View Full Version : Lead for casting is getting harder to find

Gator Weiss
September 12, 2010, 11:24 AM
All my old sources for lead have dried up. No more wheel weights from garages because they have to turn the old ones in for recycle to the vendors or to their district warehouses. They cant sell or give away the lead anymore. Linotype is all gone. Metal scrap yards are all dealing in iron, copper, and aluminum now, and havent had anyone bringing them lead in a long, long, time. Ingots on Ebay are expensive and could be anything as far as a mixture goes. Roofing companies arent finding as much lead on the older roofs like they used to find, and they have none to sell or give away like before. Hospital Xray outfits cant give away lead packing material anymore, they have to turn it back in to the vendors.

Insofar as pure unalloyed lead for hollowbase slugs seems to be just about unobtainable.

I have a friend that owns a humongous shooting range. I can dig there if I want, but the bullets there are full of sand particles and abrasive oxides.

Does anyone have any ideas on sources for casting lead?

September 12, 2010, 11:30 AM
Just something to keep an eye on if you have a large Wal-Mart in your area. They sell lead anchors for duck decoys that are pure lead and about 8lbs/pack. At the end of season they clearance them out around $4/pack. I bought about 100lbs there last year. Have to be inovative.

September 12, 2010, 12:36 PM
Go to a tire shop and don't talk to the manager, talk to the repairmen. They'll likely as not give you a bucket or two. You can melt down scrounged range lead. The impurities will float to the top.

September 12, 2010, 01:24 PM
Talk to the recyclers themselves. They will sell you WW, though it will be more expensive than getting it straight from the shop.

I've built up a lead reserve that I estimate to be around 2,500-3,000 pounds. So I think I might be set for awhile.

September 12, 2010, 02:29 PM
For B/p shooting ww lead is too hard, unless it's the stick ons that are pure or near(soft enough for b/p). I rake the berms at our local outdoor range after rains for jacketed bullets(the cores are very soft lead) I use the cast bullets for adding to my ww lead for modern:D pistol and rifle.

September 12, 2010, 02:44 PM
My best source of lead is the pistol range. Whenever I go shoot there, I take a gallon ziplock bag and a trowel with me. If I'm the only one there, it just takes a minute or two to scrape up 15 pounds or so of lead under the steel targets. (the "if I'm the only one there" part is because it wouldn't be right for me to expect people to stop shooting even for a couple of minutes for me to go downrange to scrounge.) All the sand and grit and oxides are not a problem, you get rid of those when you melt the stuff -- some of the oxides turn back into good lead if you do it right.

It's probably too hard for good blackpowder bullets. For soft lead, you might have to order it from a foundry.

I got 300 pounds of lead a couple of years ago just asking for it on craigslist. I think I paid 35¢ a pound for it for pure soft lead. The scrap yards were paying about 50¢ a pound at the time and charging over a dollar.

September 12, 2010, 02:53 PM
A few years ago. the trap club I belong to closed. I was able to mine/recover all the #7 1/2 & #8 shot I wanted. One of my Friends had a small front end loader, and I had a high banker I used for gold mining. It worked like a champ. His cut, 6 buckets ( 5 gal each), my cut, 5 buckets ( 5 gal each), and we passed out a few more to some of the old members.

September 12, 2010, 03:03 PM
I have a friend that owns a humongous shooting range. I can dig there if I want, but the bullets there are full of sand particles and abrasive oxides.

As the folks are telling you, all this junk will float to the top during your smelting proccess, even the jackets off the bullets. Right now, lead around here is going for about 50 Cents a pound. Another potential source is fellas at gun shows. I just picked up about 200lbs. from one of those referals. Bought it off a shooters widow. She also had some 50/50, which I can't use and one problems in getting it to those that can, is shipping. Our Son-Outlaw works in a steel mill and he brings home big globs that I cast decoy weights for him. Some I test and use and other, I castt for him. It's out there but sometimes, you have to srounge for it.

Be Safe !!!

September 12, 2010, 04:47 PM
Scuba weights.
Look for them at garage sales or maybe buy old ones from the scuba shops.

September 12, 2010, 06:36 PM
You can buy unalloyed sheet lead at your local plumbing supply. I chop it up with a hatchet to get it in the pot.

September 12, 2010, 08:03 PM
Scuba weights.
Look for them at garage sales or maybe buy old ones from the scuba shops.

Be EXTREMELY careful if you are melting used items that have been underwater. The pressure at depth has a way of filling every interior void with water. I was melting big, old used sinkers in the melting pot once and one of the sinkers started bubbling and then exploded, blasting all the molten lead in the pot all over the place, up to twelve feet away and even up into the eaves. I got burned but good on the exposed areas of my face and neck. Those sinkers had had more than a year to dry out in my hot garage. Once the water is in them, it can stay there for a very, very long time. I no longer smelt anything that had anything to do with water. It's just not worth it to me. Potentially dangerous, so beware.

September 13, 2010, 08:30 AM
I save up air gun pellets from my indoor pellet trap which AFIK are pure lead. Because I run NRA air pistol matches I get it from some of the shooters when they clean out their traps. Put the word out and find some indoor air gun shooters before they throw out their pellet lead. Some folks will accumulate 10 or 20 years worth of used pellets and they don't know what to do with them.
My indoor .22 club scraps most of the lead chips & dust from the back stop but it's a hassle. Every once in a while the guys will have a casting party to make ingots which some of them use for cowboy action shooting. But that doesn't use it all up so talk to an indoor club that has a surplus of it because the scrap yards don't pay as much for it as they do for bulky lead. Not too many scrap yards want to deal with the lead chips and dust from the indoor ranges and aren't set up for it.
Some scrap yards that accumulate enough bulk lead will sell it if it's profitable. Call and check with different yards because sometimes it comes and goes quickly.

September 13, 2010, 01:16 PM
Boy am I glad that I mentioned scuba weights and you replied.
I was seriously thinking about using them.
Thanks for the warning.
Do you suppose there's a way to heat them in an old oven, (not one used for food anymore), to get the water out?

September 13, 2010, 01:37 PM
If they are brand new weights then there shouldn't be any problem.

The problem with used weights is that the water can be forced into a void, even through a pin sized hole. A diver going to 100 feet is under four atmospheres of pressure, and that pressure will force water into every nook and crannie. Deep sea weights are even worse. Most of them have eyelets moulded into them that are ripe for having hidden passageways and voids around them, and deep sea weights could have been used at 200 or 300 feet (133 psi of pressure) or more.

If you decide to use used weights, I would definitely do some type of pre-heat to try to drive any water out. Keep the temperature just below 212 degrees for a couple hours, then it might be good to take the temperature on up past boiling for a while too. If it's going to explode, it would be better to do so in an open environment than while submerged in a pot of molten lead.

September 13, 2010, 01:45 PM
These scuba weights have been a lot deeper than the 100 ft you mentioned.
(With me attached).
But they've also been laying in the garage for many years, probably ten or so.
If I get my courage up, I might try drying one out in the oven.
If you see a mushroom cloud, don't panic, it's just our garage.

September 13, 2010, 04:02 PM
10 years and you're probably fine.
They don't explode like a bomb. The lead just opens up for the steam to escape. There's no loud bang or displacement of thousands of cubic feet of air. It is just a "POP". But, given the force required to break that lead open, it's amazing how powerful steam can be. You just don't want it popping open like that while in or near molten lead that can be blown all over the place.

If I were you, though, I'd just get back to diving them:)
(I'm wearing about 500 bullets worth of lead in the photo;))

September 13, 2010, 04:33 PM
Now that's taking fishing to a new level.:D

September 13, 2010, 05:03 PM
Why not just cover the melter with a heavy lid? Or put the weights in the cold pot and heat it slowly until they melt? Y'all are *trying* to make it difficult! ;)

September 13, 2010, 05:38 PM
Why not just cover the melter with a heavy lid? Or put the weights in the cold pot and heat it slowly until they melt?

Definitely. Those are good points too.

September 15, 2010, 03:28 PM
You needed that much weight to offset all the air in that old, extra buoyant, double hose regulator.

Gator Weiss
September 15, 2010, 03:39 PM
Thanks for the information. I am very appreciative of it. I am heading out to develop new sources.

Mr. Model P, I am very indebted to you.

The safety information you gave to us all about submerged lead possibly exploding was very important and very interesting to me. I have melted everything in that old lead pot, from sinkers to trot line weights, to motor boat anchors. I have walked around the area of the pot with the scrap in it melting, not evening thinking about something popping off or exploding in that big old lead pot. Getting lead burns are nasty, painful, toxic as hell, and often difficult to get healed of from.

Model P, because what you told me about exploding scrap, I have decided to try a whole new tact in the way I melt something. A whole new safety program. Often, we never know what the scrap lead we acquire has been through. Hell, any of it could have been under water.

A steam explosion in a lead pot would have to be a nightmare. Especially if it gets on your face, in your eyes. My bench surface is at about belt buckle level. If that lead pot exploded, it might even get on my balls! Man, I dont need that ****.

My new safety program will be to use an old bench out in the back yard, with a long cord to my heat source, well away from the house. I will need a box of excellent crackers, and an excellent kosher salami. I am going to charge the pot with ingot or scrap, and then I will stay the hell away from it until it melts completely. While it is heating up, I will go into the house, stay there, and I will busy myself eating the kosher salami with the crackers. I will go back to the lead pot later, when the crackers run out. I will find it all melted down and ready to cast bullets. In this way, if it explodes, my eyes are safe, my balls are safe, and there is nothing to do but clean the bench off, fnish the salami, and continue the operation. Thanks for your information. It is a very, very good warning. A very valuable warning.

Now, I have asked everyone about where to get the lead. You guys gave me new information and lots of help. Do any of you guys mind telling me where I can find a good kosher salami? It is a very important part of my new safety program.

September 15, 2010, 03:43 PM
Zingerman's Deli, 422 Detroit Street, Ann Arbor, MI

Gator Weiss
September 15, 2010, 03:46 PM
I have folks in Detroit. Time to give them a call. THANKS!

September 15, 2010, 03:54 PM
Gator Weiss,
If you get the extra spicy version, you can save on the amount of gas or electric required to melt the lead.
Just breath on the pot some, to get it started and warmed up good.

September 15, 2010, 04:07 PM
You needed that much weight to offset all the air in that old, extra buoyant, double hose regulator.


But, even if I went to one of those plastic single hose regs I'd still need to wear 500 bullets worth of lead........ .38 caliber instead of .45:D

Sounds like a plan, White Alligator. Even if you never have a problem with the lead, you will enjoy the smelting process even more now taking cracker and salami breaks. Just don't forget to wash those lead-contaminated hands before eating:eek:

September 15, 2010, 04:28 PM
There's a possibility that this thread is beginning to drift and sink.

September 15, 2010, 06:00 PM
Well, afterall, we ARE talking about sinkers (get my drift?):)

September 16, 2010, 07:45 AM
I have not had any problem what-so-ever in securing lead from the recycler. Linotype, monotype, and pure lead at $.46 (46 cents) a pound for some time. Additionally, bullet trap lead from the indoor shooting range has been plentiful for half that price.
Wheel weights are also available from the recycle, but I don't like the fuss of the metal clips, dirt, & oil. Why mess with it when all the other types of lead are available at the sam price?

September 18, 2010, 11:30 AM
Clip on wheel weights aren't good for bp shooting unless you're using a prb. Stick on weights are fine as they're 99.5% pure lead. I was still getting them for free but haven't tried in awhile.

September 18, 2010, 07:30 PM
If you know any old plumbers they might still have the old bricks for melting fown when they used cast iron pipe

September 18, 2010, 07:49 PM
I got a ton of it when I was a kid and they tore down the old cotton compress. They used it for sealing steam pipe joints.