds that everything is testing positive for lead?

Let’s debunk this whole idea of lead in pottery.

First off - Gravesco does not now, nor ever has used lead in our glaze.

We only get clay from reputable suppliers with MSDS sheets. I mix all our glazes in house to confirm that they are durable and safe to last a lifetime.

Now that THAT is out of the way - here’s the thing. Those commercial home lead testing kits are for testing lead in PAINT. Says it right on the box.
More importantly, according to reputable labs that have tested the test kits - results show a 70-98% false positive result. That means it will show that there is lead even when there isn’t. They were designed to keep lead from becoming airborne when you’re doing home remodeling projects, sanding etc. They are not nor were they ever intended to be a test for swabbing everything in your home.
They just don’t work like that.
Testing ceramics for lead is not a surface test. It’s much more involved, requires an acid bath in a lead and there simply isn’t a home test kit for it. If you want more information about that Matt Katz debunks this in a recent post on Ceramics Material Workshop over on Instagram. It’s worth a watch!
A lot of influencers who are waving this false red flag are also including links to glass dinnerware that they earn a commission on when you buy it - they’re saying that they’re throwing away all the pottery in their cupboard and switching to glass and providing an affiliate link to their favorite choice that they will then get a commission on.
Spoiler alert!
Glass is not necessarily lead free!
Lead is a flux that has been used in glaze and glass since the materials were first invented and in modern times, there are simply better, cheaper and safer flux options out there.
I’m not saying there is lead in your glass. I’m saying that it is not a guarantee that it is lead free! Ever heard of lead crystal?
So here’s the thing.
Take a deep breath.

Lead hasn’t been used in American studio pottery for over 50 years.

If you’re ever in doubt about lead in handmade pottery, just ask!
I hope this helps you chill and if you’re going to throw out all that store bought stuff made overseas, maybe consider replacing it with something handmade in the United States by potters who care deeply about the materials that go into their craft.
Oh! AND! If you love the mug in the video - it’s available!