We have answered this question via our customer support perhaps 100 times, and first wrote about it on our blog back in 2013. It’s been in our care guide probably since 2009. It is still one of our most common questions we get.
As far as we know, Revere Ware did initially claim that their cookware was oven safe to a temperature of 350 F. But in later years they revised their recommendation to not use Bakelite parts in the oven at all. The change is probably due to the fact that earlier ovens were gas fired from the bottom and tended to heat evenly where newer ovens (electric) can heat from a broil burner and areas of the oven (near the top) can easily exceed the safe temperature for Bakelite (350 degrees F) even with the oven temperature set to below 350.
Even worse, modern ovens have a rapid preheat cycle that will use very high settings on the electric coils to get an oven up to operating temperature up fast.
The problem is that, if you overheat Bakelite, it won’t just melt. Bakelite is a phenolic plastic, which is made from, among other things, formaldehyde. If you overheat Bakelite it will break down and release the formaldehyde. Trust me, it smells bad and you don’t want to experience this.
If you really want a Revere Ware Dutch oven that you can put in the oven, look for some of the all metal pieces, such as from the Institutional / 5000 line, or the 1800 Patio Ware line. You’ll get that iconic copper bottom and something that is oven safe. See our photo guide for more information on these and other lines.