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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000203.txt from 2002/05

Subj: [kl] Crystal mouthpieces
Date: Wed, 8 May 2002 09:27:40 -0400

Bill Hausmann wrote,
>Maybe they are just regular glass, but I consider mine to be
>crystal. There are also some clear acrylic mouthpieces out there, but they
>are NOT to be considered crystal mouthpieces just because you can see
>through them.

When people say the mouthpieces aren't crystal, they probably mean (I hope
they mean!) that the glass used in mouthpieces is never leaded crystal.
"Crystal" mouthpieces are made of ordinary soda-lime glass, which has no lead
in it. Clear soda-lime glass mouthpieces are safe to hold in the mouth for
prolonged periods.

A genuine, leaded crystal mouthpiece would look beautiful, and it would be
less fragile than soda-lime glass. Unfortunately, it would be a health
hazard, especially to growing kids. Saliva would leach lead out of the glass
and into the mouth. That might not be a problem for someone who only
practices half an hour a day, but a serious student or a professional
clarinetist using a leaded crystal mouthpiece for hours at a time might take
in enough lead to get sick. Liquid doesn't usually stay in contact with
leaded crystal drinking glasses long enough for significant amounts of lead
to leach, but the AMA now strongly recommends that small children never drink
from leaded crystal and that people never store their booze in fancy leaded
glass decanters, for instance.

(I'm a semi-retired, professional stained glass designer-builder, BTW. My
information comes from standard glass industry references and from the
Federal government-mandated Material Safety Data Sheets I had to post in my



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