In normal use, lead crystal is perfectly safe to drink from and is used by some of the most luxurious and exclusive glass manufacturers across the world including Lalique & Baccarat.
Its unique aesthetic and physical qualities means that it is still used for production of the highest quality, traditional crystal. The increased refractive index (giving greater sparkle), the ease of cutting intricate designs by hand and the heftiness you feel when holding, separate it from modern soda-lime or boron based glasses.
This justifies the higher production costs and added complexity of production. As lead oxide is a primary ingredient, and harmful to health if absorbed in its raw form, Cumbria Crystal carefully controls the handling of all the raw materials prior to them being melted. Once melted the story becomes very different. Heat, in excess of 1450 Centigrade, is applied for 48 hours during which time the material magically metamorphosis into stunning crystal. The lead oxide chemically binds into the material, and becomes safe for the consumer to handle and use for its intended purpose.
Lead crystal products used in an ordinary way do not pose a health risk. Lead ‘leaching’ from the crystal is a known occurrence, but the quantity that leaches into a beverage which is left to stand for a few hours, is believed to be much smaller than the quantity of lead consumed daily in an ordinary diet. Cognac & port are slightly more prone to promoting leaching than whisky, wine or gin. It is recommended to avoid storing spirits, for extended periods, in crystal decanters.
You can safely use your crystal stemware and barware to enjoy wine, water, spirits and other beverages.