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Your new Pyrex is not like your old Pyrex!

In January 2011, Consumer Reports ran an article about the reported shattering of pyrex dishes while cooking. The Pyrex your mother used or you may have used years ago was made from borosilicate glass. This is the same kind of glass used in laboratory test tubes and flasks. Today's Pyrex is made of lime soda glass. The manufacturer says the lime soda glass is no more prone to shatter, but consumer complaints are rising. I have a pretty large collection of the new generation blue Pyrex baking dishes and bowls. I noted the article, but didn't pay that much attention to it.

Then a couple of weeks ago, my father-in-law used one of my Pyrex bowls to cook some canned beans. He cooked them on top of the stove, doctoring them up with a few spices. The bowl went from the stove to the table. We ate dinner then poured the left-overs into a plastic bowl for storage. Because he cooked the beans over a gas flame, there was some sauce that had adhered pretty firmly to the bottom of the Pyrex bowl. My mother-in-law put some soapy water in the bowl and set it on the counter to soak. Probably a good fifteen minutes later there was an explosion. The bowl shattered sending shards of glass everywhere.  We were stunned. Fortunately, no one was injured.

Coincidentally, two days later the latest issue of Consumer Reports arrived with a follow up on the Pyrex concerns. After their first article, the anecdotal reports of shattered Pyrex came rolling in. One woman reports that the glass shattered with enough force to sever her Achilles tendon when it was hit by a flying fragment. The incidents are most frequent when butter or oils are microwaved in the glassware. Delayed reactions like the one we experienced are common.

The manufacturer still claims that lime soda glass is as safe as borosilicate glass. I am not so sure. However, the Consumer Reports article did give four safety tips to reduce the risk of Pyrex glass shattering:
  1. Never place Pyrex directly on a burner or under a broiler
  2. Add liquid prior to cooking meats or vegetables
  3. Preheat oven
  4. Place hot glassware on a dry cloth pot holder. (Our bowl had been placed directly on a granite countertop. This seems to be a common factor in several of the shattering incidents. The granite may cause the glass to cool too rapidly.)
Just thought I would pass on this safety tip. I may be scouring the thrift shops for vintage Pyrex.

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