Lead-Free Crystal
December 22, 2017 12:53 PM   Subscribe

I need to find a *lead-free* crystal decanter for liquor (bourbon/cognac/etc, not wine) storage. Help me navigate through all of the BS/deceptive labeling and find a decanter that is legitimately lead free.

The more bang for my buck, the better. I occasionally see "lead free crystal" noted on packaging but I find this dubious at best, considering some of the surprisingly low prices I'm seeing associated with these same products.

My concerns:
1) What qualities - and red flags - should I look out for so as to best determine if something is truly lead-free crystal that is safe for storing liquor? (This is liquor that may be stored for up to a year or more, but may often be consumed in less time than that)
2) What are the best brands that produce lead-free crystal, that won't totally break the bank?

If you can point me to examples online (Amazon or elsewhere - I'm in the US, if it matters) I'd be eternally grateful, as well.
posted by nightrecordings to Shopping (5 answers total)
Best answer: The simplest solution is to avoid "crystal" glass entirely (which by its very nature includes some proportion of lead or other mineral doping) and go with a different kind of glass, like borosilicate glass. A quick search for "borosilicate decanter" turns up loads and loads of products. Borosilicate is commonly used in laboratory equipment for its resistance to chemical erosion and leaching (it's used in medical contexts and even in devices that are implanted in the body). There's no such thing as a truly inert container, but borosilicate is a good step in that direction that avoids your concerns about lead.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:01 PM on December 22, 2017 [11 favorites]

Lead-free crystal = glass.

Crystal has lead in it; it's the lead that gives crystal its sparkle.

What you are looking for is a glass decanter.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 1:05 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]

Schott Zwiesel Tritan is "lead-free crystal" and I find it to be much nicer than most "normal" glass. Yes, it might not technically be "crystal" (I'm not an expert on that), but it is very visibly nicer than most standard glass. They have a bunch of decanter shapes available.
posted by primethyme at 5:01 PM on December 22, 2017

I would add that *cut* (rather than molded) decorations are pretty much the distinction between the "good stuff" and the "cheap stuff," regardless of whether a product has lead content. A cut glass decanter will look a million times better than a molded lead-crystal decanter (and probably cost significantly more, too).

But the cut faceting does far more for the sparkle than the lead does on its own, IMO.
posted by Krawczak at 12:07 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

But the cut faceting does far more for the sparkle than the lead does on its own, IMO.

It's a different effect, but facets are important -- the more facets, the more expensive the piece. That's why crystal beads can widely vary in price. Workmanship makes a huge difference. There are also outer treatments, such as an AB finish that adds to shimmer...but over time, that can wear off. Crystal can be a complicated thing, as you are looking at multiple factors, and I can go on, but lead makes the biggest difference in sparkle, no doubt.

I had been invited to one B2B show where the buyers were given crystal samples for the new season, and I had been to several of these affairs over the years...the second I opened the box, I wondered why glass replaced the crystal, and then the hosts were touting their "lead-free" crystal. Even though there were facets and all sorts of beautiful things done, it wasn't crystal. It blared glass, even with all of the other factors in play. It's day and night.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:33 PM on December 23, 2017

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