It’s an amazing feeling when the weather is finally warm enough to dine outside! If you’re shopping for non-toxic outdoor dinnerware for your family, here are some brands worth considering!
What is Toxic in Dinnerware?
Ceramics, such as porcelain, stoneware, earthenware, and china, are commonly utilized for dinnerware and have been used to store and serve food for hundreds of years.
However, the glaze that gives dinnerware its smooth and glossy finish as well as enhancing vivid colors and decorations might be toxic to your health. If you’re eating chemicals everyday along with your food, this can cause a variety of health issues you might not even be aware of now.
Unfortunately, the glazes often contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals like lead.
When items are not properly fired, tested, or used, lead and other heavy metals can leach out of them and into food and beverages.
The FDA began regulating lead levels in ceramics in 1971. Even today there are “allowable” levels of led in glazed pottery, dinnerware, and flatware. However, lead is bio-accumulative – meaning it builds up in your body over time.
Even small amounts of lead can impact your health when used in your dinnerware over a long time. Acidic foods and drinks like coffee, citrus, and wine can quicken the breakdown of glazes, as can heating up dinnerware especially to a high temperature, thus increasing the risk of lead leaching into your food and drinks.
This is why is it’s so important to buy lead-free and third-party tested dinnerware.
Another heavy metal that may be found in dinnerware is cadmium. It is also bioaccumulative and poses health risks. In terms of dinnerware, glazed ceramics in vivid colors such as red, orange, and yellow are common offenders.
Plastic plates, for example, do not meet the requirements, since they may include bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates. It’s better to avoid these hazardous chemicals by using safer alternatives instead of risking health problems.
There are also more controversial materials like melamine that seem to be safe but are not very well regulated and are best avoided altogether when there are better options.
I also caution against buying vintage dinnerware as you have no idea how it’s been cared for or abused over the years and what toxins it is leaching into your food.
Which Materials are Considered Safest for Dinnerware?
Ceramic is a good choice for dinnerware. When it comes to outdoor dinnerware, bamboo is also a good choice.
Whatever you choose, ensure it is manufactured properly and choose strong, durable materials. Chips, cracks, scratches, and other forms of damage may also increase the risk of toxins leaching into food and drinks, so the better the quality, the safer the dish.
But don’t stress, we’ve got some tips for you to look out for as well as some of the best non-toxic outdoor dinnerware to check out for some of the safest dishes for your dinner plate set.
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7 Options For Non-Toxic Outdoor Dinnerware
These brands are all high quality and the good news is that there are many options to choose from! You likely do not need 16-piece sets for outdoor dining so pick and choose what you need specifically for your needs.
Stainless isn’t just good for a camping trip! Stainless steel is not only a safe, non-toxic option, it is also extremely durable. That makes it perfect for outdoor use!
It is also lightweight and easy to carry when moving from indoors to outdoors. Plus, is also dishwasher safe! It is, however, not microwave-safe, so keep that in mind!
Before purchasing, always double-check that the stainless steel you are buying has no additives or coatings. Most do not but always check with the manufacturer to be sure.
It’s one of the best options and one of the safest materials as it’s not made with harmful plastic or petroleum products.
Renewable bamboo is another great option for non-toxic outdoor dinner plates. Bamboo fiber is durable, eco-friendly, and biodegradable.
Plus, it doesn’t leach toxins into food and is lightweight and easy to carry!
Most bamboo plates are not microwave safe. They also say they are dishwasher safe, however, in my personal experience, they hold up better if you hand wash them.
Choosing sustainable materials like a reusable bamboo dinnerware set is something you can feel good about for your family and the environment too.
Leafily Palm Leaf Plates
These eco-friendly plates are made from 100% natural materials. They are made from naturally fallen areca palm leaves. They are 100% compostable, chemical-free, and biodegradable.
These are also microwave safe and work with both hot and cold foods. They have a 100% guarantee so if you don’t love it, you can get your money back.
They have many options including their stands sizes and smaller plates that will work well for appetizers or salad plates.
These natural acacia wood plates are not only versatile but beautiful. They are not dishwasher or microwave safe and should be kept out of the sun.
These wooden plates make a good option if you are looking for something a little more beautiful than stainless steel. They are more durable than ceramic plates too and made from eco-friendly materials.
Repurpose makes non-toxic and sustainable products that are compostable. They have everything from plates to forks to cups to trash bags to make your outdoor dining experiences not only easy to clean up but better for the planet too.
Wheat Straw Plates
While not my top choice because they do contain plastic, these wheat straw plates are more affordable and come in different colors.
If you are not dining outside often, they are probably okay to use. Just avoid acidic and hot foods to reduce any chance of chemicals leaching into your food.
They also say dishwasher and microwave safe, but as with all plastics, I would not expose them to high temperatures for the same reason as stated above.
Glass Plates by Anchor Hocking
Anchor Hocking uses high-quality materials and conscious processes to create durable and timeless pieces.
American-made glass, their products are microwave and dishwasher safe. They are also free of lead, cadmium, and other heavy metals.
Additional Tips for Safer Dinnerware
If you’re concerned about your current dinnerware or are looking to stock your kitchen or dining room, here are a few tips to guide you in making safer choices.
You don’t have to use paper plates or plastic plates which are hard on the environment (no thanks, fossil fuels!) and can still contain harmful chemicals. You can have safe, beautiful dinnerware for your home!
- When shopping for dinnerware, choose lead-free or lead-safe options.
- Look for dinnerware that adheres to FDA or California’s Proposition 65 standards.
- Keep an eye out for labels such as “for decorative purposes only” or “not food-safe”.
- The less decoration and color the better. Stick to clear or white varieties.
- Get a home test kit. You can find them at hardware stores, but know that they are not completely reliable.
- Avoid vintage dinnerware, especially if it was manufactured before 1970. If you already own these, use them for decorative purposes instead.
- Avoid storing food and drinks in glazed containers.
- Avoid serving acidic food and drinks on or in glazed dishes.
- Limit heating up food and drinks in glazed dinnerware. Do not use a high heat with glazed dinnerware.
- Hand wash glazed dinnerware instead of putting it in the dishwasher.
- Do not use damaged dinnerware.
- Avoid melamine plates, melamine dishes (there are safety concerns), epoxy resins, and leaded crystal.
- Look for BPA- and phthalate-free plastics if you have to choose plastic.
The Bottom Line: The Best Non-Toxic Outdoor Dinnerware
While there are things we need to be concerned about when it comes to our dinnerware, there are plenty of safe options on the market as well.
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