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View Full Version : Nifty Video - Making Stack Lead White Pigment


contumacious
04-05-2019, 06:34 PM
A simple but long process. Now if I can just find someone to trade some of my many hundreds of pounds of lead alloy ingots (Tin, Lead, Antimony) for some pure lead sheets......

Either way I am definitely making some for the 'fun' of it. I will most likely use a different oil than linseed. Also a larger plate and a smaller muller.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKX0LzZuuxw&list=PLnnJljk0ewSUBvhCXB1--RMyl5-Fm7dEa

More info on their website:

http://joebesch.com/lead%20white.html

Standard disclaimer - lead will kill you and every living thing on earth if you aren't careful, etc. :angel:

JCannon
04-05-2019, 08:20 PM
I checked out the video and the comments, which were surprisingly intelligent. (I was surprised because we're talkin' YouTube.) One big problem is the disposal of the water used to wash the white lead. Apparently, that water really IS extremely toxic and must be hauled off to a proper disposal facility, which will charge you.

Is there an alternative? This comment aroused my interest...
"When you wash the pigment, do not throw the poisoned water which contains lead acetate. It is a real crime! Before throwing away, add sulfuric acid to this water; it will become cloudy. After a few hours, a white non soluble salt will fall at the bottom of your washing tank. This is lead sulfate. And the water contains only acetic acid, so you can discard it without any danger (or reuse it for further reactions)."
Lead sulfate is PW2, the main ingredient in Flemish White, the stuff sold by Blue Ridge (https://blueridgeoilpaint.com/product/flemish-white-3) and Natural Pigments (https://www.naturalpigments.com/flemish-white-oil-paint.html) and nobody else. This type of lead white is supposedly opaque but also self-leveling, sort of like enamel.

Or so it has been reported. I've not had the pleasure, personally.

The point is, it seems to me that we have a two-for-one deal here: Two rare types of lead white -- Stack lead and Flemish white (PW2) for the price of one.

Do I understand correctly?

contumacious
04-06-2019, 10:59 AM
I checked out the video and the comments, which were surprisingly intelligent. (I was surprised because we're talkin' YouTube.) One big problem is the disposal of the water used to wash the white lead. Apparently, that water really IS extremely toxic and must be hauled off to a proper disposal facility, which will charge you.

As stated in the quote in your first post, if you treat the water with sulfuric acid then the higher toxicity compounds are changed to lower toxicity Lead Sulphate and non toxic Acetic Acid. From what I am getting from this link, you can dispose of that residue in some states as household trash - no need for a toxic waste facility. You could of course choose to use one if you wish, or may be required to, depending on your local laws. Where I live, I can send it to the landfill if I choose to. The lead from the lead based painted walls of a single old home would probably outweigh the lead from making several batches of lead pigment.

https://archive.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/web/html/faq-2.html

EPA's regulations provide that wastes from single and multiple residences, hotels, motels, bunkhouses, crew quarters, ranger stations, campgrounds, picnic grounds, and day-use recreational areas are considered household wastes and are not regulated as hazardous under the federal RCRA hazardous waste regulations (see 40 CFR 261.4(b)(1)).


Is there an alternative? This comment aroused my interest...

Lead sulfate is PW2, the main ingredient in Flemish White, the stuff sold by Blue Ridge (https://blueridgeoilpaint.com/product/flemish-white-3) and Natural Pigments (https://www.naturalpigments.com/flemish-white-oil-paint.html) and nobody else. This type of lead white is supposedly opaque but also self-leveling, sort of like enamel.

Or so it has been reported. I've not had the pleasure, personally.

The point is, it seems to me that we have a two-for-one deal here: Two rare types of lead white -- Stack lead and Flemish white (PW2) for the price of one.

Do I understand correctly?

It would be cool to be able to further use the waste products to make additional pigments rather than disposing of them.

Cost savings is not the main reason I am interested in doing this, but it is definitely a factor. Kremer for example wants $32 for 3.5 ounces of Cremnitz White pigment. I don't know if their product is true stack lead white. Natural Pigments traditional stack lead white wants $53 for less than 2 ounces and they limit you to 3 x 1.8 ounce purchases per order. That is not going to make much paint. Based on the price of roofing lead sheeting at about $2, the white lead pigment, even at a 50% loss in weight from processing should be less than $1 for that same 3.5 ounces.

..

AnnieA
04-06-2019, 03:56 PM
I hope you have a hazmat suit, contumacious, and some sort of breathing apparatus. Where are you planning to conduct this experiment? I've read that it's easy for industrial lead workers to bring imperceptible but still very toxic amounts of lead home to their families after work, so I hope you're aware of that.

timetobe
04-06-2019, 06:13 PM
Do I understand correctly?
Yes. This is a straightforward and simple chemical reaction. You get Lead Sulfate plus Acetic Acid (vinegar) plus water. After pouring off the vinegar, wash the precipitated lead sulfate and pour off the water (lead sulfate isn't soluble) making sure that it has settled to the bottom first. It's heavy so it only takes minutes to settle.

The worst that can happen is adding too much sulfuric acid, which anyway is sold as a drain unblocker to be poured neat down a sink.

You can recycle the acetic acid (it does smell like vinegar) by adding it back to your lead white harvesting kit.

Lead sulfate with either titanium white or lead white and chalk dust is the composition of Flemish White. Natural Pigments web site gives this formula but the proportions are trade secret I expect.

Yes, take precautions. At a minimum gloves and a half-face respirator N100 or FFP3 will filter 99.97% of particles. Done properly this method doesn't create dust size particles but 'flakes'.

I'm 61. I don't use lead white now, but I did for many many years. It was my main white. I took reasonable care and I'm in good health. Any heavy metal pigment is a risk, but I think the bigger risk is solvents. Just my personal opinion.

David

Ted Bunker
04-07-2019, 03:39 AM
I would assume that the industrial method of making lead pigment was vastly different, back around WW2 they made lead-based pigments literally by the ton. .

contumacious
04-07-2019, 12:49 PM
I would assume that the industrial method of making lead pigment was vastly different, back around WW2 they made lead-based pigments literally by the ton. .

What I have read is that the commercially produced lead white pigments do not end up making the same character of paint as when using this type of pigment. There are of course oil paints available that are made with the traditional stack method produced pigment, but all I have ever used is the modern type of lead white pigments. I am looking forward to trying some!

contumacious
04-07-2019, 12:53 PM
I hope you have a hazmat suit, contumacious, and some sort of breathing apparatus. Where are you planning to conduct this experiment? I've read that it's easy for industrial lead workers to bring imperceptible but still very toxic amounts of lead home to their families after work, so I hope you're aware of that.

Thanks for the concern AnnieA. I have worked with lead as well as higher toxicity products for almost 40 years and have the proper gear to do so safely.

goldensun
04-08-2019, 02:53 AM
Hello Contumacious,
I've never painted with lead white but I'm very curious about it.
Although I have a tube of titanium white and another of underpainting white, I intend in the near future to add lead to the collection. I really would like to know about the properties and performance of this paint. What are the advantages and disadvantages of lead white compared to titanium?

timetobe
04-08-2019, 08:15 AM
goldensun, a good question. As well as asking here you can search the forum. I suggest you do so because there is lots of info. You will find it to be a hot topic!

For me and my painting style I simply found it better than titanium and zinc because of handling and mixing. Disadvantage - only 1 for me is that it is toxic, therefore needs sensible handling of and disposing of rags. I never throw toxic paint away, I paint with the leftovers creating abstract works I call 'salvation xx', where 'xx' is the number of the piece, and 'salvation' because, well, the paint got saved from the incinerator.

Some come out pretty good!

David