Does yellow fiestaware glow brightly?
April 22, 2017 1:13 PM   Subscribe

My mother found yellow fiestaware plates at a thrift shop, and we're pretty sure they're vingtage. I joked about them being radioactive, and now she's worried about eating from them. From what I can find, it's the older red-orange that's the health risk. In looking up information based on the stamp, I'm guessing they were made between the 1940s ad 1972... which does't help much. Any advice?
posted by korej to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's only Red Fiestaware that had uranium in the glaze.
posted by aubilenon at 2:01 PM on April 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

The red-orange and ivory vintage Fiestaware were the only radioactive colors (the red much more than the ivory); the yellow is fine. Active and depleted uranium were used in the coloring, depending on the year. You would be fine eating off of those anyway as long as there are no chips or inclusions in the glaze, though I wouldn't microwave even intact old red Fiestaware. Your mom got a great find!
posted by juniperesque at 2:15 PM on April 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

I believe that those red orange plates were pretty much all taken out of service. I actually had a physics class where we got to measure the radioactivity from one of those plates, so cool!
posted by Foam Pants at 2:18 PM on April 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

"In 1943, World War II forced Homer Laughlin to discontinue its red items due to government restrictions on the radioactive uranium in the glaze used to produce the vibrant color."
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:25 PM on April 22, 2017

Hooray! That's what it was looking like, but double checking seemed like a good idea. Thank you!
posted by korej at 2:47 PM on April 22, 2017

You may want to check for lead, we got a test kit at the hardware store, a couple tested positive on the outside, none on the inside though.
posted by 445supermag at 2:48 PM on April 22, 2017

You might find this interesting. .

If she does get hold of the radioactive red/orange fiestaware it sells for a premium to collectors if she's concerned about her own safety.
posted by wwax at 2:49 PM on April 22, 2017

Not radioactive, but that yellow is probably lead-based.

The manufacturer itself implies as much on their website:
Is Fiesta® Dinnerware lead free?

Yes. Fiesta® Dinnerware is lead free.
Since 1992 when a major manufacturing process change took place at The Homer Laughlin China Company, all of the dinnerware produced for the retail and food service markets has been "lead-free." Fiesta® Dinnerware has been "lead-free" since 1986. The phrase "lead-free" has been and is used in connection with ceramics, including dinnerware products, in which a lead compound was not deliberately purchased and added as part of the composition even though a trace amount of lead may be present in the other naturally occurring raw materials. Because of the trace amounts of lead found in almost all ceramic raw materials, Homer Laughlin China chooses not to use the phrase"100% lead free."
and Collector's Weekly comes right out and says so:
It’s hard to find plates without any kind of wear, but you don’t want scratchy, dull, overused plates. Plus there are health issues with Fiesta. There have been concerns since the very beginning, not only because they were using uranium in their red, but before they started remaking it in the ‘80s, it was all lead-based glazes. There are heavy metals in these glazes, but as long as it’s in good condition and it has a nice, clear protective coating over it and you’re not sawing a big steak on it and getting the chips of it in your food, you’re going to be fine.
posted by jamjam at 2:58 PM on April 22, 2017

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