Lead exposure on mouthpieces + stainless steel plating

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CooperBayliff
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Lead exposure on mouthpieces + stainless steel plating

Post by CooperBayliff »

Ok so, I was wondering about how if you get a normal mouthpiece (gold/silver plated) there is always the prop 65 warning for lead. Is there a serious threat that a mouthpiece that is 99% of the time used inside or in normal outside conditions will expose me to lead? Also are stainless steel mouthpieces actually better? I really like the gold rim feel and I’m curious how a stainless steel mouthpiece would feel. I don’t see many pros using a stainless steel mouthpiece so I’m wondering if something’s up with that.
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Snake Charmer
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Re: Lead exposure on mouthpieces + stainless steel plating

Post by Snake Charmer »

Lead exposure is only a problem when you play (standard) mouthpieces with damaged or worn-off plating (or no plating at all). The plating was introduced centuries ago to protect the skin from the influence of the ingridients of the brass like nickel or lead, which easily cause rashes on the lips.
With stainless steel (at least the surgical grades used by serious manufacturers) you are skin-wise on the safe side without the need of any plating. One big advantage, because you can play it for decades without wearing off and you don't have to think about scratches. The steel is much harder than silver or gold so they are less prone to mechanical damage and if, you can re-polish it.
If you like the feel of a gold rim you will have no problems with stainless steel. The highly polished Houser rims offer the same grip like a gold rim, the (less shiny) Kelly steel is slightly more grippy, but still more slippery than a silver rim.
Stainless steel mouthpieces change their temperature slower than brass ones, so don*t let it sit in the sun on a outdoor gig, it can get and stay really hot after some time!
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Re: Lead exposure on mouthpieces + stainless steel plating

Post by CooperBayliff »

Is it obvious when plating is damaged?
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bort
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Re: Lead exposure on mouthpieces + stainless steel plating

Post by bort »

Stainless steel mouthpieces are just solid stainless steel aren't they? Can something actually be plated in steel without it literally meaning being covered in steel plates?
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Snake Charmer
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Re: Lead exposure on mouthpieces + stainless steel plating

Post by Snake Charmer »

Standard mouthpieces are made of cast brass, turned into shape on a lathe and plated for health and bling. Stainless steel mouthpieces are turned from solid piece of steel and polished.
A "steel plating" is not possible, you cannot make a galvanic liquid out of steel. It is possible to make a stainless steel rim for a brass mp with screw rim, like you find them with lexan rims. Sellmansberger/Houser offered some time ago a budget version with a solid mounted steel rim on a (silver plated) brass body.
Damaged plating is obvious. As long as it shows a smooth, shiny surface it is OK. If you see a scratch be careful, if brass is shining through just keep it out of your face. Gold is much softer than silver so it wears off (and gets dents and scratches) more easily. And being much more expensive some manufacturers use less gold and give the plating a minimal thickness. I used some Denis Wick gold plated mps for quite a long time without trouble while the Wessex mp of my ophicleide showed the brass on the rim after two weeks playing... The same difference you can see with silver plated Bach mps and the cheapo copies!
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Re: Lead exposure on mouthpieces + stainless steel plating

Post by GeoffC_UK »

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.
How much of either depends on what its final use will be.
Other alloying elements may be added to brass, including lead (circa 2.5%).
Lead alloying improves the machineability of metals such as brass, bronze, steel, and stainless steel.

I don't know exactly what brass alloy was used to manufacture my own mouthpiece.
I do know my mp is manufactured to a high quality by a reputable manufacturer.
It is sliver plated, which acts as a barrier to the brass base metal.
So, it is highly unlikely that I will, over a period of time, in-take lead into my body and be poisoned.
I protect and monitor the condition of this plating, especially the rim.
If I see any degradation I will simply get it re-plated.

I do also have a gold plated mp and chose 9k rather than 24k gold.
9k looks good, feels soft on the chops, but stands up to wear and tear far better than 24k.
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Re: Lead exposure on mouthpieces + stainless steel plating

Post by CooperBayliff »

Snake Charmer wrote: Sat Sep 24, 2022 4:39 am Damaged plating is obvious. As long as it shows a smooth, shiny surface it is OK. If you see a scratch be careful, if brass is shining through just keep it out of your face. Gold is much softer than silver so it wears off (and gets dents and scratches) more easily. And being much more expensive some manufacturers use less gold and give the plating a minimal thickness. I used some Denis Wick gold plated mps for quite a long time without trouble while the Wessex mp of my ophicleide showed the brass on the rim after two weeks playing... The same difference you can see with silver plated Bach mps and the cheapo copies!
so if there are quite a few scratches on my rim (i cant feel them with my lips, barely can feel them with my fingers), also more importantly i have a small dent from dropping my mouthpiece on the side of the rim, Should these be fixed and replated? is replating an option for gold mouthpieces?
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Re: Lead exposure on mouthpieces + stainless steel plating

Post by Snake Charmer »

You can have a mouthpiece replated, but this will cost nearly the same like a good new one. So it will be good for some hard to replace/discontinued/vintage mouthpieces, but less so for easily available sizes.
If your well-worn/patinated mouthpiece is still good I cannot decide without seeing it. But if you don't feel comfortable using it: replace it!
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Brass alloys and lead exposure

Post by Robert Tucci »

Robert Tucci, Perantucci Europe and Far East, Canadian Brass Heritage Series, Andreas Martin Hofmeir and MLR Maximum Lyrical Resonance trombone mouthpieces of our manufacture and made of extruded brass made in Germany. Two certified laboratories were commissioned to determine if other elements, lead in this case, could appear on the surface. For this critical study both silver plated and non plated mouthpieces were subjected to solutions and temperatures similar to saliva, salts and minerals contained in same. In neither case did anything, again lead in this study, appear in the results.
We have access to brass which has no lead content. This requires longer machine time yet results in mouthpieces which are easier to polish to high brilliance. Other than this, brass is the same material used for instruments and warms quickly to body temperature.

Manufactured quality and product integrity are important for those who invest in our products.

Bob Tucci
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