Bye-Bye Bakelite

I have a modest and sentimental collection of vintage Bakelite bracelets. I began acquiring them when my husband gave me a pair for my birthday. They are wonderfully cheerful. I mixed and matched and wore them almost every day.

When I was buying the bracelets, I learned a trick to tell whether they were real Bakelite or a knock-off plastic. When you vigorously rub a piece of Bakelite with your thumb, it warms up and releases a formaldehyde smell. Yes, formaldehyde. Bakelite, the world’s first synthetic plastic, is made from a chemical that causes cancer and respiratory problems. (Click here to read more about formaldehyde.)

I had to acknowledge that wearing formaldehyde against my skin wasn’t a great idea. I also wasn’t going to let Sweet William get a hold of them and use them as teethers.

It’s been months since I last wore my bracelets. They’ve been sitting on my dresser where I look at them and strengthen my resolve to give them up. It’s time.

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