View Full Version : in shop,,cans of "white lead" paste????

10-09-2004, 11:59 PM
machine shop years old had several cans of white lead paste...what was it used for?

10-10-2004, 12:01 AM
one use is for seeing how gears mesh when setting them up to run

Forrest Addy
10-10-2004, 12:45 AM
White lead paste was one of the best steam-age technology's extreme pressure lubricants. It was used to lube lathe dead centers, press fits, installation of Class 5 studs, steady rest jaws, ect.

When used as a paint pigment was also had execellent preservative properties for wood an metal. While it tarnished in polluted air it inhibited the growth of mold and infestations of insect pests. When used to dope bolted connections in wooden boats, the joints and bolt holes were almost immune to rot.

Red lead and white lead got a bum rap. It's a great pigment/lune when used with safety in mind. The newer preservative paints still aren't as effective in protecting steel from salt water attack as the old lead based paints - and that's from a Woolsey paint chemist.

J Tiers
10-10-2004, 12:45 AM
dead centers

10-10-2004, 01:05 AM
Forest, I have to agree with you. White and red lead did a better job on lots of things than anything on the market today. I really miss the products. You are right they got a bum rap.


10-10-2004, 05:51 AM
I bought some industrial paint earlier in the year to paint some machinery. The tin had a warning on it to say it contained lead so maybe it is being put back in paint.

Toolmaker Extrodinair
10-10-2004, 06:36 AM
in the navy we used it for thread chasing on the lathe. did a good durn job.

10-10-2004, 12:32 PM
Artists still use lead paint and it's easy enough to buy in a good arts supply store. You might even be able to buy the precursors to make yourselv some white lead grease, look around. Us artists use incredible amounts of heavy metals for paint pigments, lead is considered to be one of the safer ones! Stuff like cadmium yellow paint is %50 cadmium by weight, really nasty toxic stuff.

chuck slifer
10-12-2004, 03:36 PM
i have and old jar of white lead and its hard how do you sofen it up

10-12-2004, 04:51 PM
Just what is white lead and red lead?
Is it lead oxides mixed with other components? ...or powdered lead in a grease base? ...'er what? Anybody know?

10-12-2004, 06:52 PM
Tasty on a cracker too! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

10-12-2004, 07:58 PM
Dad always used white lead on the gas pipe threads when he was installing a new stove. Later in life we used it to join two inch threaded pipe in the oil fields, and tried to pressure test to 10K psi. All day job. The lead was probably only good for lube but we figured it helped with the pressure seal, too.

Teflon tape eliminated all that. What was once a several day job, now is one day, at most.


10-12-2004, 08:16 PM
Soften white lead by adding a little cutting oil to it. Stir with a popsicle stick or nail. Whatever you use to stir it with use it also to apply it.

It is GREAT for tapping exotic/hard to tap metals, Monel, Inconel, Hastalloy, SS, (Amco 18 & 21 Aluminum/silicon/ bronze alloys) and lots of others. Just wash your hands when you're done using it. A little goes a long way. Enjoy!

10-12-2004, 09:41 PM

Red lead is Pb2O4, this is a form of lead oxide containing 2 atoms of lead and 4 atoms of oxygen.

White lead is 2PbCo3Pb(OH)2 or sometimes called basic lead carbonate. I'm not really up on inorganic chemistry, but I think a molecule of white lead is composed of 2 lead carbonates (PbCo3)and 1 lead hydroxide Pb(OH)2.

Red lead was the best rust preventative pigment ever used in paints as others have mentioned. If people wouldn't have ate all that good ole paint we could still be using it!!!!!! Sometimes I think it was banned because it worked to well and things painted with it would last to long. That's not a good way to keep us buying a new whatever because it was rusted out within a year.


Frank Ford
10-12-2004, 11:20 PM
Nothing like white lead:


10-13-2004, 03:05 AM
It's still available... but please remember
it hangs around long after you're gone.

http://studioproducts.com/artsupplies/artistsproducts/White_Lead_Pigment_5B1lb__bag-10025_pure_basic_lead_carbonate5D_28454_grams29.ht ml

Big problem with lead is that it hangs around
forever. The kids' school had to have extensive lead abatement done, because over
the last 75 years the lead flashing had leached so much lead into the dirt near the gutter downspouts. Even low levels of lead are very toxic to small children's brain development; the lead in leaded gas, for example, caused measureable increases in blood lead levels and was blamed for clinical lead poisoning in people working w/ lots of gasoline...

The problems of chronic lead toxicity are
described in "Exploring the Dangerous Trades", an interesting autobiography
by Alice Hamilton, M.D. Interesting web site:


- Bart

10-13-2004, 09:34 AM

I understand that the lead in gasoline was volatilized after being burned in the engine, and we would breath it, thus increasing the amount of lead in our bodies. Likewise sticking your hands in leaded gas could let the lead enter the body through absorbtion. I'm having a hard time understanding how the lead that was in the ground dirt entered the body, were the kids eating the dirt? The lead in the dirt was not volatile so it cannot enter the body by breathing. If it made it to the ground water and was consumed by drinking the groundwater I could understand that, although I would think the concentration would be extremely low. The white lead used in indoor paints would not cause any problems because it is not volatile and the only way to get into the body would be through ingestion. Red lead was used in paint on bridges to keep them from rusting. No way of entering the body except by ingestion. Some of the lead problem I can buy, some sounds like B.S.

Same for the asbestos thing, some things make sense, some things sound like B.S.

I've worked in the chemical industry for 25+ years and some things involved in this industry made sense and some didn't. These are just my views on the situations, and because I don't have a piece of paper that says I'm an expert on toxicology, take them with a grain of salt.


10-13-2004, 09:56 AM
Watch that salt, causes hypertension.

10-14-2004, 06:18 PM
Remember the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland? My dad explained to me the reason hat makers often went crazy was because they used lead in the treatment of felt and leather. The constant handling of the material eventually affected their brains. I knew a retired Marince Gunnery Sargeant who was little bit crazy who had spent over ten years as an indoor pistol range instructor. He breathed a lot of leaded air inside that facility. (I always walked real soft around that guy.)

10-16-2004, 07:09 AM
After posting that about the Mad Hatter I remembered I had left something out. My dad told me that hat makers worked with white lead and mercury.