Talk about Lead Glass Decanter

Joined May 8, 2018
Someone in the recent wine topic has mentioned the glass of lead. I was wondering what people think. They have been used for hundreds of years to keep wine and wine but not long ago there was a large study showing that lead was filtered from glass and into liquid. Research suggests that short-term use is okay but long-term storage is a problem. I know many of my parents' friends have been drinking in lead glasses and never had a problem, just as I do not read any historical accounts about this issue. I asked this because my wife gave me a beautiful leaded glass for Christmas. I would love to use it to store my bourbon in. The stopper is relatively tight so I do not worry about oxidation. I usually drink bourbon but it will definitely stay in the bottle for a few weeks. What is your point of view? Is there a legitimate concern or is this just another example of "everything will kill you" exaggeration?
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Joined Dec 18, 2010
My lead glass decanters grace the bar but are vacant. For a couple of days I personally would not be concerned. For a couple of weeks I’d worry about other sources of bourbon degradation. But I’m not a doctor or a toxicologist so take my opinion with a big grain of salt. Unless pointed to legitimate research showing hazard probability I assume that the concern may be fear based more than anything else.

I drink out of leaded glass goblets (they are crystal and I assume lead glass based on recollection but maybe I’m not positive) on a daily basis and don’t seem to have lead poisoning.
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
The University of North Carolina performed a study of leaded crystal. Port wine was used in the study and after just two days, the lead content of the Port was 89 micrograms per liter. To give that some perspective, the EPA limit for lead in drinking water is .0015 parts per million. After four months, the lead levels were between 2,000 and 5,000 micrograms per liter. Not good.

When white wine was tested in the leaded crystal, the amount of lead in the white wine doubled after only an hour. After four hours, the amount of lead tripled. The Ph of the liquid seems to have an effect on the amount of lead.

The problem with lead is there is no such thing as a "safe amount." Lead accumulates in your tissues. In other words, once its ingested, it does not leave your body. After a while and depending on the rate of ingestion, its very likely symptoms of lead poisoning will begin to emerge. The insidious aspect of lead is the damage is degenerative over time so the symptoms do not manifest themselves all at once. It may take years for the symptoms to become noticeable. However, once the process starts, it cannot be stopped and the damage cannot be reversed.

Please research the issue for yourself. There are many credible sources available that can help guide you in this matter.

Here is a link to a website where you can download a copy of the UNC study.

I hope this helps. :)


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Like the OP, my wife gave me a beautiful decanter a few years ago, for Christmas, to put my Bourbon in. Unfortunately, it is leaded crystal and I haven't used it yet. I have read the research, and I have yet to use it. I am not someone that easily believes the hype around many "studies" that claim something is unsafe, but I've read the actual study and it is concerning. I don't think you would have an issue with short term (decanting into it for an evening's party and pouring back into the bottle) but i certainly won't be storing my Bourbon it. So sad, but as stated, lead poisoning can be very insidious.
Joined Oct 1, 2006
I like the question George!

I think most science says don't store beverages for children in Lead Crystal.

Sounds reasonable to me.

Here's an abstract that sounds interesting.

Food and Chemical Toxicology

Volume 32, Issue 3, March 1994, Pages 285-288

These data are consistent with ceramic chemistry theory, which predicts that leaching of Pb from crystal is self-limiting exponentially as a function of increasing distance from the crystal—liquid interface. The results of this investigation support the concept that sufficient ageing of Pb crystal prior to use reduces, to acceptable levels, the human health risk to adults associated with consumption of beverages stored in Pb crystal decanters.

I think these researchers theorize that the lead level decreases every time you use it. But it will always polute the contents, just a little less each time.

I think I will use my decanter for flowers...
Joined May 18, 2018
In 2018 knowing what we know. Can’t see the reason of using lead crystal to store alcohol

There are plenty of lead free options....

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