This post is a Chanukah menorah buying guide (of sorts!), check out the lead-free options and please read about the concerns for leaded brass in general.
This is a new brass menorah purchased in 2017 at New Season Market in Portland, Oregon. Made in India by Biedermann & Sons.
To see more menorahs I have tested, Click Here.
Tested with an XRF instrument. The full XRF readings were as follows:
- Lead (Pb): 36,000 +/- 1,500 ppm
- Cadmium (Cd): Negative (Non-Detect)
- Tin (Sn): 11,600 +/- 500 ppm
- Mercury (Hg): Negative (Non-Detect)
- Selenium (Se): Negative (Non-Detect)
- Barium (Ba): Negative (Non-Detect)
- Chromium (Cr): Negative (Non-Detect)
- Antimony (Sb): 494 +/- 167 ppm
To learn more about XRF testing, Click Here.
The amount of lead that is considered toxic in an item intended for children is anything 90 ppm Lead or higher in the paint or coating or anything 100 ppm Lead (or higher) in the substrate (the base material of the product.) Menorahs are not considered “items intended for children” so are not regulated for total lead content.
While I grew up with brass menorahs in my home, I personally consider the regulatory loophole (that allows Chanukah menorahs to be made of high lead content materials) a problem.
In my personal experience (48+ years), of all the holiday decorations in our home I cannot think of one single holiday decoration that is handled more often by children than a menorah. Little kids especially LOVE to touch their menorahs (many children have their very own menorah too!) Children like to put the candles in themselves. The next morning they often like to pick off the wax drippings too. And, of course, they love to light the menorah themselves each night – for eight nights in a row. All of these things involve touching the menorah and if it is made of leaded brass touching it is very likely to cause lead to rub off on to the hands of a child.
The concern is ingestion of lead residue from leaded brass items. This is a specific issue if a child might touch food (candy? holiday cookies? chocolate Chanukah gelt?) with their bare hands and then eat it after touching leaded brass (and without first washing their hands.) This happens. All.The.Time!
To be clear: I am not saying a particular menorah will poison a particular child, just that these items can be very high lead and parents should be aware. They are not intended to be used by or touched by children. As with all of my work, my goal is to inform parents of potential hazards so they can in turn make informed choices regarding what they have in their home, especially when it comes to things that might be kept for generations – as family heirlooms. #KnowBetterDoBetter. If you can have a Lead-free menorah, why wouldn’t you?
Additionally I think it is important to reiterate that scientists continue to agree that lower and lower levels of lead exposure cause damage in humans, and that there is no safe level of lead exposure to children. The concern with an item like this is that (while it might not cause acute poisoning of a particular child) it can contribute to the aggregate background lead exposure from our environment. Additionally the mining and refining of lead for the fabrication of leaded brass items that are sold new in the store is not good for humans nor for the future of our planet.
I personally avoid the concern entirely by having a lead-free (aluminum) menorah that my husband and son made me in their workshop. [Click Here to see the Chanukah menorah my husband & sons made for me!]
To see more brass items I have tested, Click Here.
In the meantime here are a few choices for Chanukah Menorahs on Amazon that are likely to be Lead-free (or at least Lead-safe!)*:
- This one is $29.99 and made of aluminum: LINK
- Here’s another modern design in aluminum for $26.48: LINK
- Here’s a stainless steel one for $59.95: LINK
- Here’s one more fun aluminum one for $29.99: LINK
Of course, if you can afford a sterling silver Chanukah menorah (especially since it will be an heirloom handed down for generations) that is a great way to go too!
To see more holiday items I have tested, Click Here.
*Note: Three of the ads for the above linked menorahs state the products are made of aluminum. I am basing my recommendation on the assumption that the seller is correctly advertising the product. Uncoated / unpainted Aluminum products rarely test positive for any Lead and if they do it is usually a very trace contaminant not an additive (like in Leaded brass.) Of all of the choices above I would be most confident choosing the one made of Stainless Steel (in terms of toxicity concerns), but generally due to the nature of use for menorahs, I expect all of the above choices would be safe options.
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