"VitaClay" clay pot automatic rice cooker / slow cooker
Has anyone tried the Vita Clay cooker? It looks like a hybrid of a crockpot and rice cooker. The pot is clay.
I'm attracted to this cooker because of the natural clay (vs non-stick) pot. My primary use would be to cook brown rice, steel-cut oats, and other whole grains and cereals. And to experiment with other foods.
I wonder how much added bother this clay pot would give me...
I used my National/Panasonic non-stick rice cooker for 8 years until it broke. I'm also considering a zojirushi fuzzy-logic rice cooker, but I'm not thrilled with the non-stick pot.
The vitaclay is a slow cooker/rice cooker that markets itself as being all natural, having a clay pot. However, the element that heats the pot appears to have been coated with an unstable (possibly lead) galvanized agent that, over time, wears onto the bottom of the bowl. This means that when cleaning the bowl, this coating agent from the cooking element can get into you cleaning materials and other dishes. This is potentially a very hazardous defect, depending on what has been used to galvanize the cooking element for this product.
I was thinking of buying this very cooker and then did some research. With the right ceramic covered dish, you can use the "pot-in-pot" technique in a pressure cooker with the same effect. Grains, oatmeal, etc. Fast, efficient, and multitasking. You can also pile some vegetables on top if you wish. Search Miss Vickie's PC site.
I purchased a VitaClay cooker to avoid the non-stick surfaces present in most other cookers. Non-stick surfaces emit fumes called PTFEs that are believed to be harmful to humans (and pets). When I lifted the clay pot out of the machine - guess what the heating element was made from - yes - a non-stick, Teflon-like surface - despite the product being marketed as `teflon free'.
Michelle Liu the owner of Essenergy (the California based company that invented the cookers - they are manufactured by third parties in China) confirmed it was indeed non-stick but told me that a new version was coming out in about a month that used a different coating.
Based on this, I sent the cooker back at my expense with a promise from Michelle that I would receive a new unit and a shipping credit. It's now going on over SEVEN MONTHS and I have no cooker and have not been able to get my money back. She has had one excuse after another from "it is undergoing testing" to "shipping from China is delayed due to a slowing economy". In my opinion, this is not a company or product that can be trusted.
Other questions that need to be addressed:
For the new heating element, what is the new coating composed of? Has it undergone safety testing? Could it be even worse than the prior coating from a safety perspective?
Clay is a very porous substance that will be in very intimate contact with your food. Is it really Zisha clay? According to whom? Why does some marketing state "no ADDED lead" - is there naturally occurring lead in the clay? Has it been tested for other substances such as cadmium, pesticide run-off, other heavy metals? Is it 100% Zisha clay or might there be other clays/adulterants added?
Because I've found Essenergy so untrustworthy, I would need to see notarized documents from recognized labs and testing agencies that answer these crucial questions before I would even consider purchasing. I've found this company to be one that cuts corners and does not operate above board.
This could be an excellent product, but only if there is assurance as to quality and safety. With the recent questionable practices that have occurred in manufacturing in China this seems even more important.
Thanks for the information. You got me thinking about the VitaClay I just bought. It does not look like the ones I find on web sites. Perhaps it is an older model. The control panel is at the bottom as opposed to on top and the container is more round than what I see on web sites now.
My heating element is under a disk that looks to be aluminum, I don't know what is underneath. I checked because I too purchased this to get away from PTFE/non-stick coatings. Your questions got me thinking so I conducted an experiment for lead (Pb). I filled the clay pot with pure water from my RO/DI system and let it sit for 24 hours. After that I put the cooker on for four hours then let it sit on the warm setting for another 20. I took samples of the water to my municipal water testing facility and they have assured me that I have 0.1ug/L of lead. The acceptable level for drinking water is 10ug/L. So after 48 hours - including 4 hours of cooking and 20 hours of warming - it is safe to say that there is no more than one percent of the accepted level of lead (Pb) in the water.
I plan on soaking the outside of the pot and having the tests done again to see if the water was protected by a coating on the inside or if the clay is really free of lead.