Is Ironstone Microwave-Safe
What to know

Is Ironstone Microwave-Safe? What is Ironstone Anyway?

Here are several things to keep in mind regarding the question—is ironstone microwave safe? First off, the ironstone chinaware is different from the sedimentary rock also known as ironstone.

Secondly, the rock is known as ironstone obviously shouldn’t be placed inside the microwave for any reason.

Thirdly, regarding the chinaware known as ironstone, it’s microwave-safe, dishwasher-safe, and freezer-safe for the most part. Keep on reading to find out all the caveats regarding it.

Is Ironstone Microwave-Safe?

Yes. At least, the ones without gold or silver trim on it is definitely microwave-safe. The sedimentary rock known as ironstone should not be microwaved because you’re not sure how the sediments it’s composed of will react to microwave radiation, especially if it retained water inside it.

Ironstone chinaware, whether it’s literally Made in China or Made in America, claims to be safe for dishwashing, freezing, and microwaving but if it has trim, it can’t be microwaved because the metal contents of the trim can cause electrical arcing and sparking that could burn the food.

Put It to the Microwave Test

If the ironstone dishware lacks decorative trim, it should be microwave-safe. However, it doesn’t hurt to test how microwave-safe it is first. First, put the dish into the oven and a cup of cold tap water on it before nuking with the microwave.

If the Chinaware doesn’t get hot or warm then it’s truly microwave-safe. If it does get warm or hot, avoid microwaving. You should avoid microwaving any ironstone dish with hairline cracks on it too.

What is Ironstone Chinaware Anyway?

Additionally, please remember that ironstone, stoneware, and earthenware are terms used to describe similar pottery and chinaware types that aren’t exactly the same. Auctioneers and evaluators should know the difference.

Different types of clay are used to make stoneware and earthenware. Meanwhile, ironstone is a stoneware type developed back at the beginning of the 19th century. It’s truly amazing how this classic stoneware type can even be microwaved when it was invented during a time before microwaves.

Ironstone chinaware

How Much is The Value of Ironstone?

It depends on what sort of chinaware we’re talking about and how old it is. For example, ironstone china cake stands or cake pedestals are extra rare. When you do see one surface for auction, they can get quite expensive. They sell from $250 to $1,500 apiece, to be more specific.

Meanwhile, a no-frills style ironstone chinaware dish that might be mistaken for much cheaper regular chinaware made in the modern ear fetches a value of around $350 if they specifically date back to the 19th Century or the 1800s.

How to Identify an Ironstone Product

An ironstone dish should always feel heavier than it appears. It’s the opposite of the lightweight aluminum item, which is instead lighter than it appears. This chinaware type isn’t porcelain but it’s characterized by its luster or sheen.

If you know what you’re searching for or if you have an eye for a true-blue ironstone product, you should be able to identify it with a mere look or quick inspection. If the ironstone piece includes a handle, then hold that handle and flick the body of the dish.

You should hear a nice ring from it if it’s free of cracks or chips. Additionally, the chinaware should remain cold and not go warm or hot when microwaved with a cup of water if it is to be considered as microwave-safe.

Ironstone China is Basically a Type of Ceramic Plate

The Johnson Brothers ironstone dinnerware collection (about 8 pieces of china) tends to be safe for use in the microwave, in the dishwasher, and in the freezer or your money back. As long as there’s no decorative trim on the dinnerware, you should be able to microwave such plates.

With that said, don’t forget to put your ironstone dish to the microwave test in order to make sure it’s absolutely safe for microwaving. If it gets hot too easily due to the thinness of the material and conductive heat (in that it has poor insulation properties) then use another dish type.

The ironstone dish remaining cold after microwaving a nearby cup of water signifies not only total transference of microwave radiation to the water in question. It also signifies that even the heat from the microwaved water and the steam it produces won’t easily heat the dish up.

Further reading: So, Does Ceramic Get Hot in the Microwave or Not?

How Dishwasher-Safe is Ironstone?

Although it was mentioned that ironstone is dishwasher-safe, the rule of thumb is to hand wash your white ironstone chinaware rather than let a dishwashing machine do it for you. This is particularly true of collectors of antique ironstone dishes rather than the dishes used for everyday meals.

It’s safe to dish-wash your ironstone, but there are some risks to it that most collectors of these priceless antiques aren’t willing to take. Like with microwaving, the water may prove too hot or the detergent could prove too strong on the dish.

For certain antiques with hairline fractures or cracks on them already, the strain of dealing with strong detergent, thermal shock from hot water, and even prolonged submersion in the dishwasher can cause damage to it when push comes to shove.

Do Ironstone Dishes Contain Lead?

Modern ironstone dishes should not but certain classic or antique dishes when lead crockery were all the rage might. Check with an expert regarding the usability or lead content of ancient ironstone chinaware.

Don’t heat drink or food in crockery that might contain lead. That’s dangerous and might contaminate what you’re consuming. Don’t store cuisine and beverages in dishes that might be lead-lined or have lead in their creation.

The longer the food or drink is exposed with the surface of dishes that leach lead, the more lead will be drawn unto them. Additionally, putting highly acidic food or drink with leaden crockery can further bring the lead out of it.

What’s the Deal with Ironstone and Microwaves?

An ironstone dish is relatively safe for microwaving because it’s basically a type of ceramic dish and most ceramics that don’t have hairline cracks on them that could break due to thermal shock should be able to withstand microwave radiation and the temperatures possible through them.

The sleekest ceramic—porcelain—are made by reaching temperatures of up to 2,650°F Even the hottest superheated food can’t reach such temperatures, so most ironstone dishes are microwave-safe. Make sure they have the microwave-safe label though, just in case.


  1. Can you use ironstone in a microwave oven?“,, August 17, 2018
  2. Is Johnson Brothers Ironstone microwave safe?“,, June 28, 2020

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