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Thread: Color and hardness of pure lead ingots

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Color and hardness of pure lead ingots

    I smelted what I thought was pure lead yesterday. The ingots were more silveryer than the ones I already have. I did the ball bearing and vise hardness comparison and found that the new ingots were about the same as the old ones. My question is how will aging affect hardness, 1 ingot was 8 months old the other was 2 hours old.
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Time doesn't change pure lead. It doesn't heat treat, doesn't age harden, doesn't age soften. It just stays the same.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    It'll be pretty shiny until the surface gets a chance to oxidize a bit. I smelted a bunch of shotgun slugs and jacketed bullets the other day (basically pure lead) with an amount of slightly harder stuff that was so small as to make no difference, plus a little bit of "mystery metal". I hardness tested ingots from various stages of the smelt to see if there was any variation - nothing showed a BHN much over 6, but all of it is pretty light colored at the moment.

    Considering that most of us operate on the principle of "scrounge what you can, where you can, whenever you can", a real hardness tester is a good investment as it gives you a clearer idea of what you're dealing with. I've been using the standard model Cabine Tree one from Buffalo Arms - easy to use and well worth $115.
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigslug View Post
    Considering that most of us operate on the principle of "scrounge what you can, where you can, whenever you can", a real hardness tester is a good investment as it gives you a clearer idea of what you're dealing with. I've been using the standard model Cabine Tree one from Buffalo Arms - easy to use and well worth $115.
    I guess I'll have to put a hardness tester on the list behind at least 2 molds and 1 set of dies.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    It only takes a small percentage of tin to make lead shiny/silvery and will not affect the hardness much at all unless its a higher percentage. Trace antimony will show up as a crystal or mosaic like finish.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    All my pure lead turns up with a purple/blue look to it. When tin is added, it ends up silver/grey.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I have access to more clip on wheel weights so I try to hoard up pure lead. 1 day I'll use it for muzzle loader boolits. I'll do another hardness comparison and report.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    How PURE is PURE?

    How PURE is PURE? If we have no assay, really, we are taking 'what we are told' at face value. I bought PURE before. Guess what... Well..you know the answer. Aluminum...zinc... So,,,money spent.. Lessons learned. Brinnells tell us hardness...not purity. And this does change with time. Some say pure lead doesn't. I dunno. I am no metallurgist and the best ones I know are now in the ground. If I have some time soon..that really is a very interesting question. "Does pure lead change over time?"...I have no answer. So, your mix was shiny and that to me, as others, means 'contaminants'. Good or bad, up to you. As a boat anchor, my "PURE" lead is really handy. As boolits it is ****.

    I think we can change PURE lead and how it behaves by how we smelt. How we Cast. And, how we treat and 'age' the boolit. Neat discuusion thread there. "What can change the way PURE lead behaves by how we "treat' it. I was toll we can 'heat treat' pure lead boolits and make the harder. So now I pose..."How hard is hard" vs. treated and notreated pure lead? Ooooo Metalurgy... always fun.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check