In order for your leadwork to be the most effective and strongly bonded, it needs to either be cleaned on a regular basis to stop it from oxidising or it needs a layer of patination oil after it has been cleaned to stop it from turning yellow and effectively, ruining your next project. 

Safety tips for working with leadwork

Lead is highly toxic, which is why when we handle it, we should do so with caution. Although leadwork is toxic, it is not considered a health hazard if you are protected with the right equipment and follow the right guidelines.

In order to stay safe you should: 

  • Wear protective clothing such as gloves, respiratory masks, safety boots and gloves
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, even when you have been wearing gloves. You can additionally wash your hands before eating, drinking or smoking too. 
  • Do not smoke, eat or drink in your work area
  • When sweeping up, wear all protective gear and spray water onto the dust as you sweep.
How to clean leadwork

Patination oil

Patination oil is a white spirit based oil that can be used on fresh laid lead or cleaned lead. The best advice that always works is to treat your leadwork with patination oil as soon as you get it. Patination oil seals the leadwork from wet weather to ensure lead oxide doesn’t run off, it also gives shine to your leadwork and stops the oxides from forming altogether. You should shake the bottle before using it, applying it with a soft cloth to give optimum results. Leave 1 hour as a drying period for the oil.

How to clean leadwork

The type of stain and the differences in cleaning

Light white stains- These can be removed using a weak acid. This can be rectified with simple household materials like vinegar or lemon juice. Soak the lead in this solution for 10 minutes and then brush off with thin wired wool.

Heavy white stains- You can remove these stains by first removing the sealant, next, clean the leadwork with vinegar or lemon juice and then make sure the lead is completely dry. Finally, add a layer of patination oil.

Rusty or orange stains- Use a specific lead cleaner for this, as the stains will be too permanent to remove without it. Use a nylon brush or scourer to complete this.

Red stains- A detergent will be needed for this, using a nylon brush or scourer to remove the rust. After drying the leadwork, use patination oil to finish.

For more advice, or if you need a lead specialist- contact us.