How to Use a Leaded Crystal Bowl for Food

Beautiful but deadly.
Beautiful but deadly. (Image: strawberries in the crystal bowl image by Alexander Potapov from

A beautiful lead crystal bowl can add sparkle to your dinner party or holiday meal. However, that bowl can consist of up to 33 percent lead. Although the lead oxide in most lead crystal bowls ranges from 24 percent to 32 percent, it can add to the lead buildup in the body that over time can cause problems such as lead poisoning. With proper care and usage, that bowl can be used safely for food for a long time.

Things You'll Need

  • Lead crystal bowl
  • Vinegar
  • Low acidic food
  • Mild detergent

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Before the Meal

Inspect the bowl for chips or damage. Look closely at the bowl, especially in the interior, for any nicks, cracks or other damage. Do not use the bowl for food if there is any doubt concerning its integrity.

Soak the lead crystal bowl. Slip the bowl into vinegar for 24 hours before the first use to rid the bowl of any surface lead. Rinse it thoroughly.

Select low-acidic food and food additives. Choose foods that are low in acid because highly acidic food draws lead out of lead crystal faster than does the less acidic foods. Some foods to avoid include citrus fruit, pickles, apples, soy sauce, salad dressing and tomatoes. This also applies to any liquid that is in the food such as fruit juice.

Fill the lead crystal bowl right before serving. No significant contamination problems will develop in the time it takes to serve a meal.

After the Meal

Remove the food from the bowl immediately after the meal. The longer the food remains in the bowl, the more likely the bowl will leak lead into the food. Also over time, the longer the food remains in the bowl, the rate of lead leaked from the bowl increases.

Wash the lead crystal dish by hand in mild detergent. Handle the bowl carefully and use detergent that will not damage the glaze on the bowl's surface. Dishwashers can damage the glaze on the surface of the bowl, which causes the lead to leak into the food the next time the bowl is used. A damaged glaze can cause lead to contaminate other items in the dishwasher as well.

Rinse the bowl thoroughly in warm water to remove any residue that has accumulated on or in the bowl. This warm rinse will also make your bowl sparkle and shine.


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