Used Pressure Cookers

My Ten Point
Safety Check List

If you have a vintage pressure cooker that you believe is still in good working condition, or you just couldn't pass up that $2.00 bargain at a garage sale here is my Ten Point Safety Check List. If you can answer YES to every question then it MAY be safe to use, but even so, are you willing to risk to your safety or possible injury to someone in your family?

  1. Can you identify the manufacturer AND the model number?
  2. Is the manufacturer still in business, AND still selling replacement parts for the model you have?
  3. Do you have, or can you still obtain an owners manual for it?
  4. Is the bottom of the pressure cooker flat, and free of any signs of warping, dents or bumps?
  5. Does the lid fit the bottom easily and is it free of warping, twists and distortion?
  6. Are the handles well attached, free of cracks and nicks, or does the manufacturer still offer replacements?
  7. Is the surface finish of the pressure cooker still shiny smooth and free of pitting, deep scratches or gouges?
  8. Does the pressure regulator fit well, and without being loose or worn?
  9. If the pressure cooker has a gauge have you had it tested for accuracy to make sure it is actually able to maintain pressure as indicated?
  10. Is the cooker relatively clean, without signs of scorched stains or discoloration from drips coming from around the lid or valve fittings that may indicate the lid or cooker rim is warped or does not seal properly?

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10 Point Safety Checklist

Test Drive Your Pressure Cooker

Choosing the Best New  Cooker

Used Pressure Cookers

History of the Pressure Cooker

Vintage Pressure Cookers

How  To Buy a Pressure Cooker

Parts and Service

Pressing Cooker Testing

Where to Shop with No tax or Shipping

Hidden Damage

You never know what might have happened to that used cooker, and it may be for sale because it is unsafe. You would hope that no one would put others at risk, but in today's world, caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) should be the rule of the day. This same warning also applies to those of you who have resurrected your grandma's stone age cookers and think that it will go another 50 or 75 years.

When purchasing, or using some old, antique or vintage pressure cooker, you're assuming a risk in not knowing if there is any hidden damage to the pot or the lid. Manufacturing processes have certainly improved over the cooker produced 20-30-40 years ago. Old, pitted aluminum cookers harbor bacteria in all those little cavities, and they shed aluminum in your food.

To browse through some of today's modern, safe pressure cookers and canners see the Store.


Pressure cookers bought at garage sales, and online auctions are often for sale because the manufacturer is no longer in business, the model has been discontinued or replacement parts are not available, or very difficult to find. Cookers made by overseas companies also fall into this group. Your "great bargain" will be useless if you don't have the owners manual or can't locate the company for replacements. Be very cautious if you are looking to buy a pressure cooker at a tag sale price, you may find that you have not only lost your wallet, but a lot of time while trying to restore a cooker than has been abandoned, or orphaned, by the manufacturer.


Aluminum cookers or canners, (either the lid or the bottom) and others that are not 18/10 stainless steel have a tenancy to warp. The 18/10 stainless steel does not warp in heat because of the addition of metal alloys such as molybnium, which makes it harder, put if dropping or misuse will result in damage. Aluminum warps as a result of old age, metal fatigue, excessive heat, prolonged heat, or improper use. The pot or lid might have been dropped, banged about, or misused. If your old cooker or canner will not come to pressure, or it suddenly loses pressure, it's a good indicator that the pot or lid is warped out of true round.

Usually the distortion is so slight that we cannot see it just by looking, but it is enough that the cooker cannot get a proper seal. If you have thoroughly cleaned the lid and bottom, and replaced the gasket. and the parts on the lid, but it is still leaking steam, or it cannot get to, and maintain pressure, then it is time to replace it.

This is especially true if you have an ancient canner that won't pressurize properly because you are risking your family's


Any pot or pan can sustain damage if it is dropped, and sometimes microscopic fracture lines occur. These weakened areas may not be such a problem on regular pots, but on a pressure cooker any damage may be a risk for considerable damage. While these tiny lines can only be picked up through industrial X-ray, such a fissure can be catastrophically dangerous under pressure.

As stated in most instruction books that come with reputable pressure cookers/canners, dropping the canner can result in hairline cracks and fractures that are microscopic and not at all visible to the naked eye, and while you might be able to use them safely for a while, eventually such a fault will cause a failure in the cookers/canners sometimes catastrophically.

The only way to be sure is to send the cookers/canners to the factory, preferably the original manufacturer - although sometimes other manufacturer may be willing to test other brands. Be prepared to pay a small fee, plus round trip shipping costs to have it tested for unseen faults. Be sure to call the original manufacturer first, if they are no longer in service then Presto of Mirro may offer testing on some models


Parts are available for Presto, Mirro and All American, and for some models of National Presto, Kwik Kook, Steamliner and Maid of Honor. If you need further assistance or have other problems, contact your local Cooperative Extension Office. Click here, Parts and Service.