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White lead

White lead is the historical name for lead carbonate. This was formerly used as an ingredient for lead paint and a cosmetic called Venetian Ceruse, because its opaque quality made it a good pigment. However, it tended to cause lead poisoning, and its use has been banned in most countries.

Historically, white lead was produced by the Dutch process. This involved casting metallic lead as thin buckles. These were corroded with acid in the prescence of carbon dioxide. Next they were placed in pots with a little vinegar (containing acetic acid). These were stacked up and left for six to fourteen weeks, by which time the blue-grey lead had corroded to white lead. The pots were then taken to a separating table where scraping and pounding removed the white lead from the buckles. The powder was then dried and packed for shipment.[1]

White lead occurs naturally as a mineral, in which context it is known as cerussite (q.v.).


  1. ^ based on Warren, Christian. 'Toxic Purity: The progressive era origins of America’s lead paint poisoning epidemic'. Business History Review. Winter 1999, Vol. 73(4)
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "White_lead". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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