Is this teapot safe?
December 21, 2016 9:01 PM   Subscribe

I bought a teapot from an outdoor market in Israel. The seller said it's meant for making coffee/tea in and said it's made from bronze. It's beautiful but pretty cheap (less than $15). It's clearly made from metal but I'm not sure if it's actually bronze. Do you think it's safe to use?
posted by bluelight to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by crazy with stars at 9:33 PM on December 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Totally not worth the risk.
posted by jbenben at 9:49 PM on December 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

If you're worried about the metal content, you can get lead test kits for around $15. You might also want to test for arsenic, I suppose, since some bronzes contain that. In an ironic twist, arsenic test kits contain mercury.

Maybe you want to spend $50 to do the tests, maybe you don't. If you're an adult you might not even care (lead affects children more).
posted by ryanrs at 10:50 PM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

As a vase for tea roses? Sure.
posted by Thella at 11:05 PM on December 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

If it looks like it was made out of sheets of metal it's probably brass and not bronze. If it looks like it was made by pouring metal into a mold, it could be bronze I guess?

And unless it has been lined with tin (and looks silvery on the inside) it will leach a bit of copper and other stuff into the drink.

You can get companies to tin stuff for you.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:16 AM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't. Does it look soldered? Presumably that would leech a load of lead into your drink if you put hot water into it.
posted by richb at 2:30 AM on December 22, 2016

Boil some water in it and send it off to be analyzed by a water testing place?
posted by TheAdamist at 3:56 AM on December 22, 2016

Absolutely not for so many reasons. But don't despair, you now have a unique vase.
posted by james33 at 5:22 AM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

The reality is that unless someone on metafilter has experience with inexpensive Israeli pots or a beloved version of this pot and therefore knows exactly what it's made of, we really can't know. So the safe answer for everyone is to tell you not to use it, as the only risk then is not getting to make tea or coffee in a pretty pot. However, it all comes down to your tolerance for risk.

I am middle aged and don't plan to have kids. As a risk assessor by training (IANYRA, obviously, that requires at least Some data) I would put a few kettles of water through it, letting them sit until cool-ish, then rinse the pot out. I'd do one more, with just hot water, and then see how it tasted - some metallic objects, even when non-toxic, can impart an unpleasant metallic taste. If it didn't taste metallic to me, I'd happily make tea and coffee in it for myself. I would do my best to just rinse it after each use (not scrubbing), as both coffee and tea build up a residue that I'd hope would help keep water and metal separate. I would tell myself that seeing as I don't drink a liter of tea or coffee each day from the pot, my exposure level is likely to be low. In the meantime I'd enjoy the pretty pot for what it was intended for.
posted by ldthomps at 8:29 AM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Like ldthomps, I feel like the responsible answer (and the one that you are mostly getting) is to not use this pot because we here on AskMe have no way of knowing what it's made of. That said, I personally would feel comfortable using it unless additional information brought new factors to light. There is not enough information in this question to say for sure; I would want to look at some of the details of its construction before I made that decision.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:28 AM on December 22, 2016

The other reason why you shouldn't use that teapot is that boiling water is too hot for most tea.

Get a temperature-controlled electric kettle instead. It will heat the water faster and not scald your tea. Something like this should do the job, though 160F is still a bit hot for some of the more delicate greens.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:34 PM on December 22, 2016

If you are very nice to the people at the scrapyard, you might be able to borrow/have them apply their magic gun - an X-ray fluorescence tool that can tell you the alloy composition of the metal. Note that this can be spoofed by thin coatings, but it is an option.
posted by Dmenet at 1:18 PM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

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