Need help from chemist, metal worker, or old mini painter about lead


So I happened on an old miniature for DnD from a thriftshop/bookstore. It’s an imperial dragon from Ral Partha made in 80’s. I am ectatic to paint and have it in a display. The only thing is I read the labeling and noticed when opening this, it contains some lead in it and some oxide that has formed along the darker parts. So I’m just asking before hand what is respectable amount of fear and what should I know about handling the lead parts? Particulary, where could I find the lead content of pewter used by the company if anyone knows? Second, I’m planning to prime and paint this though what should I do about the oxide that’s formed and eroded parts of this model away? Would it be just on the surface and could I scrape it off or would the lead dust be too dangerous and should I just prime and paint over it? Is it safe to use and play in games of DnD if painted over and wash after use?

Not planning to work on this at the space.


The short and the sweet (pun for those in the know) with lead is:

  • Don’t eat it
  • Don’t breath it

You keep away from those two and you’re in great shape. Don’t heat it to the point is turns into fumes (should be easy). Don’t rub your hands all over it and then lick your hands (should also be easy). If pieces of it fall off, don’t put them in your mouth.

Keep it away from the food at the DnD parties, and don’t move the marker and then immediately eat food. Wash your hands with hot soapy water after touching it before eating and you’ll be perfectly safe.


so i take it no spiced wine at the space?


Soaking it in acidic food or drink would be bad if you drank the broth afterwards.


When dealing with lead with old stained glass, main things are wash hands well after handling and before eating/drinking, no open cuts, avoid fumes. Generally don’t handle things like drinking cups/food until hands clean (I just don’t do it around same area). Clean up area of scraps, filings, residue, etc.

Respect, good. Fear, not necessary.

Don’t lick it. :slight_smile:


The white powdery bloom on the miniature is is a lead oxide known as “lead rot” and it will continue to eat away at the mini unless halted.

There is a process for halting it but it takes a while. Storing minis in dry conditions can prevent it, but once started removing moisture won’t halt it: more aggressive actions are needed. Painting over it won’t halt the rot once it’s started, either.

Repeated application of vinegar and dionized water is the answer. Details here (and more info in the related links at the bottom of the BGG wiki post):

Curiously, this is about the same approach I’ve used for removing iron rust from cast iron.

Re: using the minis
Once they are cleaned up and painted, no special handling should be needed. I seal my minis after painting to help protect the paint when they are going to be handled a lot (gaming minis vs display minis). I use a couple of light layers of gloss polyurethane for durability and then a dusting of Testors Dullcoat to knock down the shine. The gloss/dullcoat combo protects the minis better than dullcoat alone.

Don’t spray while humid: it can leave a clouded finish.


Having worked at a facility for many years that regularly used lead and solder as part of goods production.
Not much to worry about if you have no plans of ingesting it or inhaling the lead oxide dust.
Wipe or soft bristle off the oxide, wipe down the whole thing with something that dries quickly(rubbing alcohol perhaps, or kerosene) to remove skin oils or other contaminants that will prevent good paint adhesion.

P.S. if that’s pewter, not much to worry about.


not really white powder yet, though will applying vinegar and de-ion water remove just the surface rust? Asking since I’m not worried about surface rust parts but rather the bit where the leg meats the body where the rust has eaten enough to leave a gash. Also boiling liquid and lead? Should I get a container at goodwill for this that I don’t plan to use for anything else and how should I dispose of lead vinegar/water mixtures, can it be disposed outside or in a drain safely?


Lead was routinely used to seal cast iron plumbing waste line fittings so I don’t think there’s any real danger there given the micro- to ‘milligrams of lead oxide in play here. That being said, I probably wouldn’t do the vinegar soak in my cookware/dinnerware.

It’s just a little bit on the mini: can I ignore it?

In the long term, no. Once the oxide is established on a piece it’ll attract/trap moisture and continue the process.

Use the approach in the article - it’ll take repeated applications to completely clear.


Pewter for gaming minis didn’t start til later (late 80’s/early 90’s IIRC). Pewter doesn’t get lead rot so his dragon must be lead or (more likely) a lead alloy.


He’s a fighter, that one. Cool opportunity with the paint job.


if I dont clean it off and green stuff it, gonna try and see if I can paint the rust gash as an open wound