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Thread: Zinc in range scrap

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Zinc in range scrap

    So I bought 1000lbs of range scrap from the local range about a year ago and finally got around to cleaning it. I normally use an old Lyman Big Dipper pot for this but decided to stop by the local Good will and pick up a used stainless steel pot. Found a pot, positioned my weed burner under it and got to work. Everything seemed to be working fine until I fluxed the cleaned lead with paraffin candle wax. The lead got slushy on top but I poured ingots anyway. Today I tried to cast with that lead and no go. Couldnt get a good boolit to save my life. In fact it plunged the spout on my bottom pour pot. So where could I have gotten the zinc from? Bullet jackets? Any ideas would be great. Thanks

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Folks cast zinc bullets. Not lots of folks, but it only takes one.

  3. #3
    You can flux out the zinc but it's a nasty process.
    I would go through some of the unsmelted range scraps, the zinc would be nonjacketed boolits that you can't cut with side cutters

  4. #4
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    probably not zinc. zinc looks like oatmeal on top of your lead.
    if you are ever being chased by a taxidermist, don't play dead

  5. #5
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    Some newer Russian steel-cased ammo has solid zinc bullets. Wolf brand uses zinc for pistol and rifle calibers.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master WRideout's Avatar
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    If you are smelting at reasonably low temperature, Zn will float on top of the lead; Zn wheel weights surely do. You might want to test your lead with acid (pool acid, toilet bowl cleaner) to see if it bubbles. It might not be actually Zn.

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  7. #7
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    I’ll try and test for zinc. Don’t think I want to go through trying to flux with sulfur. So if it’s zinc I’ll give it away to someone who wants to mess with it.

  8. #8
    Don't throw in the towel yet. 1000 pounds is a lot of lead.
    1) get a good lead thermometer for your smelting pot
    2) get a source of heat that you can control accurately
    3) fill 2-3 inches of the pot with pure lead then finish filling with the range scrap slowly bring up the heat until it reads no more than 675
    4) maintain that temperature when you flux with pine sawdust and wax skimming off the rest [keep a close eye on the temperature]

    pure Lead 327.46C 621.43F
    pure Zinc 419.53 C 787.15 F
    Zinc alloys have a melting range of about 380-390C (~ 725F)

    or make it all into ingots, sell the copper jackets and sell the ingots to someone for ballast or fishing weights

    IF you are 100% sure there is zinc in it you could flux with copper sulfate (zep root kill) remove zinc and add copper to the alloy making it more elastomeric.
    You don't want to breathe the smoke!! if you do you'll only do it once if you're not wearing a good chemical mask.
    I have a fan blowing and make sure I stay upwind.

  9. #9
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dpmsman View Post
    So I bought 1000lbs of range scrap from the local range about a year ago and finally got around to cleaning it. I normally use an old Lyman Big Dipper pot for this but decided to stop by the local Good will and pick up a used stainless steel pot. Found a pot, positioned my weed burner under it and got to work. Everything seemed to be working fine until I fluxed the cleaned lead with paraffin candle wax. The lead got slushy on top but I poured ingots anyway. Today I tried to cast with that lead and no go. Couldn’t get a good boolit to save my life. In fact it plunged the spout on my bottom pour pot. So where could I have gotten the zinc from? Bullet jackets? Any ideas would be great. Thanks
    Do you have a thermometer?
    It'd be nice to know what Temp your alloy was when problems arose.
    Because you can cast with alloy with small amounts of zinc, I have done it, you just need to turn up the heat.
    https://www.artfulbullet.com/index.p...let-alloy.589/

  10. #10
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    After this you should do what I do...every piece of metal that goes in my pot gets tested with side cutters. It's the only way I can make sure that only lead gets in there.
    The news that zinc bullets are now being loaded is a real pain...but that means that testing everything is now required even when dealing with range scrap.
    Gary
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  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwpercle View Post
    After this you should do what I do...every piece of metal that goes in my pot gets tested with side cutters. It's the only way I can make sure that only lead gets in there.
    The news that zinc bullets are now being loaded is a real pain...but that means that testing everything is now required even when dealing with range scrap.
    Gary
    That seems a bit excessive, can't you usually instantly tell which is which upon picking up a wheel weight? The zinc do look and feel quite a bit different, surely you only test if it's corroded enough or and odd type and you're in doubt.
    A couple of zinc weights won't ruin a whole pot, even if you don't get them while you're skimming clips. Which I have once or twice, they do take appreciably higher temps to melt.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conditor22 View Post
    Don't throw in the towel yet. 1000 pounds is a lot of lead.
    1) get a good lead thermometer for your smelting pot
    2) get a source of heat that you can control accurately
    3) fill 2-3 inches of the pot with pure lead then finish filling with the range scrap slowly bring up the heat until it reads no more than 675
    4) maintain that temperature when you flux with pine sawdust and wax skimming off the rest [keep a close eye on the temperature]

    pure Lead 327.46C 621.43F
    pure Zinc 419.53 C 787.15 F
    Zinc alloys have a melting range of about 380-390C (~ 725F)

    or make it all into ingots, sell the copper jackets and sell the ingots to someone for ballast or fishing weights

    IF you are 100% sure there is zinc in it you could flux with copper sulfate (zep root kill) remove zinc and add copper to the alloy making it more elastomeric.
    You don't want to breathe the smoke!! if you do you'll only do it once if you're not wearing a good chemical mask.
    I have a fan blowing and make sure I stay upwind.
    I wasn't planning on getting rid of the whole 1000lbs just the lead I contaminated. Maybe 30lbs tops. I planned to do as you suggested and keep the temp down as I clean the scrap.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonB_in_Glencoe View Post
    Do you have a thermometer?
    It'd be nice to know what Temp your alloy was when problems arose.
    Because you can cast with alloy with small amounts of zinc, I have done it, you just need to turn up the heat.
    https://www.artfulbullet.com/index.p...let-alloy.589/
    I do have a thermometer but was not using it at the time. My Lee 4–20 part was at Maxx. I could flux with wax and it would start to alloy but once the wax burned off it was back to slush

  14. #14
    Boolit Master dbosman's Avatar
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    As this was range scrap, then there shouldn't be much if any zinc present. I'm wondering if you have high antimony scrap? Time to find an XRF "gun".

  15. #15
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    Are you sure it isn’t the cold air forming a “skin” of antimony? I smelted about 50-60 pounds of WW last week and had a thick layer on top. I tested the dross with acid and it didn’t bubble. I remelted it with pure lead a few days later, when it was much warmer. The “skin” went away as soon as I fluxed it. It made some good boolits.

  16. #16
    I always flux with both pine sawdust and wax, I found they each work a little differently and combines do a much better job.

    OP I didn't see where you contaminated the alloy.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dpmsman View Post
    I do have a thermometer but was not using it at the time. My Lee 4–20 part was at Maxx. I could flux with wax and it would start to alloy but once the wax burned off it was back to slush
    You really need to use a thermometer, running any lead pot at Maxx you could be over 1000 deg F and this would over heat any mold and not cast usable bullets.

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master fredj338's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bazoo View Post
    Folks cast zinc bullets. Not lots of folks, but it only takes one.
    A small amount of zinc isn't going to ruin a large amount of alloy, in my exp. Who knows what else was in 1000# of scrap. Heat up & flux it with sawdust, until you see less dross on top.
    EVERY GOOD SHOOTER NEEDS TO BE A HANDLOADER.
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  19. #19
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    Not sure when I’ll get back to this but will post results.

  20. #20
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    Melt the lead to a temperature of 600f. Scrape of any mushy stuff that forms. Cycle the temp and bring back to 600 and scrape off the surface each time until the surface remains clean. Your alloy should then be castable.

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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