Have you ever wondered how much lead is in old lead based paint? I know that some of you folks out there in "houseblogland" are concerned about lead paint. There's a couple in Paw Paw, Illinois that have expressed their concerns for the stuff as it falls from their ceiling into their Wheaties AND there is a couple in Eutaw, Alabama that are snorting the fumes and wallowing in the aroma as they embark on a long, tedious journey to remove some of the stuff from their woodwork.
As for me, I have been around lead since I was a small boy. I've painted lead soldiers for 30 years, shot .75 calibre lead balls from a matchlock musket and stripped so much lead paint from woodwork I can't remember how much... I can't remember how.... I can't remember.... (hold on, isn't memory loss a sign of lead poisoning?)
Well, we are often reminded about the hazards of lead paint. Especially when there are children in a house where old paint is chipping or flaking off. Lead paint that is intact is not a real hazard. It becomes a problem when it is removed, sanded or flakes off a surface because it can be ingested in dust form. While flipping through the pages of my book called "Household Discoveries" published in 1909, I found some recipes for paint.....
The basic recipe is this;
One hundred pounds of pure white lead; 4 to 5 gallons of pure raw linseed oil; half a gallon of pure turpentine; 1 pint of pure turpentine japan.
Primer coats have more linseed oil, flat paint finishes have more turpentine and turpentine japan is a drying agent that speeds up the evaporation of linseed oil.
However "white lead" is actually a mixture of lead oxide and charcoal. Other recipes include using zinc oxide, chalk, whiting, lime or road dust as fillers. Color tints may also contain white lead, red lead and lead chromate. As a rule, the book states divide the number of square feet of the surface to be painted by 18. The resulting number is the number of pounds of pure ground white lead needed to give three coats.
So if your walls have had three different color layers of paint applied in the past then you could have 100 lbs. of lead oxide in one room! That is a lot of lead! If you do strip it and put the flakes in a garbage bag at least you will now know why the bag is so heavy.
For more information about the hazards of lead in the home, go to:
Wait until I tell what else gasoline was used for in 1909. I'll save that for a later post.