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Topic # 226367 4-Jan-2018 14:44
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My wife gave me a very nice lead crystal (24%) decanter and glasses for my 50th recently.


Apparently, such glass should be used for serving from and drinking from but not for storage of liquids as over time lead will leech into the alcohol. This is a shame as I would have liked to keep it on the side with something in.


I checked with Royal Doulton (the makers) and their response (oddly, not included anywhere in or on the suit awaits methinks) said




"We recommend to use decanters for serving and not for storage. Also we recommend filling with a 50/50 vinegar solution and letting stand for 24 hours before first use or after any long period between use( months). Any lead release does reduce significantly with frequent use."


So I was ruminating on that and came up with some logical questions:




1) Although it's not precisely the case, glass is for all intents and purposes a solid. How can lead in the centre of the mass move to the liquid/glass interface? Surely once all lead at the interface has leeched, no more can be present?


2) What replaces the lead? If the glass is 24% lead oxide and that leeches into the liquid in it's entirety, what replaces the 24%?




No doubt there is someone with more of a gift for chemistry than I have here on GZ who can answer!

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  Reply # 1929149 4-Jan-2018 16:08
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And dishwashers are really bad on crystal wine glasses. But it did take a while to really make them go cloudy white....

Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself - A. H. Weiler

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  Reply # 1929216 4-Jan-2018 17:24
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The information I read on it suggest that typical lead crystal may contain 25% w/w lead (as oxide), and that on a new decanter filled with 4% acetic acid, then lead level after 24 hours is something like 1000ug / litre (1/1000 of a gram).  After that first 24 hours, rate of leaching decreased significantly (hence the instruction you had to fill the decanter with 50:50 white vinegar before first use or after a period of storage)


The amount of lead leached is fairly insignificant in terms of composition of the decanter - only 0.001% solubilised as lead acetate in 24 hours in that test.


The amount of lead at 1,000ug is however quite serious, it wouldn't take long at that rate of ingestion - if you imbibed a litre a day from a brand new decanter - for toxic effects.  But I assume you wouldn't imbibe a litre a day of vinegar from a crystal decanter, and a litre a day of whisky or vodka might kill you before the lead got you.


Glass isn't impervious.  Solubility of the lead is higher at low pH, so the acetic acid test is brutal, fortified wines you'd expect less leaching, and even less with say whisky or vodka.


That said - what's the point of a decanter except perhaps for red wine?  IIRC suggested limit for lead in drinking water is something like 0.5 ug/l - 2,000 times less than could be in some alcoholic beverage served after storage in a decanter.  




* I just rounded stuff of as a decanter volume being a litre, weight about 400g (hence 100g lead).  There's significant variation in reported lead levels in drinks stored in different makes of lead crystal decanters.  I used that as a rough rule of thumb.  I don't think I misplaced a decimal point, but correct me on that if I'm wrong.  I think it's "close enough" to convince me that lead crystal decanters shouldn't really be used for storage of drinks - or if they are, then with extreme caution. 

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  Reply # 1929279 4-Jan-2018 18:01
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What a shame to have those worries after that lovely gift. I have crystal glasses for my gin and tonic and I am not going to worry about them. But don't put them in dishwashers - the bouncing could chip them, apart from anything else.


As for the decanter, mmmmm. Perhaps you could stop worrying if you emptied it each night!! 


Have a look here



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  Reply # 1929520 4-Jan-2018 22:39
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Yes, the glasses are not a problem for the reason that the liquid rarely stays in them for very long.

The problem seems only to affect the storage of liquid. I am, I must say, pretty surprised that they can sell something like that without actually having a clear warning on the box or at least on the product information.

Both my father and grandfather kept whiskey in decanters on the sideboard and I suspect that the whiskey was probably in there for at least 3 months each time they filled the decanter, if not 6. AFAIK, neither died of lead poisoning (or alcoholism for that matter!). It would be nice to be able to do the same, but I drink little and if I were to fill the decanter I expect it would take a good 8 months and perhaps more before I emptied it.

The vagueness is the most concerning, I think. If, for example, I put 25% of a bottle in, which would easily take me 2 months to drink, that possibly would be too long to be safe (even with the vinegar thing) but then again it might not. There seems to be no specific guidance.

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  Reply # 1929678 5-Jan-2018 10:27
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Also, what replaces the leached lead oxide?




If the lead leaves the glass mix and enters the liquid, does it not leave 'space' that needs filling?

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