I want to test for lead in alcohol rather than water. The reason for this is that I have many antique crystal decanters and flasks. Crystal is made with lead oxide (PbO) added to the glass.

Normally when crystal is tested, the procedure is to leave pure alcohol (ethanol) in the vessel for a fixed amount of time (like 3 months) and then test the alcohol to see if it has any lead in it.

Can I just use regular retail lead strips for this (they test water)? Or will the alcohol invalidate the results?

Is there a chemical test I can do that will be equally or more sensitive to the commercial strips? I have a fairly decently equipped small laboratory, so I can prepare a test if it is straightforward.

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    $\begingroup$ I do not think stripes would be usable. The best bet, but expensive, would be to get it analyzed by AAS, e.g. in water treatment lab. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Nov 19 '21 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ I'd (1) test the mixture; (2) distill off the ethanol; (3) retest the water and ethanol fractions; and finally (4) adjust for volume and determine if the lead showed up in either. Seems like some folks have done similar with bourbon to some measure of success. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Minehardt
    Nov 19 '21 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ Lead compounds are insoluble in alcohol. It means that the amount of lead dissolved in alcohol is extremely weak. It should even be impossible to detect by usual tests, like colored strips. The only way of detecting it in alcohol is probably atomic absorption spectroscopy. And it needs a highly specialized apparatus managed by specialists : is not feasible for amateurs. $\endgroup$
    – Maurice
    Nov 19 '21 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ In the article, they say that lead dissolves in water at a level difficult to measure : 1 to 5 microgram per liter. It is 1 milligram in a cubic meter (1000 kg water). Can you imagine how small it is ? One milligram is the smallest amount to be seen. One micrograms is simply to tiny to be visible, And in alcohol, lead is even less soluble. In my toxicology documents, lead is said to be toxic when more than 1 mg lead is absorbed per day. You will have to drink 1000 kg water to be intoxicated by the afore mentioned lead solution. Try to draw your own conclusion ! $\endgroup$
    – Maurice
    Nov 19 '21 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ In ancient times, “sugar of lead” (lead (II) acetate) was deliberately used to sweeten wine. ;-( $\endgroup$
    – Ed V
    Nov 19 '21 at 23:35

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