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How do you know a quarry tile is safe to cook on?

I have seen several people suggest getting an unglazed tile from a quarry but how do you know it is safe to cook on? What if it has lead or other toxins in it? Or is that just a silly question?

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  1. Many years ago some ceramic glazes contained lead, which caused health problems when exposed to acidic food, like in an orange juice pitcher. Quarry tile, as long as it's un-glazed, is made from clay, which is exactly what a fancy pizza stone is made from. My only complaint about using a quarry tile is that thay're too small for anything but tiny pizzas.

    1 Reply
    1. Lead is a concern with low fired, often brightly colored earthenware. At the kiln temperatures used for quarry tile, a high fired stoneware , even glazed would be safe.

      I've been using quarry tile for a while now and seems to work just fire for pizzas.

      1. There are two separate issues here. You want an unglazed tile for baking because a glazed tile will not absorb steam from a baking pizza or loaf of bread. Some glazes may still contain lead, but if you use unglazed tiles that's not something you need to worry about.

        And "quarry tile" is just a marketing term. What's sold as quarry tile is almost never mined from a stone quarry (if it was, you probably won't want to pay the price). It's just a ceramic tile with a certain shape (large) and texture (rough) and it may or may not be glazed.

        I tried using tiles and it was a pain in the butt, mainly because they just move around too much and no combination of standard tile sizes seems to work well in a standard size oven. A basic pizza stone costs $20-$30. How much money could you possibly save using tiles?

        6 Replies
        1. re: Zeldog

          I'm with Zeldog. Bed Bath and Beyond has a basic one for ten dollars (eight with those coupons you know you have on your kitchen table). The tiles are a huge pain in the neck.

          1. re: dmd_kc

            I'm Canadian....which is good... but alas no Bed Bath and Beyond and about $50 for a pizza stone in most kitchen shops. So I thought a tile would be more affordable. Why do you think a tile slips around but a pizza stone wont?

            I had one years ago when mykids were little and I threw it out because I didn't use it!! What a dummy!!!

            1. re: julesincoq

              My stone, which I've had for at least 17 years by my best calculation, has little feet on the bottom of it that make it cling to the oven rack tightly. Before that, I'd tried tiles that were maybe five inches square and fairly light. It was easy to knock 'em around trying to get the pizza off them with the peel. You might strike gold and find some that work for you. The pizza stone is just such a durable investment that I guess I don't even think twice about what I spent on it all those years ago.

              1. re: julesincoq

                I put quarry tiles on the bottom rack of my oven ages ago - the ones I have have a ridged bottom that sort of grabs on to the rack - I've just left them in there since - a couple have cracked but they still do the job. I don't cook directly on them but see no reason why you shouldn't be able to as long as they're pushed right up against each other.

                1. re: julesincoq

                  When you slide a pizza or loaf onto them, tiles move around relative to each other and gaps open up between them. If you use a peel to lift and turn the item halfway during cooking the tiles can end up all over the place. If a pizza stone slips a bit on the oven grate, no big deal.

                  1. re: Zeldog

                    I have "non-glazed quarry tiles" that I bought at Lowes (Home Depot like store in SF Bay Area). They work great. I have a Fibrament stone, which is the best I've found. I have two levels. I start the pie on the Fibrament, move it to the second level after 5 mins, and put the second pie on the quarry tiles.

                    The work fine and don't move. If you aren't adept with the peel, you might have some movement of the tiles, but if you jerk it right, it never moves the tiles, since as someone mentioned above, they have groove on the underside that keep them put...

            2. I bought a granite chopping board from ebay. A granite pizza stone was £45 not including postage, the chopping poard was about 5mm thinner, and £12.

              I've not used it yet, but I'm going to on Saturday.