Melting lead safely

Discussion in 'Welding and Metalworking Forum' started by NaeKid, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    From another site that I am on, and, I have permission to copy and paste - please look carefully at the pictures and watch the videos

  2. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

    Cool thread (whoops)...

    Over the past 25 years I salvaged 3 lead keels from old wooden sailboats that sunk here in harbors.

    Somewhere around 6 tons in all.

    I'm sawing them up in chunks with a saws-all and melting them in a big cast-iron cauldron. I have an
    lp burner like the one in the pictures... goes like a rocket, melts own in no time.

    I'm casting most of mine in 1" diameter balls to make grape shot for the black powder cannon
    I'm building out of an old WWII tank gun barrel.

    I made a mold that makes 10 at a time... used industrial ball bearings to make the mold.

    Gonna be a hell-of-a giant shotgun with 1" buckshot ...

    Maine is outlawing lead wheel weights... when they are gone they're gone!

  3. MouldyJoe

    MouldyJoe Active Member

    Fantastic post. I use a round muffin pan for straight wheel weights, and a rectangle mold for pure lead so there is no confusion when casting. What do you use for flux? I have used anything from old birthday candles to hardwood sawdust chips. Both work great but smoke really good as well. Joe
  4. bunkerbob

    bunkerbob Supporting Member

    Great post Naekid, just cast some 9mm bullets myself. I would recommend a respirator as well when melting or casting lead.

  5. TheLazyL

    TheLazyL Cowboy

    Sources for free lead, I had an idea…

    Season is winding down; I’ve got about only 400 rounds left. I’m a bit on the conservative side so I’m looking for sources of free lead before Spring.

    At work I’ve been tripping over an old car battery. Been laying in the warehouse for about a year…hmmmm.

    Now some Cowpokes caution against recycling car batteries because of hazardous materials like sulfuric acid. Well Cowpokes shoot guns, handle lead bullets, smoke, drink alcoholic beverages and drive Fords which ain’t the safest ether, so why not recycle the lead from car batteries ask I?

    So I hoisted that car battery up on Gray and took it back to the ranch.

    Took the fill caps off the top and drained the sulfuric acid. For proper disposal of sulfuric you will need to fill out Federal Environmental Protection Agency, State Board of Health, County Health forms and notify the local Fire and Police departments. DO NOT DISPOSE SULFURIC ACID BY DUMPING ON THE GROUND!

    The wife has been treating all the neighborhood stray cats for worms. I’ve noticed that the worm medicine is so strong, that the grass dies where the cats recycle their food intake (poop). And if you ignore my “DO NOT DISPOSE SULFURIC ACID BY DUMPING ON THE GROUND!” you will not be able to convince nobody (especially my wife) that it was the cat’s worm medicine poop that has killed off her flower garden and ate thru the steel water line to the house. Trust me on this one.

    Then using cold water (after water line is repaired) to flush any remaining sulfuric acid from the battery. Contain all rinse water and dispose of per Federal Environmental Protection Agency, State Board of Health, County Health Fire and Police departments’ guidelines. Dumping the rinse water into a ditch will kill most of the neighbor pets, all vegetation down stream for 2 miles and will also lead to a very difficult explanation to the arresting Officers.

    After bonding out of the calaboose I used a hacksaw and tried to cut the plastic case off. Don’t use you favorite hacksaw, better yet borrow one from an anti-gun neighbor because no matter how well your rinsed the sulfuric acid out of the battery, the hacksaw ain’t going to be worth much when done.

    Using a butane torch to burn off the plastic case off works but make sure you stand up wind. Boiling sulfuric acid residual mixed with plastic case fumes all blowing down wind has the tendency to kill shrubbery and the rest of the neighborhood pets, including gold fish in indoor aquariums. When the Federal Carpet Baggers arrived, suggesting that it was a terrorist act will keep your bond from being revoked. Trust me on this one.

    Fire up your outdoor melting pot and start throwing sections of the battery in. After burning up a half tank of LP you will noticed that in between every 6 wafers is a substance that will not burn or melt and sucks up the heat. Manually remove this substance. After 6 hours (not counting jail time) I have ¼” of lead covered by a 1” of dross in the melting pot. My cost breaks down to:

    Butane torch fuel $2.
    Refill LP tank $22.
    Flower garden replacement: $247.13
    Repair of water line: $785.54
    Bond Agent: $500.

    Total is $1,556.67 for about a pound of lead. Cost does not include pending lawsuits or gold fish replacement.

    My conclusion is using car batteries for a source of lead is viable. I’ve got most of the remains of one battery left and if pressed I can leave it go for $2 or $3 thousand dollars. I figure at that price I’ll enough to recoup my costs with some left over to skip the territory.
  6. Magus

    Magus Scavenger deluxe

    Burn them up in a brush pile and collect the leavings AFTER YA EMPTY THEM!
  7. BillS

    BillS Well-Known Member

    I would just add that lead vapor is extremely toxic and appropriate precautions should be taken to prevent inhalation of it.

    "CAUTION: Lead melts at a reasonably low temperature. This, along with the fact that lead is an extremely durable metal, makes lead an attractive metal used in bullets. Special precautions should be taken when melting lead and molding bullets. The process of melting lead causes a lead vapor, which is extremely poisonous. Melting lead should always occur in a well-ventilated area in the absence of children or pregnant women, as they are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead poisoning. Furthermore, a respirator should always be worn while dealing with lead components."

    The article also says this:

    "Hunting. Using lead bullets for hunting dramatically increases the risk of lead poisoning. Friction from the lead slugs against the gun barrel create airborne lead, which is easily inhaled. After inhalation, lead enters the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body. If the lead concentration is high enough, health effects will occur. Frequent hunters should monitor their blood lead levels by having periodic blood lead level tests."

    "Fishing. Sinkers containing lead are the primary source of lead poisoning in the fishing industry. There are several prevention techniques available to decrease exposure among frequent fishers. To avoid exposure to lead, be sure to always wash hands after using lead sinkers, especially before eating, drinking or smoking. Never put lead sinkers in your mouth as lead can leach out of the sinker and can be ingested."
  8. machinist

    machinist Rest In Peace

    Safety considerations duly noted.

    I've done a fair amount of this in the past and you did one heckuva job telling about it!

    I cast some bullets using Lyman's alloy recipes at about 5% tin in the mix. Made a .30 cal mold with a gas check base, and a die to swage them on and size at the same time. Dunked them in melted 50/50 beeswax/paraffin for lube, cut them out of the wax with a modified .308 case, and was very pleased with the results. It was a nose pour mold, flattened round nose (sheared off with teh sprue cutter), with 4 grease grooves, and came in about 205 gr. finished. Used it in a 308 bolt gun and got 4" to 5" groups at 100 yards. That is no great shakes with commercial stuff, but I thought it was pretty good for a country boy doin' it in the woods.

    Really good for coyotes in our brushy country, and it was pretty quiet, since it only took a very small charge to get 1,800 FPS. I think it was about 15 grains of Blue Dot? Had to put cotton over the powder to keep it in place since the case lacked a lot of being full.

    I cast some wheelweights for my lawn tractor and made a lot of fishing sinkers for trotlines. Then I made a charred wooden mold for a lead hammer head that used 1/2" galvanized pipe for a handle and made a few of those.

    Lots of useful things to do with lead if you can get it cheap enough.
  9. hunterseeker

    hunterseeker Member

    I recommend having your favorite (or least favorite) brother-in-law drain the batteries and pull the lead out for you... It should only cost a few beers. The get to melting.
  10. finishman2000

    finishman2000 New Member

    ummm lead vapors? really?
    unless you BOIL it there are no lead vapors. melting it with a propane cooker will not usually bring it to those temps. there is junk and garbage mixed in with the wheel weights that is toxic, paint, grease, oil etc. but lead vapors, no.
    should only be done with good air movement to get rid of the stuff listed above.