How to Polish Soft Lead

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Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup fine-powdered pumice

  • 1 cup fine-powdered whiting (precipitated chalk)

  • 1 gallon of hot water

  • 1 gallon of warm water

  • 1 bar of mild soap

  • Denatured alcohol

  • Old mixing container

  • bucket


You can find the ingredients to polish pewter and other soft metals that contain lead at your local pharmacy, paint, hardware, or art supply store. In 2010, total price for all of the chemical ingredients was around $20 - $30.

Dusting soft metals regularly will prevent heavy dust buildup and make it easier to restore shine.

Always test a small dime-size area on the bottom of the piece and wait 24 hours before fiinishing polishing the rest of the lead-containing metal.


Harsh abrasives will ruin soft-leaded metal items.

Taking special care of soft metal helps maintain its timeless appeal.

While metals such as steel can stand up to harsh abrasives, many softer ones, including those that contain lead, cannot. Pewter is a soft metal that may or may not contain lead. Flexible soft metals are used to make home decorations such as vases, portrait frames, and jewelry from simple to intricate forms. Cleaning and polishing soft lead metals regularly will help keep these items looking more than they are worth, day in and day out.


Step 1

Put on protective gloves and then open a window to let some clean air flow in.

Step 2

Mix 4 tbs. each of whiting and denatured alcohol in an old mixing container. Adjust the amount of mixture as needed to form a paste and then go to Step 4. Follow this step to shine brightly finished leaded pewter; otherwise, to polish soft lead metals with a dull finish, go to Step 3.

Step 3

Mix four tbs. each of powdered pumice with the mineral oil in an old mixing container. Adjust the amount of mixture as needed to form a paste.


Step 4

Apply the paste to the metal in one direction, using a soft, dry cloth.

Step 5

Dip a clean, soft cloth in a bucket of hot, soapy water.

Step 6

Wring out the excess water and wipe clean the pewter metal or other soft metal containing lead.

Step 7

Replace the soapy water in the bucket with warm, clean water and then dip a clean, soft cloth in it.


Step 8

Wring out the cloth to remove any excess water and then wipe the metal clean to remove the soap residue.

Step 9

Use a clean,dry, soft cloth and rub the metal in one direction to polish it. Use a gentle touch and avoid overcleaning or rubbing too hard. If the metal still appears dull, continue.

Step 10

Visit your local hardware store and purchase a soft lead polish formulated for the metal you need to polish.



Nina Nixon

Nina Nixon has more than 30 years of professional writing experience. She enjoys writing about business and technology. Her articles have appeared on Chron, eHow Business & Personal Finance, Techwalla, and other digital content publishing websites.