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Old July 27, 2012, 09:02 PM   #1
Kadmos
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Lead casting worries

A bit tough to find decent lead these days, I did see 25lb bags of shot at the local cabelas, and on sale.

First worry is the back of the bag has a warning not to melt the stuff due to arsenic.

Is this just legal BS, or is this stuff actually worrysome?

Second worry is, is this stuff likely to be soft enough to use in a cap and ball revolver?


BTW, that's my hardness test, if the lead is too hard to fairly readily shave off when loading, then it's good. If not then it becomes cast bullets for them self-contained cartridge using guns.
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Old July 27, 2012, 09:36 PM   #2
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I have had similar troubles. I was looking for pure lead so that I could either cast pure lead Minie's, or add components to make a specific alloy for 45-70.
I recently found that Buffalo Arms will sell pure lead, and ship it in flat rate boxes. Just bought some and am waiting to cast.
Given that I can't find any gauranteed source of pure lead, this seems to be a good source, if you are willing to pay shipping.
Can't answer the question about Arsenic.

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Old July 27, 2012, 09:41 PM   #3
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It's very good lead to mix with other lead, but way too hard to use for blackpowder guns. The arsenic is in there to make it harden easier (it's kind of an antimony multiplier). Also, lead shot does not have any tin (tin is added for toughness and castability)

See if you can find some scrap roof flashing lead, or shower pan lead. Those should be almost pure lead with just a little antimony. Also if your dentist still uses foil-backed X-ray film, the foil is soft lead.
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Old July 27, 2012, 11:01 PM   #4
Andy Griffith
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Get with a club that makes group purchases, even if you are not a member, perhaps you may find a friend that does. We've got a feller that buys from Metallico by the pallet for casting and they split it amongst several fellers. I've only bought about 500lb of pure lead that way- a bit more expensive than scrap, but very reasonable for pure lead.

Hard shot is too expensive to melt down, unless you just aren't a shotgun shooter. A little bit of tin mixed with pure lead can help fill out in your moulds, but not too much, because it's very expensive and not something to waste, and you'll never get them down the barrel of your muzzleloader if it gets too hard!
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Old July 28, 2012, 12:36 AM   #5
Kadmos
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Well, if I recall the price correctly it was $33 for a 25lb bag.

I cast .454's and .31's right now for muzzleloading

And I cast .38 special as well, when I can find lead. I have been buying 500 round boxes of 38 for about $35 lately because finding any lead is a pain, and if I find soft lead I won't waste it on a 38.

Seems to me if the shot can cast the .38 ok then I'd have to be saving money on that at least.

Does anyone know if that arsenic is a real health worry?

Sadly the best deal I've found on soft lead is an old hardware store that sells 5 to 6 pound ingots for about $22 each.

The only easy to find source seems to be duck weights, but it's still pricey.
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Old July 28, 2012, 07:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Sadly the best deal I've found on soft lead is an old hardware store that sells 5 to 6 pound ingots for about $22 each.
I think Rotometals is only $2.19/lb for pure lead, and they also sell different bullet alloys all ready to pour.
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Old July 28, 2012, 07:34 AM   #7
bedbugbilly
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You may have already done this but check with some scrap dealers - see if they have any lead from lead sheathed cable - I used to be able to get it and it was great stuff. I had about 200 lbs. of it and it got stolen out of my shop building - I know who did it but can't prove it. If he'd come back, I'd be more than happy to send some more lead his way.

Also, try checking with some large plumbers who do commercial work - especially in older buildings. Often times, they collect and separate the various fittings and pipe and then sell it for scrap. If they happen to run in to buildings with old leaded joints on cast iron soil pipe - that is usually pretty good stuff as well.
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Old July 28, 2012, 10:12 AM   #8
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Run an ad on Craigslist "Wanted: scrap lead"

Say something like:

"Paying 35¢ a pound for wheel weights, and 45¢ for lead pipe, battery terminals, and flashing. Really good stuff is negotiable. No battery plates, please."

I got over 300 pounds of pure lead foundry ingots a few years ago that way. Paid $120 for the lot of it.
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Old July 28, 2012, 10:58 AM   #9
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Scuba weights might be pure lead, and can sometimes be found inexpensively at garage sales.
The older and less used the better, to ensure that there's no water still in the pores.
The combination of heat and trapped water is not good.
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Old July 28, 2012, 08:36 PM   #10
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A couple of ideas:

Scrap dealers for sheet lead. They often have a pile of lead laying around and sell it for the going rate.

Stained glass shops often have scraps of lead that they have to haul off to get rid of. They generally have a bucket of it laying around. You might have to separate the solder from the lead edging they trim off.

Roofers sometimes find lead flashing. Electrical workers often come across lead sheathing for underground cables.

Xray techinicians that install new digital xrays end up scrapping old xray machines. Lead blocks are used for ballast for the moveable tables.

Sailboat repair businesses may come across lead ballast that is used in the keels of sailboats.

Below is an old email I've sent out alot to test the hardness of various lead alloys. It's good info:

To lead scroungers everywhere,
I think I got this info off the black powder or mlml list 8-10 years ago. I
would like to thank whoever originally posted it and offer my apology for
losing the original credits.
You can go to an art supply store and get a set or select individual pencils
whose core varies from [softest] 9B,>>>1B, HB, F, 1H, >>>9H[hardest]. Lead will run about 4B or 5B, depending on purity, and linotype will run about HB, or F. The hardest pencils will test aluminum alloys and are too hard for
lead. About 6 to 8 pencils will cover the range needed for informal casting.
To use, shave the wood away to expose the "lead" core without cutting into it
with the knife exposing 1/8-1/4". Hold the pencil vertical and sand the end
flat on fine (about) 400 grit sandpaper. Hold the pencil in a normal writing
position, and try to push the lower edge into the lead surface. If the
graphite core is harder than the alloy, it will cut into the metal or at
least seriously scratch it. If the metal is as hard or harder than the
graphite core, it will not be able to gouge. The hardness is ranked as the
hardest graphite core that will NOT cut in. If your bullet is resistant to
pencils from 6B through 2B, but B scratches it or peels up a small shaving,
the hardness is 2B.
This isn't as exact as a Brinnel tester but cost effective enough for me. You
can reproduce your hardness but not necessarily the same cost, or castability
but all I want to know is whether it is REAL HARD, sorta hard, somewhere in
between, soft, and REAL SOFT (i.e. Smokeless rifle lead, smokeless pistol, 38
special lead, and 2 grades of black powder lead). I bought 8 pencils: H, HB,
B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, & 6B. I found that my various ingots of lead were not
sorted so well once I pencil tested them. Wheelweights and MY BLEND of #2
alloy are about 2B and my soft cap&ball lead is 4B&5B. Be sure to use a fresh
surface as some of the heavier grey corrosion will resist the pencil core but
the underlying lead will scratch.

Note: get all the pencils from the same manufacturer as some are varying in hardness between brands.
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Old July 29, 2012, 04:37 PM   #11
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robhof

If you have acess to an outdoor range as I do; you can go on days that are slow like Monday mornings. I bring a rake and rake the dirt barriers. Lead slugs are usually considered hard, unles 4570 or 45Lc or ball, all jacket bullets have soft cores that is almost pure except some tin to help it adhere to the jacket. I use the lead bullets for my modern casting and the jacketed cores for b/p. I've gotten 150lbs in about 20min.. Our range also has a cowboy action area and it's full of flat pure lead slugs, I usually surface shovel it into a box with 3/8" hardware cloth across the bottom. I was lucky to get free ww's back when the garages had to pay to have them removed, still have 200+ lbs of them.
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Old July 29, 2012, 07:09 PM   #12
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No matter where the lead comes from and what it has in it, lead itself is poisonous; contact with it or breathing the fumes from molten lead can result in something unexpected - your early (and painful) death.

Please do bullet casting and reloading with lead bullets in a well ventilated area, handle lead with rubber or latex gloves, and avoid the fumes from the melting pot.

Jim
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Old July 29, 2012, 08:22 PM   #13
Edward429451
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Lead doesn't begin to fume until it reaches above 1100 deg IIRC, and casting is done at much lower temps.

Smelting WW's into ingots over a gas burner can easily get you too hot because temps are harder to control with gas I have found. Here is the danger of fuming lead, not casting. Still, wash your hands a lot, don't eat or smoke while casting.
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Old March 30, 2013, 03:10 AM   #14
oldflathead
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Lead in sailboat keels?

I am in the boat repair business. Occasionally it is not worth the $$ and effort to fix up an old boat, so I scrap them. Re-usable parts are removed and sold. In the past I have taken the lead keels to a local re-cycler and received $0.18 per pound. They are paying more now, but as a gun collecter, I am thinking about re-using some of the lead.
I am scrapping out a sailboat that has about 5,000 pounds of lead in the keel. Any ideas?

Old Flat Head in Pensacola,FL
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Old March 30, 2013, 07:58 PM   #15
Nick S.
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Lead sinkers.

When ever I scuba dive I come up with a few pounds of lead sinkers. I've melted 100s of pounds & cast them into dive weights. Would they also make good bullets?
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Old March 30, 2013, 08:05 PM   #16
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Lead that's been submerged, especially in deep water, may contain pockets of water, even after being out of the water for a long period of time. Drop one of those in a pot of molten lead and you're likely to get an explosion. You may be able to dry them out well enough by heating them in an oven for ah hour or so, but even then you're taking a chance. I'd stay away from them.
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Old March 30, 2013, 08:23 PM   #17
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Would you be okay as long as you weren't adding them to a pot of already-molten lead?
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Old March 30, 2013, 08:33 PM   #18
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Quote:
Lead that's been submerged, especially in deep water, may contain pockets of water, even after being out of the water for a long period of time. Drop one of those in a pot of molten lead and you're likely to get an explosion. You may be able to dry them out well enough by heating them in an oven for ah hour or so, but even then you're taking a chance. I'd stay away from them.
A keel from a sailboat would weigh several hundred pounds. Let me know when you are going to put that hunk of lead in a bullet melting pot...I want to watch.
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Old March 30, 2013, 09:54 PM   #19
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I have had scuba weights some are very hard and some soft enough for rb casting. Very important to cast in a well vented area.
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Old March 31, 2013, 04:39 AM   #20
oldflathead
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Sailboat keels

Thanks for your replies. Most larger sailboat keels are cast or poured into the fiberglass hull. If it is a production boat, usually a mold has been made for the keel shape. After the lead hardens, the keel is lifted and placed into the molded sailboat, thus it is totally encapsulated in fiberglass, sealing it from water. There are exceptions to this practice, some low end builders just attached the lead to the keel and painted it.

The boat we are scrapping has the keel totally encapsulated in fiberglass since it was built in 1977. WE are removing the fiberglass, cleaning the lead with powered wire brushes and will:
1- load the entire piece, about 6' X 3" X 8" thick, on a truck and haul it to the re-cycling center.
Or
2- haul the entire lead keel home and cut it up into pieces small enough to fit our pot and make bullets. We estimate over 3,000 pounds in this chunk. So will probably share with our friends. We like fresh fish fillets and beer.

We have sent sample in to a lab for testing, takes two weeks.

I will keep you posted. Please reply with any ideas.

Tom
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Old March 31, 2013, 11:45 AM   #21
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Quote:
Would you be okay as long as you weren't adding them to a pot of already-molten lead?

Yes, Just don't go dropping them into aready molten lead. If you heat them from cold they will not explode on you.
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Old March 31, 2013, 12:45 PM   #22
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^Correct.
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Old March 31, 2013, 01:33 PM   #23
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Quote:
No matter where the lead comes from and what it has in it, lead itself is poisonous; contact with it or breathing the fumes from molten lead can result in something unexpected - your early (and painful) death.

Please do bullet casting and reloading with lead bullets in a well ventilated area, handle lead with rubber or latex gloves, and avoid the fumes from the melting pot.
I've been casting bullets since 1972 omg, that's 41 years...anyway I'm pretty sure you are safe from lead vaper @ 700 farenheit and if you aren't a thumb sucker you don't need gloves if you wash your hands after a casting session. I know of one casting death, a pot full of unknown 'stuff', probably from batteries or other nasties.

Handling lead or lead alloys is not a death defyin process. Common sense works.
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Old March 31, 2013, 04:29 PM   #24
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Agreed Salvador, Lead isn't the poison some thing it is.
Lead has to be ingested over time or in large quantities to hurt humans.
Babies and developing children can be severely affected again if the lead is ingested. (eating lead based paint chips for example, sucking on toys painted with same.)

Lead has no vapors until it gets to boiling temp which my Lee pot is incapable of doing.

There are lots of guys who say they have burned batteries for the lead without suffering any harm but I don't feel comfy doing it.

Use gloves to protect from hot splatters but handling lead is safe, just wash your hands with soap and water before eating, smoking, picking up children etc.

Again, common sense.
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Old April 1, 2013, 10:48 AM   #25
maillemaker
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For black powder shooting, I use pure lead, and I buy it from http://www.rotometals.com. It's about $2/pound.

I use wheel weight lead for casting bullets for modern cartridge guns.

Steve
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