Pewter Jugs - A Case Study
Updated: Oct 30, 2019
Known as "the poor man's silver," pewter has been used on and off since the Bronze Age. Depending on the type of pewter (there are three), there is a chance there is lead contained within the object above recommended levels.
To investigate this we had a look at some pewter jugs gifted to one of our staff.
Using a portable XRF instrument on the restricted materials calibration we analysed both pewters in a variety of spots. Both pewter jugs contained levels of lead about the recommended amount (<1000ppm). The highest reading which was on the lid came back as 2404 ppm, which equates to roughly 2% lead.
As lead was detected in quantities above a safe limit the jugs will not be used for purposes involving drinking or eating. Instead our staff member will be getting creative and finding alternative uses for them. A vase perhaps? Or a pen holder?
If Pewter contains lead it will get darker with age and will become more difficult to buff to its original shine and colour.
If you believe a pewter item contains lead it is strongly advised to no longer use the item for purposes that encounter the human body. This is due to health concerns stemming from the lead content. as the lead could possibly be leaching.