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My grandmother-in-law left us a very large collection of carnival glass. This has led to a mild debate over whether it is safe to use.

Are there foods that shouldn't be served on carnival glass? What are possible risks of occasionally using the dishes for (e.g.) ice cream, pie, or a salad?

(The "unsafe" vote also points out that "it's an expensive antique and needs handwashing, why not just leave it in the cupboard?" which may make the safety issue moot, anyway.)

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    Carnival glass gets its color from an application of metallic salts to it after it is removed from the mold. The most commonly-used salts contained tin and magnesium(not bad), but some of it used cobalt-containing salts and other nasty stuff you wouldn't want to ingest. Would it be safe to eat from? Sure, but you have to decide your own risk tolerance. – Mr. Mascaro Dec 2 '14 at 17:48
  • I'm familiar with the manufacturing process. I am more interested in whether certain food types might be more likely to leach heavy metals off the surface. If you're interested in posting your comment as an answer, and perhaps quantitatively expanding on "sure, but you have to decide your own risk tolerance", that would be great. – Erica Dec 3 '14 at 13:50
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Don't use any food containing:

  • alcohol
  • acids (lemon juice, vinegar, ...)
  • oils (butter, mayonnaise, cream, ...)

So a salad without oil&vinegar should be safe for daily use, but ice cream, punch, pie (contains butter) etc are to be avoided. The health effects should be minimal, but you'll definitely ruin granny's beautiful set in the long run... ;-)

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