Lead white

/ led wite /

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How Lead white is made:

Origin: artificial mineral hydrocerussite (at Mineralogy Database). This natural mineral though known in nature was not used for pigment.
Lead white crust formed on strips of lead.
Artificial variety of pigment

This is an early recipe, strips of metallic lead are placed in porous earthenware pots, over weak acetic acid (vinegar) in sheds with fermenting manure that produce heat and CO2. After a few months, the acetic and carbonic acid reacts with the surface lead forming a white crust which is scraped off, dried, and ground. Anyway, many recipes for the pigments manufacture have been recorded over the centuries. Since lead white is a poisonous compound if inhaled as a dust or ingested, grinding in manufacture was a dangerous industry and as a result the process was banned after legislative action.

Stacking White Lead (from Dodd, G. British Manufactures, 1884).

Illustration of the process:


The ground pigment:

Pile of ground Lead white