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Thread: Newbie's first smelting session

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Newbie's first smelting session

    Hi guys,
    I have been reloading for a few years but am just getting in to casting. I recently picked up the following.
    On a forum I frequent, most say this is monotype, a few say foundry type. What do you think?


    Also found some lead sheet or roof flashing that I understand to be nearly pure lead?



    I have read a lot on this forum and downloaded the Excel alloy calculator. I wanted to start with a small 5lb batch for my first smelting attempt. I also want to cast some bullets (or boolits) for 44mag. Missouri Bullets sells some 18 Bhn recommended for magnum loads so I wanted to create my own 18 Bhn. The Excel calculator suggested 2.35lbs monotype + 2.65lbs pure lead.

    Using my Coleman propane camp stove and a cast iron pan I set out on my first smelting session. I'm happy to report that I did not burn anything, myself included, or spill any lead.

    I'm not quite sure of my results however. Once my batch was melted I tossed in the only flux I had available: crushed walnut shells. Don't think I will do that again. It did burn but left tiny charred chunks and seemed to make things worse. I will get some sawdust instead. I seemed to have to scoop a lot off the top, it was frothy looking and did not want to mix back in. So I called it good after the surface was mostly shiny and i scooped off the gunk. I used a small non-stick bread loaf pan. I had used brake cleaner to clean the loaf pan and iron pan hours before my session. My lead loaf is not very smooth.


    My dross and pan:


    My lead loaf weighs 4.05lbs. Is a 20% weight reduction normal? The dross hunk weighs over 1lb.
    I will need to get a thermometer and some better heat resistant gloves. I will also get some art pencils to try the hardness test.
    Last edited by rdfact; 07-30-2017 at 01:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Your ingot looks good! Don't worry! The pitting you see could be from the teflon from the bread pan or similar coating. I have used some of these from IKEA and when they were new I got similar pitting in my ingots, but they worked fine, and nothing wrong with the alloy.

    So far this year I've gone through 2.5 tons of roof flashing and have always treated it as pure. It's not far from it!

    My guess is that your type metal is monotype, but I may be wrong. What I have done with different alloys is that I have casted an ingot of it and have the dude at the scrap yard shot it with his XRF gun. Then you se exactly what you have at get great help from the exl sheet.

    Sent fra min SM-G930F via Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Boolit Master




    TexasGrunt's Avatar
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    The smoke from crushed walnut shells isn't good for ya.
    Semper Fi!


    Currently casting for .223, .308, .30-06, .30-40 Krag, 9mm, .38/.357, 10mm, 44 Mag and 45 ACP.

    I like strange looking boolits!

    NRA Patriot Life Endowment member.

  4. #4
    Boolit Mold
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    I was outside with a nice breeze and know enough not to breathe in the smoke.

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks, makes me feel better.
    I used a #2 pencil marked HB to do the pencil hardness test. The pencil easily cut the roof flashing but would not cut the monotype nor my lead loaf. A #2 HB pencil is around 15 Bhn?

  6. #6
    Boolit Man Ateam's Avatar
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    you did fine. your dross is likely 99 percent usable, and a slightly different approach will reclaim your lost 20%. Most of the dross I remove is more like a fine powder, with some very light aluminum foil mixed in. When you scoop out the dross, hold it up against the edge of the pan for a few seconds to let the trapped lead drain out. Also something like pine sawdust would be a better flux. I follow my flux with a chunk of candle wax (stand back a little) to reduce back in the tin etc in the dross. The final tip that comes to mind is to not worry about getting your melt mirror clean, you only really need the side you pour from to be clean, as the surface oxides etc tend to stay in the pan when you pour, which I leave there for the next melting. No need to get all OCD on the project. Oh yeah, and make sure your lead is hot enough, or it will be hard to separate from the dross.

  7. #7
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ateam View Post
    you did fine. your dross is likely 99 percent usable, and a slightly different approach will reclaim your lost 20%. Most of the dross I remove is more like a fine powder, with some very light aluminum foil mixed in. When you scoop out the dross, hold it up against the edge of the pan for a few seconds to let the trapped lead drain out. Also something like pine sawdust would be a better flux. I follow my flux with a chunk of candle wax (stand back a little) to reduce back in the tin etc in the dross. The final tip that comes to mind is to not worry about getting your melt mirror clean, you only really need the side you pour from to be clean, as the surface oxides etc tend to stay in the pan when you pour, which I leave there for the next melting. No need to get all OCD on the project. Oh yeah, and make sure your lead is hot enough, or it will be hard to separate from the dross.
    Without a thermometer, is there a way to know if your lead is hot enough? I have seem some videos where there seems to be a gentle boil - is that too hot?

  8. #8
    Boolit Master


    mold maker's Avatar
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    Don't get obsessed with BHN. Lots of what you read about it, is hype from bullet casting companies. They use harder than required alloy so rough handling and minimum packing works.
    Unless you hunt with those lead rockets, where less/more expansion is important, plinking boolits can be softer, and slower.
    The excessive slag you have is due to the oxidized surface area in the sheet lead. It can be mostly salvaged using the right flux in your next smelt. The use of rich pine sawdust (no plywood, particle board or treated lumber) produces a reducing atmosphere that will return most of the oxides to the melt.
    As a beginner, learning to cast good boolits is more important than hardness.
    Read the Stickeys on fluxing and use the search feature for a world of info, to avoid the mistakes we have already made.
    Last edited by mold maker; 07-30-2017 at 07:43 PM.
    Information not shared. is wasted.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    The high percentage of antimony in the monotype or other type metals will appear to make a froth or foam on the melt surface. It does need to be hot to recombine with the lead and tin. One old timer way of checking temp is to tear off a scrap of newspaper about 1/4 x 1" and lay it on the clear surface of the melt. If it blackens and curls up it is not hot enough. If it pops into flame you are hot enough and sometimes a little too hot. It is easier to cool a melt than heat a melt.

    Candle wax and beeswax are my preferred materials for cleaning up the alloy. Yes, use caution and small bits of material until you find out how quickly they will flash ignite and how long a small bit burns. Long handled tools and good gloves are a minimum. There are other suggested personal protection gear in the stickies. Good first time and I suspect that there will be a lot more to come.

  10. #10
    Boolit Man Ateam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdfact View Post
    Without a thermometer, is there a way to know if your lead is hot enough? I have seem some videos where there seems to be a gentle boil - is that too hot?
    I like the newspaper method mentioned above, though I operate more by feel, which you will develop with time. You want the lead to flow out of your dross scooper (which means you need to keep that hot too). I have never had my melt come to a boil unless some bit of grunge was stuck to the bottom of the pot. Someone correct me here, but a boil would mean that the liquid is turning to a vapor(gas), which is a very bad thing with lead.

    And the ugly ingot bubbles definitely came form the Teflon mold.

    All this said, the product you have will cast just fine, don't get too bogged down in the details when just starting. Get that mold hot and start pumping out some BOOLITS!

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    THE BOILING THING.......... BAD. And something bad is about to happen. Too bad you are soo far away. I have a 55 gal. drum filled with fresh milled pine saw dust, free for the taking.

  12. #12
    I would recommend a thermometer. You can get one for candy that works and is not as expensive. Definitely prefer beeswax over sawdust.

  13. #13
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdfact View Post
    SNIP...

    I have read a lot on this forum and downloaded the Excel alloy calculator. I wanted to start with a small 5lb batch for my first smelting attempt. I also want to cast some bullets (or boolits) for 44mag. Missouri Bullets sells some 18 Bhn recommended for magnum loads so I wanted to create my own 18 Bhn. The Excel calculator suggested 2.35lbs monotype + 2.65lbs pure lead.
    rdfact,
    welcome to the forum.

    If you have a good reloading manual with cast bullet data, like the Lyman cast bullet handbook 4th Ed, the data will often list pressure. What type of loads are you intending to make in 44Mag?

    According to the link at the bottom of the page,
    http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletNotes.htm
    COWW alloy, which has a BHN of 12, can handle up to 25Kpsi. That is about what I load my target loads up to.

  14. #14
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonB_in_Glencoe View Post
    rdfact,
    welcome to the forum.

    If you have a good reloading manual with cast bullet data, like the Lyman cast bullet handbook 4th Ed, the data will often list pressure. What type of loads are you intending to make in 44Mag?

    According to the link at the bottom of the page,
    http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletNotes.htm
    COWW alloy, which has a BHN of 12, can handle up to 25Kpsi. That is about what I load my target loads up to.
    I do have Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbook as well as several other reloading manuals. I want to reload for both 44mag revolver and rifle. Some example loads from Lyman's:
    Handgun: 240gr bullet, 12.0 800x starting grains, 1046fps, 30,600 CUP. 13.5 max grains, 1198fps, 38,600 CUP
    Rifle: 240gr bullet, 12.1 800x starting grains, 1477fps, **no pressure listed**. 13.5 max grains, 1597fps, **no pressure listed**

    I listed 800x loads because I have a few pounds I wanted to use up. Maybe I should try Unique or Blue Dot which show similar FPS but less pressure.

  15. #15
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    I posted my comments and LASC link so you were aware that a alloy hardness of BHN 18 isn't needed for loads at or below 25Kpsi and that many of us get by with softer alloys in 44 Mag for target loads.
    If you want hotter loads with 800x, then your goal of blending a alloy with a BHN of 18 is a wise choice.

  16. #16
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks for the link JonB. I noticed the "Alloy shrinkage of cast bullets" table. I had never considered the bullets can shrink. Although it does not appear to be "significant shrinkage".

  17. #17
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    There is a ton of great info in that LASC link, I re-read it and refer back to it often.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Grmps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by triggerhappy243 View Post
    THE BOILING THING.......... BAD. And something bad is about to happen. Too bad you are soo far away. I have a 55 gal. drum filled with fresh milled pine saw dust, free for the taking.
    +1

    You get lead too hot and it will release a TOXIC GAS

    Pine sawdust seems to be the best for fluxing, see if there is someone in your area that makes pallets or manufacturers pine products.
    If not you can get free sawdust from HD or Lowes, not all pine but it does work.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
    Tom W.'s Avatar
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    Eat too many beans and you can release toxic gas too. I'd wholeheartedly recommended a cast iron muffin pan rather than something with Teflon. That stuff isn't really healthy for you if it vaporizes. And rust in the cast iron will not hurt anything.
    Tom
    μολὼν λαβέ

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    You may be able to find somebody in your area that has a small sawmill. Most have more sawdust then they can handle.

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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