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Exploding Pyrex

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Forwarded email claims Pyrex dishes manufactured in the U.S. during the past 25 years may break or 'explode' during use due to changes in its formulation.

Description: Email rumor
Circulating since: Sep. 2009
Status: Mixed (see details below)

Example:
Email contributed by Gary A., Sep. 26, 2009:

Fw: PYREX

About 5:30 PM there was a loud bang from the oven. Sylvia opened the oven door and the Pyrex dish had shattered into a million pieces. The roast beef (our first in many months) was peppered with small shards of very sharp glass. Normally, I am quick to inform Sylvia she did something stupid. However, this time she was nowhere near the stove when it blew. I shoveled the glass and the now mashed potatoes into a bucket with two putty knives. I then sucked the remains with the shop vac. I let everything cool down and then scrubbed the oven with Simple Green and some hot soapy water. It took over an hour to clean up the goo. Upon completion I ran the oven empty to see if the temperature controller was working okay. I suspected the oven got too hot and the dish simply blew. This was not the case however. The oven came up to temperature and cycled normally. We threw a disgusting frozen pizza in the oven and it cooked okay.

What is going on?

I Googled exploding Pyrex dishes and got ten million hits. Exploding Pyrex is very common.

Here is the story.

A long, long time ago in a country we all know and love was a company named Corning . They made Pryex dishes. The material they used is called borosilicate glass. This stuff is indestructible. But like everything else, the Bottom Liners had a great idea: sell the technology to another company. The Chinese discovered that using soda lime glass was almost as good as borosilicate glass and a lot cheaper. Today, Wal-Mart is the largest distributor of Pryex products. Corning not only sold the technology to a company called World Kitchen, they also sold the rights to the original Pyrex logo. Seamless. The consumer will never know.

Now it seems people are getting hurt using soda lime Pyrex. We were lucky because the dish broke while the oven was closed and the damage was limited to the oven cavity. Others have been less fortunate. Some dishes explode when they are lifted from the heating rack in the oven with devastating results. Some people are heavily scarred. World Kitchen is in denial. They say that the dishes are another brand, not theirs. Contrary to their denials the victims usually have more than one of these dishes and the Pryex logo is clearly visible.

If you buy a Pryex dish beware. The label on the front says oven safe, freezer safe, microwave safe. The instructions on the back tell another story. You cannot move a soda lime Pyrex dish from the freezer to the oven and expect it to survive. The fine print goes on and on about what you are not allowed to do with the Pyrex dish. The fine print has prevented World Kitchen from being sued because they have warned the consumer that their Pyrex dishes are junk from the get go. And they are the same price as the original Corning dishes. What a bunch of losers we all are for buying this crap.

What to do?

If you own borosilicate Pryex dishes no fear.

They have to be more than 25 years old to be sure they are indeed Corning dishes. I am not sure if the old Pryex dishes have anything stamped in them that indicates they are made by Corning . You may continue to use the soda lime dishes for holding stuff. Just do not attempt to roast or microwave with them as the hazard is very clear.

The reason the soda lime dishes let go is that over time they develop micro-cracks. Once a few micro-cracks are present and once some liquid finds its way into the cracks you have the bomb situation. The liquid is like shoving a crowbar in the dish and pulling it apart. Super heated liquids expand rapidly and it is the super heated liquids that force the soda lime glass to shatter into tens of thousands of shards.

Since Corning no longer makes Pyrex and Sylvia proudly holds a large collection of the soda lime Pyrex, we decided that one bomb in the kitchen is enough. The Pyrex dishes will go bye-bye in this week's trash. I do not know what we will use for cake and pie dishes going forward .. If you have some suggestions we are listening.

I strongly urge you not to use the soda lime Pyrex for the oven, stovetop or microwave. The slightest invisible crack is all it takes to have a mess and a possible injury.

As to World Kitchen: them and their cheap dishes. In case you are wondering: World Kitchen is not a USA company.
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Update: In Jan. 2011, after the analysis below was written, an article containing new consumer data, test results, and recommendations appeared in Consumer Reports magazine. For up-to-date info, see Consumer Reports: Glass Bakeware that Shatters.

Analysis: (Jan. 2010) Anecdotal evidence seems to support the contention that Pyrex baking dishes have been known to break or shatter during use on rare occasions. Consumer advocate website ConsumerAffairs.com has collected more than 300 such reports from Internet users around the country. And while the manufacturer, World Kitchen, LLC., rightly points out that this number is extremely small compared to the estimated 370 million Pyrex products in use, the fact that breakage can occur merits the attention of glass cookware owners, who would do well to familiarize themselves with the manufacturer's safety instructions.

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