Why is MEC handmade? The Secret to it being 100% non-toxic
There are different kinds of clay cookware in the market but among them, only MEC is handmade. How does it make MEC different from other clay cookware? And what other manufacturing steps does MEC do differently? Keep reading to find out.
Manufacturing Clay Cookware – How are clay pots made?
First, the maker harvests clay from the source land. Some resort to using imported clay because it is already treated with additives to make it easier to work with. On the other hand, MEC harvests clay from unfarmed and non-industrialized lands in the USA. But before that, the clay sample is tested in a reputable state lab to ensure there are no toxins.
The next challenge is to keep the viscosity of the clay slurry uniform and low level for the time it is stored in the clay tank. The manufacturers add ascorbic acid to control viscosity (source). MEC, on the other hand, wets, and pugs the harvested clay, removes any stones and leaves the wet clay to sit for 48 hours. Any trapped air is later removed by wedging. This process requires more time and effort but avoids toxic additives.
The manufacturers then make a slip. For working with the slip making equipment (more info here), they add chemicals like sodium silicate, soda ash, barium carbonate etc. and further make pots by slipcasting. To avoid using these additives , MEC follows the ancient method of throwing clay on a potter’s wheel. And then the potters individually make each piece with skillful hands. The finished product is not only free from toxins, but it is much stronger, long lasting and can conduct more even far infrared heat (read more about far infrared heat cooking here).
Drying and Finishing:
The next step is drying the pieces while retaining their shape and without forming cracks. To make the process quick and easy, the manufacturers use drying agents (learn more) like bone ash, borax and different metal hydrates and metal oxides. MEC does not compromise on “no toxins” rule and set their cookware to dry for about 2 days then individually hand finishes each piece on the wheel. Then they are set to dry for about 7-10 days, depending on the weather.
In general, the higher the content of clay, the stronger the clayware. The clay pots with about 50% clay (most porcelains and many low-fire bodies) dry rapidly and produce weak greenware. Grogged stoneware bodies containing 85-92% clay yield stronger greenware and require less care in drying. Since MEC is 100 percent clay, it will be the strongest (more info here).
The Final Finishing:
After already using so many toxic chemicals, the makers use more in glazes to make the final product shiny and colorful. But MEC uses a thin coating of the finest partials of MEC clay with water (no additives) for finishing (known as Terra-sigillata). It requires no toxins but only more hard work.
Finally, MEC pots are fired in the kiln to about 1750-2000 degrees temperature, unlike other clay cookware (like ceramics) which is fired at much higher temperature to fuse additives together. This lower temperature is adequate for MEC because the raw material does not contain elasticizers, plasticizers, other chemicals or additives.
All this hard work that the makers like to call “a labor of love” yields a truly non-toxic cookware that cooks without leaching and keeps nutrients intact. This and other healthy features of MEC are discussed here: Are all clay pots the same? And what are the benefits of clay pot cooking anyway?
Interested in finding out what difference all this hard work makes to your food? Head over to our online store and order a 100% natural clay pot today!