Rublev Colours Lead White Pigment - High Purity & Versatile Use

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Lead White is the most important of all the white pigments–basic carbonate of lead. Rublev Colours Lead White is made by a modern process yielding a finely divided powder of high purity.

Lead White is made by a modern process yielding a finely divided powder of high purity. Rublev Colours Stack Lead White is made according to the sixteenth-century Dutch stack process. The difference between lead white made according to modern practice and that made by the Dutch stack process is the size and shape of the pigment particles. The Dutch stack process yields a pigment with larger particles with more variance in size and shape. This difference affects the oil absorption ratio of the pigment, its opacity, and consistency in paint. Both forms of basic carbonate of lead usually contain about 70% of lead carbonate and 30% lead hydrate.

Although lead carbonate occurs in nature as the mineral cerussite, it has not been an essential source of white pigment in painting history.

Pigment Names
Common Names:English: lead white (white lead)
French: blanc de plomb
German: Bleiweiss
Italian: bianco (biacca) di plombo
Spanish: plomo blanca
Synonyms:Basic white lead, Berlin white, bis[carbonato (2-)] dihydroxytrilead, Bleiweiss, cerrussa, cerusa, ceruse, cerussa, Cremnitz white, Crems white, dibasic lead carbonate, flake lead, flake white, Kremnitz white, Krems white, lead carbonate, lead carbonate hydroxide, lead subcarbonate, Nottingham white, pigment white, silver white, slate white, Vienna white, white lead
Common NamePrimary MineralSource
Lead WhiteHydrocerussiteUnited States


Pigment Information
Pigment Classification:Synthetic Inorganic
Colour Index:Pigment White 1
Chemical Name:Basic Lead Carbonate
Chemical Formula:2PbCO3 Pb(OH)2
CAS No.:1319-46-6
Series No.:4
ASTM Lightfastness
Watercolor:Not Listed
Physical Properties
Particle Size (mean):3 microns
Density:6.582 g/cm3
Refractive Index:nα=1.803 nβ=2.074 nγ=2.076
Oil Absorption:9 grams oil / 100 grams pigment
Health and SafetyDANGER! CONTAINS LEAD. HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED. Avoid ingestion and skin contact. Wear protective clothing and gloves to prevent contact with the skin. Never use near children or pets. Conforms to ASTM D 4236.


Must be used exclusively as material for the purposes of arts, crafts or hobbies, not for use by children. Utiliser uniquement aux fins suivantes comme matériaux pour les besoins d'art, d'artisanat ou passe-temps, pas pour une utilisation par les enfants.

Always protect yourself against the chronic hazards of this and other chemical products by keeping them out of your body. Do this by avoiding ingestion, excessive skin contact, and inhaling spraying mists, sanding dust, and vapors from heating.

For a detailed explanation of the terms in the table above, please visit Composition and Permanence.

Origin and History

Lead white is the most important of all lead pigments. Not overlooking particular uses of lime white in wall painting, it is safe to say that, historically, it is the most important of all white pigments. It was the only white pigment used in European easel painting until the nineteenth century. It has been produced since early historical times. Theophrastus, Pliny, and Vitruvius described its preparation from metallic lead and vinegar. It is one of the oldest synthetically produced pigments.


There are numerous methods for making lead white. Our lead white is made according to the "quick method," yielding a bright white, finely divided powdered of high purity.

Permanence and Compatibility

The use of lead white in oil painting offers many advantages over all other white pigments in that it stabilizes the dried oil paint film. It can be used with aqueous media such as acrylics, egg tempera, gum arabic (watercolor), and animal glue (distemper). However, in watercolor and distemper, it may darken in sulfur-bearing air pollution, such as hydrogen sulfide. It can also be used in the encaustic (wax) technique but does not appear to perform well in true fresco technique.

Despite lead white being a carbonate and hence sensitive to acids, it has an excellent record for permanence. It is unaffected by light. However, when applied in watercolor technique, traces of hydrogen sulfide in the air may cause it to turn black. Although lead white is theoretically incompatible with sulfide pigments and should form black lead sulfide in contact with them, no examples are readily known. There might be some doubt about mixing orpiment and realgar with lead white, although some identified cases show no discoloration.

Oil Absorption and Grinding

A unique feature of lead white is its low oil absorption rate. According to some, it requires only 9 to 12 grams of oil to make a workable paste with 100 grams of lead white.


Lead white is toxic if inhaled as dust or if ingested. Grinding and making the pigment into paint is hazardous, and selling lead compounds in several countries has been prohibited. Painters may suffer from "painters' colic" or "plumbism" if they are careless in using it. Extreme care should be used in handling the dry powder pigment so as not to inhale the dust. Do not smoke, eat, or drink while using the pigment in any form, including in a paint binder.

For more information on handling pigments, please visit How to Safely Handle Art Materials and Pigments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is lead white legal?

Lead white is subject to various regulations and restrictions depending on the country. In some regions, its use is limited or prohibited, especially in consumer products due to its toxicity.

When was lead white banned?

The ban on lead white has varied by country. For example, the European Union banned it from most paints in 1980, and the United States significantly restricted its use in residential paints in 1978.

Why was lead paint banned?

Lead paint was banned due to its severe health risks, particularly to children. Lead is a toxic metal that can cause nervous system damage, stunted growth, delayed development, and a range of other health issues.

Can I still buy lead paint?

The availability of lead paint depends on the country and its specific regulations. In many countries, the sale of lead paint for residential use is banned or highly restricted.

Does lead paint still exist?

While the manufacture and sale of lead paint are heavily regulated or banned in many countries, it may still exist in older buildings and artworks.

More Information
BrandRublev Colours
VendorNatural Pigments
Processing TimeUsually ships the next business day.
Pigment TypeInorganic, Synthetic

California Proposition 65: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Hazard Pictograms

Exclamation MarkHealth HazardEnvironment
Exclamation Mark
Health Hazard

Signal Word: Danger

Hazard Designation

H302 Harmful if swallowed.

H332 Harmful if inhaled.

H360 May damage fertility or the unborn child.

H373 May cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure.

H410 Very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects.

Safety Designation

P260 Do not breathe dust/fume/gas/mist/vapors/spray.

P261 Avoid breathing dust/ fume/ gas/ mist/ vapors/ spray.

P280 Wear protective gloves/ clothing/ eye/ face protection.

P281 Use personal protective equipment as required.

P405 Store locked up.

P501 Dispose of contents/ container according to regional, national and international regulations.

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