Originally Posted by summerlilies
I am still searching high and low for a crock pot that doesn't have lead. Anyone have one?
This answer is now 8 years later, but just in case you did not find what you were looking for and gave up on slow cooking altogether I thought it might be worth responding.
I have spent some hours researching this (several hours several times) and the following information is to me the most important information to have found out:
1) Most if not all slow cookers without temperature dials that dial down to a lower number since sometime in the '90s run HIGH. Even if you set them on low it will just be a matter of time before they are boiling. This is all apparently because even though the manuals for slow cookers always told the consumer NOT to put frozen meat in their slow cookers, too many did just that. To quote one article, " A slow cooker may take several hours to reach a safe, bacteria-killing temperature. Constant refrigeration assures that bacteria, which multiply rapidly at room temperature, won’t get a 'head start' during the first few hours of cooking." Putting frozen meat definitely gives the bad bacteria a huge head start, and people were getting sick and suing the slow cooker manufacturers, who got together and decided that rather than educating the public it would be easier and cheaper for them to just raise the temperature on all the slow cookers. And they did.
2) I personally don't want to cook anything for hours on that high of a heat except beans, so I went for vintage slow cookers made before the "big decision." First thing I do when I get a slow cooker, (I have two, but hope to get a third one), is fill it halfway with water and leave it for a few hours to come back and check the temperature. My milk glass slow cooker only reaches 150°F and never goes any higher. This will place a few limits on what you can cook with it--and means things take a bit longer. My other vintage crock-pot, a Rival made in the USA, has low, high and auto settings. I have discovered they bring the water to 150, 200 and 175°F. The problem with my Rival is that it has the harvest gold glazed stoneware within. I am planning to get a kit to check lead with at the store to make sure it is safe before I cook any food in it. It was a good deal and otherwise just what I wanted. If it turns out there is lead and/or cadmium in it (cadmium being often in the yellow glazes on vintage dishes) I will use it as a double boiler and possibly to steam food but won't let my food touch the crock. I believe steam is safe even in an unsafe container.
3) There are only two vintage slow cookers I have found that are what I believe to be lead-free, and they are the ones with "milk glass" inner crocks or those with vintage Corning Ware inner crocks. Harder to find, but they are out there. The price varies wildly, but the "usual" cost including shipping say on eBay will be in the range of $40-$50 including shipping. UPDATE: I just learned that some of the oldest "milk glass" contains lead. (Ach!) Martha Stewart says the kind with lead "rings like a bell" when you tap a milk glass tumbler. Now I will be looking for other ways to determine that too.
4) If you are afraid to cook things at 150°F, don't be. The FDA and everyone else treats us like we have no intelligence and cannot understand the simplest things. Because you need to cooking something at a certain temperature for a certain number of MINUTES before the bad bacteria are killed they just go for telling us a higher temperature that will kill that bacteria in SECONDS so we don't have to wear out our brains and THINK. Here is a great article about slow cooking: oops, I am too new here to post a link, so just search this: dont-overcook-healthy-cooking and you will find the article written by Dr. Terry Simpson which gives an intelligent explanation about needed times and temperatures for better health AND better culinary results.
5) One option one friend of mine raves about is a Vita Clay slow cooker. She is very, very picky when it comes to keeping toxins out of her food. I need to do more research on this, but the first article I read had me worried that this slow cooker, like other modern slow cookers, runs high. The idea of clay for a cooker has always bothered me and I just can't say why...
I hope that helps someone. It can be hard to get information on all this. I LOVE my milk glass slow cooker. It makes perfect oatmeal. I just put in the water, pinch salt, wee bit of coconut sugar and oats in before bed and in the morning my oatmeal is steamy and ready and better than I could have made in an oven or on a stove top!
P.S. "Made in the USA" unfortunately does not mean that your slow cooker does not have any lead. And the person who said that representatives at the manufacturing companies can say there is no lead as long as it is below a certain FDA limit is absolutely correct. I have yet to do my research on how to test for cadmium.