Deep Thoughts On Melting Lead

This is a discussion on Deep Thoughts On Melting Lead within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; As some of you know by previous posts, I went ahead and got me most of the stuff necessary to start casting my own bullets. ...

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Thread: Deep Thoughts On Melting Lead

  1. #1
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    Talking Deep Thoughts On Melting Lead

    As some of you know by previous posts, I went ahead and got me most of the stuff necessary to start casting my own bullets. Today I decided to go ahead and melt and flux about 40 pounds of wheel weights I got from my neighborly tire store. On that I want to share some observations:

    1) You do not need a ladle if you bought the Lee Production Pot IV (bottom Pour capability.) A regular spoon is more than enough. However, make sure the spoon is not a family heirloom or has a bunch of equally shinny sisters plus other cousins that live inside a fancy box and that only come out once or twice a year during Thanksgivings or Christmas.

    2) The thick gloves you have and that you swear they will be enough to handle hot ingots, won't... and it will hurt!

    3) Melt in a well ventilated place, not only because of the lead fumes but because of all the grease, tapes, adhesives and other assorted crap that sticks to wheel weights. It will get smoky, it will smell nasty. Make sure that house windows are closed so the smoke does not get in and the smoke detectors go off.

    4) Steel floats in lead. That being said, you will feel stupid the first time you remove the very hot steel clips and realize that you need a bucket of water to drop them in. In a pinch, a roller tray works fine.

    5) Some wheel weights are not made out of lead so don't try to push them down to see if they melt. It won't work, just remove them.

    6) Did I mention that molten lead is HOT? Don't worry, at least one microscopic droplet will fall in your arm and will remind you of this fact. Note to self: next time wear long sleeves. Also, water and molten lead DO NOT MIX. Krakatoa was not a volcano, it was a wet spoon that was dropped inside a Lee Production Pot. Denim Shirt and safety goggles saved the day.

    7) A muffin pan will work wonderfully as a ingot mold. Do keep in mind that 6 lead muffins are several hundred times more heavy that regular muffins. And by the way, the muffin pan will get hot in a flash. Remember what i said about the gloves?

    8) Fluxing works beautifully but makes the whole area smell like you just set fire to a cathedral.

    9) Allow to cool your lead muffins for some 7-10 minutes before turning over the pan. Try to drop them too early and you will have to figure out how to put out the fire on the towel. And still after 10 minutes your dropped lead muffins are too hot to handle... with those stupid gloves you thought would work.

    10) Assorted leftover crap is 25% of the weight of the wheel weights and a 100% headache if you don't clean up after yourself and the wife steps outside trying to find out why one of the cats smell like burnt hair.
    You have to make the shot when fire is smoking, people are screaming, dogs are barking, kids are crying and sirens are coming.
    Randy Cain.

    Ego will kill you. Leave it at home.
    Signed: Me!

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    Sounds like the beginnings of a new book..."Beginning Bullet Making, the Hard Way!"

    So are you an experienced lead melter now?
    Your honesty is to be commended.
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    I like that! Now always remember that all of us are behind you in your efforts... make that waaay behind you. Hey, we wanted to see what happened to you first before we jumped in. And now we know that gloves are priceless. Reminds me of Bart Simpson when he would keep touching the stove over and over and over and saying "Ouch!!!" each time. ha! Glad you got the job done... you the man.
    Allen

    -"I may get killed with my own gun, but he's gonna have to beat me to death with it, 'cause it's going to be empty." -Clint Smith

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    jfl
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    You just use wheel weights ?
    Many moons ago, when I started casting my bullets, I was told the best alloy is 50% wheel weights, 50% pure lead (old plumbing pipes), the ww are too hard.

    A mistake I did is not buying a sizer-lubricator device and trying all sorts of other things because it was too expensive; well I finally bought it ...

    It is a lot of fun, and very rewarding !!! Enjoy.
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    jfl, I had wheel weights and I just wanted to melt something and make ingots. Sort of practice the whole thing.

    Allen... way way back is a darn good idea!

    Ret... I like to share painful experiences so others eithe do not make the same mistakes or I feel better when they say "Miggy was right, it hurts!"

    The part about the wet spoon scared the heck out of me. I realized afterward That I must have dipped the spoon accidentally in the roller tray where I was dropping the refuse and then I dipped it in the hot lead with amazingly explosive results.

    And I need to add that I might be refinishing a table that, according to my wife, "was not supposed to be used for your stupid experiment and why on earth I gave you the go ahead to cast bullets."
    You have to make the shot when fire is smoking, people are screaming, dogs are barking, kids are crying and sirens are coming.
    Randy Cain.

    Ego will kill you. Leave it at home.
    Signed: Me!

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    Member Array Wapiti's Avatar
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    Miggy, that was not only interesting, but very funny. I started quite a few years ago, in the garage under the bedrooms, smelled it for weeks, the wife reminded me of the experience for years. I haven't cast for over 18 years, might have to start again.

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    VIP Member Array mlr1m's Avatar
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    Instead of muffin tins you might want to try those cast iron cornbread molds. Look like ears of corn sliced lengthways. They allow you to hold on to the ignot while slowley lowering it into the pot.
    Also make sure no one tries to use the mold for cooking!

    Michael

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    There is a lot of truth mixed in there and that is why it's so humorous.
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    Wheel weights make exellent bullets and are even heat treatable. I've been doing it for years.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlr1m View Post
    Instead of muffin tins you might want to try those cast iron cornbread molds. Look like ears of corn sliced lengthways. They allow you to hold on to the ignot while slowley lowering it into the pot.
    Also make sure no one tries to use the mold for cooking!

    Michael
    We have one of those.... and of course the wife verbotten its use under penalty of organ removal. and I am a cheap SOB...
    You have to make the shot when fire is smoking, people are screaming, dogs are barking, kids are crying and sirens are coming.
    Randy Cain.

    Ego will kill you. Leave it at home.
    Signed: Me!

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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Use vice grips on the muffin pan to flip it,I melt my WW's in a metal pan with a propane blow torch setup and dip the lead out with a metal measuring cup held by a pair of vice grips
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    Never melted WW for bullets,but have for ballast on a shifter kart used dessert cups made from stainless.

    You should really really be using a respirator lead fumes are really bad for yer long term health.

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    As long as you keep your lead to under 1000 degrees there's no danger from the fumes. It takes that temp to actually start to turn the lead to a gaseous state. You will cast bullets from around 700 to 800 degrees or so. I cast a lot of 500+ grain bullets and find that 820 degrees works best for me.

    Casting for me is always a love hate kinda thing. I usually burn a finger at least once per casting session, and you only make the water lead mistake once as it's usually a very traumatic experience that is not easily forgotten.
    Last edited by Jeff F; November 28th, 2008 at 10:15 PM.
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    Miggy,

    You didn't make a video of all those dont's? That would have been a much more educational experience for the rest of us that are thinking of doing our own casting.
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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    Nah.... Youtube is not something I am interested in appearing.
    You have to make the shot when fire is smoking, people are screaming, dogs are barking, kids are crying and sirens are coming.
    Randy Cain.

    Ego will kill you. Leave it at home.
    Signed: Me!

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