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topic 20858p2

Toxicity of nickel silver flatware, p.2 of 3

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A discussion started in 2003 but continuing through 2020

July 19, 2014

Q. Very informative site: thank you for your maintenance of it!

I am very interested in electroless nickel coating of cast iron (or other materials) for cookware. I am a mechanical engineer, not a chemist, but I understand that EN is very different from nickel electroplate because EN deposits a new compound of Ni-Phosphorous which is a glass-like metallic, not a metal. Sounds great, but I've also seen that Ni leaching is a serious issue for WHO (for water) and has been adopted by Community European as a food contact standard, and the limit is VERY low, at 0.07 ppm, but EN coatings leach much more than that limit.

Am I missing something with everyone's comfort levels with EN coated pans? I know the manufacturer of the Olvida pans claims NSF approval, but that would be for corrosion I guess, not for Ni leaching, which it would fail.

So, given that there is no standard for Ni leaching in the USA, do you think US manufacturers should be following the EU directives, at least as a voluntary guide?

More specifically, do you see any problem with EN coating of cookware and the Ni that is inevitably leached?

I hope I'm proven wrong: I love the concept of this coating for cookware, and would adopt it in a heartbeat if someone could really convince me it was food safe.

Thank you in advance: your experience is much appreciated!

Best Regards,


- Dijon, Bourgignon, France

October 13, 2014

Q. Thank you for your wonderful insight into silver (and other) plating! Another vintage silverplate question: I know they say not to wash in the dishwasher, and I do anyway as my silverplate is not 'precious' and if it goes, it goes. But is it dangerous to my health to wash in the dishwasher?

Thank you for your time!


Barbara Pappas
- Wilmington, Massachusetts USA

October 2014

A. Hi. Silver is one of the longest used flatwares and drink containers, going back many centuries. It's not dangerous. But the plating is thin and it won't last long if repeatedly put in the dishwasher. At least put the flatware in a separate section of the basket. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

How to clean "Stainless Nickel Silver" flatware?

December 10, 2014

Q. Hello,

I inherited a set of spoon from my mum-in-law few years ago.
It says "SUPERFINE AI STAINLESS NICKEL SILVER" on the back of the spoon.
They were not in good shape - kind of yellowish tarnished colour and various size of stains on them.
I washed them thoroughly with detergent but those stains are still there.
I asked several so called professionals - antique dealers, sales assistants at department stores etc...
But everyone gave me completely different answer.
Some of them said I can use "Silvo". Then another person said polish with "Brasso".
And the other one told me I need to re-plate spoons.
I went online but I couldn't fine the answer.
So I have no idea what is the correct way to clean them and are they still safe to use?

Yu Blumenfeld
- London, UK

December 2014

Hello Yu. Most silverplated flatware is made of nickel silver. As the silver plating wears away, you see this discoloration because the plating and the base metal are not the same material. You can't remove such differences and they are not stains. I think this flatware was probably silver plated at one time.

They probably have a metallic taste. The correct answer is that they should be sent out for silver plating; then they will not have a metallic taste and they will look good.

It is possible that when they were made years ago the intention was to use them without silver plating, but there have been a number of stupid flatware ideas over the years: I have some "made in Japan"copper-nickel-chrome plated steel flatware from perhaps the same time period and it was just a bad idea :-)


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

March 19, 2015

Q. Hi.
I am from India. I would like to gift a silver plate for my brother for his wedding anniversary. Is it safe to use it regularly for eating? Are silver plates hazardous when used on a regular basis? Do they have any chemical reactions when hot food or drinks like coffee are served? Is it safe to eat curd on silver plates? What chemical composition is right for silverware?
The shop has mentioned 92.5 silver purity. Can you please reply as early as possible.


Viji Nagalingam
- chennai, India

March 2015

A. Hi Viji. The best flatware is sterling silver. Sterling silver and silverplated teapots & tea cups, goblets and chalices have been used for hundreds of years. Silver plated or sterling silver serving trays are a commonplace. I am not an epidemiologist of course but I would have no reason at all to suspect any problem from frequent use of sterling silver (92.5 purity) or silver plated food service items. Best wishes to your brother.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

April 1, 2015

Q. How would one test for the level of nickel in silver plated cutlery? I am new to this. Grew up eating on silver plate and recently decided I would like to go back to silver plated cutlery from stainless steel. Someone told me that it may have health risks. I have just started collecting, love doing so, but don't want to poison the grandkids!


Carla Gracey
- Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts USA

March 2015

A. Hi Carla. There is nothing you can make food service items out of that nobody will say has "health risks"; but with tens or hundreds of millions of people using worn silverplate, I think it would be on the news every week if it was a real problem.

worn silverplate
(this is what silverplate looks like when the plating has worn through)

Nickel Detection plus Nickel-guard Coating

There are nickel test kits you could try =>

... but basically you can see the discoloration if the silver plating has worn through, and most people seem to get a "metallic taste" as well if the silver plating is worn out.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

May 27, 2015

Q. Yesterday I brought what I thought was sterling silver flatware (antique/grape pattern) to a shop with thought that I would sell. The owner told me it was silver plated and due to toxicity it was of no value in terms of financial worth and should not be used for food consumption, or handling. When I asked what could be done with it he suggested throwing it out. I am looking for information to confirm or reject this suggestion. Surely if it isn't fit to eat with I also wouldn't want to pollute the landfill with carcinogens either. This was quite a surprise. My Mom had been an antique dealer in the 60's thru 80's, which is how I acquired the flatware. Appreciate educated feedback. Thank you.

Jean Anderson DeVito
- Southington, Connecticut USA

June 2015

Hello Jean. Whether you send your nickel-silver to the landfill or not, I'm still not going to get my dinner from the landfill :-)

The point being that just because something like nickel silver isn't great to eat off of doesn't render it a worse toxin than rotting garbage; so you can certainly dispose of unwanted flatware. But your town's public works yard may have a metal-collection dumpster.

The deeper answer is that:
1. the silver plating on plated silverware is so thin that it's not saleable as precious scrap like sterling silver is.
2. if the silver plating has worn off, you will probably get an "off" taste, a metallic taste. It can be replated with silver, which solves the problem, but this may only be economically feasible if the flatware has sentimental value to you.
3. times change and tastes change and there is little market these days for silverplate of any sort; and worn silverplate has no value. Sorry.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

affil. link
Oneida flatware

June 7, 2015

Good Afternoon!

I have been researching flatware for many months. I bought a set 20 years ago from Dillards for $165 and it has lasted until last week when I had to throw them away due to a plumbing issue. The flatware set was high quality, comfortable, and didn't rust. I loved this set!

After researching, I realized that the best quality is 18/10. I searched to find an economical price set. I found Oneida "Satin Countess" 45-piece set of 18/10 quality for $90. The pieces are quite heavy.

I don't use a dishwasher. I hand-washed the set three times before use. For breakfast I used the spoon in a bowl of cereal this morning. I was left with a metal taste in my mouth. I have never had this happen before. The taste is still here 4 hours later. Can you please help me determine if I need to take the set back? Or is this normal for an 18/10 flatware until the set is broken in?

I care about my health and the health of my two boys. I don't know if I have a nickel allergy. I tend to buy high quality jewelry so I haven't used a nickel product exclusively.

Thanks for you help!

Take care,

D. Scott
- Mesa, Arizona

June 2015

Hi D. This thread unfortunately conflates silver-plated nickel-silver flatware with stainless steel flatware, which can be a bit confusing.

But as far as I know there would not ever be a metallic taste from stainless steel flatware of any sort. I've certainly never encountered it, although I do taste the nickel-silver metal sometimes from some well-worn silverplate.

Your set has extremely good reviews on Amazon! You're sure you didn't take Cold-eze, or use an inhaler, or chew on a ballpoint pen recently?  :-)

But I'm not so sure it's actually 18/10 ... the description I see of this product on says 18/0.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

June 8, 2015

A. See if a regular magnet (Alnico) will stick to it fairly strongly. If it does, it's one of the 400 series stainless steels, all of which contain no nickel and are, therefore, more prone to rusting (often, rust spotting), etc. 18/0 SS is in the 400 series.

If it doesn't stick, it is 300 series, which would include 18/8, 18/10, etc. The 18/8, e.g., contains 18 chromium/8 nickel The 300 series is less prone to corrosion than the 400 series, due to the nickel content.

It seems that 400 series is stronger and 300 series is more corrosion resistant. 410 stainless is so strong it is used to make jet engine stators.

The newer super-strong neodymium magnets, like those found in computer hard drives, are finding their way into new products and you can buy a big stack of just the magnets on Amazon and eBay. If you want an easier time holding up stuff on the refrigerator, get a dozen of these, at least 1/4" in dia. - on eBay, you can find 50 of them for under $10. The bigger they are, the harder they are to pull off - sometimes it's easiest to slide them off. If the stuff you're holding up is too heavy, use 2 or 3.

These new neodymium magnets will stick to both 400 and 300 series SS. The attraction to each series is dramatically different, so you could separate them with one of these magnets. They stick to 400 series so strong that it's hard to get them off. In my experience, with 300 series, these magnets stick about like a regular Alnico magnet does on 400 series. Stuck pretty tight, but easy to pull off.

Please read this thread:

Chris Owen
- Nevada, Missouri, USA

Toxicity of my grandmothers silver plated flatware?

August 11, 2015 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I googled the question "is it safe to use my grandmother's silver plated flatware" and this forum popped up with a very interesting , very knowledgeable reply from a fellow former Pine Beach neighbor! I lived there for fourteen years before moving to downtown toms river. Still visit pine beach regularly, especially Moore's farm market. Mrs. Moore still going strong. So... "Is it safe?" ;-)

Thank you for your time.

lisa hummel
a regular gal! - toms river New Jersey (formerly Pine Beach)

August 2015

Hi Lisa. You moved the opposite direction that I did. I was in Toms River (Silverton) for 16 years.

We appended your inquiry to a thread on the subject. "Silverplate" is made of nickel-silver that is plated with pure silver. If the silver plating wears thru, you will first see it as in the photograph I previously posted on this page, and then you'll most likely taste it as a faint metallic or electric taste, especially if you lick the spoon when you eat.

If you see none of that discoloration, it's still completely covered with silver. Silver has been used for centuries and is certainly 100% safe.

If you do see that discoloration and taste it, the underlying nickel-silver is exposed. Personally I think it will be a matter of finding the discoloration unattractive, and the metallic taste annoying, long before you need to think about the possibility of too much metal in your diet. But you can have it replated if it looks like it requires it, and if you wish.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

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