What's the safest material for a bathtub?

Asked by Bpr
Springfield, VA

Hi there, we plan on replacing our bathtub, and I'm confused on what is the safest bath tub to buy. There are so many options. Acrylic, porcelain, fiberglass, steel, clear glass, cast iron. I want something safe to soak in without anything dangerous leaching into the water. I would love your feedback. Thank you!


Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Answered by Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Bainbridge Island, WA

A Kitchen That Works LLC

November 30, 2011

Answering the question of which type of bathtub is the safest, my reply is that they are all ‘generally’ safe. 

Government standards

Bathtub products have to meet minimum government standards to be sold in this country as developed by:

  • ANSI (American National Standards Institute),
  • ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) and
  • ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials). 

While researching this question, I was reminded that consumers will not find Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on tubs because they do not have a legal application but you should find statements (in the manufacturer’s spec sheets) about which sections of the ANSI, ASME or ASTM the tub conforms to.

Further, most manufacturers legally guard their fabrication process as proprietary.

Made in the USA

If I was to question the safety of a tub, I would probably do so by origin of manufacturing.

We have seen several products coming out of foreign countries that do not meet our safety standards, be they food products or durable goods, but they still seemed to make it into the country – message here is buy domestic.


In order to maintain the safety of your bathing vessel, be sure to follow the care and use instruction this will help minimize damage to the finished surface and the possibility of exposing the core of the tub which is not intended to come in contact with skin. Realize that if you nick or dent your tub it does not necessarily mean that you could be harmed by such contact.

When choosing a tub, I would recommend that you consider:

  • how the maintenance of the tub fits your lifestyle,
  • how the price point meets your budget,
  • how the appearance meets your aesthetic needs and most importantly,
  • what is the life cycle analysis of the primary tub material?

Good luck!


For more information:

Read "Are there non- or less-toxic bathtubs?" a Q&A answered by Karen Smuland.

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