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Thread: melting recovered lead shot?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master



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    melting recovered lead shot?

    I have literally melted tons of scrap lead alloys including recovered range lead, telephone cable sheathing, lead pipe, wheel weights, and etc. Typically, I will make about 500-1000 lbs. of ingots in a session (with help). My set up is the common turkey fryer with a Harbor Freight cast iron dutch oven. My pot will handle about 120 lbs. of melted bullet metal.

    I, through the help of a friend, picked up 100 lbs. of recovered lead shot. It is high antimony shot, reportedly, in a bucket. It apparently has been washed but as most know, it is not "CLEAN", clean. The individual pellets are, of course, "dirty". Now, past experience with lead pipe, tells me the dirt will have absorbed moisture. So, I will NOT be adding dirty shot to melted metal.

    My plan is to start with a pot nearly full of cold, but dirty shot. I will heat it up with the hopes of the moisture escaping SAFELY while the lead shot comes up to melt temperature, then fluxing (liberally), cleaning the melted metal and pouring ingots.

    Now, here is my concern: With the density of the lead shot (packed closely together, unlike bigger pieces) safely allow the moisture to escape, as the shot warms to melt temperature?

    I am NOT asking for a guarantee, here, but merely to benefit from those who have melted recovered lead shot. I DO NOT need a visit from the tinsel fairy.

    Thanking you in advance,
    Dale53

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    Chill Wills's Avatar
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    I think you have good plan. If you start it on a slow fire and get the whole mass above 250 F before the bottom starts to melt, I think you are out of all danger.

    Also, in addition to the above, I often cover and walk away if I have any doubt of content.

    This is somewhat OT but this method also prevents zink WW from melting into a batch of WW metal alloy.
    Chill Wills

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Idz's Avatar
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    When I melt down the scrap recovered from our bullet trap I load up my cut-off propane tank then cover it with the top of the cut-off tank, that pot sits inside my 30 gal insulated barrel furnace and is partially covered with a trashcan lid. Then the burner is lit and after cooking about 15 minutes I take off the trashcan lid and if the gas escaping from the cut-off propane tank top ignites I know its up to a high temperature. Moisture, live rounds, and the debris never do more than make a quiet pop and never have even moved the lids. If you start slow and keep it covered until its hot you'll have no problem. Remember that organic debris will decompose to flammable gases in a covered pot so don't stand over it when opening the lids.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    I think you will be ok. I've melted wet stuff before. Wheelweights, range scrap, ect and all of the moisture has always burned away before the lead melts. A cover over the pot is never a bad ides though.

  5. #5
    Boolit Man PBaholic's Avatar
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    It'll be fine. I've heated a lot of wet lead without a problem. The water will steam off. The only time water and lead are dangerous is when water is introduced to liquid lead.

    Just keep the alloy seperate until you are sure you can utilize it. A lot of newer shot contains lots of other undesireable metals that can make pouring difficult.

  6. #6
    Boolit Man
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    If the reclaimed shot is uniform in pellet size and in the 7.5,,8,,9 # sizes,,you can generally sell the stuff for $30/40 per 25# to most any shotgun reloader that shoots skeet,trap and/or sporting clays.
    I don't know if that nets you more $$ than the lead shot is worth as bullet metal after you go thru the smelting process, ect.
    Maybe it's worth more to you because of the high antimony content,,
    Just a thought,,

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I have read that shot contains arsenic and should be diluted with other lead rather than melted into ingots by itself. I'm certainly no expert but a little investigation might not hurt. i'm sure someone with more knowledge than will shortly comment.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Sasquatch-1's Avatar
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    If there is a chance of moisture, I agree, a lid of some sort should be used. I put an old cookie sheet with a muffin ingot for weight on top. This leaves gaps so the moisture will steam off.
    A vote for anyone other then the conservative candidates is a vote for the liberal candidates.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    When you melt one that think is wet or along that line like stated start with low heat and then go from there. Empty the pot and then start over. Do not add lead to the mix once it is all melt for you.then you will start to get to have problems with the lead to blow on you if what you add has water in it.
    Life Member of NRA,NTA,DAV ,ITA. Also member of FTA,CBA

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
    runfiverun's Avatar
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    you'll be fine.

    add some type of fire to the mix while your heating things up and after it's all melted.

    don't expect a real high antimony content if this is newer range lead, the most popular shot shell ammo now day's only has 2-3.5% antimony.
    it's all an educated guess,,,, till the trigger is pulled.

    this opinion brought to you by mister low-tech solution..

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    i reclaimed about 500# of lead shot from local trap range. sifted to a rough screen size of about 7.5 shot.
    dumped about 30# of the mix in the pot. heated and melted just fine. no moister issues. most of the "stuff" burned off before lead melted. Skimmed off the junk and have nice lead for the shot maker. It was easier than trying to recover just the shot from the dirt,sand,rocks,wads,clays.....

  12. #12
    Boolit Master



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    Thanks to all that contributed. Considering the present heat wave, it may be a while before we actually do it. I will report further when it happens.

    Dale53

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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