Pewter is a versatile metal alloy that has been around for thousands of years and has a history of ingredient changes. Though today pewter is made without toxic ingredients, historically its ingredients (and therefore its toxicity) depended on its intended usage and the quality grade.
Pewter should be 90 per cent tin. The remaining percentage should be antimony and copper, or less commonly, silver and bismuth.
In the United States there are regulations for making pewter. For pewter items designed for food, the ratio is 95 per cent tin, 0.5 per cent copper and four to five per cent antimony for the EEC (European Economic Community), and 92 per cent tin, 1.2 per cent copper and 6.7 per cent antimony for the APG (American Pewter Guild).
Pewter has been around since the Bronze Age, in the Near East, an area that encompasses the eastern Mediterranean to the western border of the Indian subcontinent. The oldest bit of pewter (dated to be from around 1450BC) was found in Egypt. Pewter traditionally could be made with lead up to 50 per cent. In the mid-eighteenth century, general awareness of the hazards of lead increased and non-leaded pewter became popularised.