If I wanted to make lead harder, how?


December 9, 2008, 12:42 AM
I've got quite a bit of lead ingots now that are made out of wheel weights. But my supply of wheel weights has all but dried out.

So I found a couple of other sources, but how to I make the lead harder when melting it for ingots?

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December 9, 2008, 12:51 AM
add tin.

December 9, 2008, 12:56 AM
Like tin roof tin?

Or some other type of tin? If so, where is it to be found?


December 9, 2008, 12:59 AM
So I found a couple of other sources,
If you mean you found pure lead, add linotype, which is 11-12% antimony and 3-4% tin.

I will mix 3 parts pure lead and 1 part linotype, which should give you about 3% antimony and 1% tin. This alloy should be similar to wheel weight alloy.

Drop your bullets into a bucket of room temperature water to harden it some more.

I bought some linotype off ebay.

December 9, 2008, 01:02 AM
Car batteries and I've got a rather large lead pipe in the pasture I've been wanting to melt down.


December 9, 2008, 01:06 AM
you can buy pretty much any metal in ingots of any size on ebay,.
Tin is only slightly harder than lead, antimony, slightly more. You can use tin to make it harder, but anything that makes it harder will make it lighter. Nothing to be worried about, but just to consider.

Happy melting!

oh, as easyrider says, rapid cooling does harden the bullet, but also increases the amount of shrinkage.

oops, tin as in Sn, the element tin.

December 9, 2008, 01:09 AM
Car batteries

Big NO NO!!! Lead for batteries will have sulfuric acid in it.

Antimony will allow you to water quench/harden bullets. The tin will allow you the lead to fill the mold better, like the base, the bullet grooves and/or shoulder.

December 9, 2008, 01:16 AM
The sulfuric acid won't burn off when melting the lead???

I'm not casting bullets, I'm casting ingots for trade for other junk.

I don't want to mix up anything that could be potentially harmful to firearms, I like guns.

I might oughta leave it alone and just melt the lead into the ingots and let the receiving party melt it to their specs.


December 9, 2008, 01:18 AM
Sulfuric acid can be diluted with water, it is not terribly dangerous, not nearly as people make it out to be.

It doesn't burn off, that is the worst thing you can do, to vaporize it, thats how it becomes very dangerous. Just wash all the battery lead with water into a 5 gallon bucket and add a basic chemical to neutralize the acid. If you want to go that far.

December 9, 2008, 01:27 AM
to harden cheap:

get tin solder in bulk at a welding supply store and add it in 6 inch strips for every 10 lbs lead. thats it.

December 9, 2008, 03:28 AM
It's not just the acid in the car batteries that makes it dangerous. There are other trace elements in car batteries that when heated will give off very dangerous fumes that can and just might kill you. You can of course salvage the terminals on older batteries but that's all I would do if that.

It's just not worth it for the little lead you will salvage. Wheel weights and other easier (and safer) sources are a much better idea.

For information on making different alloys read about it on Antimony Man (http://www.theantimonyman.com/index.htm). The information and products you need are there.

December 9, 2008, 06:02 AM
To make cast Lead bullets harder, you can add Tin, which will make them a little harder and dramatically improve bullet fill-out.

To make them much harder, add Lead and Tin. The two in combination do more than one alone.

To get close to maximum benefit from the Lead and Tin, drop the bullets from the mold into a 5-gallon bucket of water. In addition to improving hardness, this eases material handling by preventing the bullets from dinging each other.

One can get maximum benefit from the Lead and Tin by putting the bullets on a cookie sheet, raise them to within 50 degrees of the point where they start to melt, then slide them into a bucket of water.


December 9, 2008, 09:31 AM
Add Linotype. Forget the car batteries. While antimony is used to harden the bullet, the mixture of tin is critical, for while antimony mixes with lead in its molten state, it will not remain mixed when it solidifies. If tin were not added, we would have pure antimony crystals surrounded by pure lead. A bullet of this type , while it feels hard , would certainly lead the bore and eliminate all potential for accuracy. In a lead-tin-antimony mixture, the antimony crystals will be present just the same, but they will be imbedded in a lead-tin mixutre. As the bullet cools the tin will form around the antimony-lead keeping your bullets from* leading the bore.


Bullet Sizes & Weights – How to Vary Them
The bullet diameters and weights presented in this list
are based on the use of Taracorp’s Lawrence Magnum
bullet alloy (2% tin, 6% antimony, 1/4% arsenic,
91.75% lead).
Bullet diameters and weights will vary considerably
depending on the lead casting alloy used. This variation
can be as much as 1/2% on the diameter, and 8% on
the weight among the most commonly used casting
alloys. For example, a .358-158 grain bullet might
show a diameter variation of .002", and a 13 grain difference
in weight.
Of the most commonly used alloys, wheel weights (.5%
tin, 4% antimony, 95% lead) will produce bullets having
the smallest diameter and heaviest weight, with
such bullets running approximately .3% smaller in
diameter and 3% heavier than bullets cast with
Taracorp's metal. Linotype will produce bullets with the
largest diameter and lightest weights. This alloy will
produce bullets approximately 1/10% larger and 3%
lighter than Taracorp. Other alloys of tin and antimony,
with antimony content above 5%, will produce bullets
with diameters and weights falling between those cast
from wheel weights and linotype.
Alloys containing little or no antimony will cast considerably
smaller than wheel weights and in some cases
will produce bullets too small for adequate sizing.
Within the limitations given above, the weight and
diameter of a cast bullet can be adjusted by varying the
alloy’s antimony content.
The size and weight of bullets of a given alloy will also
vary according to casting temperature. Higher temperatures
will result in greater shrinkage as the bullet
cools, thereby producing a slightly smaller and lighter
bullet than one cast of the same alloy at a lower temperature

December 9, 2008, 09:54 AM
A worthwhile read if considering car batteries: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=40769


December 9, 2008, 10:00 AM
For casting supplies go to www.midwayusa.com Linotype is here http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=820843 Or just google "midwayusa linotype" Or check with a local plumbing supply house. They have block tin.

December 9, 2008, 10:02 AM
No car batteries.

95/5 solder


Tin will help a little, but it is mostly useful to help the alloy fill out the mold better and you don't want to waste it.

December 9, 2008, 06:43 PM
Or you can alloy it 50/50 with wheel weights to stretch those wheel weights. This is fine for low velocity pistol loads (anything less than .357 magnum loads). I haven't done this myself, but it's a standard practice.

December 9, 2008, 06:50 PM
Tin will help the lead flow and fill out the mold but won't harden it. You will want linotype or monotype for that. You don't need to add more that 2% tin to help with fill out, any more is a waste. I only add around 1% tin to mine.

Edit: I forgot to agree with the others, DO NOT USE CAR BATTERIES.

December 10, 2008, 09:59 PM
chilled shot is antimony rich.try 6% to pure lead or 50/50 wheel weights.
2% tin , more than that & your wasting it .
oh yeah : the car batterys contain alot of cadium , fumes are very toxic& odorless !!!!
not worth it !!!!!!


July 28, 2012, 12:16 PM
I realize this is an old discussion, but I don't see why led from car batteries couldn't be used as long as the impurities were skimmed of the top whle the lead is moten. That's all the recycling industry does. Not that you should be doing that without proper equipment and training. Just do a query on 'how are car batteries recycled' and you'll see what I mean. Still really unsafe.

July 28, 2012, 03:33 PM
Newer car battery plates are not a god source of lead for bullets.

Calcium and a number of other chemicals have been added to the alloy, and the dross that results can react with water to make things you do NOT want to even consider breathing (IIRC stibine gas was one possible product).

Tin dos not improve hardness all that much.

It does improve flow ad allows molds to fill better.

You need antimony.

Texan Scott
July 28, 2012, 03:48 PM
tin. 5% by mass. much lower melting point than antimony, even lower than lead... if you can melt lead, you can melt tin. it's a good hardening agent. also yields an alloy with lower surface tension in the liquid state.

July 28, 2012, 03:51 PM
Tin absolutely will harden lead. Elmer Keith's standby was 16:1 for his heavy .44 Special loads. Run a Bhn test on a bar of 60/40 solder if you have doubts. A few years ago, I found a honey hole of cheap, salvaged 63/37 bar solder and whipped up some 16:1 alloy. It made beautiful bullets and they shot fine.

The problem with using tin in those quantities is that it's expensive, and tends to clog nozzles. Better to use a ladle for high tin content alloys.

The advantage to using cheaper antimony is that it has a property similar to water. It expands slightly as it freezes. Lead/tin alloys lack that.

hang fire
July 28, 2012, 04:41 PM
Tin does nothing for boolit hardness, a little tin gives better mould fill out for casting. Arsenic and antimony are what primarily imparts hardness to lead alloy.

hang fire
July 28, 2012, 04:44 PM
1911Tuner, go over to this Site and convince them that tin hardens boolits, let us know how it goes.


July 28, 2012, 04:48 PM
Better yet, make up some 16:1 and test it against pure lead.

July 28, 2012, 04:49 PM
Tin does nothing for boolit hardness, a little tin gives better mould fill out for casting.+1

At the price of tin, you are wasting your money trying to harden bullets with it.

Lyman # 49 lists the following:

Pure lead = BNH 5
Wheelweights = BNH 9
97% lead 3% Tin = BNH 9
94% Lead 6% Tin = BNH 11
91% lead 9% Tin = BNH 11.5.
92% lead 2% Tin 6% Antimony = BNH 15
84% Lead 4% Tin 12% Antimony = BNH 22


July 28, 2012, 04:52 PM
Sell the batteries. Use the money to buy lead pipe or something. I got $9 and change for an old car battery from the metal recycler a few months ago, and it wasn't even all that big a battery. If you melt it yourself, there is very little usable lead -- mostly it's lead oxide and lead sulfate.

The lead that's in a modern battery is alloyed with calcium and/or stronium instead of antimony. When you mix calcium-lead (batteries) with antimony-lead (wheel weights), the calcium and antimony combine to make an intermetallic compound that you'll scoop out with the dross. If that gets wet, it gives off stibine gas, which is more toxic than cyanide.

July 28, 2012, 05:06 PM
The problem with using antimony to mix with pure lead is that a standard electric casting furnace won't get hot enough. The melting point of antimony at sea level is 1167.13 F. Call it 1167 even. At that temperature, you're creating lead fumes. Not good.

Antimony pretty much has to be added already alloyed with lead in order to readily fall into solution. That means using one of the type metals or fairly expensive magnum shot if you need a high antimony content. Wheelweights have been cut back on the antimony and arsenic content, and more are showing up with calcium as a hardener/strengthener, and bullet quality suffers.

Tin, on the other hand, will alloy with lead easily, and with a lower melting point...lowers the necessary temperature for casting good bullets. The drawback is that it's expensive these days. Very.

The good news is that high antimony wheelweights can still be had if you can get in cahoots with a truck shop that services big trucks. Those still have the old 6% antimony alloy...with a little tin...probably about 1%, and some arsenic if you want to water-quench. Long considered to be perfect pistol bullet alloy, though a bit hard for my tastes and I get lead fouling with it in certain pistols

For what it's worth, I've never found any real advantage or need to go higher than about 11.5-12 bhn for pistol bullets, and have shot it at top-end magnum revolver velocities without problems.

July 28, 2012, 07:55 PM
For what it's worth, I've never found any real advantage or need to go higher than about 11.5-12 bhn for pistol bullets, and have shot it at top-end magnum revolver velocities without problems.

Same here. Even less BHN most of the time. I shoot 2-3K rounds of cast per year and experience almost no leading. Fit is what's important.

July 28, 2012, 08:10 PM
From Rotometals-http://www.rotometals.com/Bullet-Casting-Alloys-s/5.htm See bottom of page.

Basic Rules for Harding Lead-

For every 1% additional tin, Brinell hardness increases 0.3.
For every 1% additional antimony, Brinell hardness increases 0.9.
For a simple equation,
Brinell = 8.60 + ( 0.29 * Tin ) + ( 0.92 * Antimony )

July 28, 2012, 08:30 PM
This is a very good overview of the Metallurgy behind cast bullets.

For those considering smelting down battery plates. If you have a death wish go for it. It's not worth the risk. There are plenty of other sources of lead to be had.

As far as buying specific alloys. Just go to Rotometals. They have competitive prices and are quick with the order processing. I just wish they weren't on the other side of the country. I find it amusing that they are based in California since they are the ones that push all the lead bans.

Brought to you by TapaTalk.

July 28, 2012, 08:47 PM
The problem with using antimony to mix with pure lead is that a standard electric casting furnace won't get hot enough. The melting point of antimony at sea level is 1167.13 F. Call it 1167 even.

Lino and Mono melt at 446 degrees F and cast at 572 degrees F. I use mono and lino in casting and never go over 750 degrees.

July 29, 2012, 06:13 AM
Lino and Mono melt at 446 degrees F and cast at 572 degrees F. I use mono and lino in casting and never go over 750 degrees.

Yea, because the antimony is already alloyed/in solution in type metals. Trying to alloy pure antimony with pure lead presents a problem because of antimony's high melting point.
If it doesn't melt, it doesn't mix.

July 29, 2012, 10:56 AM
If it doesn't melt, it doesn't mix.

That's not entirely true -- it could dissolve. (Gold will dissolve in lead. Aluminum will dissolve in mercury at room temperature) I don't know if pure antimony will dissolve in lead; I suspect it will but is painfully slow.

July 29, 2012, 12:16 PM

Recently I was offered bottles of mercury, I turned the offer down, there are those that would jump at the offer, mercury has an infinity to lead.

I was offered a 1 1/2 pound bar of Cerrolow 117, I turned it down, great for using when bending copper tubing, then there are hickeys, most useful when bending tubing.

Then there are reference books before the Internet, 60+ years before the Internet. Question?, Believe the reference material or believe the information available on the Internet.

I noticed the Los Angles shooters added a couple of concepts in the last few years, time is a factor and a chart for melting lead with tin. temperature melting point by percentage and the effect tin has on the hardness of lead.


F. Guffey

July 29, 2012, 09:06 PM
NO to batteries, but the posts are good. Sn for fillout, Sb and chilled shot for hardness, oven heat treated (450F and dumped in cold water). Sb will harden but it takes a couple weeks. > 2% Sn is a waste. > 5% Sb is brittle. Google Bumpo680's alloy calculator or try castboolits site.

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