How to Tell if it's Lead Crystal

Written by chyrene pendleton
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How to Tell if it's Lead Crystal
If you drink from lead crystal glasses, drink quickly to avoid contamination. (deux flûtes pour un tête a tête image by rachid amrous-spleen from

People purchase lead crystal because it appears elegant and dazzling to the eye compared to ordinary glass. However, lead can also make up as much as 30 per cent of the lead crystal's weight. Using lead crystal to store liquid like wine and other alcohol means contamination as lead leaches into the standing liquid. You can learn to distinguish between lead crystal and glass or select alternatives to lead crystal, such as titanium and magnesium crystal. If you drink out of lead crystal glasses, drink it right away rather than allowinh the liquid to sit--the longer the liquid sits, the more lead leaches into it.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Lead crystal glassware
  • Regular glassware
  • Lead crystal chandelier (optional)

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  1. 1

    Pick up the crystal glass or crystal container and a regular glass. Lead crystal has more weight than ordinary glass.

  2. 2

    Look at a crystal glass or a crystal chandelier. Compared to regular glass, lead crystal will cast colour spectra and will obviously appear more brilliant or sparkling to the eye. The more lead the glass contains, the more brilliant the lead crystal.

  3. 3

    Inspect the crystal glass for engravings. Having softer glass, lead crystal can be engraved more easily than ordinary glass.

  4. 4

    Examine the glass if it has decorative patterns. Cutting and decorating on glass becomes effortless with the softer lead crystal.

  5. 5

    Take note if you drink regularly out of brilliant glasses and have a metallic taste in your mouth, feel tired, have loss of appetite, hard stools or a visible lead line on your gums. More severe symptoms can appear as vomiting, menstrual problems and spontaneous abortions.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not use leaded crystal glassware for children and pregnant women, since the lead harms fetal development.
  • In 1991, a short-term experiment at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York revealed white wine absorbs small amounts of lead within minutes of sitting in lead crystal glasses.

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