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Old May 11, 2013, 10:35 PM   #1
mjes92
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Cleaning your lead

After digging out your "once fired" cast bullets how do you clean all the dirt off your lead before smelting?

Or do you skim in off the top in the pot?

Thanks
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Old May 12, 2013, 05:54 AM   #2
Mike / Tx
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For the most part I pull them out then haul them up to the house and scrub them down with a tooth brush sometimes using a little water and soap depending on just how well I need them to see what went on. But I am looking at it from a totally different angle than most. I want to see how everything worked or did when it hit the dirt in the first palce. Most of what I shoot and recover is simply shot into loosly packed sand and it comes off pretty easily. The ones I get all Mr Clean on are usually the HP's and I am looking for stress fractures and such where the noses rolled back.

As for the ones I don't even mess with. I usually add them into my small 10'ish pound SS pot with a half inch or so of premelted alloy of the same type. Once they melt most all of the dirt and other debris usually breaks loose and is easily stirred to the top and skimmed off. THe SS pot is an older plumbers lead pot and doesn't collect near the slag or crud on the sides or bottom that my bigger cast iron pot does.

Since there isn't much if any gunk in the pre melted alloy to begin with, the little bit of dirt is pretty easily dealt with. What might remain, is usually stuck to the bottom of my smelting pot. I let the residual alloy cool off and it is collected in the bottom most portion of the hardened piece. Then holding it with a pair of plairs I simply use a mapp gas torch to melt off that thin layer if I really want it gone. That little bit gets added to my scrap bucket and eventually I will resmelt it all down and after several good fluxes it will be ready to pour up solids with, to use for target practice.
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Old May 12, 2013, 10:10 AM   #3
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range lead

When my gun club pistol range isn't being used by other members,I'll go down range and recover spent pistol bullets.In abour a hour I can recover a 5 quart ice cream pail full.I dump them out on the driveway at home and hose all the sand off of them.When completely dry, out comes the old Coleman stove and a old stainless steel pet food dish and fire things up.As the melt gets to temp,I skin the old jackets and slag off.After a good fluxing I grab the dish with an old Vice Grips and poor the melt into my Lyman ingot mold to cool.A full ice cream pail yealds plus or minus 30 pounds of clean,fluxed lead for later alloying with wheel weights,to cast .38 ,.44,.45,midrange bullets.Works for me .

Last edited by hdbiker; May 12, 2013 at 10:15 AM. Reason: misspelled words
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Old May 12, 2013, 10:18 AM   #4
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Smelt, flux, scrape and pour !!

I suppose you could wash them before smelting but we don't and just flux and skim the pot. Never gave it any thought !! ....

A point could be made that you should reduce handling time. ....

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Old May 12, 2013, 10:24 AM   #5
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Reclaimed bullets from the backstop are pretty much self cleaning. Just about everything is lighter than lead. The crud will float to the surface, some may get trapped under the lead, or along the sides of the pot. A good fluxing with sawdust will smelt the tin and antimony back into the metallic lead. Be sure to dip the lead from the center of the pot, so you don't scrape some crud into the ladle to be pored into ingots.
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Old May 14, 2013, 05:14 AM   #6
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I just started messing with range lead. I dump about a coffee cans worth in a 5 gal bucket, add about 1/3 bucket of water and take and old shovel handle and stir and agitate. Dump the the dirty water off and some clean water and swish around a few times. That takes care of most of the loose sand/dirt. Then smelt it down in my cast iron pot. I try and pull all the jacketed bullets out, but I seem to always miss alot. I heard a couple pop the last time. I made a screen from scrap lumber and the wire that goes under rabbit cages that i use to filter the sand off at range. I dump the wet bullets into that contraption and let air dry for a couple of days. The rest of the crap floats to the top and gets scraped off. I've been unable to find a tire shop or service station willing to sell or give me ww's, but the range lead works nicely.
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Old May 14, 2013, 08:18 AM   #7
mjes92
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Flux ???

Thanks for the recomendations.

Next question: What do you guys like to use for Flux?

I have used Beeswax, but I am questioning its effectivity.
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Old May 14, 2013, 10:50 AM   #8
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Depends on what tickles my giggle that day, sometimes beeswax but most of the time I just drop a small handful of sawdust in the pot. In my shop I have lots and lots of sawdust but only a finite amount of beeswax. This is when you really really want a good vent system.
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Old May 17, 2013, 05:42 AM   #9
Mike / Tx
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When I am smelting down raw material I use sawdust at least twice and then sometimes even a paraffin chunk depending on what it is. Usually the more pure lead the less paraffin as it sawdust does a great job. If I have something with a higher tin content I might be more apt to add in the paraffin as a final measure, if for no other reason to make myself feel good about it.

When I add either to the pot, I use one of the long tipped BBQ lighters to light it off so that I don't get as much flame and or smoke. If I am working in the shop, I will set up in front of a box fan so that it sucks the smoke up and blows it outside the back door when doing so. Just be careful with the paraffin as it does come up to a flame quickly on it's own and sometimes will shake you enough to jar out some of the alloy if your stirring it in.
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Old May 17, 2013, 06:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
What do you guys like to use for Flux?

I have used Beeswax, but I am questioning its effectivity.
Paraffin is a better (cleaner to use),flux than Beeswax. Beeswax seems to leave a greasy, carbonized residue. If using paraffin, light the smoke to consume it as you stir.
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Old May 17, 2013, 10:06 AM   #11
mjes92
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Thanks again Gentlemen.
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Old May 17, 2013, 12:06 PM   #12
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Many ways to skin this cat !!!

Quote:
Paraffin is a better (cleaner to use),flux than Beeswax.
For this same reason, I use a product made by Frankfort Arsenal. A little goes a long way. Everybody has their own favorite fluxing agent and a long time ago, I too used saw-dust. I also know a fella who use to use his kids old crayons. When I flux, I don't just drop it in and watch. I like to stir the pot in order to get a good mix. ....

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Old May 17, 2013, 04:02 PM   #13
Rifleman1776
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Quote:
What do you guys like to use for Flux?
I quit using flux decades ago. I believe it is a waste of time.
I simply stir and skim frequently. Get great results. Works for me.
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Old May 17, 2013, 06:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
For this same reason, I use a product made by Frankfort Arsenal. A little goes a long way. Everybody has their own favorite fluxing agent and a long time ago, I too used saw-dust. I also know a fella who use to use his kids old crayons. When I flux, I don't just drop it in and watch. I like to stir the pot in order to get a good mix. ....
Paraffin is a good flux-er, it gets the dirt to the surface. It does return oxides to their metallic state. It does not remove contaminants from the lead alloy, like aluminum, iron, calcium and others, wood chips/sawdust does do that.

Anything that you use has to have carbon in it. Carbon is what does the reduction of tin, lead, and antimony oxides to return to the alloy as a solution. You MUST stir whatever flux you use to get the carbon under the surface of the metal. Or IOW to get the oxides in contact with the flux so it can do it's work.

If that FA product is a white powder in a tub, it's a boron compound similar to marveluxe. Marveluxe is like paraffin/wax, it's a great cleaner, but will actually REMOVE tin from the alloy, not what you want! Besides, it's hygroscopic, it'll soak up humidity from the air to hold it on any surface it's exposed to. A spoon used to stir the pot when using marveluxe will develop a black scum. When plunged into the hot metal, it'll explode with steam, possibly getting you burned. It'll also rust a steel pot overnight.

This stuff?¿
http://www.midwayusa.com/product/593...-compound-1-lb

I use sawdust,,,---period! It cleans as good as anything else, but also reduces tin and other valuable alloy components back into the alloy.
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Last edited by snuffy; May 18, 2013 at 09:55 AM.
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Old May 17, 2013, 07:14 PM   #15
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Again, many ways to skin that cat !!

Quote:
Besides, it's hygroscopic, it'll soak up humidity from the air to hold it on any surface it's exposed to.
That is true, in it's resting state but once in the pot, it loses that property. I have purposely left the pot surfaces, uncleaned no rust will set in because of it. As I've stated, there are many good products out there; some better than others. If I can accept sawdust and my buddy's crayons, I won't argue with anything that you guys say that works. .....

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Old May 17, 2013, 07:25 PM   #16
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I wash my backstop lead because it has a lot of rubber mixed in. I can float out about 95% of the rubber that way and I don't have to burn it out. (I live in the city, and the neighbors and wife don't appreciate the smell of a good old fashioned tire fire)

Quote:
it [paraffin] does NOT return oxides to their metallic state. It does not reduce oxides.
It most certainly does. So does dirty motor oil. But sawdust and/or Crisco don't flame up as much.
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Old May 18, 2013, 09:51 AM   #17
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Quote:
Quote:
it [paraffin] does NOT return oxides to their metallic state. It does not reduce oxides.
It most certainly does. So does dirty motor oil. But sawdust and/or Crisco don't flame up as much.
Now where did I get confused about what I thought I knew! You are correct, wax/paraffin does reduce oxides, but does not remove contaminants, like aluminum, zinc, iron, calcium and other stuff that interfere with casting good boolits. I'll go correct my post. Pardon a failing memory, now what did I eat last night!?¿
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Old May 18, 2013, 12:32 PM   #18
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I clean range lead/bullets by dumping them in a metal strainer and spraying with hot water while agitating vigorously. With a little motion from me, the bullets clean each other.

I allow a minimum of 3 weeks drying time, but often go many months (4-8) before they're melted down.

I'm still searching for the 'perfect' flux, but I'm using paraffin and cedar/hardwood chips/dust at the moment. (Don't breath the cedar smoke. )
The hardwood and cedar sawdust/chips are the real flux, with the paraffin added after all of the wood is charred.
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Old May 18, 2013, 11:18 PM   #19
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How I cleaned my range lead years ago? Didn't. I just cooked it. Skimmed it. Did about 100 lbs of it. Then retired the idea of ever having to do again.
Decided right then and there it was time to make new friends of the employee's at my local recycling yard instead. A little investment of coffee and early morning donuts every now and then brought to their office. Was all it took to guarantee the cleanest soft lead one could hope for. Same held true for the W/W lead I purchased too. Always pre-sorted and only clip-on was set aside for me.

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