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Thread: fluxing technique

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by dondiego View Post
    I use a stick of Georgia fatwood that I got to start my stove up with. Works well. I tried the flux capacitor .............that sure took me back a ways!
    Good job
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  2. #62
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    Oh boy, here we go again.

    No shortage of folks that will argue the point but . . . Both sawdust and waxes, oils, grease etc are reducers, they all will return oxidized tin and antimony to the melt. Wax isn't much of a flux (when defining flux as removing impurities), sawdust will remove several of the things boolit casters consider contaminates. Using both together can't hurt anything but a bit redundant. Using sawdust only once when making ingots is fine assuming you flux properly and for long enough. Simply stirring it around on top of the melt will reduce the oxides but not clean the alloy much, all of the alloy in the melt must come in contact with the carbon. Using a spoon or ladle the alloy needs to be brought up and poured through the carbon, this needs to be done until all of the alloy has been cleaned. It does take a bit of time to properly flux the pot.

    Rick
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  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbrick View Post
    Oh boy, here we go again.

    No shortage of folks that will argue the point but . . . Both sawdust and waxes, oils, grease etc are reducers, they all will return oxidized tin and antimony to the melt. Wax isn't much of a flux (when defining flux as removing impurities), sawdust will remove several of the things boolit casters consider contaminates. Using both together can't hurt anything but a bit redundant. Using sawdust only once when making ingots is fine assuming you flux properly and for long enough. Simply stirring it around on top of the melt will reduce the oxides but not clean the alloy much, all of the alloy in the melt must come in contact with the carbon. Using a spoon or ladle the alloy needs to be brought up and poured through the carbon, this needs to be done until all of the alloy has been cleaned. It does take a bit of time to properly flux the pot.

    Rick
    Question. How was it determined that a reducer actually works? I have tried to prove that it does, and all I have found is that if you find the right flux you can make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches mix into your alloy and cast properly. You can even get a good portion of Zinc to alloy into your melt and behave itself if you flux with the right stuff at the right temperature, but there's a difference between making the metals play nice, and claiming that they are removed or reduced, and if all you have is your eyeball and your bullet molds, that really doesn't mean anything.
    I have yet to see even the minutest reduction of anything other than organics in the melt, and I have the ability to test it.
    I suspect that all we have is flux (that being an organic compound that helps the different metals marry eachother) and that reducer is a myth.
    However, I'm all for a good old fashioned test to demonstrate this "pulling out" of metals from the alloy, but the results will be validated with XRF test data, and I know of no other way you can claim with certainty that the composition of your alloy has been modified.
    No disrespect intended.
    Tim Malcolm
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  4. #64
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    As was pointed out during all the testing we did, you would have to know it was in there before you could know it was removed and that never happened. The best I got out of the testing is that WW alloy is considerably cleaner to begin with than any of us including me thought. That makes sense though simply because of how well it works and how poorly I suspect most folks go about fluxing. That leaves me with going with what a PhD devout boolit caster says about it. I've yet to be able disprove any of what Glen had to say so . . .

    Rick
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  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbrick View Post
    As was pointed out during all the testing we did, you would have to know it was in there before you could know it was removed and that never happened. The best I got out of the testing is that WW alloy is considerably cleaner to begin with than any of us including me thought. That makes sense though simply because of how well it works and how poorly I suspect most folks go about fluxing. That leaves me with going with what a PhD devout boolit caster says about it. I've yet to be able disprove any of what Glen had to say so . . .

    Rick
    That was one test that was conducted in public here on the forum, and it was altogether inconclusive. All we were able to prove for sure is that my crazy claims about the true content of COWW alloy were in fact right on the money (still remember the pounding I got when I first suggested that COWW have much less than the accepted amount of tin, but I digress).
    Other than observing and proving the content of COWW alloys, nothing was proven whatsoever about the reducing properties of sawdust.
    However, I have not posted every XRF test that I have done on my own alloys over the past three years, and I have observed nothing that would lead me to believe that any sort of flux we are using has any ability to remove "impurities that we don't want". What I have seen is an alloy that casts like garbage and that has "impurities that we don't want" showing a vast improvement in quality and ability to render good cast boolits with repeated fluxing with sawdust and beeswax. The alloy remained the same though. Just got more usable.
    This is all a moot point though.
    One man believes that the tree is not producing nuts due to a deficiency in iron and hammers a bunch of nails into the trunk of the tree.
    Another man believes that pruning the tree and stressing it will produce a better crop of nuts so he lops off a bunch of limbs.
    Both men get a good crop of nuts, but they will argue till the cows come home over whether or not the tree had an iron deficiency or not.
    Tim Malcolm
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  6. #66
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    Arguing? Feel free to argue all you want. As for me I'm not arguing, simply stating my view on it and where that view comes from including reading many metals industry papers on non ferrous metals. Those papers by the way agree with Glen Fryxell's summation of fluxing. So argue all you want, believe what you want, it changes nothing least of all the metallurgy of lead alloys.

    I've been saying for years that CWW has aprox 0.5% Sn, that's in several of the articles that I wrote and are on my web site. Most of those articles were written before there was a CastBoolits forum.

    Rick
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  7. #67
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    "I suspect that all we have is flux (that being an organic compound that helps the different metals marry eachother) and that reducer is a myth......Other than observing and proving the content of COWW alloys, nothing was proven whatsoever about the reducing properties of sawdust. ."

    I suspect that is correct as I previously stated the defined difference between a "flux" and a "reducer". We "flux", we do not "reduce" our cast bullet alloys. I use that "we" as in 99.9999999999% of us as there are one or two who know how to "reduce" and go to the trouble......as I also previously mentioned.

    To state ones "view" on the subject based on one's own interpretation outside of definitions leads us to the category of "myths". One can believe what one wants but the facts remain consistent with defined terminology. I have learned over the years through proper testing and proving the facts of what is real with cast bullets and their ballistics is that what I accepted as "facts" many times were myths. Yes they were made by very credible individuals who made the observations that when repeated over and over became "fact". That in and of itself did not make them factual.

    I have advanced my own learning by admitting a "fact" as I had known it was factually a myth. Once understood and we accept and admit the misunderstanding we can advance our knowledge. Regurgitating "myths" as "facts" simply stymies our advancement and confuses newcomers to our beloved endeavor of casting and shooting bullets.

    Larry Gibson

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    "That leaves me with going with what a PhD devout boolit caster says about it. I've yet to be able disprove any of what Glen had to say so . . ."

    Makes sense

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbrick View Post
    Arguing? Feel free to argue all you want. As for me I'm not arguing, simply stating my view on it and where that view comes from including reading many metals industry papers on non ferrous metals. Those papers by the way agree with Glen Fryxell's summation of fluxing. So argue all you want, believe what you want, it changes nothing least of all the metallurgy of lead alloys.

    I've been saying for years that CWW has aprox 0.5% Sn, that's in several of the articles that I wrote and are on my web site. Most of those articles were written before there was a CastBoolits forum.

    Rick
    Rick, I'm not arguing. I was simply saying that this subject is argued about quite a bit, but the end result is what we are after. One person claims that the alloy is reduced and impurities are taken out. Another says that the alloy is fluxed, and the impurities are grafted into the mix perfectly. Neither have proof, both get good results. Who cares?
    For myself, I have seen that this sport is awash with myths and bad science, and there are limits imposed on cast boolits that don't necessarily mean jack. (for instance, we are regularly launching cast boolits at 2600FPS + with accuracy, and at one time, I would have called BS because that flies in the face of conventional thinking and what I had been taught). Everything we know about cast boolits has been written by very intelligent men who believed they had a perfect handle on things, and has been parroted ad nausium for decades without the proponents really understanding anything about what they are saying or defending.
    Meanwhile, I have more instruments of measure than your average Joe, and I trust them more than information that has been copied and pastes a bazillion times. Every now and then, I find something that just doesn't square with my instruments, and I tend to part ways with the herd at times like that.

    Please don't take offence that I give my opinion. My respect for Glen Fryxel is immeasurable, but I don't follow anybody blindly (had a few pastors get all upset when I point out they took scripture out of context too. LOL!)
    All I'm saying here is that I have proven flux works, and the XRF data backs that up in spades. Reducing agents? not so much.
    There's no sense getting mad at inanimate instruments or science. It is what it is. I'm just calling it like I see it.
    That said, I never pin my banner on anything permanently. If I find something that leads me to believe that sawdust actually pulls stuff out then I'll modify my thinking to reflect that observation.
    I'm after truth. Not apprenticeship.
    Tim Malcolm
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  10. #70
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    Rick, the problem here is that you are attempting to explain something to people who don't understand the basic chemistry of the processes, but think they do, automatically think that they are right, and are not open to learning otherwise. If Larry and Tim could solve a redox problem mathematically, they wouldn't be arguing with you because they would see on paper what is going on. If they understood the process of ionic adsorption, they wouldn't argue about that, either. If they understood the active process of balancing reduction with adsorption, and how the different oxidation rates of different metals and impurities at certain temperatures in the presence of certain other substances all works together to ultimately reduce what we want to keep and remove what we want rid of, they would be embarrassed to make statements like "beeswax is a flux" or that sawdust doesn't do anything that beeswax doesn't. I admire your doggedness in trying to bring light to people who insist on being trapped in their own ignorance, but you know as well as I do that the further down that rabbit hole you chase them, the more they resist. Lots of reasons for that, you know what those are, too.

    To everyone else, if you can read, with comprehension of the chemical processes discussed, the article that Glen Fryxell so generously wrote for the benefit of all of us years ago, they will understand what's going on. If you don't understand it, but feel like making a game of arguing about it with those who do, well, you're going to get threads like these that don't help anyone. Don't anyone ask me to explain this fluxing reducing thing again, I have already done that in great detail, both technically and in layman's terms, many, many, many times on this forum. Go look it up. Or, if you just want to argue poorly understood facts until you exhaust those fighting for truth and are the last one standing, go ahead. Whatever.

    Gear
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  11. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodsteel View Post
    Reducing agents? not so much. I'm after truth. Not apprenticeship.
    Then you haven't been paying attention. Try this, take a fairly high Sb alloy and heat it up slowly, not to full liquidus but just to where it starts to melt and watch the lumpy, silver oatmeal stuff form on top of the melt. That's Sb and little of it will "go away" on it's own. As the pot continues to heat up sprinkle sawdust on top, don't stir, don't do anything but sprinkle it on top. It's not magic when it disappears, as the sawdust turns to carbon you have just "reduced" the Sb back into the melt.

    Reducing agent not so much? Really? While your bottom pouring and especially with the pot temp too high what do you suppose that dull stuff is floating on top of the melt that continues to build up? That's oxidation plain and simple. Why do you then "flux" the pot? Actually your not, your "reducing" the oxidized metals back into the melt. Many refer to this as fluxing but it's not.

    Larry can attempt to redefine the terms all he wants but it changes nothing. Ask any bullet caster anywhere why they flux and they will tell you "to clean the metal". Most casters outside of this forum will be stumped by "reducing" but if they have been at it for any length of time they will tell you "to return oxidized metal to the melt".

    Those are two different functions, both can accomplished at the same time with sawdust. Waxes and oils will "reduce" oxidation but clean the alloy . . . Not so much.

    Your friendly apprentice, spreading myths everywhere.

    Rick
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  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbrick View Post
    As was pointed out during all the testing we did, you would have to know it was in there before you could know it was removed and that never happened. The best I got out of the testing is that WW alloy is considerably cleaner to begin with than any of us including me thought. That makes sense though simply because of how well it works and how poorly I suspect most folks go about fluxing. That leaves me with going with what a PhD devout boolit caster says about it. I've yet to be able disprove any of what Glen had to say so . . .

    Rick
    Just like ..."you've got to pass the bill before we know what is in there"!

    HA........ha!

    My humble opinion.......use what you feel works for you! Who cares about the chemistry of it, just as long as you get good clean castable ingots and clean gunk-free boolits!

    That is the problem with the internet......too much info (right OR wrong) and way too many ignorant people reading it. (Notice I said ignorant as in un-exposed to or lacking knowledge there of....not stupid as in totally unable or willing to learn.) Reading is good. Too much is detrimental to good old seat-of-the-pants common sense. I suggest to people starting out to just do it......your mistakes will be self-evident in a very short time. Then you read for detailed solutions....not before you even heat up the pot to solve here-to (and mabe NEVER!) un-encountered problems like so many post about on here.

    1. read a little
    2. cast a lot
    3. if problems do occur, see #1 and repeat
    Melting stuff is fun. Shooting stuff is fun. Are we having fun yet???????????????

    banger
    Last edited by bangerjim; 09-27-2014 at 02:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whisler View Post
    I am a degreed chemist but I never worked for Los Alamos. In chemical terms oxidation and reduction are opposite reactions and that which causes an oxide to to give up its oxygen is indeed a "reducer/reducing agent/reductant (all same same). When we deal with oxides we are dealing with chemical compounds and not alloys as alloys are substances made by melting two or more elements together, at least one of them a metal. So we are reducing a chemical compound (oxide) back to its elemental state whether done with wax or sawdust.
    You are correct. Oxidation and reduction, by definition, happen simultaneously in a "redox" reaction, which involves the transfer of electrons. Others may understand this better if they realize that is how a lead-acid battery works.

    Now, the other part of the argument, the one which involves what some of us lump under the term "flux", has to do with adsorption of oxidized metal. To effectively remove certain "contaminants" such as zinc, aluminum, copper, cadmium, iron whose presence impedes the flow, or "flux" of our bullet metal, the hobby caster is pretty much limited to adsorbing them in activated carbon, which can only occur when said contaminants are in their oxidized state. The adsorption "media" (for lack of a better term) will also remove oxidized tin, lead, and antimony, too, so one must set up conditions that reduce those metals and return them safely to the alloy yet isolate the other things so they can be physically removed.

    Some confusion exists about the use of the term "flux", and I won't attempt to disseminate it fully here, but it anyone brings up rosin as a flux in electrical soldering, it really is just a reducant. The oxidized surfaces of metals won't bond when melted together, so rosin is used in combination with heat to set up a redox reaction to revert the oxidized surface to elemental metal. Rosin also provides a molten oxygen shield on the surface of the flowing metal, and we all know that metal without an oxide skin on it has a lower surface tension and flows more freely. Flux, as I understand it, is the Latin for "flow", hence the use of the term. Fluxing, or gas shielding, are essential to any sort of welding, soldering, or brazing of metals, and for the same reason. Really it should be called reducing and shielding, but oxide reduction and inert gas or molten clay oxygen shields do effectively make the metal "flux", just not in the sense that I choose to use regarding bullet-casting alloys, which is to improve "flux" by removing certain "contaminating metals" from the alloy. I think we bullet casters need a better term for isolating "bad" stuff and removing it from our alloys.

    Gear
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  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodsteel View Post
    Question. How was it determined that a reducer actually works? I have tried to prove that it does, and all I have found is that if you find the right flux you can make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches mix into your alloy and cast properly. You can even get a good portion of Zinc to alloy into your melt and behave itself if you flux with the right stuff at the right temperature, but there's a difference between making the metals play nice, and claiming that they are removed or reduced, ...
    Removed and reduced are two different terms with no similarity in their meanings when used in our context.

    Yes, if you can 'remove' some copper from your molten alloy you have 'reduced' the amount of copper.
    But, that definition of 'reduce' isn't correct in a discussion about oxides on a potful of bullet alloy.

    Reduction of oxides describes 'removing oxygen molecules' in order to return the material to it's metallic state.
    Take a potful of pure (certified) lead and let it remain molten for 30 minutes.

    You already know that a grey scum will form on the surface.
    You can even stir it to expose more metal to the air, and the scum will get thicker ... and eventually begin to clump a little.
    This is oxidized lead. (We know it's oxidized lead because there was nothing else in the pot to start with.) If it gets inside a bullet, it will mess it up.

    When you stir sawdust or beeswax around on the surface of that scum, it smokes and (perhaps) catches fire. Fire consumes oxygen, and it pulls the oxygen molecules out of the lead oxide on the surface of the molten metal. The presence of a very carbon-rich environment prevents immediate reoxidation, so the scum disappears and the remaining ash can be removed.

    What was 'scum' (lead oxide) is now usable lead, again.
    The same amount of metal is in the pot as there was when you started, so there has been no 'removal'.
    But 'reduction' has occurred and the evidence detected by "your eyeball" (scum is gone) is sufficient proof.


    I won't go into 'removal' because I don't use any scrap which requires it. So, my knowledge in that area is quite limited.

    CM
    Last edited by montana_charlie; 09-27-2014 at 04:49 PM.
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  15. #75
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    I question the validity of using an XRF gun as "proof" of anything. Unless you use a proven analytical method of determining alloy composition I'm not buying it. Having had a few samples tested I got results that I seriously question, very seriously.

    As for reduction we are taking metalloc odixed and removing the oxygen from them by adding electrons to the metal. This is easily done in a reducing atmosphere such as we see when low order combustion occurs as carbon monoxide is a good reducing agent.

    As a guy with a BS in Chemistry it is quite obvious to me that this occurs easily in out pots. I never did an apprenticeship in Chemisty but did spend better than a year as an actual analytical chemist before going back to school.
    You will learn far more at the casting, loading, and shooting bench than you ever will at a computer bench.

  16. #76
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    MC, excellent description of what reduction is, and is not, in this discussion.
    You will learn far more at the casting, loading, and shooting bench than you ever will at a computer bench.

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    Now that's funny right there. It would be difficult to find two people on this forum who rub each other's fur the wrong way worse than Montana Charlie and I do, but we can agree 100% on how a chemical process works and describe it accurately to others because we both UNDERSTAND it. The other factor is at least a certain, basic, respect for each other regarding the things upon which we disagree. Those disagreements usually are not about facts of science, though, but about differing opinions to which we are both entitled.

    A good example of what can happen on threads like these is if someone asked what temperature water boils. I say 211.5F, Charlie might say something less, like 210? We could argue until the cows come home and both be right, but still disagree. That won't happen because we both understand that air pressure affects boiling point, how much, and also that air pressure is not the same at his house as it is at mine. If one or both of us were ignorant of that little detail, and our egos compelled us to keep arguing about it, we would have a mess.

    Gear
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  18. #78
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    Thank you Charlie, well said. Just because you cannot see and count the electrons or measure them with an XrF gun has no bearing on the metallurgy. There is only one way to alter the metallurgy and that is with an extremely expensive and rare piece of equipment . . . A magic wand.

    Yes Tim, reduction is very real, it does happen and it even happens for those that don't understand how or why. Closing your eyes just won't work as a substitute for that magic wand.

    Rick
    Last edited by cbrick; 09-27-2014 at 04:00 PM.
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  19. #79
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    I tried reducing a pot of lad once, left it for hpirs and it never reduced in volume. Drives me nuts, works great for sauces.
    Amazing how a basic understanding of the CONTEXT determines the definition of reduction we need to understand. Pretty simple, sort of like knowing the difference between a spruce and a sprue.
    You will learn far more at the casting, loading, and shooting bench than you ever will at a computer bench.

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    Hooboy, brace yourselves for the retorts......

    Gear
    You can't fix Stupid, but you can occasionally head it off before it hurts something. --Stephen Adams

    To universalize one's experience and state it as the norm is always thin ice on which to stand.--CharGar

    Being able to separate the wheat from the chaff has always been a valuable skill in all of life's activities. --Bwana


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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