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Thread: Cheap smelting pot?

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub am44mag's Avatar
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    Cheap smelting pot?

    I have a bunch of lead I need to smelt, and my little 10lb pot is not going to cut it. I rarely need to smelt so I'm not wanting to spend a lot of money on this. What would be the cheapest way to go about building a smelter? I can weld, and have a shop full of tools at my disposal. Would I be just fine cutting an old propane tank in half and using that as a pot? What would be a good heat source for something like that?

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  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    An out dated 25lb Propane tank will make a great pot for smelting or even casting. Clean it out good and wrap a piece of 2 or 3" masking tape around it wrinkle free and so edges match, this gives you a nice straight line to follow. I cut mine with a hack saw but a rig saw or reciprocating saw could be used. Cut the bottom of and a 3" wide ring. Take the original stand off the bottom and weld the ring on the pot for a bigger base to set on. A heavy turkey fryer frame and burner or a cheap weed burner for heat. This will melt a couple hundred pounds at a time pretty quickly. Then a ladle ( one big enough to fill your ingot mould in one pour is a big plus) and a tool to stir and remove dross and your good to go.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    Country Gent pretty well covered it. There are a few stickies about smelting that are worth reading and contain lots of info and ideas. Read the one about burns!

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    If you don't smelt much and want a cheap outfit, a heavy pot from a thrift store and a propane cook stove will get the job done.
    I've used https://www.amazon.com/Coleman-Bottl...+stove+camping for small batches of pewter or https://www.amazon.com/Lixada-Campin...+stove+camping

  5. #5
    Boolit Bub am44mag's Avatar
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    Thanks fellas, I figured a propane tank would be a good way to go. We have one that we never use, but I think it's still good. I'd hate to cut it up. I'll ask around and see if I can't get an old one for a few bucks. I'll grab one of those camping stoves too.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    Most places that sell bulk propane have old ones laying around. Since you can weld, the sky is the limit. Watch for a piece of large diameter pipe and a piece of scrap plate. Wider and shallower will be easier to ladle out of than deep and narrow. A member on here sell a nice one for a fair price.

  7. #7
    Boolit Bub
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    You can get a big dutch oven for around $30 at Academy sports. Melted several thousand lbs in one with no issue.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Idz's Avatar
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    Be careful cutting the propane tanks. First vent tank to atmospheric pressure (remember modern tanks have internal shutoff valves). I never have been able to unscrew the valve so I slowly drill about a 1/4" hole in the tank while flushing the bit with water. Then I fill the tank completely with water to displace any residual propane. After that you can saw away without worrying about igniting a bomb.

  9. #9
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    lightman I think was talking about me making propane pots for smelting lead. what Idz said about drilling on a un purged tank IS DANGEROUS all it takes is one spark and you have a bomb going off in your face. the trick in taking off the valve is you have to sucure the tank so it can not move the take a pipe wrench and take off the valve then purge the tank I let mine set for at least 3 days purging. the reason I wright is not to get you to buy a $25 plus shipping pot from me I wright this so someone following someone else advise does not end up getting hurt which can happen easy. if you do not know what you are doing. ok end of SAFTY sermon D Crockett

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I smelt on a Coleman stove and pour the lead into an ingot mold. I just use a right-sized cheap cast iron skillet. I say right-sized because I will be lifting it to pour into the ingot mold; too big a skillet would be too heavy to easily lift.

    The smaller batches are also more manageable if you're smelting different alloys, like COWW, SOWW, recovered range lead consisting of cast, jacketed, or misc.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Idz's Avatar
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    Come on Crockett. You should know that you can spark all you want in propane and nothing happens. Its only dangerous when you mix it with oxygen. That is why filling with water is much safer than 'purging' with air like some people suggest. A sharp drill under a water stream cuts through the tank without sparking or heating.

  12. #12
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    not going to get into a pissing match with you. but what you are saying is dangerous. and I for one would not do what you are suggesting. I have opened many propane tanks. been doing it for about 15 years now in making bbq grills. you go ahead and take the chance. but don't tell others that do not know what they are doing to do that. D Crockett

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I bought a cheap stainless mixing bowl and a hot plate when I first started.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    I fill thru the valve full with dish soap and water mix first and drain. This takes awhile as there is no venting, Maybe a good thing as the air working up thru creates agitation. I then fill and drain several times. I normally do this on a Monday and Tuesday evening then let sit till Saturday to cut. This gives it a good washing and forced out of air 3 time and then a chance to let sit and air to work in or out. Be carefull and do it safely. If using a hack saw by hand it can e cut full of water even just seal cut with tape before rolling it for the next cut. A hole could be drilled while it full of water also. The vale is in tight and ben there for awhile clamping the tank onto heavy bench or tractor may help but it takes a heavy wrench and length of pipe normally to break them loose. I don't drill the hole so I can use the whole tank.

  15. #15
    Boolit Bub am44mag's Avatar
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    I found out the guy who runs the recycling place in town has a pile of outdated tanks. I'll head over there Tuesday and see if he'll sell me a few. I have a pipe wrench, and I'm sure we can rig the tank to something so that it doesn't move. I'm not in a hurry to smelt that lead, so I'll do this the safest way possible. Thanks again guys.
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  16. #16
    Boolit Bub

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    If you can not remove the valve safely, just gut the valve, remove the stem and let the water hose slowly fill the tank. Then just drill a 3/8" hole where you want to cut the tank and cut with a saber saw with a metal cutting blade. Not hard to do.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master Ed_Shot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bajacoop View Post
    You can get a big dutch oven for around $30 at Academy sports. Melted several thousand lbs in one with no issue.
    +1 I do 60# batches in my dutch oven from Academy.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by lightman View Post
    Most places that sell bulk propane have old ones laying around. Since you can weld, the sky is the limit. Watch for a piece of large diameter pipe and a piece of scrap plate. Wider and shallower will be easier to ladle out of than deep and narrow. A member on here sell a nice one for a fair price.
    We sometimes get junkers in that would be great for re-purposing. People sometimes ask us to dispose of the junkers and like a fool , I let them leave them here. I guess that most propane companies get the same treats so ask around.
    Most propane companies ( corporate giants excluded) have regular guys working there and would not mind pulling the valve out for you. The large companies can be hard to deal with.
    Sent from my PC with a keyboard and camera on it with internet too.
    Melting Stuff is FUN!
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by am44mag View Post
    Thanks fellas, I figured a propane tank would be a good way to go. We have one that we never use, but I think it's still good. I'd hate to cut it up. I'll ask around and see if I can't get an old one for a few bucks. I'll grab one of those camping stoves too.
    The hardware store where I get my tanks refilled, takes the old one when it's outdated and usually has several sitting around. I'm sure an outdated tank could be had for little or nothing.
    Gary
    Certified Cajun
    Proud Member of The Basket of Deplorables

  20. #20
    Boolit Bub am44mag's Avatar
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    I got the tank, and I got it for free. It's a Freon tank. I looked up how to safely cut one open, and my pot is done minus the rebar legs. Now I need the burner. What would be the cheapest option, and how many BTUs do I need to melt 60 lbs or so?
    ______________________________________________
    Aaron

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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