New percolator and warning about vintage appliances

September 27, 2015

I was raving a few weeks ago about a couple vintage appliances I had gotten at our local antique store (here). A very shiny, new-looking vintage toaster and percolator, probably both from the 50s.

Pleased as punch I was. Reusing, recycling, etc. Not buying cheap stuff made in China that would break in a couple years. So cute-looking, too. And working very well.

Then I read a post in Stephanie's blog about a mesothelioma survivor and her story. Mesothelioma is a usually fatal disease brought on by exposure to asbestos.

And in the article was a mention of sources of asbestos. What do you think they used as insulation in old appliances?


Right away, I started doing some internet research. And while I couldn't definitively tell whether the models I had contained asbestos or not, the probability seemed very high.

So I wrapped them up well and out they went. Don't need that, for sure.

I felt I had a responsibility to share this since I had posted about these retro appliances, and had given them such a glowing recommendation. Warning -- not everything about the good old days was good.

So . . . on to the happy part of the post.

We do have a Keurig, but as you know if you have one, they are expensive to use. I was appalled when I figured out how much we were spending on those coffee pods each month. And the waste. Millions and millions of those pods floating around now.

I know you can get those refillable pods, but we never bothered. Might as well just make a pot of coffee.

Anyway, I loved my vintage percolator so much (for the three weeks I used it), and I love my stovetop percolator (too small for daily use with the big coffee drinkers around here, though), so I was very pleased to get this new (yes, made in China) percolator at Bed Bath and Beyond.

See this mug? My daughter brought it home for me from summer camp when she was 8. Pretty special.

It's nicely made, from stainless steel. Not as heavy a stainless steel as the vintage one, and it definitely doesn't have the same beautiful, curved spout that the old one had. But, I was happy to see they still make some with glass tops (not plastic). There's also a way to lock the lid on, so that you don't have to worry about the lid falling off while pouring.

I think a percolator is nicer looking on the counter than other types of coffee makers. I also think the coffee tastes better than drip.

What do you think? Do you use a Keurig? A drip coffee maker? Percolator? French press?

Whatever you use, beware of old appliances!

This old Toastmaster toaster (circa 1950s) most likely contains asbestos. I think it is much more of a hazard than the percolator because the asbestos is exposed (right behind the heating elements in the slots). Usually asbestos is not a problem if it is encapsulated and not disturbed. But both appliances have been bagged and trashed. The potential exposure risk is just too high.  I now have a new toaster.

Linking with Sandi's tea party.


  1. Thanks for the heads-up, Deborah. Something to keep in mind when shopping thrift shops. Deb

  2. My goodness, Deborah, I would never have thought about this! And the old ones are so pretty that I was keeping my eye out for one. But yours is pretty too and well do I remember the percolator coffee pots perking cheerily away. I don't drink or make coffee so I can't remember the name of the one my husband uses. Even with that though, I buy Starbucks Verona for him simply because I love to smell it!

    Thank you for the warning!

  3. What a good thing you were made aware of the danger of asbestos. No Keurig around here. We rarely drink coffee and when we do, we have a drip machine that we pull out of the cupboard. I can't believe the waste and pollution of those Keurig machines, but so many people really like them.

  4. Good point I would not have considered this so thank you for sharing.

  5. Who would have thought that it could have been so dangerous. I actually don't drink coffee, I am a tea drinker and rarely make coffee for visitors as they are mainly tea drinkers too.

  6. Oh goodness Deborah, I knew you were so happy about those vintage appliances, but thank you for the warning on the asbestos. Your new percolator looks wonderful and hopefully it will serve for many years. Since I'm a tea drinker, I use an electric tea kettle, which is so much faster in boiling water. I love it!
    p.s. The mug is a treasure!!

  7. Gah! Thanks for the tip, Deborah! I've never bought vintage appliances and now I definitely won't! I use a Keurig, but mostly because my husband is so highly sensitive to smells that he couldn't stand when I would brew coffee (he's asthmatic). It's a perfect solution for us, with my 1 or 2 cup/day regimen. I buy pods directly from Keurig (cheaper and better variety), and I even open the pods and use the grinds in my garden afterward. But I agree with you - still so much waste!

  8. Oh my! Never would have thought about it. We're Mr. Coffee folk and I don't imagine that we'll change lest we be ome spoiled; however, it is definitely not as cute as your new from China one.

  9. Oh my! Better to be safe than sorry!
    I would have done the same.
    So good that someone was kind enough to share that news with you.
    I love that cup...what a treasure that is!
    I use a keurig and I have a filter for it, so usually I put my own coffee in it to save on buying the cups, but when I was away in the early summer there was a coffee machine (keurig) in my room and the one kind of coffee was so delicious!
    I was hoping the keurig coffee store would have it and they did!
    It is called Martinsons is now my favourite!

    All my heart,
    Deborah xo

  10. No Keurig here either! My hubby wants to get one but I don't want one. I'm quite happy with my coffee maker. And I agree, Keurig is very expensive and there is a lot of waste involved. My son has one and to be honest, I didn't care for the coffee and unlike some, I don't believe all coffee is the same. I am very particular about the coffee I drink. I don't like it strong for one thing. I'm glad you got rid of the vintage appliances and thank you for the warning! Some things were very good and charming about the good old days but too many times we realize that the things we use today are safer. When I have to replace my coffee maker, I'm going to have a look at those percolators. Your mug is a real treasure, Deborah! Thank you for sharing and joining me for tea today.


  11. Hi Deborah, this is such a great post to bring awareness to the danger of vintage appliances. They look so good and made so well, but little do we realize they can and have caused much harm to many.
    I have a Cuisinart and love it being a 14 cup coffee maker. For just us two everyday, I have a mini Keurig for just one cup at a time. I use the refillable cups and my own coffee saving money and waste.
    On occasion I purchase Keurig flavors for a treat and also when I find them on sale.

    I don't blame you for trashing the appliances. Better safe then sorry!! Love your darling mug!!
    Have a great week. Blessings my friend. cm

  12. Yikes! Thanks for the PSA, Deborah. I would have disposed of the vintage appliances too. Your new percolator is the perfect replacement. I'm a tea drinker so I use a stainless steel electric kettle.

  13. Hi Deborah :)

    Well, I know all about asbestos from living in old homes and the one thing I do know is that unless the particles are airborne that it can't hurt you. If so, we'd all be sick and dying since the homes and schools built before 1980 were covered with it.

    In all my research I've found that you'd have to take the appliances apart to get to it. I don't plan on working on them myself, so I don't worry about it. I'm sorry you were scared like that and felt like you needed to get rid of them, but I understand.


    1. Yes, I used to work for a company that did asbestos monitoring, and I know the danger is only when it’s disturbed, and becomes airborne. But I could see the asbestos “blanket” in the toaster, and worried, because of its age, that it might start degrading or crumbling. The percolator not so much, but again, because of its age, if it were to come unglued/unscrewed, etc., I just didn’t want to take the chance.
      Thanks for stopping by Rue.

  14. What a wonderful "heads up" post, Deborah. I'm afraid I may be old enough to have bought "vintage" appliances when they were new, as a young married woman setting up house in the 70's. In any case, my daily cuppa comes from a French press, which is easy, quick clean up and makes fabulous coffee. No muss, no fuss, no waste. Since I don't own a microwave (never felt the need for one), I have a small toaster oven which works quite well.

    Cheers, M-T

  15. Thank you for the warning. Sometimes electrical vintage appliances overheat also. I have heard that perculator coffee pots make delicious coffee and their aroma is great. For everyday use, I have a modern drip coffee maker. A back-up is the small Keurig. Did you know that you can buy reusable pods that you fill with your favorite brand of ground coffee. Much less expensive than the pods.

  16. This is all so eye-opening. The asbestos I understand. Years ago...about thirty, we looked at a house to buy, and so many times I've been grateful we didn't. It had asbestos siding and then we at first didn't think. Did research and left it.

    You've been wise. Smart move to replace them. I do like the look of your percolator. Will show my husband, the coffee drinker. Much classier than a Mr. Coffee. :)

  17. Dearest Deborah,
    Good for you for doing your research and finding out!
    We use for coffee our French Melior Cafétière. Brought over from The Netherlands and one 3-cup (not US cups, mind you but demitasse cups!) from South Africa. They give great coffee and never bitter.
    Yes, the waste that is being produced by such Keurig coffee makers is incredible and we have to keep that in mind as well! Living happy, healthy and eco-friendly.

  18. Deborah, how disappointing for you! I only make coffee when I have certain guests over. Otherwise, I give everyone tea, whether that's their preference or not! :-) And I drink tea about eight times a day.


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