Lead in pre-2014/2004 espresso machines

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#1: Post by baldheadracing »

A well-balanced article, I think: Get the lead out - by Michael Teahan for SCA's Coffee Technician Guild blog

Reminder that rpavlis (R.I.P.) recommended:
1. removing the surface lead from clean brass surfaces;
2. then coating the cleaned brass/copper surfaces with a phosphate layer.
His easy-to-follow procedures to do the above are in post #10 here

Note that the phosphate layer is needed with "rpavlis water" as his water will not form the calcium (scale) layer that traditionally built-up and blocked the lead in brass boilers, fitings, etc., from leaching into water.

(For the dates: 2004 was when regulations in the EC were extended to espresso machines (more-or-less). 2014 was when the regulations were toughened so that both the base material (e.g., brass) and the coating (e.g., Nickel, T.E.A.) had to meet regs (more-or-less), and there also had to be a paper trail. This prompted a switch to stainless steel, as SS is less expensive, but SS can have its own issues.)
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann
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baldheadracing (original poster)
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#2: Post by baldheadracing (original poster) »

Sources for the chemicals rpavlis uses:

For "cleaning" the lead off of a brass surface:
Two parts: White vinegar - any grocery store. Don't get any fancy vinegar, get the one that usually the least expensive
One part: 3% Hydrogen Peroxide - any pharmacy/drug store

For the phosphates:
Sodium phosphate - any pharmacy/drug store. It is sold under the brand name "Fleet Saline Enema" but any Sodium Phosphate enema will do. You can also get Sodium phosphate powder off of, if you need a pound? A single Enema has about 30g of Sodium Phosphate; that's enough for about 3/4 US gallon of solution.
Potassium phosphate - amazon

Bicarbs for water:
Sodium Bicarbonate - baking soda, (not baking powder). Any grocery store, but doesn't taste as good as potassium bicarb to me.
Potassium Bicarbonate - Amazon or brewer's supply. LD Carlson brand comes in 1lb for $9 or 2oz for $5. Two ounces is good enough for about 100 US gallons.
What I'm interested in is my worst espresso being fantastic - James Hoffmann