What is lead washout

Clean the lead from the patina in an immersion bath

Antiquarian value can decrease

In the case of old coins, weapons and ammunition, the first question that arises is whether cleaning should remove the patina that has formed on the lead. This naturally formed cover is valued and rated by many enthusiasts as a mandatory proof of age. If the patina still needs to be removed from the lead in order to regain its original matt gray color, an immersion bath with or without heating is the most promising.

How to clean lead

  • Lye soap or
  • Diluted acetic acid or
  • Ammonium acetate or
  • Diluted hydrochloric acid (€ 6.95 at Amazon *)
  • Protective gloves
  • Stainless steel container
  • Heating source such as a hotplate or Bunsen burner
  • thermometer
  • Acid-proof brush

1. Mix the immersion bath

Mix a lye soap bath or a 15 percent diluted acetic acid in a stainless steel container. A bath with ten percent ammonium acetate or eight percent hydrochloric acid is most effective. Do not mix the ingredients under any circumstances.

2. Heat the immersion bath

Start by heating the chosen cleaning solution to around thirty degrees Celsius. You can repeat the heating depending on the effect on the lead. You can increase the cleaning effect by increasing the temperature. Increase the temperature in steps of ten to a maximum of eighty degrees.

3. Brush or insert lead

Depending on the nature of the workpiece, you can coat the lead surfaces with an acid-proof brush or, for example, immerse coins completely in the immersion bath. The first effects can only occur after an hour.

4. Rinse off lead

Rinse off the cleaned lead with plenty of water, and if you are using acid, also use a soda solution. Collect the rinse water.

5. Discard the cleaning solution

You dispose of dissolved poisonous lead with the rinse water. Bring the collected cleaning water to a pollutant collection point.

The "attack" on the lead increases when the immersion bath or the applied cleaning solution is heated. You should always work on a test piece or a small test area first in order to be able to protect the effect.

Author: Stephan Reporter

* Affiliate link to Amazon

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