Let’s start out this way – my experience is that you will be lied to. Most store assistants do not know which of their product do or don’t contain nickel. And there is currently no legislation requiring labeling of products containing nickel. Although the market for nickel-free products would seem to be there from the statistics of sufferers, this need hasn’t translated to availability in mainstream stores. I have collected here some pointers to the products I have found specifically catering to the sufferer.
However if you do find yourself in a store and trying to find a nickel-free product – as I did last year looking for nickel-free spectacle frames, don’t be satisfied with answers such as “yeah, I’m sure they’re nickel free” or “they should be” or “I don’t think there’s any nickel in them – it would say so if it did”. All of these answers are out and out lies to make you go away, stop pestering them and are simply due to lack of knowledge and any good reason to treat you seriously. This is a typical reaction to allergy sufferers in general – store assistants are simply not paid enough or incentivised to care – it’s up to you to ask the right questions and do your own research and get the right answers. Usually the answer you end up with is that they don’t have what you need or the can’t tell you whether they have what you need – this is usually the honest answer. This may sound brutal but this has been my experience dealing with multiple allergies across my family.
Does anybody help?
Before I get hate mail about this – I have had positive experiences. In fact the optician at out local Walmart took the time to call the manufacturers of spectacle frames to find out which manufacturers offered Nickel-free products and guaranteed them to be Nickel-free. However I have learned not to expect this attention to detail and willingness to help – we Nickel-allergy sufferers are simply yet another minority who need to look after ourselves.
As a general guide – stainless steel is safe for nickel allergy sufferers – although the steel may be alloyed with nickel, it’s not usually of a form where the nickel is free to transfer to you. Check for the stamp “stainless steel”. Watch out for pieces of the item made from different metals – for example a padlock is made of many metal pieces – some of which may be different metals.
100% Nickel Free
As a general guide, you will learn to be suspicious, look for guarantees of “100% Nickel-free” and potentially carry a test kit with you for some purchases.