Antique pewter may be seen in museums or
private collections. The alloy may be associated with small amounts
of lead and must therefore not be used to serve food.
How pewter is made
The tin is first melted in a pot called a crucible
Antimony and copper are then added in desired amounts to the molten
metal. This molten mass is thoroughly mixed and poured into moulds
to cast the desired articles.
Pewter may also be poured into iron moulds
and then rolled out and cut into standard shapes. Pewter may be cast
into disks, wires and rectangular sheets or even into various
objects. Pewter disks are shaped by a process called spinning.
The spinning process consists of holding the disk against
a steel or wooden form called a lathe. Blunt tools are used
to push the pewter into the shape of the spinning form. The metal is
hammered with a leather, metal, wooden or plastic mallet in order to
shape the pewter into various articles. Pewter wires are used as a
decorative trim for pewter articles. Several parts of a single
pewter item may be joined together by a process called soldering.
Pewter finds application in the manufacture of articles such as
bowls, tea services and candlesticks.
Precautions to be taken while handling
Pewter, if looked after regularly, does not need polishing and
does not tarnish in air. Pewter articles must be washed with hot,
soap water as soon as possible, after being used and rinsed in
clear, hot water. The articles must be well dried with the help of a
soft cloth. Pewter articles must not be allowed to dry in air.
Drying in air results in the formation of water spots, which are
difficult to remove. Similarly, cleaning of pewter utensils in a
dishwasher must be avoided as the heat of the drying cycle can
darken the surface.
Since pewter may also contain small amounts
of lead, it should not be used as cooking utensils. Pewter has a
melting point that ranges from 2440 C to 2950
C and can therefore melt if placed in an oven or on a burner.