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Old December 15, 2010, 09:22 AM   #26
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I get my blood tested regularly since I started casting, and the only time my lead level spiked was just after I got stupid during a smelting session (melting raw wheel weights into clean ingots) and was drinking a cup of coffee while doing it. My level only spiked to 19 mg/dl, and my doctor told me that the normal range is 0 - 20. 6 months later it dropped to 3. During that time I continued casting and loading, but the difference was that I didn't eat or drink anything while doing it.
To be fair, the person posting about the danger of casting with wheel weights , did not specify lead. He warned of heavy metals (arsenic, antimony). I do not have any proof that is a problem, but he did not post the article with the study (so we could evaluate if the "study" had scientific merit), either.
If it is a problem, I do not care and will continue to cast using wheel weights...I have been exposed to every toxin known to man in my 67 years and am not going to worry about just wheel weights.
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Old December 15, 2010, 10:59 PM   #27
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I give what Edward has stated some merrit, due to the fact that some one casting bullets is more than likely a reloader. One could absorb heavy metals more so than say a plumber soldering pipe due to the fact that reloaders are constantly handling spent brass. Decapping, tumbling, sorting, and all of the other general fooling around that the prep. work requires. Where you would be exposed to those metals in left over priming compounds. I worry more about exposure to a batch of dusty tumbling media than I ever would worry about lead poisoning from casting. Your melt would have to be to vaporizing temperatures to absorb lead threw casting. And as others have said, don't lick the pot or the spoon.
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Old December 15, 2010, 11:17 PM   #28
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...One could absorb heavy metals more so than say a plumber soldering pipe...
Plumbers pipe, and solder did not (such pipe is not used anymore), contain the heavy metals, antimony and arsenic, what I think he was referring to.
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Old January 16, 2011, 07:01 PM   #29
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The thing about "studies" "polls" and "statistics" is you can make them say what you want them to say by asking pointed questions. Or selecting only a very limited sample of the data to use.
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Old January 16, 2011, 09:47 PM   #30
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Welcome to casting! I just did my first batch tonight.

I hit all the local tire stores and found one that sold me 22 pounds of wheel weights for $5.

About the only expensive thing you will want to get is a metal thermometer. The problem is that not all wheel weights are lead - some are steel, some are ZINC. The problem with the zinc ones is that if you get your lead too hot the zinc ones will melt too and contaminate your lead. With a thermometer you can make sure you don't get close to the melting point of zinc (787 degrees F). The melting temperature of lead is 621.43 degrees F.

For melting, I use a dutch oven someone gave me for free. Obviously it can never be used for food ever again. I use a propane burner for heat. You can get cheap ones from Harbor Freight ( You can also use a Coleman stove. You probably do not want to melt your raw weights in your production pot that you use for actually making bullets.

As your lead melts, the steel brackets of the wheel weights, plus any wheel weights that are not lead, will float on top of the molten lead. Take a slotted stainless steel spoon ($3 from Walmart) and use it to skim off the crap. Once all the big crap is out, toss in a marble-sized chunk of old candle wax into the pot and stir well. Skim off the dross.

You will want to buy a stainless steel ladle ($3 from Walmart), and a mini-muffin pan. Don't get the full-sized muffin pan as the ingots made from them may not fit in your production pot. The mini-muffin pans work great. Make certain the muffin pan you get is not tin plated - the ingots will alloy to the tin and not come out of the pan! I got one from Walmart for about $5.

Use the ladle to ladle the molten lead into the muffin pan. When it cools, dump them out and you have nice little ingots of lead.

I'm using 2-bullet Lee molds, and they work nice. Be sure to follow the directions on sooting the cavities with a flame and lubricating with silicone lubricant.

You can use a standard pot and a ladle to put lead into your molds, but I like the bottom-pour pot I got from Lee. It's a 20-pound pot. Bottom pour is nice because it pours lead from the bottom of the pot, which avoids the dross that collects on the surface. Plus it's a more hands-free operation - you just stick the mold under the pot, lift up on the valve handle and out comes a precise rivulet of molten lead until you release the handle.
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Old January 18, 2011, 02:18 PM   #31
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And to think when we were younger and went fishing we would bite on the lead weights to get them tight on the line.
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Old January 18, 2011, 03:45 PM   #32
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And to think when we were younger and went fishing we would bite on the lead weights to get them tight on the line.
Yeah... or my grandpa who has a 12 ga slug busted in 3 pieces still floating around in his body by his hip that has been there for over 25 years...

Sucks when you pull someone over for running a stop sign and you didn't know that they had just murdered their girlfriend...


Last edited by IllinoisCoyoteHunter; January 18, 2011 at 03:50 PM.
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