Flux lead in the pot?


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JNewell
April 28, 2006, 02:16 PM
Dumb newbie (to casting) question - I should flux the lead when I melt it? How much/how often?

Also - my Lyman dipper is kinda cruddy - it was bought and used for hobby (non-gun) casting several years ago. Appears to have "dirty lead" or something like that on it. Suggestions for (safe) cleaning???

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DaveInFloweryBranchGA
April 28, 2006, 05:02 PM
Flux, Flux and flux a little more. You can't ever flux too much. However, when you're fluxing, stir your melted lead and scrape the "crusties" off from around the edge with a slotted spoon, then scoop up the nasty black stuck and get it ouf or your melt. You should end up with nice silvery melted lead. (If you're using wheel weights, I'd keep it around 650-750 F degrees so you don't melt any zinc wheel weights into your lead, it'll ruin it.

You can use sawdust or any carbon based stuff to flux. I like the sawdust, because it seems to work pretty well in pulling the dirty and trash out of the lead. BTW, did I mention making sure you stir so you don't skim your tin off when you're skimming off the nasty stuff?

One last thing, there's a real good forum for casting information called cast boolits. They're all extremely experienced reloaders and a top source of information about casting boolits.

Hope this helps,

Dave

Poodleshooter
April 28, 2006, 05:57 PM
I've actually never fluxed. I keep my melt temperature fairly high to keep the tin and antimony from seperating out and I stir and skim periodically for garbage when melting new batches of ingots from wheelweights. By the time I'm casting bullets, i don't do anything except for an occasional stir,and even that is seldom necessary.

Lloyd Smale
April 28, 2006, 07:07 PM
i rarely flux once i have lead in ingot fourm. Ive found that over fluxing is worse then not fluxing at all. Run a test yourself cast some bigger bullets and cast a group of them with lead thats never been fluxed and then cast some and flux every 30 bullets and weight them. Youll find its better not to bother with it. Only real need for fluxing is if your dipper casting and you have to keep the top of the pot contamination free.

HSMITH
April 28, 2006, 07:21 PM
I use emergency candles or tea light candles from the dollar store. A buck will get you enough wax to flux a hundred pounds of wheel weights into clean ingots.

Chawbaccer
April 28, 2006, 07:23 PM
When your lead melts, stir in a bit of wax, parafin or an old crayon and stir it up. Toss in a paper match to burn the wax off unless you like the smell of burning wax. Skimming is a lot easier if you flux and you won't be throwing away as much lead.

snuffy
April 29, 2006, 07:15 PM
Read this, then tell me you don't need to flux!

http://www.sixguns.com/crew/simplefluxing.htm

NOT fluxing allows the lighter oxidized tin and antimony to float out to the surface of the melt. Also dirt, sand and other crud are not removed, causing inclusions in the finished bullet. If the sand is near the outside of the bullet or driving bands, it will scratch the barrel.

JNewell
April 30, 2006, 02:30 PM
OK...is it possible to overheat lead? I am melting what I think is pretty much pure lead - it's waste lead sheeting (sheathing) (am I mistaken that that would be more or less pure lead?) In any case, I am getting huge amounts of powdery stuff on the top before and after fluxing. It's too much volume to just be oxides, I think. ??? :confused:

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
April 30, 2006, 03:06 PM
JNewell,

I've recently processed several hundred pounds of sheet lead just as you're describing. The sheet lead has two non lead components related to it. First is the paper that may or may not be on one side that formed the "wallboard" appearance in the dentist's office. Second is the chalk like material between the paper and the lead.

If you don't have one, I strongly suggest you get a good thermometer such as the one at antimoneyman.com. He sells a high quality thermometer you can trust to be accurate. Also, he's got documents related to casting you'll be interested in getting him to send you.

Lead melts at just above 620 degrees F. I like to make it a habit to keep pot temperatures for the smelting operation between 650 and 750 degrees F. The reason why is when I do wheel weights, I don't melt the zinc wheel weights (They have a higher melt temperature.) and can skim any off I've missed.

What you want to do is bring your pot full of lead to temperature to melt and have a slotted stainless steel spoon ready. Next, flux as per normal. I like to use sawdust, because it is easy to identify, isn't messy and draws the dirt pretty well. Stir the lead up and then skim the trash (The paper and chalk.) off. Do this a couple of times, flux again, repeat. After a couple times of doing this, the lead should start to have a nice, clean, silvery appearance somewhat like the "quicksilver" in thermometers.

If you get it above 750, the lead will start to turn blue/gold in tone. This will not hurt the lead, but will make it skim and a bit harder to keep mixed if it has any tin in it. Lead sheeting is pretty much pure lead, but after smelting a good bit, I'd suggest anyone keep their temperature for smelting around the temperatures above, because the lead just smelts better in that range. Jump up above that and it's more aggravating. You won't hurt the lead, but it's easier to work with at lower temps.

Once it's clean (Remember, you can't flux and clean too much and the more you flux, the cleaner your ingots will be and the better your ingots will cast.) and shiney, it's ready to pour into ingots, so at that point, have your ladle ready and pour your ingots.

Hope this helps,

Dave

HSMITH
April 30, 2006, 03:55 PM
YES you can overheat lead and it will give off lead vapors, VERY bad to breathe and even be around. This is at roughly 1100 degrees.

I second Dave in recommending you get a thermometer. I use a Lyman and find it satisfactory. You will NEVER need to take your melt above 800*, and the only way to know is with a thermometer.

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
April 30, 2006, 09:08 PM
JNewell,

HSMITH"S post reminds me to ask this question: Do you have a serious safety mask with a filter capable of protecting you from lead fumes? Because if you don't have a thermometer, you should have a filter mask and a face shield. Both of which can be had quite inexpensively from your local safety store.

I have BOTH and I USE them every time I melt lead. Something serious to think about. SAFETY FIRST!!!! Lead will KILL you.

Regards,

Dave

AmbulanceDriver
May 1, 2006, 07:16 AM
YES you can overheat lead and it will give off lead vapors, VERY bad to breathe and even be around. This is at roughly 1100 degrees.


Actually, the truth is that at any temperature above absolute zero (Zero Kelvin, that is) lead (and any other material, as a matter of fact) gives off vapors. The higher the temperature, the higher the vapor pressure of any given material. I suspect that at 1100 degrees, you are simply seeing *visible* lead vapor. The reality is that ANY time you are smelting lead indoors, regardless of the temperature, you should be wearing a mask (unless you are working under a properly calibrated and set fume hood). If you are handling uncoated lead, you should wash your hands before doing *ANYTHING* else (and preferably wear some type of gloves).

Also, a full face shield is an extremely good idea. Accidentally splattering hot lead on your face would definitely fall under the definition of a "bad thing".

Poodleshooter
May 2, 2006, 03:39 PM
NOT fluxing allows the lighter oxidized tin and antimony to float out to the surface of the melt. Also dirt, sand and other crud are not removed, causing inclusions in the finished bullet. If the sand is near the outside of the bullet or driving bands, it will scratch the barrel.
I don't need to flux if I stir and scrape the sides. Especially since I use a bottom pour pot and skim,scrape and stir regularly. Fluxing alone often won't bring the dross to the surface.
At the hot temperatures we normally cast at, tin and antimony don't seperate out of a lead alloy. They form a true solution and melt and solidify at the same time. IIRC, it's called a eutectic alloy or something like that (I'm no professor of thermodynamics or chemistry so feel free to correct me if otherwise). Otherwise,when we cooled the melt,I think we'd see the metals solidifying seperately while the other parts of the alloy were still liquid.

robertbank
May 3, 2006, 12:29 AM
You nailed it. A simple analogy maybe fouond in the following example. When you pour your coffee and add sugar the sugar desolves into the solution and remains so. Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbock is an excllent source for new casters and has several essays dealing with fluxing, alloys and lead solutions. Plus 1 for:
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/index.php

Felix and the boys have been casting for eons and if they can't answer your questions regarding bullet casting nobody can.

Take Care

snuffy
May 3, 2006, 02:24 AM
"Poodleshooter
You nailed it. A simple analogy maybe fouond in the following example. When you pour your coffee and add sugar the sugar desolves into the solution and remains so. Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbock is an excllent source for new casters and has several essays dealing with fluxing, alloys and lead solutions. Plus 1 for:
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/index.php

Felix and the boys have been casting for eons and if they can't answer your questions regarding bullet casting nobody can."

Thats where I got the article about the absoulute need for fluxing lead alloy. You read it, didn't you?


http://www.sixguns.com/crew/simplefluxing.htm

He states it's not that the metals seperate, but the surface of the melt oxidises, all of the mixture including the tin and antimony. Those two are expensive, you want them to remain in the mix. Fluxing returns the oxides back into the mixture.

Hey, I don't care if you don't flux, but I always have and will continue to.

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