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I have a 2" diameter, 6" long pipe that I believe to be steel and want to use IF it is, heck I want to use it if it's OK to handle (ie not lead, arsenic etc..guess I can only rule-out so much!), it is very clearly a single-alloy pipe and has no markings (it is from a trunk of old car-parts, I suspect it was a suspension-spring housing or something similar, just a strong tube)

I'm usually able to comfortably distinguish metals but wanna be sure here, is there any ways to rule-out lead w/o getting a lead-test-kit? This tube:

  • is magnetic,
  • does not quickly rust (and shows bright-silver upon scratching; is hard-to-scratch)
  • is very rigid (no malleability, hard on the grinder, makes a sharp 'ping' noise when flicked not the dull 'bang' of tapping lead)

Can rule-out that it's not pure-lead but have no idea if such products are typically steel-alloys, pot-metal-alloys or what....the use-case would have me handling this pipe so I wanna find out for sure, I don't weld so was very psyched to find a piece of metal precisely as-needed for a project but gotta figure out if this metal can be safely held!

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    $\begingroup$ Lead can be held safely... Just don't eat it and wash your hands. If it is old, is most likely contains some trace amount of lead, as it was a common additive to make machining easier. $\endgroup$
    – MadHatter
    Jun 25 '20 at 4:35
  • $\begingroup$ @MadHatter write that as an answer, as it contains more info... $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 25 '20 at 7:56
  • $\begingroup$ Home lead test kits are pretty cheap. Why avoid testing? $\endgroup$
    – Eric S
    Jun 25 '20 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ If it is thin, 0.05 to 0.10 " , it is likely a piece of exhaust pipe ( 13 % chrome probably). $\endgroup$ Jun 25 '20 at 18:32
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Lead can be held safely... Just don't eat it and wash your hands. If it is old, is most likely contains some trace amount of lead, as it was a common additive to make machining easier.

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Contact an accredited laboratory and ask what they would need as a sample. You may need to cut a short piece off the end of the pipes or by using a grinder, or similar, obtain separate ground samples of the pipes and send them to the laboratory.

Assuming you live in the US, the California Department of Public Health has a website with information. Use this as guide or contact the health depart where you live for more details specific to your region.

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your tests suggest that the pipe is just iron or steel and safe to hold. Certain special steel alloys called free-machining steel or ledloy have lead in them but they are not used to make pipe.

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  • $\begingroup$ The comment suggests it can be held safely, if that is relevant should you add it to your answer? $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 25 '20 at 7:56
  • $\begingroup$ will edit right now. -NN $\endgroup$ Jun 25 '20 at 16:08
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Steels are ferro-magnetic except for annealed austenitic stainless steels. The only metal that is pipe material that is ( except for the occasional heat of monel). Pipe would never be made of free-machining leaded ( 0.1 % Pb) steels. What is your obsession with lead ? It was the choice for better grade water pipes from Roman times through most of the nineteenth century.

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  • $\begingroup$ The word "plumber" is derived from plumbum , Latin or Greek for lead. So, someone who worked with lead (pipe). $\endgroup$ Jun 25 '20 at 18:40

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