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Thread: Rainbow Boolits

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub

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    Rainbow Boolits

    O.K., researched past threads on the site for info on inclusions, dross, flux, and rainbows. Think I solved all my issues except for the last one, what causes the rainbows in the inclusions.

    Still a relative newbie.

    Since I fire black powder for 1860 Colt Army pistol, I use virgin lead, and for flux I use pure bees wax and sawdust, and for stirring and dross removal I use stainless steel spoon (Onieda).
    Everything was fine for first 10 casting sessions or so, but then issue started slowly. I see the bottom pour pot as akin to a Texas chili pot, you always use the remains of the previous batch to seed the new one, so I figured it was something I was doing that was “additive” somehow.

    Even after skimming I started getting a rainbow crystalline dross film immediately form on the top layer of the pot. Lead started freezing at the spout, and eventually even propane torch on it would not help.

    Image below is straw that broke the camel's back (Though I will keep it, since it is kind of pretty... grin/sigh)

    I ended up emptying the pot and digging out brittle brownish buildup from inside the spout and a thin layer on the edges of the pot. This in the spout was probably acting as a partial stopper and probably acting as refractory and insulating the nipple, hence the freezing. Threads on this site infer that is most likely my sawdust over time. Ditto on inclusions could be from the sawdust buildup and stirrings as well, but what is causing the rainbow blue/pink/purple/gold sheen that only shows up in the dross and inclusion? Can stainless steel over time be changing the chemical makeup and causing an issue?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by NM156B; 11-15-2017 at 12:26 AM.

  2. #2
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    Melt was too hot. Get a thermometer.

  3. #3
    Boolit Bub

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    Tried it hot and cold (per suggestion from other threads researched), same effect. The above was a pour on low immediately after initial melt. I was going to measure it but got so frustrated simply cleaned the pot. Expected frost if too hot, but perhaps my pot temp dial is broken, will record empirical data if it starts showing up again with next several batches.
    Last edited by NM156B; 11-14-2017 at 11:34 PM.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    "I use virgin lead"

    Lead alone does not frost. The melt is too hot so you speed up the oxide formation. Usually that tan debris is just dirt and will dissolve in water as described in how to clean a pot with water. Yes, you are getting something in the pot besides clean lead. Your reading might have suggested that saw dust is great for cleaning lead when rendering scrap. Some of us never want saw dust in our casting pot.

    Did you attempt to clean the pot nozzle if it started running slow? Does the pot have a pour control, or just the simple Lee 10 pound pot. Did you scrape the sides and the bottom of the pot when fluxing with beeswax or candle wax? Did you skip fluxing because it is "Virgin lead"?

  5. #5
    Boolit Bub

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Bannister View Post
    Did you attempt to clean the pot nozzle if it started running slow? Does the pot have a pour control, or just the simple Lee 10 pound pot. Did you scrape the sides and the bottom of the pot when fluxing with beeswax or candle wax? Did you skip fluxing because it is "Virgin lead"?
    Thanks for the lead alone does not frost fact, new piece of knowledge puzzle filed away for future reference. Yes on the 10lb pot, before emptying it I tried drilling the hole when unit was off (did not help) and the nail trick when on (would start to flow and after a pour or three would quickly taper to a slow drip with freeze, propane torch on tip no help either, hence my original surmise that I had a true dirt clog in the drainpipe). To each batch run I would add a pea size piece of refined beeswax straight from the beekeeper (really), lightly stir, then sprinkle a couple of pinches of sawdust on top. Never "scraped" the sides while stirring, wasn't smart/learned enough to know that crud would form there, so only skimmed the dross off the top.
    Last edited by NM156B; 11-15-2017 at 12:30 AM.

  6. #6
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    Sorry my answer was short earlier. Trying to see patients in between scanning the site.

    When pure lead melts and gets hot it will oxidize and give the rainbow effects. Since there is not tin or antimony in it, it will not frost.

    Specks of junk and whatnot is from trash in the melt. I never use sawdust in my casting pot. That just invites inclusions and whatnot.

    If you melt the oxidized lead, it's still gonna have lead oxide and give you rainbows even if you don't get the temp up too high.

    You can add the beeswax and keep temp low as it melts and hold the temp there and keep a layer of melted beeswax and keep stirring. You'll need to reduce the oxide back into the melt.

    Hope that's a better answer.

  7. #7
    Boolit Bub

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    Quote Originally Posted by osteodoc08 View Post
    Sorry my answer was short earlier. Trying to see patients in between scanning the site.
    When pure lead melts and gets hot it will oxidize and give the rainbow effects. Since there is not tin or antimony in it, it will not frost.
    Specks of junk and whatnot is from trash in the melt. I never use sawdust in my casting pot. That just invites inclusions and whatnot.
    If you melt the oxidized lead, it's still gonna have lead oxide and give you rainbows even if you don't get the temp up too high.
    You can add the beeswax and keep temp low as it melts and hold the temp there and keep a layer of melted beeswax and keep stirring. You'll need to reduce the oxide back into the melt.
    Hope that's a better answer.
    PERFECT!!! Thanks!

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I would be tempted to re-smelt and flux a couple times with sulfer, Look's like there is something in the lead that shouldn't be there

  9. #9
    Boolit Master OS OK's Avatar
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    Here's the 'bible' so to speak about this craft...it gets a might technical at times but you can wade through easily enough...I wiKi the terms I don't understand, sometimes that helps...sometimes I have to keep on wading...

    http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell_Book_Chapter_4_Fluxing.htm <-- 'Fluxing'

    http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell_Book_Contents.htm <-- 'Contents page' from:From Ingot to Target:
    A Cast Bullet Guide for Handgunners ©
    a m e r i c a n p r a v d a

    Be a Patriot . . . expose their lies!

    “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” G. Orwell

  10. #10
    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    I keep a layer of clay based cat litter on top of my pot to reduce oxidation.
    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

    Will Geer as Bear Claw in "Jeramiah Johnson"

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thumbcocker View Post
    I keep a layer of clay based cat litter on top of my pot to reduce oxidation.
    Similar principle: I cover the lead with pine sawdust, burn it off, flux in with a potato masher then wire whisp leaving a layer of grainy dross on top that helps prevent oxidation and splash from returning sprues to the pot.

  12. #12
    Boolit Bub
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  13. #13
    Boolit Bub

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    Quote Originally Posted by OS OK View Post
    Here's the 'bible' so to speak about this craft...
    Nice primer, but argh I am confused, the "best" solution according to the article is sawdust! : "Vigorously stirring in a heaping tablespoon of sawdust into a pot full of bullet metal does a fine job of conditioning and protecting that alloy." My head hurts, this line implies the boolit casting phase...

    This goes back to other threads on the forums here, the only "physical contamination" I added to my casting pot is super fine sawdust (literally dust), two pinches, in each batch run and the beeswax, are the inclusions in my picture from the sawdust or the lead oxide (or both?)? Since I am using virgin lead, I assume that I only need a barrier, so in theory the wax alone should work...?
    Last edited by NM156B; Today at 01:17 AM.

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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