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I have a large ceramic soup cup which appears to be internally damaged after being rinsed with cold water while hot:

Ceramic cup with visible cracks throughout

Is this cup still safe to use, or is it likely to shatter or otherwise fail during use?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

That is called crazing. It is a crack or fissure in the enamel coating on the cup, not indicative of deep structural flaws.

Your cup is unlikely to fail in the sense of completely breaking due to the craze in the glaze.

On the other hand, they will stain over time, and be unsightly, and hard to wash out.

If the piece is old enough, the glaze may contain lead, which can leach due to the crazing. In that case, the piece should definitely be discarded.

Technically, most health codes require crazed dishware to be discarded, although you can assess your tolerance for risk.

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The cup is certainly not so old so as to have lead-containing glaze. I wasn't sure if the damage was in the glaze or the underlying ceramic. – bwDraco Dec 30 '13 at 22:43

Looks crazed. Sometimes that's a death sentence for a cup, more often it means that dark colored liquids can seep into the cracks, and make things look interesting. Sometimes not even that happens, and you just have a cup with an interesting pattern in the glaze.

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It is safe to use. I have seen lots of cups with similar cracks. I think that they are only in the glaze, not in the ceramic below. But even if the ceramic is slightly damaged too, I have never had one of these break in my hands despite using them for years.

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