A variety of utensils was available for nineteenth century consumers to use in the kitchen. Cast iron pans, tinned on the inside, were cheap (a 4 pint pot cost 1/8d) and suitable for use on the hobs and hot plates of the new iron ranges, but coal made them black and sooty which affected the conductivity of the metal. The cook had to be diligent in stirring the contents to prevent burning on the bottom, and the metal sometimes tainted and discoloured the food.
They also had to be kept dry otherwise they became rusty and developed holes. After 1840 enamelled iron pans were available but the enamel contained lead which could leach into food if it was left in them. They tended to 'catch' on the bottom and scraping might chip and damage the enamel. Mrs Beeton was dismissive of enamel pans and concluded that they were, 'not often used in kitchens where there is much cooking done.'
Mrs Beeton was keen on wrought steel saucepans and stewpans, inexpensive at 1/4d for a 4 pint pan, which were easily kept clean and did not discolour food. They occasionally needed retinning but when the tin wore off the effects were harmless. She also favoured aluminium pans which, although they needed some care in cleaning, and were more costly at 5/4d for a 4 pint pan, they were light, heated quickly, retained their heat for a long time, and according to Mrs Beeton, the metal was not affected by the juices of fruit and vegetables.
In more affluent households kitchen utensils were often made from copper. Copper is good for pans as the metal conducts heat easily and evenly, but they were expensive at 9/ld for a 4 pint stewpan, and needed constant cleaning. The insides of the pans had to be lined with a thin layer of tin to prevent food coming into contact with the copper which could cause verdigris poisoning, particularly if the recipe contained vinegar or acids from fruit or wine. Mrs Rundell writing in 1868 also warned her readers 'to avoid putting vinegar and other acids' into leaden vessels because the effect on the glaze was 'unwholesome' and she recommended use of 'strong stoneware'.
The debate about lead in glazes at the end of the nineteenth century had mainly focused on the health of workers employed as dippers, ware cleaners, ground layers, colour dusters and enamel painters.
There was some awareness of the reaction of household acids on lead glazes but the effects were generally thought to be minimal. Lead glazes were undoubtedly used in the earthenware potteries in Chesterfield, but it is unlikely that it was used in any quantity in salt firings.
A greenish glaze was used to line the Brampton saltglaze pots, unlike the French ware that was being imported into the country at the time which had white interiors.