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Thread: A myth about water and molten lead

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    A myth about water and molten lead

    On the 'why not quench' topic, someone said that having a quenching bucket near your casting pot is a bad idea as water splashes and if it gets in the pot, will lead to a visit from the tinsel fairy.

    Now, before this board existed and I was young and impatient, and notably when I was still casting over a coleman stove, when done I would pour a few cups of water ON TOP OF THE MOLTEN LEAD to quickly cool it so I wouldn't have to worry about the cat (outdoor/indoor type) burning itself. I did this hundreds of times. And while the water flashed to steam and you had to watch you didn't get burned, if you poured it in gently,there was no issue.

    You get a visit from the tinsel fairy if water gets UNDER the surface of the molten lead- which would happen for instance if you took a wet reject bullet out of your quench bucket and dropped it in the molten lead.

    Now, having moved on to electric melters and not wanting to damage them, plus being a bit more cautious and leery in my (somewhat) older age, I no longer pour water on molten lead. Nor am I saying to go out and try it.

    However, I don't worry in the least about splashes from the quench bucket. Just passing this along for those who didn't know it.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master deerslayer's Avatar
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    You are absolutely right!! The tinsel fairy should only visit when the water is under the surface and flashes to steam and almost instantly grows 1500 times in volume. Although I would not chance pouring water on the pot but I have had a drop or to splash in it and no visitations.
    Remember the average response time of a 911 call is over 4 minutes. The average response time of a .357 is around 1300 F.P.S.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    100% correct. I always get a chuckle when someone says that a drop of sweat falling into the pot will cause a huge explosion. Pouring water on molten lead just makes a huge cloud of steam.

    Newbies should be aware, though, that water near the pot can lead to water droplets on ingots and tools, and that can lead to accidents. Be careful.

  4. #4
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    DLCTEX's Avatar
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    I also have had drops sizzle on the surface. However, after having witnessed one tinsel fairy episode in a wire plant I worked in in the past I will avoid moisture in molten lead to the best of my ability.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    A drop of sweat at the wrong time can be quite an experience! A drop rolled off the end of my nose into the muffin pan cavity just as I started to pour the lead. Quite a POP and bits of tinsel all over the place. Only a couple of small burns. Thank Gawd for safety glasses!

    After that a sweat band was added to my safety equipment!

  6. #6
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    There are people that SWEAR it happens. I believe they believe it, but I also believe they are wrong. Whatever causes the issue, the water/bug/raindrop/snowflake has to get under the surface. It's simple confusion of the facts. No harm intended, but it perpetuates the myth.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Rocky Raab's Avatar
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    With all due respect, Bret, I've never been hit while crossing a street. But that DOES happen. About the best we can say about the tinsel fairy is that it hasn't happened to us YET.

  8. #8
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    Try adding cold ingots to already working pot..., don't ask.
    It ain't rocket science, it's boolit science.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    sundog?

    What happens? I do that all the time. That is how I top-up my pots. Even in the winter when the ingots are really cold. All mine do is just sort of sink in and melt. I do make sure they are dry, fer sher! I use some old lubed boolits for fluxing and they sometimes sizzle a bit with moisture, but no Tinsel Ferry has come to visit me yet.

    prs

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    When melting down range scrap, I tried to empty a bucket of wet rangescrap into about an inch of molten lead - will not do that again. I tried first with one boolit that melted, a fistfull that hissed and at last with 10 pounds of which some jumped out of the pot.

    I was smart (?) enough to keep the bucket between me and the pot, so it took the brunt of the molten lead and thankfully I was not hit.

    But that was hopefully the first and last visit from the fairy.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master on Heavens Range
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    Slim, .... Sundog's stuff is always outside. Condensation abounds. ... felix
    felix

  12. #12
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    The problem with water quenching is that should one have a lapse of concentration, a poor casting with a cavity that have sucked in water could get dropped back into the pot! All accidents are a result of a chain of events. That water filled cavity could sit there for days! That's why we have safety practices. My returns go on top of a layer of kitty litter where they melt through but sometimes I drop them so they penetrate into the melt. I should stop doing that! But I don't water drop. If I started to water drop there would be a potential for a visit! Mmmm....
    Rest In Peace My Son (01/06/1986 - 14/01/2014)

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  13. #13
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    PRS: A cold ingot of tin into a vat of molten tin is exactly what caused the tremendous explosion of molten metal at the plant I referred to. The guy said he had done it a thousand times and nothing happened, but that time something caused moisture to form on the cold ingot. The ceiling was 20 ft. up and was coated along with everything within 25 ft. of the vat. Thankfully I was on a forklift about 45 ft. away and had a front row seat. The required safety equipment saved him from the worst of it, but he missed a week with burns in unprotected areas.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I have the same thing as Sundog. My ingots are stored outdoors on the wall of the walk-in. No matter how I try to dry them, they sizzle and splutter when added to the pot. I have a sheet metal end-cap that I set over the pot that keeps the lead in the pot. I cast on the end of the wall that is just the right highth for me. We have a lot of wild turkeys in Nebraska.
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  15. #15
    Boolit Master FAsmus's Avatar
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    Felix;

    I cast inside but in an unheated shed.

    My story is about casting at temperatures well below freezing and adding cold material to a hot pot as heated over my Turkey-cooker heat source.

    The material will almost instantaneously collect condensation moisture as I pass it through the hot gasses as they rise normally around the hot pot ~ Then, if I just drop it in this (pretty much microscopic coating of water) goes under the surface of the alloy and cooks off something terrible.

    No explosions mind you but plenty of scary harsh popping action! Now, I either heat the additional material to something that evaporates the moisture or move it through the "hot" zone as quickly as possible .. the bigger the addition, the more trouble results from improper technique.

    Good evening,
    Forrest

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    ive had cold(40f ish) lead cause a big splatters that hit an 8' roof.
    the lead was dry, and i was casting outside. i dropped a 10lb ingot in the pot and it startred hissing and bubbling worse and worse til it it was basicaly spraying everywhere. about 4lbs of lead came out of the pot.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Basic safety practice-- unless you're adding ingots to a cold pot, always preheat them to prevent any possibility of a steam explosion.

    I store my ingots inside, but I always pre-heat before adding them to the melt. You can place your ingots near the flame/burner/hotplate/etc to warm up for a while before adding them to the pot during the casting session. Could save your hide, literally.

    Just like DLCTEX related, folks do things a thousand times and swear that means it's safe... until the 1001st time catches up with them. Stay safe, everyone.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky Raab View Post
    With all due respect, Bret, I've never been hit while crossing a street. But that DOES happen. About the best we can say about the tinsel fairy is that it hasn't happened to us YET.
    And with equal respect Rocky, the liquid has to get under the surface for a "steam explosion" to happen. That's just the laws of nature and common sense. Now the guy that pushes a cold ingot under the surface- yeah, or the guy that dumps a shovel load of scrap in a pot smelting without checking for the 22 rounds that are in there- yeah. Condensation forms and can cause problems, been there, done that, I'm still picking lead off the walls. The old advice of warming your ingots is good advice.

    I'm saying lets not confuse freak accidents and carelessness with "a drop of water hitting the surface causing a steam explosion". Doesn't happen, can't happen. makes no sense. Anytime someone has an explosion there has to be either water getting under the surface or something else happening we're not aware off. Can't change the laws of physics.

  19. #19
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    The old plumbers adage is " Lead into water, never water into lead". It has served the industry well for the last 120 years.
    [The Montana Gianni] Front sight and squeeze

  20. #20
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bret4207 View Post
    And with equal respect Rocky, the liquid has to get under the surface for a "steam explosion" to happen. That's just the laws of nature and common sense. Now the guy that pushes a cold ingot under the surface- yeah, or the guy that dumps a shovel load of scrap in a pot smelting without checking for the 22 rounds that are in there- yeah. Condensation forms and can cause problems, been there, done that, I'm still picking lead off the walls. The old advice of warming your ingots is good advice.

    I'm saying lets not confuse freak accidents and carelessness with "a drop of water hitting the surface causing a steam explosion". Doesn't happen, can't happen. makes no sense. Anytime someone has an explosion there has to be either water getting under the surface or something else happening we're not aware off. Can't change the laws of physics.
    Thank God someone is speaking common sense. Is it wise to drop shovels full of known wet scrap into a molten bucket, not just no, but hell no. I do find it absolutely humorous though when people are telling their stories of this one kamikaze June bug that landed in their pot and it immediately caused a nuclear explosion. I assure you if a June bug lands in your pot you will see his butt dancing around on the hot dance floor. Would I stir him on into my mix, maybe after he has cooked a while, but not immediately..

    I would say common sense ain't so common any more.

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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
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