As I love all things retro, a few years back, I started purchasing Waterford decanters and vintage silver liquor labels on eBay. Their use was solely decorative. The cut crystal and warm silver in candlelight or dim lights is such a lovely sight. They make for a charming grouping on a silver platter perched atop a sideboard or buffet.
At some point, I started wondering and researching leaded crystal. We all know lead is bad for us, so is leaded crystal safe for storing liquor and using to serve drinks?
After reviewing several internet sources, including the Waterford website, I have learned that it is not a health hazard to use crystal decanters and drinkware (glasses, stemware, etc.). However, liquids, such as liquor should never be stored in crystal decanters. Two main reasons are the lead could leach into the liquid causing a health hazard, and the crystal could be etched by the alcohol, thus ruining the appearance of the decanter. Drinking from leaded crystal is not of concern since the liquid is not in the drinkware for long.
So often through movies and TV shows like soap operas and Dallas, we see the wealthy stars pouring alcohol from beautiful crystal decanters. Either their maids are switching it out daily, or they are in jeopardy of a health risk (more than just drinking alcohol!).
Two options for decanting:
- If you want to use a crystal decanter, only use it for a few hours. Empty the decanter’s contents back into its glass bottle within four to six hours. That gives you plenty of time for a dinner or cocktail party.
- Buy beautiful glass decanters if you want to store your liquor in them. That way, you won’t have to worry about the lead leaching into the liquor. Up the cool factor by using sterling silver liquor labels around the necks of the decanters.
If you own a set of crystal drinkware, use and enjoy it! Just be careful storing drinks and food in leaded crystal containers.