Drinking glasses are a staple in most homes, but how do you know that your glass is safe to drink from? Many older drinking glasses contain lead, which can be toxic if consumed.
Many old drinking glasses contain lead.
Lead is a heavy metal, which means it's dense and quite heavy for its size. Lead doesn't have any taste or smell, so you can't tell if you've eaten lead or not by looking at or smelling it. You also can't detect whether an object contains lead by tasting it; however, if you eat something that contains lead over time, this can cause health problems like brain damage and nerve damage (source).
Lead has many uses in society: Lead pipes were used to carry drinking water until they were banned in 1986; old paint may contain lead; many toys contain small amounts of lead; even old drinking glasses may contain some amounts of this element!
Lead content of older glasses
The lead content of older glass is a topic that you may have wondered about. If you own old drinking glasses, you might have asked yourself: “Does my old glass have lead?” or “Is this glass safe to drink from?”
Well, there are a few ways that your drinking glasses can contain lead and it's important to know how they could be affected by the presence of this toxin.
Which lead-containing glass is most common?
Lead crystal is a type of glass that contains lead oxide. It's also known as "lead glass" or "leaded glass."
Lead crystal was first produced in the 1750s, and it has been used to make drinking glasses since the late 19th century. Lead crystal is prized for its clarity and durability, and you can find lead-containing products in many shapes, sizes and colors.
It's important to note that not all lead-containing glasses are made out of actual lead crystal; some are made with other types of glass (like soda lime) that contain small amounts of naturally occurring lead oxide but haven't been treated with additional chemicals to increase their purity.
Is your old glass safe to use?
If you’re worried about lead and looking for a quick way to tell if your glassware has it, there is an easy way. Simply buy a lead testing kit from Amazon (I bought this one), or pick one up at Home Depot, and follow the instructions in the package. A simple swab of the outside rim of your glass will tell you in minutes whether it contains lead. If you don't have a test kit handy, just err on the side of caution: If you don't know how old your drinking glasses are or where they came from—and most people don't—don't use them for drinking water or food until further testing has been done by professionals who know how to determine conclusively whether certain materials contain dangerous levels of this toxic metal.
How do I know if my glass contains lead?
If you have an old glass that you're not sure about, there are some simple ways to tell if it contains lead.
- Examine the bottom of the glass: If the bottom has a number 6 on it, then your glass is lead-free and safe to use.
- See if there's a leaching print: If you can see a white print or any markings at all on the inside of your glass, it could be lead-free. To check this out further, put some vinegar in your glass and let it sit overnight; if there's no change after 24 hours (and assuming that nothing else has been added), then your drinking vessel is likely safe for use.
If you’re concerned about lead exposure, it is important to know that there are ways to reduce your risk of exposure. You can also minimize exposure by using glassware with low lead content or by avoiding using older glasses altogether. In general, we advise washing your hands after handling any kind of glassware and avoiding drinking water directly from old glasses.