Thursday, October 8, 2009
Clay may not be as safe as you think
One point of interest for me is working with clay. Many times, it’s the best option for the effect that’s wanted, but at what cost? In my years of working with clay, I’ve heard that you are not supposed to cook the clay on any pan or cookie sheet that will later be used for food. Well, if this isn’t okay, then what makes putting it in an oven where food also is cooked okay? I’m assuming the baking process will release some particles into the air that would then be trapped in the oven only to fall on your food later on, right? Well, I decided to do a little research. Turns out that the committee in charge of testing clay for the U.S. marks the clay with a stamp of approval that says “AP.” The equivalent stamp in Europe says “CE.” Here’s where the problem arises: America looks at clay as an art medium and they seem to expect a little bit of not-so-good chemicals will be included in the recipe. In this case, those chemicals are phthalates which are bad for you (same stuff that is released when you microwave plastic - another big no-no!). However, Europe looks at clay as a child’s toy, so the standards are much stricter and phthalates are completely prohibited. Now, which clay companies use which standards? Well, that’s where it becomes interesting. Sculpey uses the AP standard which means that the clay can have phthalates in it and still pass the test. Fimo, on the other hand, abides by the CE standard making it phthalate-free.
Now, just finding out this research and switching to Fimo wasn’t necessarily enough for me. I mean, if I just found this out, what more is out there that I don’t know, right? To take an extra safety measure, I found a free Easy Bake Oven online and used that to cook my Fimo clay. Now, even if toxins are released, they are contained in a place where food won’t go.
Today, I did my first successful test with the Easy Bake Oven. Now, Fimo cooks at 230 degrees (F), and the Easy Bake Oven heats up to about 350 or so. For the Real Meal Oven, the instructions say to preheat it for 15 minutes. I simply changed that number to 9 and cooked my minis for 5 minutes. Sure enough, it worked! Now, I’ll be even safer while using clay.