View Full Version : Lead Dust...

09-27-2009, 03:23 PM
Ok, now many times over I've been very careful about cleaning my casting area. Which as it be is outside. Now it does get dusty from time to time, and sweeping it out only ends it it eventually getting blown back in. So tell me, is there really lead "dust" after casting? If so, how do I clean up??? Elaborate...

09-27-2009, 03:34 PM
I'm kinda doubting the dust you're encountering is from the lead itself. If it is a result of the casting process, my guess is that it is from dirt and burned foreign material in the mix. Have you tried a shop vac?

09-27-2009, 04:13 PM
Ya, and don't forget that "lead Dust" is going to be pretty heavy. Not likely to be air born for very long.

09-27-2009, 04:15 PM
Most of the bad dust comes from the tumbling process.

Pepe Ray
09-27-2009, 04:34 PM
If you keep your boolet casting area separate from the Smelting area, you should have VERY little concern for lead dust.
The dangerous "dust" comes from the clouds of crap given off when Smelting the filthy WW's and various junk leads usually scrounged up by us scavengers.
Keep this out of your boolet casting area and you could cast boolets in your kitchen.
My late wife was an extraordinary cook. She took great pride in "her" kitchen but she was NOT a hair brained fanatic. As long as I supplied my own equipment and cleaned up after myself I had work space.
I suppose if I'd been an irresponsible clutz and invited the 'tinsel fairy' she would have been within her rights to boot me out. We shared our single kitchen for about 40 years before I was able to create my own boolet barn.
If you create a visible smoke/dust cloud while melting cleaned lead, then it must be from the flux. Every thing from puppy poop to Maybeline has been used as flux so your on your own there.
You'll find basic rules here. Follow them.
1. Do not smoke or eat while casting.
2. Always keep your hands washed.
3.Keep your work area clean for a safe work environment.
4.Wear safety equipment to avoid splashes and spills.
5. Preheat everything going into the pot.
6. Don't allow kids or pets into the work area.
Pepe Ray

09-27-2009, 04:47 PM
Well, I'm an apartment caster, so the smelting and casting is done in the same place...

Any advice?

09-27-2009, 05:16 PM
Put a couple of dryer sheets in your tumbler. That will take care of the lead dust from the primers, if there is any. And I don't see how casting would create any dust. You might have drips or chunks but those you simply sweep up. Otherwise just follow the rules listed by Pepe Ray.
By the way Ray, I'm also a pepe

09-27-2009, 05:22 PM
Well, I'm an apartment caster, so the smelting and casting is done in the same place...

Any advice?


Even an apartment dweller should be able to arrange to do the smelting outside. With the burner for a turkey fryer and a big dutch oven, you can easily make a year's supply of ingots in a day, maybe in a morning.

Once you have the ingots, the casting is not too bad. Do it in front of a window with the fan running and be meticulous about cleaning all the little specks and spatters from casting. Keep your alloy temperature down, too. Under 700 degrees is far safer than above.

The real danger from casting is to fertile women and very small children. Lead can cause birth defects and developmental problems. Their tolerance for exposure to lead is one tenth that of adult males. I'd be exceedingly careful about lead in living quarters shared with either. Any area in which they would be less frequently exposed and for shorter periods of time would be vastly preferrable.

09-27-2009, 06:05 PM
The only place they allow you to do grilling/turkey frying is at the grill at the pool. All others is off limits. So that necessitates a place with power outlets for the hotplates. There are none outside, and means that the closest is the outlet next to the patio doors.

Its kind of a hassle to say the least. I would love to use a turkey fryer with a bunch of weights in it. Right now I'm limited to about 15-20# on the hot plate at a time. Which means that I cast ingots REAL slow.

09-27-2009, 08:02 PM
I had the same basic problem some years ago. I shot IPSC with several friends and they all lived the apartment life style.

This was great except when it was time to load or make boolits then the apartment rules pretty much squashed casting for each of them.

To get over this "hurdle" we buddied up at my place one week end a month to cast. Some time we did ingots and cast boolits other times we just did the casting.

We each donated something to the effort, one guy had a pair of H&G molds, the other scrounged lead and paid a part of the electric bill but in the end we all got what we needed a large supply of 45 slugs to load with!

I will suggest you post a want ad in the local range, gun shop or grocery store. simply list an e mail addy or a phone number until you've qualified the possible partner and see what happens.

You may find a life long shooting partner or you may find nothing but it is worth the effort to find out if someone else will share space with you.

Pepe Ray
09-27-2009, 09:43 PM
I can not condone smelting any scavenged lead trash in a living quarters UNLESS you have a VERY efficient venting system. ie Powerful and reliable.
And even then would exercise extraordinary efforts in cleaning the area after.
Smelting is VERY different from casting.
The panicking sheepel can not differentiate between straight lead or a lead boolet alloy vs. a compound of lead such as found in paint or found on the surface of lead that has been exposed to extreme climate conditions OR long term atmospheric conditions which allow or encourage the innocent looking white patinas (coating) found on old boolets. Lead Oxide. This oxide of lead is the sole reason why you should "WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER HANDELING".
Scavenged lead will invariably have various amounts of this crap on it.
When you read the warnings, remember, they are not concerned about how much or how little you know about the true dangers of lead. THEY have an agenda. If they can scare you or convince you that lead is deadly, then they have won.
Pepe Ray

09-27-2009, 09:44 PM
That's actually not a bad idea. I do know another member of this forum, but he lives quite a ways away. About an hour drive with traffic. So that kills that... I may look for a loading buddie though.

09-28-2009, 07:33 AM
If there's a will there a way. For 8 years, while we traveled the country in the motor home, I loaded or cast on half the picnic tables in America. And I wasn't the only guy doing it. You simply have to do it small and not draw too much attention to yourself. Ten pounds of cast bullets can last a while so you don't need to smelt a 100 pounds at a time. And with a Coleman stove, a small pot, and a ladle you can make decent bullets if that's all you can use.

09-28-2009, 07:53 AM
The only dust I have seen is powdered lead from indoor range scrap, I always wear a mask when handling it. It also makes a gray flim on your hands, I'm careful of that stuff as it would be easy to ingest. You also have to watch for live rounds some nut has thrown in the pile. I do all smelting outside but casting is done in my shop.


09-28-2009, 08:53 AM
The only dust danger when casting is after you flux. The dross you scoop off is bad. I keep a fan blowing out the garage window and dump the dross in a coffee can near the fan.

09-28-2009, 12:26 PM
You do not want to use any vacuum to clean up around a casting area. They just blow it out into the air. Use a mop for the floor and wet rags on the bench.

09-29-2009, 04:34 AM
Lyman warns of lead dust from casting in the instructions with their equipment.
Kits are available to test a surface for lead. They work like some of the liquids in an industrial type first aid kit. A glass vial with a cotton ball in the end. When squeezed the seperator inside of the vial breaks and the testing fluid soaks the cotton. The cotton is run over the surface to be tested. My kits change color in the precense of lead.
I bought 3 kits from a Checker/O'Reilly auto parts stores for $.75 each on the close-out table.
I believe Grainger and Home Depot carry these also.
At the price guys sell ingots here it might be a smarter move to buy these and/or trade your raw wheelweights.

09-29-2009, 12:10 PM
What is meant by "lead dust" is probably lead oxide dust since metallic lead is not easily formed into dust. Metallic lead can be made into dust by vaporizing it out of contact with air, but the kind of work we do when casting lead doesn't get hot enough to vaporize it in quantities that could cause a problem. On the other hand, lead does oxidize at its casting temperature and it forms as a fine powder that could get all over everything nearby pretty easily if the dross is thrown about and scattered, but the way lead is refined and cast doesn't involve flailing and throwing things around so that dross gets scattered all over. Even though lead oxidizes at the temperature it is worked with, it is the way we handle it that determines if and how much of it gets out of the pot and into our immediate environment since it doesn't get out of the casting pot by itself. Refining lead is when enough lead compounds are released into air to cause trouble IF the reducing agent that is used to return oxidized alloying constituents back into their metallic form is ignited. The flame temperature of the burning reducing agent, like wax, wood chips, etc., is high enough to vaporize the oxides of lead and antimony in an amount great enough to cause trouble. Lead ions color a flame a characteristic light blue that is quite recognizable and the flames of the burning reducing agent sometimes show that color, indicating the presence of small amounts of lead in the flames.

I'm more afraid of antimony oxide dust since antimony is every bit as poisonous as its periodic table family member arsenic. I'm not saying lead compounds aren't dangerous, they are, but the amounts we are exposed to are usually pretty small when good shop hygiene is used. Some of the members here at Cast Boolits take blood tests as part of their regular jobs to determine their body load of heavy metals and they report that their lead levels aren't any higher than the general population, with some actually being a bit lower.

If you test for lead in your shop and it comes up a strong positive, do like GabbyM said and clean things up with damp rags and paper towels to keep from stirring up dust and wash your hands when done. Don't let little kids and pets around your processing and casting equipment and into your casting area, especially cats. When refining lead, when you set the reducing agent on fire to get rid of the heavy white smoke, make sure you don't breath the fumes produced because the flame temperature of the burning reducing agent is hot enough to volatilize enough lead oxide and other alloying constituents to pose a real health hazard. That is why cleaning your lead outdoors is a good idea, and make sure the vapors don't blow back inside through an open door or window.

09-29-2009, 12:36 PM
so.. does Marvelux expose you to the same since you don't light it off?


09-29-2009, 01:00 PM
jdgabbard said
Well, I'm an apartment caster, so the smelting and casting is done in the same place...

Are you close to neighbors? :shock: If so, forget smelting. Go to a friends house and do it together. :redneck:

09-29-2009, 03:44 PM
Hi, bedwards, yeah, darned good question about Marvelux. I have never used it so I don't know what it is like. If it produces any gases and vapors that leave the pot then it could carry with it fine particles of whatever solids are loose on top of the boolit casting metal. If it just sits there as a molten covering on top of the casting alloy and doesn't bubble or fume then I wouldn't think it will emit anything into the air. At casting temperature, the lead oxide and antimony oxide don't leave the pot by themselves, they need a vehicle to carry them out into the air. There are convection currents in the air inside the pot that will tend to carry a little stuff out if the currents are rapid enough, but lead and antimony oxides are very heavy, not like dust from dry soil we see outside when the wind blows.


09-29-2009, 03:45 PM
Yes I am close. Probably 30 feet from the other's apartments. But the melting of the raw weights is done on a very small level. And not all at once, and then poured into ingots. Which are then placed in a 20# bottom pour for casting. Its not like I have a huge billowing cloud of smoke. But I just want to make sure that I'm not too careless in my efforts to watchout for my, and others around me, health.

Pepe Ray
09-29-2009, 04:08 PM
It sounds to me as though you are exercising "do diligence".
I'd submit that your less in danger from the casting than the uproar of the panic stricken idiots who'll try to prevent you from exercising your freedom.
Pepe Ray

09-29-2009, 06:19 PM
GabbyM's got it right: Damp mop and rags to clean up lead dust. That's the OSHA way. Dry sweeping and vacuuming just puts it into the air where you can more conveniently inhale it.

09-29-2009, 06:39 PM
Pepe Ray, I concur, I think the way jdgabbard is doing things is okay as long as people don't notice exactly what he is doing. One thing that came to my mind right away is that with the hysteria over illicit meth labs and such, somebody could call the cops because we have been told to report strange smells in the neighborhood. It would be a good idea to keep smells to an absolute minimum plus have a plausible cover story ready for when the cops come to investigate a report of "somebody cooking up some meth". I'd have some fishing weight molds handy and some freshly cast fishing weights as proof of what is going on, casting fishing weights is highly okay but in far too many people's eyes boolit casting is not simply because it involves firearms. Just because somebody is doing something that others (non-casters) don't understand, it does not mean the activity is bad, but one needs to avoid the appearence of "evil" to avoid unfounded criticism, and even though I abhor having to live life in secrecy I have done a lot of things in secrecy in the past to avoid hassles with cops and stupid neighbors. No disrespect to law enforcement, checking out things that seem out of place is part of the job. I had to put up with plenty of REALLY stupid neighbors when I was a kid and as a result I learned real quick to do unusual but otherwise okay things surreptitiously.

When it is raining and I can't work outside, I prepare wheel weights inside the garage where I currently rent a room (I live pretty much out in the boondocks). I do not do more than a few wheel weights at a time, I do it in my Lee 5 pound electric melter, open the overhead garage door, and turn on the fan so it totally blows everything outside. My favorite reducing agent is pine tree pitch since it serves as both a reducing agent and flux and I only use small amounts of pitch so I don't have a lot of tall flames rolling out of the pot. If I get even one whiff of smoke I just step out of the garage to watch things until it is cleared out.