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Thread: cAst iron

  1. #21
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Smith View Post
    I am about as far from being a molecular chemist as is possible - but I can spell it! Just how would lead get into the pores of cast iron and at what temperature? If we know that we may know how to get it out? Seems like there are several assumptions in this thread that need to be questioned, but I do not have the knowledge to do so.
    Those are very good questions and you're right we are dealing with assumptions here. Again just basing this on welding/brazing experience and in no way trying to argue it is indeed fact but it is my opinion only. Be it lead, tin, silver solder or bronze brazing filler the metal does indeed penetrate into porous cast iron but something like cast iron is not like wood or other materials where something can penetrate deeply, we are talking less than .001 of an inch UNLESS there are hairline cracks that either can or even can't be seen then all bets are off as far as depth of penetration! When heated to the flowing point and introduced onto a metal that is slightly hotter these filler metals can indeed wick down to depths much deeper than just surface contamination and while ABRASIVE blasting, not bead or shot blasting, will likely remove lead contamination it will not get it all out of tiny cracks that are likely to be in any cast iron part that has been subjected to many heating and cooling cycles. I think the bigger question here would be just how much lead exposure is a person willing to expose themselves and their families to? Do I think a thoroughly sandblasted pot would be 100% lead free? No I don't and in fact I would seriously doubt it but at the same time I doubt a person is going to be exposed to any significant lead levels and there "probably" would be little to no danger from doing this. The truth is we can banter this back and forth all day but every case is going to be dependent on many variables and we all are just guessing anyway, the question the OP or anyone else considering this needs to ask will be "is it worth even a tiny risk for such an insignificant item"? Personally I wouldn't even consider it but that's just me and at the same time I doubt anyone will get very "much" lead expose if they do decide to try and clean something like that unless they fail to clean it thoroughly and in that case they could well be setting themselves up for serious trouble.

    What is thoroughly clean? By what method is thoroughly clean accomplished? How much lead exposure is someone willing to accept? Most of all, take a look at the insignificant item that has been contaminated and ask whether or not it's worth any risk at all?


    Just a few things to think about
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  2. #22
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    What oldred said, above.^^^^^^^ I've been casting boolits since 1947, lead soldiers as a child. Remember when bulk tea came in lead foil wrapped bricks?? How many split shot have we bitten (or swallowed?) I must be the 'exception to the (new) rule', no problemo. IF, and I do say IF, it was necessary to cook in a cast iron utensil KNOWN to have been used to melt lead, after proper intelligent cleaning (heating red hot and scrubbing with hot soapy water, etc.) I'd use it. How many years have I got left anyway?? YOUR MMV.
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  3. #23
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    From a cooking site:
    " Many have been led to believe that not only is cast iron porous, but that those pores expand and contract with changes in temperature, allowing oil or other foreign substances to not only adhere but to be "absorbed" or "sealed" into the iron. While even polished iron is not completely flat, any voids are simply microscopic irregularities resulting from the removal of crystalline graphite, a carbon component of the cast iron, at the surface."

    So, if it ain't all that porous and we don't cook at 650 degrees ? I ain't gonna eat off it anyway, but am interested in the real facts.

  4. #24
    Boolit Master bubba.50's Avatar
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    in usin' an iron lead pot to cook food in

    there may be MUCH danger,
    there may be SOME danger,
    there may be LITTLE danger,
    there may be NO danger.

    but, for the minimal cost of a cast iron pot why risk it?

    my opinion & yer welcome to it. y'all have a good'en & piece out, bubba.

  5. #25
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by shooterg View Post
    From a cooking site:
    " Many have been led to believe that not only is cast iron porous, but that those pores expand and contract with changes in temperature, allowing oil or other foreign substances to not only adhere but to be "absorbed" or "sealed" into the iron. While even polished iron is not completely flat, any voids are simply microscopic irregularities resulting from the removal of crystalline graphite, a carbon component of the cast iron, at the surface."

    So, if it ain't all that porous and we don't cook at 650 degrees ? I ain't gonna eat off it anyway, but am interested in the real facts.
    A COOKING site is an authority on cast iron?

    Cast iron IS porous and yes the temperature of the metal can reach 650 deg sitting on a red hot surface or over an open flame! As I pointed out above it's not porous like one would think of like wood for instance but those microscopic "irregularities" from the loss of crystalline Graphite are indeed pits and/or pores that most certainly will retain contamination no matter how much those people may want to believe otherwise and "sugar coat" the problem, and besides what do they actually really know about metal anyway? This much I do know from having worked with the stuff for many years and as I pointed out before I have actually used a grinder to remove surface contamination from oil soaked cast iron before welding/brazing only to have oil miraculously reappear after heating what appeared to be a scrupulously clean surface, where did that oil come from if it was not down inside the metal surface? Just what do those folks think "seasoning" a pot refers too anyway? Seasoning is nothing more than burned on carbon that has infused itself into the surface of the metal and anyone who has ever tried to clean it off knows it takes abrasion to do so.
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  6. #26
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by bubba.50 View Post
    in usin' an iron lead pot to cook food in

    there may be MUCH danger,
    there may be SOME danger,
    there may be LITTLE danger,
    there may be NO danger.

    but, for the minimal cost of a cast iron pot why risk it?

    my opinion & yer welcome to it. y'all have a good'en & piece out, bubba.
    That pretty much says it all in a few well spoken words!
    Statistics show that criminals commit fewer crimes after they have been shot

  7. #27
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    A simple answer to identifing whether a CI pot has had lead in it. In my casting/smelting barn I always leave a small amount in the pot when I`m done to show what it was used for. I have left instructions with my family to destroy all smelting tools in my barn, yes they know what I`m talking about.Robert

  8. #28
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    That's not a bad question at all, Wayne, and melting lead does not seem to equate perfectly with seasoning with oil and heat. But the whole point of the question is, is it advisable to use a pan or pot used for melting lead for cooking, and as far as I know, there's no really reliable documentation on the subject. So like Bubba, I'm taking no chances, and relegate what I use for smelting to ONLY being used with lead, pending really good knowledge or testing.

    I noted someone referenced lead tester kits. If the lead tester can get positive lead readings, then that's an indication to me that I'd not want to risk any lead-used pots for cooking. I'd really like to hear more about those test kits and what kind of results they've given, if available. Can anyone expand our info on these test kits, and what kind of results have come about with them, and especially, just how much lead can be detected in CI stuff that's been used for smelting/melting?

    I'm the type who scrounges and hoards all sorts of stuff, against one day "needing it." It's paid off, too, since I find myself wanting/needing stuff out of the ordinary to make some things at times. I try not to keep a clutter of it, but if something I find looks interesting and useful, I'll keep it. Too darn hard to find or improvise stuff when you "design" stuff a mad scientist wouldn't attempt! I think it's a family trait, from a long line of farmers who used to save rusty nails before burning old, rotten lumber. Never know when ya' might need one, ya' see? My heritage is heavily dotted with the "waste not, want not" philosophy. If it's a disability, it's one I've worn pretty well. My wife will never understand, though.

    Anyone able to comment on the lead testing kits, and what kind of readings and %'s they will detect? Is it just tiny traces, or what that they'll detect???

  9. #29
    I would feel totally safe with lead paint in my house, but then I wouldn't be chewing it, as kids often will. The danger was extremely well proven. Lead salts, particularly the oxides, are the big danger, much more than bright metallic lead, which fishermen's split shot or sinkers in your pocket would be. There are plenty of records of people surviving for many decades with lead bullets embedded in them, but the oxide could be very dangerous.

    Using bore lead removers sounds good, but it isn't lead oxide you have to remove. It may be far less sensitive to the chemicals used, and popular prejudice is against having deep pores like you may in an old cast iron pot. As to those old soldiers who may have used a cooking pot, it was an age of low life expectancy and dubious inquests, if any.

    I'd put it as a modest danger of something very, very bad. It is up to you how that balances up against a big danger of a mere nuisance. But if a pot has been used with lead, I'd keep it for lead.

  10. #30
    Boolit Buddy
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    I'm with Bubba. When out scouting flea markets, yard sales, thrift stores, etc for pewter, I also keep my eyes open for useful cast iron utensils. I've cleaned up some filthy examples of iron and then cooked with them without hesitation. Some I have given away as gifts. But I have told my heirs repeatedly that any cast iron useful for cooking will be found in my kitchen after my demise. Any items found in the garage are to be broken with a sledge hammer. Those may have been used for melting lead or for casting ingots. (My corn bread is lead free.)

  11. #31
    Boolit Master 308Jeff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldred View Post
    That pretty much says it all in a few well spoken words!
    Agreed.

  12. #32
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    Just to add to the confusion, is the discussion about elemental lead or lead oxide. Lead is one of the most stale elements there is. Lead oxide not so much. the lead cups used by the Roman common people had acidic wine in them resulting in lead oxide being soluable in the wine.
    Last edited by DIRT Farmer; 02-19-2017 at 12:19 AM. Reason: Used oxide in the wrong place
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  13. #33
    Boolit Master

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    No pic so I guess we are talking about Cast Iron cooking wares.


    I get items from all around. Some of this are years and years old, do I now history of them???


    First step I do with all them buckets, drum, containers I use for animals or me. Get water to turn in them. Let natural mother nature clean them. If chemical in anything like oils by products as a good, too acidy or caustic and green scum will not grow.


    For metal (steel type) next is heat. Not messing around I'm talking paint removal and just about anything else heat. Normally get a wood fire very hot or a brush pile. No trash or just in it, just wood. And turn said item red hot, steels and irons , also most white hot. I look for colors coming off item and then look up the colors, I know greenish it copper. Some thing items don't make it pass the heat, they crack.

    Let them rust over as soon as they start to rust I wash them out and dry. For anything I need to keep for rusting I use a cheap cooking oil.

    Cast iron I season with salt and olive oil.

    Steel drums I use for cattle feed.

    Buckets, wash tubs, steel or metal all in what I'm using them for. May just heat them to very hot with water, and then smoke hot like a black hot I'm calling it , like pre heating for welding. All in what they are and if I going to destroy item in the heating.

    If I get something that I think it had something like lead and or a number of other bad news items I trash them. Like any thing with lead I leave some of the lead in it. I never use a cooking ware that is in question ???? over for humans. Animals if I think I got it clean I use them for feeding containers or scoops.

    I'm not just thinking about lead, sometimes these old containers could have had any chemical that would be ?????? in them.

    Be safe or as safe as you think you need to be. If any item in good condition, then use common sense. If your at an sale and items look good and use for cooking then I would just clean very good. By cleaning I'm talking boiling some water what comes to top of water. Some scum oily like cooking oil. Next I would heat on stove to very hot and clean the item like I was getting ready to prep for painting. Wanting all the old oil off. Next would season with salt and olive oil.

    I have had to make scrap out of items before just because I didn't like the smallest thing like the oil or color of flames.

    As I say about eating some foods. If I was staving and going to die from not eating them I would maybe eat it. I say a lot I just not that hungry to eat it, if I was starving maybe.


    If you were hard up and needed to use it would be one thing, but if you in your mind its a bad idea to use it, just after saving a few bucks then trash it.
    Last edited by Teddy (punchie); 02-18-2017 at 09:25 AM.

  14. #34
    Boolit Master
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    i don't eat iron pots anyway.

  15. #35
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by waksupi View Post
    I still debate the point that cast iron could not be cleaned safely for food consumption. I think if it was well scoured with steel wool and soap, it would be okay. Or, sand blast, and possibly reverse electrolysis. That should get it clean as a whistle.
    Any one got some of the lead detecting wipes to check it?
    I have a few large crocks I was looking to have tested for lead. Water has to set in them for a long time in them (crocks) then they test the water. I was using them for cider, wine, and sauerkraut. I wanted to make sure they are safe to use. Some of the glazing done years ago has lead in it.

  16. #36
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by bubba.50 View Post
    remind me not to eat the cornbread at y'all's house.
    Lead is just but one thing I would think about. Any time you buy , find a old cooking wares ??? All type of junk can make trouble. Could have been used to scoop **** for all any one knows.

  17. #37
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by mold maker View Post
    Not advising to do it, but I've wondered the same thing. if we can chemically remove lead from our bores, why not CI?
    If we remove rust and it's fine to use, could we not do the same with lead oxide.
    Wouldn't lead oxidize, and dissolve with soap and water?
    I know all about the better safe than sorry argument, but really, how much lead are we dealing with?
    I've seen all the advice about not doing it, by folks with no experience, but never seen any hard evidence. The Romans poisoned themselves by drinking wine from lead/pewter goblets, but that was an acidic drink used regularly.
    As a young man I was seldom without a couple sinkers in my pocket, bit thousands of split shot, and even swallowed a few At 75, I've cast since 1963 and never had above normal lead levels. Just how over blown is the lead health scare? Some how I get the idea that someone is profiting from it.
    You got the right idea. Only remember that children : off the top of my head numbers maybe wrong, but you get the idea:

    Age 0-2 lead can be taking into some system like calcium. At a rate of like 10 times fasters then adult.

    Age 2-4 its like 8 times faster

    Age 4-6 its like 6 times faster

    Age 6-10 its like 4 times faster

    10-14 its like 2 times as fast.

    14 to 16 all most the same.

    You get the idea.

  18. #38
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by DougGuy View Post
    It would be debatable whether any process would remove lead from cast iron to the point that cooking in it wouldn't release even more at some point later on. Elecrolysis will remove lead that the elecrolytic solution can get to but what about down in the pores? And then if you make something in it later with vinegar, or ascorbic acid, now what?

    Home Depot has 3M lead kits for $9 with 3 testers per kit so $3 is not a waste of money, some cast iron collectors and sellers test EVERY pan they buy and sell.
    Good to know Thanks !!!

  19. #39
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldred View Post
    Those are very good questions and you're right we are dealing with assumptions here. Again just basing this on welding/brazing experience and in no way trying to argue it is indeed fact but it is my opinion only. Be it lead, tin, silver solder or bronze brazing filler the metal does indeed penetrate into porous cast iron but something like cast iron is not like wood or other materials where something can penetrate deeply, we are talking less than .001 of an inch UNLESS there are hairline cracks that either can or even can't be seen then all bets are off as far as depth of penetration! When heated to the flowing point and introduced onto a metal that is slightly hotter these filler metals can indeed wick down to depths much deeper than just surface contamination and while ABRASIVE blasting, not bead or shot blasting, will likely remove lead contamination it will not get it all out of tiny cracks that are likely to be in any cast iron part that has been subjected to many heating and cooling cycles. I think the bigger question here would be just how much lead exposure is a person willing to expose themselves and their families to? Do I think a thoroughly sandblasted pot would be 100% lead free? No I don't and in fact I would seriously doubt it but at the same time I doubt a person is going to be exposed to any significant lead levels and there "probably" would be little to no danger from doing this. The truth is we can banter this back and forth all day but every case is going to be dependent on many variables and we all are just guessing anyway, the question the OP or anyone else considering this needs to ask will be "is it worth even a tiny risk for such an insignificant item"? Personally I wouldn't even consider it but that's just me and at the same time I doubt anyone will get very "much" lead expose if they do decide to try and clean something like that unless they fail to clean it thoroughly and in that case they could well be setting themselves up for serious trouble.

    What is thoroughly clean? By what method is thoroughly clean accomplished? How much lead exposure is someone willing to accept? Most of all, take a look at the insignificant item that has been contaminated and ask whether or not it's worth any risk at all?


    Just a few things to think about
    Very well put !!

    I would add , cooking with AL and or copper can make trouble just as any heavy metals can also.

    With an older cooking wares its just not the lead. Where has it been, what's been in it.

    Foreign cook wares or older cook wares what's in them ??? Have to find middle ground and use common sense.

    If it looks like it was used for god know what make scrap out of it of use for other things then food, any food or for feeding animals.

  20. #40
    Boolit Master

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    The subtext for my question about lead in the pores is the fact that one of my cast iron pans is porus enough that olive oil seeps through. Canola oil doesn't. I know this from cleaning my glass cooktop. It is the no mark except 8 pan with a lid that I use to make cornbread, among other things.
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