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What kind of space do I need to cast lead?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by hAkron, Jul 7, 2011.

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  1. hAkron

    hAkron Member

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    Thinking about doing a little lead smelting and bullet casting. I don't want to expose myself or my wife to lead poisoning. I have a basement, a garage, and a back yard. Where do I setup shop?
     
  2. MMCSRET

    MMCSRET Member

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    Well ventilated and dry. Water and molten lead bring a visit from the tinsel fairy and that hurts. I smelt and cast in a garage that opens on both ends and has forced ventilation.
     
  3. hAkron

    hAkron Member

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    I did a bit of Zinc casting at a zinc and aluminum foundry when I was in high school, so I'm very aware of how molten metal and water react :) but I appreciate the word of caution just the same. The garage in question is attached to the house. If I had a big fan to blow out the fumes in the open garage would that be effective? Also, does the Lyman lead casting book cover this topic? I'm planning on picking it up to see what I might be getting myself into.
     
  4. grubbylabs

    grubbylabs Member

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    I smelt and cast in my garage. Just don't stand over it and breath the fumes and you will be fine.

    Now I would not do this my self but I have heard of folks who smelt on the kitchen stove in the house. And of course they say they are just fine, I have not confirmed their claims with family and neighbors yet.
     
  5. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    I've been casting bullets since about 1968 or so, and cast more now than I ever did in the past. In the past year I probably cast and lubed roughly 20,000 bullets of .32, .35, .40, .41, .44 and .45 calibers, for both rifle and pistol. I've recently had my blood level checked and it's well within normal range.

    Don't over think the lead issues. Just use some common sense and clean habits and you'll be just fine. You can't absorb elemental lead through your skin. It can only be ingested or inhaled in oxidized or vaporized form. Ventilation, which blows from behind you, is important. Washing your hands after touching lead products is one of the most important steps to take. Don't smoke or put your fingers in your mouth or nose before washing your hands. Don't eat while casting if the food product is touched by your hands.

    If you take these simple steps, the danger of lead contamination is minimal. You'll get more lead from firing primers than you will from casting bullets, if firing on an indoor range with inadaquate ventilation. The steps listed above also pertain to shooting sessions, with hand washing be the primary preventative step.

    Bullet casting can be a very enjoyable hobby unto itself, if undertaken properly.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
     
  6. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    If somehow you're able to get your melt over 1,000 to 1,100 degrees you then will have boiling lead and lead fumes. Casting temps are usually in the 800 degree range and present no harm. Keep your hands and fingers from your mouth, nose and eyes "mucus membranes" don't eat or drink and you will be just fine.

    Most if not all of the smoke when smelting is dirt and oils/bullet lube burning off. Smells awful but not extremely harmful, I suppose if you could stand the heat and stuck your nose into the smoke you would come up in bad shape tho.

    Another tip for a better smelling flux is to use sawdust, smells like a campfire.
     
  7. dagger dog

    dagger dog Member

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    Place a fan blowing toward an open window or doorway to the outside, place yourself and your smelting,casting operation between the two.

    Of course you will probably be wearing gloves, long sleeves,long pants and hightop shoes,and eye protection. These not only help to stop burns in case of an accident, but will also aid in keeping lead contamination to a minimum .

    I smelt "raw" material out side in the garage, and am about to move my casting operation inside, the fumes from the flux are at a minium when casting.

    Cut some small diameter PINE branches, remove the bark place in a dry area to let them cure.

    Save the DRY bark and shavings to flux when smelting, use the DRY branches as a stir stick when casting, the little wood that burns off when the stick is in the electric casting furnace acts as a flux, and like jcwit states it smells great !

    Yes the Lyman Casting Book covers just about all aspects, it is well worth the $$'s
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2011
  8. hAkron

    hAkron Member

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    Thanks for the great info guys!!
     
  9. RugerBob

    RugerBob Member

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    oops
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2011
  10. RugerBob

    RugerBob Member

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    <a href="http://s266.photobucket.com/albums/ii260/rrmaynard/?action=view&amp;current=lead003.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii260/rrmaynard/lead003.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>
     
  11. USSR

    USSR Member

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    As jcwit pointed out, the fumes from casting are not a problem, as the temperature that lead oxidizes/vaporizes at is well above casting temperatures. H3ll, I have cast in an unventilated basement for years, and my lead levels are no different than anyone elses. Where you are likely to get in trouble is thru ingestion, such as bringing your hands up to your mouth or nose, so wash your hands afterwards and you will be fine.

    Don
     
  12. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Lead contamination is not a problem with lead in the metalic and melt state as long as the temp is kept below 1,000 degrees. People have carried lead bullets in their bodies for decades with no ill effects.

    As I stated, keep your hands and fingers out of your mouth, nose and eyes, and most important DO NOT CHEW The Paint On The Window Sill.

    This lead issue has been blown clear out of perportion.
     
  13. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I smelt outside because I always have something that has to burn off mixed in with the lead. I cast in the shop, sizing and casting operation are on a roll around cart that has a 18"x36" foot print.
     
  14. snuffy

    snuffy Member

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    I melt scrap lead outdoors on a turkey fryer with a 6 quart cast iron pot on it. It will hold 100 pounds of lead at ¾ full.

    Lead boils at 3180 degrees. The vapor/fuming point is generally accepted to be 1200 degrees. Below that there are some fumes, but they cling to the top of the melt. The smoke you generate while fluxing can be kept to a minimum IF you ignite it with a match or lighter.

    Flux can be anything containing carbon. Most use plain paraffin, candles, grease, even automotive drain oil. Boolit lube belongs on boolits but it will work for flux, expensive, but it will work. Sawdust chars to produce carbon. Flux does no good just sitting on the surface of the lead, it HAS to be stirred into the melted alloy. Try to get it under the surface of the lead.

    As said above, elemental/metallic lead can't be absorbed through the skin. That means bare lead in the form of a boolit or ingot won't get in your body through the skin. However, a lead object that has been oxidized has lead oxide on it. That's the stuff used in lead paint, it's much easier to absorb.

    Lead salts like the lead styphonate in primers is readily absorbed. It dissolves easily and goes right into the blood.

    I cast in a non-ventilated bedroom that is also my loading room. In summertime. I DO have a window open, with a fan behind me to keep ME cool, not for smoke/fume control. I just had my 3 month blood panel done at the VA 6-28. I had them check my lead level, it was 9.0. I was curious because I've been doing a lot more casting in the last year. Pretty good for no ventilation! I've been casting since 1972, don't plan on stopping, until my Lord brings me home!
     
  15. Cherokee

    Cherokee Member

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    I melt raw lead & alloys outside. Flux, flux, repeat until lead is clean. Pour ingots. I cast bullets inside using the ingots. You already have been told about the cautions/safety issues of casting if done properly.
     
  16. Naybor

    Naybor Member

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    RugerBob, an "oops" can be very bad if you're handling hand grenades.
     
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