Yes, It Can Chip, Crack, and Shatter!
The trouble with Pyrex cookware and serving ware is that because it has had so many different formulations over time, it’s hard to tell what will break, how it will break, and if it will break at all.
However, an educated guess would be that somewhere along the way, most families have experienced some sort of Pyrex breakage.
So we’ll provide some pointers on how to pack Pyrex for moving and any similar glassware. But first, a look at the history of Pyrex is in order since that will help you identify when your Pyrex pieces were made and how they might break.
A Brief History of Pyrex
In 1908, Corning Glass Works began producing Nonex, a thermally resistant “non-expansion glass,” for railroad signal lanterns and other industrial applications. But when Corning employee Jesse Littleton brought a sawed-off battery jar home to his wife Bessie, she used the shallow vessel to bake a cake.
Confident that the domestic sphere would benefit from the glass’s durability as much as the industrial world had, Corning was off and running. By 1915, it sold Pyrex pie plates, casserole dishes, and bakeware to America’s home kitchens.
From there, the company’s production and profits skyrocketed.
Although tinted glass “opal ware” originally outfitted military mess halls during World War II, the technology found its way to home kitchens with the colorful Pyrex nesting bowls in 1945. These charming pieces can still be seen in kitchens or stored for safekeeping.
World Kitchen in Charleroi, PA, took over the Pyrex brand in 1998 when Corning returned its focus to scientific glassware. Still, with around 50 million pieces of Pyrex produced a year in Charleroi, the brand is thriving.
In fact, the clear glass lasagna pans, measuring cups, and storage dishes we see online or in Target today are closer to the original 1915 Pyrex designs than any cookware and serving ware from the mid-20th century.
Today, Corelle Brands jointly owns Pyrex, Corelle, and other familiar brands.
Meanwhile, Centura (Pyroceram) tableware, manufactured from 1962 to 1977, came and went since it wasn’t fully compatible with the new microwave ovens. Centura resembles Corning Ware but has a self-glazing capability that forms a compression layer for strength.
A similar concept would be introduced with Corelle (Vitrelle) a few years later.
Corning’s Pyrex and Other Sub-Brands
Pyrex is a brand name for the break-resistant glass cookware first made by Corning Glass Works in the 1950s. But be careful to distinguish Corning Ware cookware from the tableware marketed under the Centura and Corelle brand names—as the thermal properties differ among the three product lines.
Essentially, the main difference between Corning Ware and Pyrex is that Corning Ware is generally smaller and more decorative. Some prefer to use Corning Ware to bake and Pyrex to store food.
Corelle is a brand of glassware and tableware made of Vitrelle, a tempered glass product consisting of two types of glass laminated into three layers. Corning Glass Works introduced Corelle in 1970, but it is now manufactured and sold by Corelle Brands.
Since Pyrex and related Corning-originated brands have been actively sought and used since the middle of the 21st century, you must understand their known variations and occasional drawbacks.
- Centura tableware was discontinued for home use in 1977 because it often overheated in microwave ovens—new at the time.
- Until 2005, when the FDA stepped in, Corelle dishes contained lead and cadmium and were known to chip and break.
- For several years, Pyrex cookware had many consumers claiming that it “exploded” or shattered, sometimes leading to injury and legal actions—read more detail here.
While it’s impossible to know what may be uncovered in years to come, what’s discussed above, and other past problems are at least partially resolved.
How to Pack Pyrex for Moving
Before packing Pyrex or similar products for moving, check their manufacturing dates. You might want to discard some of them for safety rather than pack them for future use.
For the most part, though, packing Pyrex or other Corning glass products differs little, if at all, from packing glassware generally. Regardless of the manufacturer or the manufacturing process, glass is glass—and you should expect it to break if not adequately protected.
So, it matters relatively little whether you’re packing Pyrex, Corelle, or even other brands like Anchor Hocking, Glasslock, or another glass food-storage product.
Those who pack Pyrex and other glassware for shipping benefit by using a combination of bubble wrap and fitted corrugated cardboard inserts to ensure that no glass surfaces bump against each other while in transit.
It’s also essential to fill the larger container that will hold glass pieces with biodegradable packing peanuts, crumpled newsprint, or other shock-absorbing material.
How to Unpack Pyrex After Moving
Answer: Very carefully!
If you’re moving or shipping Pyrex or other items historically manufactured by Corning, you should be especially careful when unpacking the boxes you moved or shipped.
Vintage pieces, especially, have been known to shatter. And whether that means small bits of glass, larger shards, or simply wear at the edges, you don’t want the first moments in your new home to be consumed by sweeping up fragments of your Pyrex cookware.
You may have previously used your older Pyrex or other Corning glass pieces to cook and serve food. But now it’s time to display them on a kitchen shelf for viewing—and purchase new, safer replacements to prepare and serve food.
What Packing Pyrex for Moving Can Reveal
Today’s Pyrex glass food containers and bakeware are both safe and popular. But it hasn’t always been this way. As with many innovative products, Corning shared its popular glass items with households across the U.S. and elsewhere.
And, of course, these unique pieces have undergone a great deal of moving, shipping, and general wear and tear over the years.
Many of these products are classics—they’ve held up well over time. But who would have known at the dawn of Centura’s early 1960s popularity that microwave ovens would soon bring their demise or that certain Pyrex products would suddenly shatter or “explode” when used?
So, now that you know more about the history of Corning, Pyrex, Centura, and Corelle glass products, you have more insight into considerations when packing them for moving.