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Old March 4, 2007, 09:37 PM   #1
garbageman
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Melting Lead in Cast Iron

I have a Cast Iron pot, I think it is refered to as a Dutch Oven, it is about 4" deep and 10" diamiter. I would like to know if it is safe to melt WW in this?
The pot has very little rust and what is there can probably be brushed out.
Also, can I use a regular Hot Plate or should I find a gas type burner?
I intend on melting only WW at this time and using a muffin pan to make ingots until I get the other necessary equipment to roll my own.
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Old March 4, 2007, 09:50 PM   #2
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The cast iron Dutch Oven is what I use to convert WW to ingot form. You need a lot of energy to melt the lead. I use one of those propane turkey cookers. You can't use Aluminium ware to melt the lead Aluminium has a melting point too close to lead. The rust won't hurt a thing any that comes loose will float to the surface and become part of the slag. If you don't get your melt hot enough the tin and antimony will separate out and will be removed with the slag. this will make a softer lead. The tin will appear as a shiny film on top of the lead. mix it back in. You wil need to flux the pot. Parafin works well. You can get it by the pound anywhere they sell canning supplies usually your local grocery store. Or you can get special flux made for this.


Melting Lead in Cast Iron
I have a Cast Iron pot, I think it is referred to as a Dutch Oven, it is about 4" deep and 10" diamiter. I would like to know if it is safe to melt WW in this?
The pot has very little rust and what is there can probably be brushed out.
Also, can I use a regular Hot Plate or should I find a gas type burner?
I intend on melting only WW at this time and using a muffin pan to make ingots until I get the other necessary equipment to roll my own.
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Old March 5, 2007, 03:02 AM   #3
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A big plus 1 to the poster above. I don't use candle wax, but you can, if you wish. I do use Marvelux, though, available from Brownell's.

One thing the remember--that pot gets heavy REAL quick! I use a smaller cast iron pot to clean up alloy with.

Also, for general cleaning and casting into big ingots, I recommend the 10 lb. mold, available from Magma Engineering. Do a search for them. I also recommend the Star lubrisizer. Best in the trade, bar none!
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Old March 5, 2007, 06:55 AM   #4
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I too use a cast iron dutch oven and agree with Mr Wilson on all accounts. Powderman makes a good point too, you can get over 100 POUNDS of lead in that pot easily, make darn sure whatever you are melting on will hold it. 100 pounds of spilled molten lead could really do some damage!!!
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Old March 5, 2007, 10:19 AM   #5
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I go from WW straight to 1 lb ingots as that is what will fit in my pot that I mold from. I can't see doing an extra melt. Just more expence. One thing I didn't add that I guess needs to be mentioned. when converting the WW to ingots your really need to do it in a very well ventilated place. I do it in the back yard. I dump the ingot molds on the concrete patio surface to finish cooling. Remember, those things are HOT! even after they turn solid. the usual safety stuff. leather work gloves, not cotton, face protection, a heavy apron. Good shoes, Safety shoes if you have them. Cloth topped shoes are out. Spashing lead on you body will ruin your day. If you do this with a buddy, it's much faster and easier. If you do large batches you get to take a break between melts. I rigged a couple of handles to work on the oven and pour directly into the molds if I have help. Large vice grips will work if the oven has something to grab onto. One person on each side of the pot. By yourself I would suggest you use a dipper. an all metal soup ladle works. A teflon or plastic one will go up in smoke. Those cheap metal BBQ sets work well for working the pot.
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Old March 5, 2007, 11:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
I dump the ingot molds on the concrete patio surface to finish cooling. Remember, those things are HOT! even after they turn solid
I smelted about 50lbs of W/Ws yesterday.I also had about 1" of ice on my driveway. Filled muffin tins with molten lead, set them on the ice and they cooled pretty quick. In summer I let them cool for at least an hour before handling, they DO take a long time to cool.
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Old March 5, 2007, 02:09 PM   #7
garbageman
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Thanks guys, I thought it would work but wanted to be sure.

This will be my first time doing WW. I have melted pure lead for Horse Shoe weights back when I helped a friend train his Show Horse. But that was altogether different. We used a small Brass pan and a propane torch.
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Old March 5, 2007, 02:15 PM   #8
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An additional safety practice I use when working with molten metals, a 5-gallon bucket filled with cold water. You can put a foot in it if you spill on top of your shoe, dunk a hand in it to stop the burn damage, or splash it on a burning piece of clothing. Better than a hose. Just keep it where you can get to it quickly.
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Old March 5, 2007, 02:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
You can't use Aluminium ware to melt the lead Aluminium has a melting point too close to lead.
While I would still advise using cast iron or steel pots due to their ability to retain heat,aluminum melts at over 1200F,or more than 500F hotter than lead's melting temp. Lee ingot molds (and bullet molds) are made from aluminum.

When I used to cast from a pot,I just dipper casted right out of the pot,and didn't bother to make ingots as a seperate process (just left it in the pot to cool).
Picking up a pot the size the OP listed,that may be full of lead and weigh somewhere in the 30-40# range,then pouring said liquid into seperate ingot molds,all while holding it with a device so as not to burn your hands,would not be my idea of fun.
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Old March 5, 2007, 06:10 PM   #10
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one more for the dutch oven and crab cooker. Couple of words of caution.
after your batch of wheel weights melts DON'T add more, just the slightest bit of moisture and you'll have lead everywhere. I have a 10# ladle I use to dip lead from the dutch oven and fill my ingot molds and a slotted stainless serving spoon I use to skim clips and slag off the top of the molten lead. I let the lead start to freeze when there are still a couple of inches in the bottom of the pot then add more wheel weights and pour the heat back to it and repeat. Moisture on molten lead just makes a bunch of steam, moisture IN molten lead makes for a visit from the Tinsel Fairy.
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Old March 5, 2007, 06:21 PM   #11
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When you start a melt from an empty pot the lead is not in contact with the entire bottom of the pot. the bottom can develop hot spots until the lead flows. these spots can get hot enough to make the bottom soft. soft enough to blow out under the weight.

While I would still advise using cast iron or steel pots due to their ability to retain heat,aluminum melts at over 1200F,or more than 500F hotter than lead's melting temp. Lee ingot molds (and bullet molds) are made from aluminum.
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Old March 5, 2007, 06:44 PM   #12
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I used to use muffin tins but have stopped doing so. If you do, get the ones that make the smaller sized muffins. The larger size may be too large to fit in your pot. Hit the gun shows and buy as many ingot molds as you can afford. I have five by Lyman and RCBS and am always on the look out for more. I use a 5"x12" cast iron pot to do my metal. I've been doing them over a Coleman stove, but recently bought a turkey fryer. All I need to get now is the propane tank and I'm in business. I'm guess that if you really fill your pot, you'll get maybe 35 pounds of cleaned ingots. I get close to 50 pounds from my pot but I really fill it up. I use a 2# dipper to fill the ingot molds and a pair of vice grip pliers to move and handle the molds. When I can't dip any more metal from the pot, I use the vice grips and another pair of pliers to pour directly from the pot into the ingot molds. Each ingot weight approximately one pound. Usually, when I'm doing wheel weights, I'm doing 500 to 600 pounds at a stretch. I flux with marvelux when cleaning wheel weight, but candle wax when fluxing a casting pot of metal. It pays to light the fumes with a match to eliminate all that smoke when using waxy materials for fluxing.
All I can add is welcome to the world of cast bullets. The can be frustrating to work with at times and successes are a joy to behold. I think that if you stick through the learning process, you will end up a Galenaholic. Not a bad addiction to have. I certainly hope I never get cured.
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Old March 6, 2007, 11:12 AM   #13
Double J
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melting lead

I melt 100 lb blocks of lead with a steel 55 gallon drum. I concaved the end and welded a drain pipe that runs through the barrel at an angle down and exits the lower side. Then I cut a door in the side as a fire box. I place the lead on top and cover it with an old smoker lid to help hold heat. As the lead melts it trickles out the drain pipe into an iron skillet. When it's about 1/4 in. deep, I dump it out on a sheet of plywood to cool and repeat until I'm done. Latter, I'll break these pies up and run them through my electric smelter to fill my moulds. It's cheap, easy way to work up big pieces into something useable.
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Old March 7, 2007, 08:29 PM   #14
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Melting Lead

AS HAS BEEN POSTED DO NOT LIFT THAT POT use a dipper "trust me" i was quick on my feet. also agra?? an agraculter store has burners 10" at about $15 other sizes also(propane of course) old or new muffin pans(cast iron)can be bought cheap.my pots will except the pigs.i wonder how kitty litter would be on the pot to protect from oxidization??
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Old March 8, 2007, 12:57 AM   #15
Mike Irwin
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Poodle,

It's not just the lead vs. aluminum melting point that's an issue.

There are a couple of other things at work.

1. As rwilson said, hot spots. There can be spots in the pan that are significantly closer to the melting point.

2. Aluminum loses quite a bit of its strength as it nears its melting point. In combination with point 1, point 2 can cut the margin of safety considerably as the bottom of the aluminum pot begins to sag.

3. Aluminum leeching. The heat of the pot and the pot's long-term contact wtih lead can cause aluminum to leech out, causing significant weakness.

4. The weight of a pot of aluminum. In combination with points 1 and 2, an aluminium pot that does wonders holding a 5 pound roast at 350 deg. F. very likely will, after time (see point 3), become an absolute disaster when the bottom become brittle, hot spots develop, strenght goes down, and the 40 pounds of molten lead in the pot decide to make a rapid exit onto the floor, your feet, your dog, etc.


Using an aluminum pot or pan to melt lead is a huge no no.
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