Friday, February 22, 2013

Smelting Lead

After suffering for three weeks with the flu, including a seven day stint with 102  F fever, and loosing about 15 lbs, I finally felt better and got out yesterday. So I went to visit my friend Terry Harper in Windham and scored about 200 lbs of lead from him. So now I have some thing to cast bullets from. Its a mixed bag of about 3 gallons of wheel weights, some ingots and half a dozen cylinders that we're told are medical radioactive shields of some sort or a other. Each one of those big cylinders weighs about 25 lbs
So this afternoon I melted down the wheel weights in the shop wood stove in a nice little cast iron pot that I also got from Terry
Resulting a a very heavy little pot of liquid lead and a whole lot of steel clips floating on top of the lead.
so we skim the steel clips off with an old kitchen spoon . . . .
and flux it with some sawdust to get the impurities out and keep the antimony in the lead.
Then we skim the scum and floaties of the surface of the lead and get our mold ready
and pour
and after a couple of hours end up with a nice pile of ingots.


  1. Since I shoot a muzzle-loader, I'd rather have the antimony gone. Don't know if there's a way to do that or not. Also, I've heard that lead that's been radiated tends to be harder and have more bubbles in it. I don't know if it's true or not.

    1. Still early in the learning curve here. I am told that the wheel weights have the right content of antimony for handgun and rifle ammo so I smelted those separately. I'll be casting for .357 and 30-30 to start. I did melt one chunk of the cylinders and it had some funky colors on the surface, purples and greens after I skimmed it. Not sure what it means. I saw no bubbles though. And don't have a Geiger counter to test them. Maybe I'll have radioactive bullets?

  2. Amazing! I love your little ingots! Looks like such an interesting thing to do.

    1. Its the first time I try it. It will be real fun when we get to cast bullets. But first I need to find out more about the alloys of the lead I have as some hardness is needed in order to achieve desired performance. Some of the stuff I have is pure lead and the stuff I smelted from the wheel weights is alloyed with Tin and Antimony. I just need to figure out what proportions of each to mix to achieve the desired hardness. The learning process is fun. Ultimately the goal is a bit of self sufficiency.