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Thread: When to flux while smelting?

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub Bantou's Avatar
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    When to flux while smelting?

    Do you flux a pot of CWW before or after you skim out the clips, dross, etc? I smelted my first batch of clip on wheel weights a few days ago and wasn’t real happy with the results so I have been doing some more research into when and how to flux the pot. There seem to be two basic schools of thought. One says skim then flux to make sure you remove any harmful material. The other says flux first then skim in order to preserve useful metals.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Howdy and welcome to the CB.GL forum.

    I remove the majority of the clips so that there is some room to work. If I start seeing any metal on the clips I leave them. I add a bunch of sawdust and let it char then mix it and scrape the pot. Then I remove that and all the dust and clips. I have just left it there but I end up with more dirt in my ingots. I like to add sawdust again and wax for a final flux.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Since you specify Clip on Wheel Weights, I would suggest you melt the lead and skim off any clips and weights that have not melted as they are probably zinc or other unwanted metal. Then you can flux to clean the alloy and not have any zinc dissolve into the melt. The manner in which you flux, stir and skim will affect your results as well.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Dusty makes a good point of zinc. I hand sort all my weights and normally clip every one to ensure no zinc.

  5. #5
    Boolit Bub Bantou's Avatar
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    I hand sorted mine as well. I missed one zinc weight but I kept my temperature low so it didn’t melt before I caught it. Is it worth mixing the dross back into the lead and re-fluxing? I’m going to have to melt my ingots down again anyway because I used cheap crimped together muffin tins and the bottoms of the tins came off with the ingots.


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    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    I always try to remove all the clips first....then scrape the sides and stir....stir....stir. Once the powder stops floating to the top, then I add a 1/4" layer of pine sawdust to the top and let it char...then stir....stir...stir, scrape and stir...stir...stir again removing whatever is floating. I like to wait a few minutes then repeat 2 more times with sawdust. Once a total of 3x flux cycles are complete I then add a pea size piece of wax and stir it in. skim off anything that floats...then make my ingots.

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  7. #7
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Bannister View Post
    Since you specify Clip on Wheel Weights, I would suggest you melt the lead and skim off any clips and weights that have not melted as they are probably zinc or other unwanted metal. Then you can flux to clean the alloy and not have any zinc dissolve into the melt. The manner in which you flux, stir and skim will affect your results as well.
    I do exactly as pasted here. I have been told -- and follow this method -- to remove metals and "who-knows?" -- with my melt temperature as low as it may be to (hopefully) avoid melting in any zinc. I then both raise up the temp, and primarily use old candle and other wax artifacts, kind of aggressively using a bent soup spoon to push wax from top to bottom. Generally the wax has ignited by this time, and I find it amazing to see the mirror-like top, albeit with flakes/chunks of junk, at top. I use same spoon to remove most, after which I put on a generous amount of saw dust, gleaned from under my table saw -- mostly pine.
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    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    If you're using a ladle dip pot you could just use your ingots and remove the muffin tin parts when you flux. Unless you're going to smelt more soon I wouldn't bother with resmelting them. The bullets won't know the difference and unless you tell your buddies, they won't either.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I hand sort mine, when I miss a zinker it’ll float and gets skimmed off with all the clips and dirt. After the initial skimming then I add a couple hand fulls of pine chips and when they smoke heavy i light with bar b q lighter and let burn to carbon and stir real good. After skimming that second time I pour into molds mark and store in reloading room. I use bees wax for the bottom pour Lee 20# pot, with a fan to pull out smoke.
    Sometimes I’ve used candle wax, but i lucked up and a bee keeper gave me some wax, I didn’t buy it.

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    Boolit Bub Bantou's Avatar
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    This group is awesome. Thanks everyone for the replies.


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    I melt and remove the clips and that odd zinc one I always miss then flux before poring into ingots. I just made up a bunch of 50/50 ingots and fluxed again before poring them into ingots. I'll add wax to my drip-o-matic but not wood chips, too much mess.
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bantou View Post
    This group is awesome. Thanks everyone for the replies.


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    Thanks for joining us.

    Several folks add the dross from skimming the pot back into their mix when smelting. I haven't in the past but plan to next go round. Any tin that escaped will be reclaimed there.

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Welcome to the site and Welcome to the world of casting!

    When I'm smelting wheel weights I get them melted to the point that its good and fluid and stir it some. Then I skim off the clips being careful to leave the dross and scum looking stuff. Then I'll add enough pine sawdust to cover the melt about 1/2 to 1 inch. When it chars and starts smoking I'll light it with a lighter. When the fire goes out I'll stir and scrap the sides and the bottom of the pot several times. Then I skim off the trash and do the flux routine again, usually for a total of 3 times.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I bring it up to temp stir a little. if there are a lot of wheel weights I use a magnet to remove the clips and stir in using wood chips and paraffin to blend back in the alloying agents. When fluxing I use a stirring method that pushes the flux down thru the metal then pulls the metals up thru the flux working the sides and bottom as I go. I may flux 2-3 times like this.
    I use a chip magnet for this it pulls the clips out with hardly any molten metal. This gets most of the clips out

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master fredj338's Avatar
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    I flux before & after removing the clips. It helps release some lead from the clips & imo, you cant flux enough when reducing scrap to ingots.
    Last edited by fredj338; 01-24-2020 at 03:02 PM.
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  16. #16
    AKA: GRMPS Conditor22's Avatar
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    I'm with fredj338 on this one. Fluxing first maybe a little of a pain but it does remove ANY lead that may still be stuck on the clips. I find this very important when smelting jacketed range scrap.
    I always flux with both sawdust AND wax. I feel they affect/clean different properties in the melt

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    fredj338 and Conditor22:

    When fluxing the clips, don't you worry about melting floating zinc WW's that might be hidden in the steel and trash? Or do you rely on careful sorting or some other method?

  18. #18
    AKA: GRMPS Conditor22's Avatar
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    I'm like Santa, I check it twice. -- IF the melt isn't over temp [hot enough to melt Zinc] before you flux, the odds of it going over temp during the fluxing is very unlikely -fluxing usually lowers the melt's temperature because you're introducing a cold stirring instrument and exposing more of the melt to the air.

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    I don't sort.
    I just melt 'em, carefully.
    then pull out any zinkers...you can see 'em while stirring the clips.
    then I dump a large fistfull of saw dust for the first flux, to get all the alloy off the steel clips.
    Then I scoop out the clips.
    Then I flux with wax and a small amount of saw dust,
    then stir stir stir...and scrape the sides of the pot.
    That will drag up a lot of black dusty dross.
    The dross shouldn't appear to have any alloy in it, just black dust.
    I scoop that out and flux with wax again,
    stir and scrape, and remove any black dusty dross.
    Then pour ingots.
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  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    I guess my processing of source lead different from WW led me to a different fluxing process that wouldn't work for WW.

    Lead wheel weights are rare in my area; I've only processed a single batch, and that had every individual weight dike tested. I've done more range scrap, and most recently isotope containers. These last two sources of lead aren't likely to have any zinc, especially the iso lead, so I use higher heat to melt and during fluxing.

    My fluxing is done with sawdust and generous amounts of paraffin, which invariably ignites. The top of the melt is one big cauldron of fire, that I assume is well above the zinc melting point. Good for cleaning the jackets of residual lead, bad for WW processing if I miss a few zinkers.

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