Are Ceramic Mugs Safe to Drink From?

Often, I buy mugs just because I like how they look. I rarely think twice about the material it is made from or the kinds of properties it has. It does not matter whether the mug can maintain the temperature of your drink because what I really want is to drink my morning coffee from that specific cup. 

This might not seem like a big deal, but a deeper look at how the mug is manufactured, and the advantages and disadvantages of certain materials, can significantly impact your health.

Ceramic mugs are the most in-demand as they are perfect for most occasions. They are also dishwasher and microwave-friendly. People also believe that ceramic is the safest material to drink from. But there are certain things they may not be aware of. I have gathered all the information you need to know about this coffee mug to help you decide on the best.

Why Are Ceramic Mugs Preferable to Other Materials?

There are various materials available to make mugs, some more beneficial than others.  Before buying a mug that will become your faithful companion, you should consider a few critical questions. Is the mug durable? Does it have heat retaining properties? Can you place it in the oven if your beverage gets cold? Can you put it in the dishwasher?

To find the best one for yourself, carefully consider and compare all their features and properties. A little research before buying could go a long way for your long term health and well-being. 


Glass mugs are the best choice if you value aesthetics above all else. Glass is an easy to clean and non-porous material. It is also a neutral material that does not release any chemicals. So, it will not affect the flavor of your drink. However, glass mugs are not very durable because glass is more fragile than other materials. Double-walled mugs are preferable to single-walled ones, but even they do not retain the temperature for long. 


Plastic may be convenient, but it is not safe for you or the environment. Plastic cups are cheap and lightweight, but hot drinks can make their interior lining disintegrate. Plastic also releases toxic substances like BPA, which can negatively impact your health. Furthermore, it absorbs the flavor and smell of certain liquids, making them taste unpleasant.

Metal/Stainless Steel

Metal or stainless steel mugs are the most durable, as they are virtually unbreakable. They offer excellent insulation, which maintains your drink’s temperature for a longer time. However, like plastic, metal can also release certain elements that alter a drink’s flavor. Not only that, when the inner lining weakens, it releases harmful substances into your drink.


Ceramic mugs are the most popular choice among buyers, as they have many features that enhance the taste of your beverage. They offer a wide range of colors and patterns to choose from. Studies have shown that aesthetics improve the flavor of coffee and other drinks. Some are even fitted with customized features such as infusers that are great for tea lovers.

Ceramic mugs are also non-reactive, so they will not absorb the flavor or odor of your drink. Even though they retain the heat of the drinks better than other materials, they are also microwavable. With all the benefits of ceramic, it is almost impossible to choose other types of mugs over it. 

How Can Ceramic Mugs Be Toxic?

Ceramic mugs are usually painted or glazed to look decorative and appealing. However, you might not know that the glazing on the mug might be toxic for you.

The glazing material generally contains lead and cadmium, which are highly hazardous to your health. However, these elements do serve an aesthetic purpose. Lead provides a shiny exterior finish and a smooth surface, while cadmium produces the bright color that grabs your attention. 

Since there is a limit to the amount of toxic substances that can be used in kitchenware, most ceramic mugs on the market will only have small traces.  What you should avoid is kitchenware that contains high quantities of those elements. These would be the brightest and shiniest mugs on the shelf.  

Hot drinks and acidic liquids will cause the lead and cadmium to leach out faster. Heating your drink in the microwave will also speed up the process. 

Mug Manufacturing – Then vs Now

Today, the manufacturing process of mugs is very different from what it was ten years ago. They use less lead and often avoid glazing the mugs altogether. 

Antique mugs were often glazed with lead, so drinking out of them can be pretty dangerous. The lead that was hiding in the glaze can leach into your hot drink. 

The chemical is not as much used by potters today, but there may be another concern: the kiln. If the manufacturers still use the same old kilns for baking their mugs, they may still have some lead residue.

The Impact of Lead on the Human Body

How exactly is lead harmful to the human body? Well, for starters, it is not only the large doses that are hazardous. Exposure to even small amounts of lead can have an adverse effect on the body. 

In children and teenagers, lead can decrease the rate of physical and mental development. Over time, it can increase blood pressure levels, affect the functioning of the kidneys, and even cause severe reproductive issues. These are a few of the most common consequences of consuming lead through food and drinks.

Even though lead is all around, even a tiny amount in the bloodstream can result in extreme conditions. Because of its molecular composition, it is not difficult for lead to enter the body and do serious damage. 

In this way, lead works similarly to calcium. It can quickly get deposited in bones and stay there for an endless amount of time. This puts the human body at risk of developing osteoporosis. As a result, the bones become fragile and run a higher risk of fracturing. Healing after a fracture also takes significantly longer. 

Even though lead poisoning can have drastic effects on anyone, children are the most susceptible. Along with development delays, they might also suffer seizures and hearing loss. 

The Non-Toxic Ceramic Mugs

Even though there is a chance that ceramic mugs could release lead into your drinks, there are several measures you can take to diminish the risk. 

Things to Look For Before Buying a Ceramic Mug

  1. Avoid handmade mugs since they are non-refined and contain large amounts of lead.
  2. Since lead was a common additive in older times, I also suggest you avoid antique mugs.
  3. You should also refrain from using damaged or worn-out mugs since they have a high chance of releasing toxic substances into your drinks.
  4. Do not make purchases from unreliable manufacturers and brands with a history of using lead in their kitchenware.
  5. Avoid overly bright and shiny mugs, as their vibrance results from higher amounts of lead and cadmium. 
  6. And finally, go for mugs that are not glazed on the inside.

Final Thoughts

As more and more people have become aware of the risks of lead, most ceramic industries have stopped using it in their kitchenware. However, you cannot always trust brands as their primary goal is to sell their products. They may put “lead-free” labels on all their manufactured goods even when it is not true. 

That is why the FDA has published a list of lead-contaminated products. The results conclude that most industries have now switched to safer options. But this does not make all ceramic products safe to use. However, note that baking for a little longer at high temperatures will make the ceramic products safer.

Another prudent step to take is to test the ceramic products yourself using a lead-testing kit. The FDA strongly recommends against using a product that tests positive. But if the test is negative, you can safely send your favorite mugs as gifts and keep drinking from your favorite ceramic mug for as long as you like!