There are lots of advantages to buying vintage enameled cast-iron cookware like Le Creuset, ellabee says. With vintage, you aren’t limited to the few sizes, shapes, and colors currently in production; chances are you can find an unusual beauty with character. Buying vintage is generally more price-friendly than buying new. And keeping vintage pieces in play is environmentally friendly.

Other than pieces coated with nonstick Teflon, most cookware can last for decades, Chemicalkinetics says. Check the enamel for cracks and excessive wear, treb advises. If it’s in good shape (particularly the interior enamel), vintage cookware can be a great deal.

One possible exception, blondelle notes: older pieces with red, flame, or yellow glazes. These could contain cadmium, a source of contamination (in newer cookware, the cadmium has been properly contained so it cannot escape into food). To avoid this danger, ellabee buys only vintage pieces coated on the inside with white or light-colored enamel. Or, to avoid all risk of contamination, don’t buy pots with red, flame, or yellow exteriors, even if there’s white glazing inside.

Discuss: Used/Vintage Le Creuset–Downside?

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