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Thread: Does Pewter need smelting?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy retrobass's Avatar
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    Does Pewter need smelting?

    My intuition tells me I run a chance of gumming up my bottom pour, but here's my lazy idea. Cut pewter into pre-weighed pieces, and throw directly into the mix when pot is up to temperature. Throw in a pinch of parrifin and a pinch of pine tar, stir, scoop, and call it good. I have done similar with Linotype and Monotype without any ill effects. Has anybody tried throwing pewter straight in the pot, or is smelting into ingots considered necessary?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    I never find pewter so I'm not an expert. But, I would suggest smelting it. Some of it may be coated with wax or polish and maybe other stuff.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    I have always rendered down any pewter I acquire. It always has some trash in it, although MUCH less than any lead I've rendered.

    I usually cast pewter into 3-4 ounce coins. I'm considering casting it into large boolits, but the coins are easy.

    2.4 ounces of tin in 15 pounds of lead is 1%. About 1/2 of one of my coins is usually enough in a Lee 20lb pot.
    "Varium et mutabile semper femina." - Virgil
    Man, ain't it the truth....

  4. #4
    Boolit Bub
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    I smelt outside and I add tin to every batch to get around 1% tin. There are times when I like to add even more tin to get it closer to 2% for my 300AAC for instance. In that case I just add pewter directly to my Lee pot. I never found any pewter that was dirty enough for me to worry about contaminating my batch. Now I do worry about zinc and i test with muriatic acid but thats different. The only thing I really try to keep away from my pot is sand I get from my range scrap. That stuff that will make your pot drip bad

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    I'm another "I smelt pewter" for a couple of main reasons.
    Storage space - 14# of assorted pewter items is a box the size of a bank records box, as coins or small ingots it is more like a bread loaf pan full.

    Pewter items are scrap so they vary a bit, more copper, or less. Different antimony percentages, maybe some different ratio's.
    Large batch melted into ingots gives me a more consistent alloy to add.

    A 1/4 pound of coins or finger sized ingots all from the same 14# batch is something I can repeat and get the same results next time. A 1/4 pound of porringer bowl will probably not be same alloy as 1/4 pound of candle stick pulled out of that big space wasting box of scrap pewter.

    Bigger batch is better if I'm going to bug someone to XRF gun it too, although I only do that once in awhile when I do it is nice to be able to label an entire coffee can with percentages knowing it is all the same pewter alloy.

    I do the same thing with scrap solder from garage sales, build it up then melt it as a big batch. I would rather have 10# of 30% Sn than a bunch of individual rolls all with different (sometimes unreadable) tin percentages. Even if in the process I mix in some 50/50 and 60/40 to bring up some old 15% solder. Consistent makes my life easier.

    I do the same for bullet alloy. Rather make 100 pounds of something than 20 pound 5 times each a touch different. Even if it doesn't really make much difference for revolver plinking ammo.
    Je suis Charlie
    Scrap.... because all the really pithy and emphatic four letter words were taken and we had to describe this way of getting casting material somehow.
    Feedback page http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...light=RogerDat I do trade a bit from time to time.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master pjames32's Avatar
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    I "smelt" my few pewter findings in my bottom pour pot unless it has a coating. I cast small ingots and usually do several pours in any new bullet molds I may have. It heats up the molds to help break them in. Works for me!
    NRA Benefactor Member

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I always smelt everything I get, not a big fan of surprises or cleaning my pot unnecessarily.
    I read that some people cast their pewter into large round balls of a determined weight to make alloying easier.
    I'm definitely going to do that, even with the small disks I've already made, just makes good sense.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    I have processed north of 700 pounds of thrift store pewter, the lion's share "clean" modern food service pieces. There is always a small amount of dry powdery dross in a ten pound batch. No sense in getting that in your casting pot.
    My Straight Shooters thread:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...raight-shooter

    The Pewter Pictures and Hallmarks thread:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...-and-hallmarks

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Oxides can form on pewter.....older is worse at that.

    It is a good ideal to re-melt any pewter items and cast them either into small bars or other shapes you can easily store and add small amounts as needed. Keeping pots and pans and hunks of junk around just takes too much valuable space.

  10. #10
    Boolit Bub
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    I think the right answer here is "it depends on how much you have". Since I work with just few lbs at a time and for the most part I add enough when I smelt and it doesnt make any sense for me to do all that extra work. Now if you have 10, 20 maybe 30lbs then it might be worth it to smelt it into small ingots.

  11. #11
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bookworm View Post
    I'm considering casting it into large boolits, but the coins are easy.
    I do the coin thing using minimuffin tins (just make sure they aren't the older steel ones with tin plating - I understand it's a great way to practice cussing in three or more languages). 'Course, that was with Orisolo's big ingots of already melted down pewter. I haven't gotten around to melting down the thrift store/estate sale pewter I've scrounged since, but, like Roger Dat says, the #150 I have is taking up about six 5 gallon buckets worth of space in my basement, so it's on the to do list.

    I tried the bullet thing, but mebbe I'm a wimp: cutting the sprues on tin bullets was more than just difficult, and pouring straight into the cavities without the plate was a mess and gave me pewter boolits with varying weights, which goes directly against the consistency that I wanted. The coins I can weigh and mark.
    Last edited by kevin c; 11-09-2017 at 02:01 AM. Reason: Correcting obscure references

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Some of it is laqured

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I melt it all! Now, having said that, ONLY after research to be sure I'm not melting a piece of history! Easier to handle, and I agree with the space issue. Plus, I like the fact that I can have the cleanest components to build a certain alloy! ( and, you don't have to hear this," ooooooo that's so pretty, don't melt that!!!!!") hahahaha! Be safe.
    I firmly believe that you should only get treated by how you act, not by who or what you are!!

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Wait Budzilla you let your spouse see it without kicking it across the garage or parking lot? Are you crazy?

    Really I do let wife get first pick of anything but she is not a huge fan, doesn't do collections. Right now she has a pitcher with dried flowers and a creamer with dried sage, think there is a candle holder with glass chimney around someplace. Will probably come out for the holidays. BUT not all spouses are as willing to let you make puddles from pewter so best bet is if it's heavy drop it then kick a few times. Plus once damaged your claim that you got it cheap will be more credible.

    +1 on know the object value or don't melt. Not that hard to look it up online, pretty soon you will begin to know brands or items. I especially like to sell nice looking "weighted" candle sticks to the local antique stores. Might be $2 worth of pewter once the glue is removed from the inside and the antique stores feel like it's a good deal at $10. Those porringer dishes tend to be the opposite, heavy weight but only retail for $10 so worth more as metal UNLESS the maker is special or the age.

    Have two saucers I think are from between 1720 and 1840 still trying to track down the touch mark. Pewter nearly black, no way that is getting melted.
    Last edited by RogerDat; 11-10-2017 at 06:08 PM.
    Je suis Charlie
    Scrap.... because all the really pithy and emphatic four letter words were taken and we had to describe this way of getting casting material somehow.
    Feedback page http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...light=RogerDat I do trade a bit from time to time.

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