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Thread: A myth about water and molten lead

  1. #21
    Boolit Master Rocky Raab's Avatar
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    No disagreement here with the physics of it; the water does have to get below the surface.

    I'm only saying that if you have water in the vicinity of your casting pot, you are living in the land of "Yet." Because sooner or later, somehow, someway ...

    THAT's common sense.

  2. #22
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    Bret4207's Avatar
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    Okay, we're on the same page. Caution with burny things is always a good policy.

  3. #23
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    I gotta go with Bret on thise mostly.

    However one day I was smelting in the backyard and I had just finished fluxing the alloy and it had a smooth mirror finish on it and I was about to grab the ladle to start casting some ingots when a flock of Pidgeons flew over at about 100 feet of altitude.

    There was one bird though that had trained with the 8th Air Force and let go with a large portion of what birds tend to drop everywhere. The aim was uncanny......and I had a front row seat to an explosion. I had looked up to the birds flying overhead and I remembered Glen Fixell's warning about smelting out in the open when things tend to fall from the sky........I rapidly backed away from the Dutch Oven on the top of the Turkey Fryer and and watched as a large clump of bird dump found it's way directly onto the surface of my beloved new and difficult to obtain alloy.

    It was a bulls eye. WHUMP! Was the sound and rapidly a wall of molten alloy spread out in a circular pattern and about 4 feet higher than the smelting pot.

    I was still moving away and about 15' away when the Tinsel Fairy and all her girlfriends had a party.

    I got some on my feet and leather apron below my waist and there was a circle of alloy completely around the area. The alloy rapidly cooled on the grass lawn and I spent the next couple of hours gently peeling the alloy sheets offa the ground and grass.

    The bad part was that a lot of grass and dirt got encapsulated in the alloy and it all needed to remelted from a cold pot so the tinsel fairy would not come back.

    I did find a fast way to remelt this alloy. I got some hardware cloth with large 1/4" openings and placed it over the smelt pot and placed chunks of alloy with the encapsulated grass and dirt on top of it. Then I applied a propane weed burner flame until the alloy melted and dripped into the dutch oven whilst the grass and dirt was cooked out of all it's moisture and water.

    I still had some snap crackle and pop going on but it worked out OK.

    Gotta watch out for the birds with nasty bathroom habits cuz if it is a big enuf hunk of moisture laden material it can drop and penetrate the surface of a molton alloy mix and hurt you.
    Pax Nobiscum Dan (Crash) Corrigan

    Currently casting, reloading and shooting: 223 Rem, 6.5x55 Sweede, 30 Carbine, 30-06, 30-30 WCF, 7.62x39, 327 Fed Mag, 303 Brit., 32WS, 7.92x57, 38 Spcl, 357 Mag, ,380 ACP. 9x19, 38-55 Win, 41 Mag, 44 Spcl., 44 Mag, 45 Colt, 45 ACP, 454 Casull, 457 RB for ROA and 50-90 Sharps.

  4. #24
    Boolit Master zardoz's Avatar
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    On a related note.

    Over twenty years ago, I was working in an aluminum die casting plant in Dallas, TX. We had the old style reverb type melting furnace there, that held a few tons of molten aluminum (think 1300 degrees F).

    Well, one year, we had a freak snowstorm of a few inches that paralyzed the city it seems. No one in the plant had any experience with snow or ice on the ingots there in Dallas. Well, someone got some of the 30 lb. ingots from outside, and a few had snow on them, and into the 1300 degree reverb melt.

    Some of the vets said we were hit by a 100mm shell, or something close. The whole building shook with the shock wave.

    Thank God nobody was hurt, as the forklift operator off to the side of the charge well was protected by thick Lexan screen. It was splattered with a solid sheet of aluminum, and melted the plastic after the impact.

    A concrete cinder block wall, maybe 15 feet directly in front of the furnace charge well, looked like it had been hit with with 50 cal. fire from a Ma Deuce or something.

    Tinsel fairy on steroids. Since then, extreme respect for the power of steam.

  5. #25
    Boolit Man Lavid2002's Avatar
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    wow.... Thanks for the good tips. I had no idea I needed to watch out for cold lead. Common sense with the condensation. :P

  6. #26
    Boolit Buddy Paladin 56's Avatar
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    Ditto on a drop of water hitting the surface not being a problem.

    On adding cold ingots stored outside, I learned long ago to preheat them. The urge to run is worse than trying to cure a flinch after seeing the Devils brew bubble, spit and hiss.

    One thing here no one has mentioned that I can recall on water dropping.

    I always water drop and almost always have, but one time before I learned to float a sponge in the water, after getting a good rhythm going I must have closed the mold on a dancing droplet splashed up from the boolit hitting the water. Upon filling the cavity with lead all hell broke loose. The surprise factor is notable as well as exhilarating to say the least.

    Suffice it to say, you can't hold the mold closed and you will be lucky if you don't drop it. I didn't drop the mold but I'm surprised the sprue plate wasn't sprung. Even baby tinsel fairies are extraordinarily strong.

    From then on the mold is ALWAYS visually checked or turned upside down before the sprue plate is closed.

  7. #27
    Boolit Master mroliver77's Avatar
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    Even ingots stored in my barn condense water on/in them under the right conditions. Sometimes everything in the barn is cold and a warmer moist day will see everything covered with "dew". I always preheat anything going into a hot pot. Fellow once told me that Northern Ohio has jungles as bad as Viet Nam with the heat and humidity of our summers.
    Jay
    "The .30-06 is never a mistake." Townsend Whelen

    "THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
    Thomas Paine

  8. #28
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    not to highjack this thread but sometimes when I slide a new ingot into the molton lead a get a boiling action for a few seconds. Doesn't explore (been there) but it will cause the lead to bubble out of the pot it it's close to the top.

    I'm thinking some kind of foreign matter (my shooting buddy takes the WW down to ingots and I cast the bullets). He doesn't know what it could be

    walt
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  9. #29
    Boolit Master
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    If anyone on this board, member or nonmember, thinks they could possibly have control of the water or water based product once it contacts molten lead they are very very foolish. Go ahead and discuss physics and chemistry and whatever else you care to add to the conversation. Molten lead and water do not MIX. The tinsel fairy is a pretty term but is quite ugly when you receive the visit. I have seen the results of the tinsel visit on a few occassions and I am very glad that I was never seriously hurt. I try to observe safe practices when melting lead and adding water or a water moistened substance to my pot is not considered a safe practice by me. Some of the posts on this thread are a joke as they could possibly make a beginner feel that water around molten lead is an acceptable practice. If anyone cares to flame me I will respond to you by private message. It won't be nice either.

    Nighthunter

  10. #30
    Boolit Master



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    Walt, that boiling is probably water. Be careful. I fluxed with some sawdust that was out in my garage. It must have picked up some moisture. I put a layer on top of the mix and nothing happened. As soon as I started to press it down, The lead started to rumble. I stopped and waited a minute. Everything was fine then.
    ARMY Viet-Nam 70-71

  11. #31
    Boolit Master Jbar4Ranch's Avatar
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    I spent 23 years working at an ASARCO lead smelter in East Helena, and the normal procedure for cooling a 120 ton kettle of finish lead was to place a 3/4" water hose over the edge of the kettle and turn slowly turn it on as a gigantic electric mixer turned the cooled pieces into the hot bath to cool it. Sometimes, if it was too hot, it would pop and spit for awhile, but when it quit, you turned the water on full and let it turn in for a half hour or so until the mix took on a grainy appearance like a silver milkshake. At that point, a big natural gas burner under the kettle was lit and a few hundred pounds of sulfur was dumped in. After 90 minutes or so, a fine black copper dross was skimmed off and the lead was pumped into ten 10 ton ingots. In order to cool the ingots quickly so they could be loaded into rail cars the same shift, a water hose was placed on the edge of the mould, and slowly turned on. In a few minutes, water covered the entire surface of the ingot, and the hose was turned on full. In an hour, or even less in some circumstances, the 10 ingots were loaded via overhead crane into rail cars. We would typically process 200 tons of lead in a 24 hour period, from raw ore going into the top of a blast furnace to finished product heading to our Omaha plant for further refinement into gold, silver, and lead.

  12. #32
    Boolit Master Cadillo's Avatar
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    Murphy Could Come Calling One Day

    Quote Originally Posted by prs View Post
    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
    Cold metal objects are often moist due to condensation of moisture in the air. If they are introduced into the melt such that the moisture gets beneath the surface of the melt prior to evaporation, you've got trouble.

    For years I worked in an aluminum reduction plant working with a lot of molten material. During the winter months we had to be very cautious and warm our iron tools on the surface before disturbing any molten material or very very bad things happened.

    When the molten stuff hits the fan, you want to be wearing Denim or some other heavy cotton clothing. Synthetics will really make a bad scenario worse when hit by molten material.
    There is some ammo and more ammo. There is never enough ammo!

  13. #33
    Boolit Mold Reddog177's Avatar
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    A neighbor did me a favor, one time back in the mid '60s, by picking up bullets at our local range backstop and bringing them to me to recast. Rather than check them, I poured them directly into the pot from the shot bag they were in. Nevermore! A .45 acp round emptied the 20 pound pot, instantly! Luckily, the bag caught most of the blast and I had on safety glasses. Only injury was my wedding band. I almost skinned my finger trying to get it off! The guy sitting behind me had his coat on and was gone before I could turn around. He never came back.
    Dick

  14. #34
    Boolit Master

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    Three or four years ago I bought a ton of range scrap from a semi-commercial caster. I say semi because he cleaned up the sheriff's department range and cast for their practice ammo. This stuff had been sitting around for a couple of years and was very oxidized. Before I cleaned it up, I covered all the buckets with an old tarp. As luck would have it, it rained a couple of inches overnight. A couple of the buckets got a lot of water in them. I set those aside and was going to clean them last. Even after being spread on a sheet of plywood in the sun all day they were still wet. I got impatient and slowly slipped a shovel full on top of the melt and let it set. No explosion or anything except steam and that was not violent. I finished off both buckets that way. The only explanation I could come up with was that all that lead was so oxidized that it stayed on top of the melt and dried out. That and I must have been living right. I decided I had used up all my good luck and have never let water close to a melt since.

    I've never been tempted to buy range scrap since then either.

    John
    W.TN

  15. #35
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    Springfield's Avatar
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    I set my ingots on the edge of the pot before I shove them in. I also store my ingots in the shop so they don't get wet. A few years ago I broght in a new batch of ingots that had been stored outside and had been rained on. I had to be very carfule with these as a few of them bubbled as they went in, not haveing spent enogh tme on the pot before going in. But this was surface moisture, so it wasn't too bad. The worst thing I have ever had to do was to smelt used lead pipe. Very difficult to get out all the moisture before smelting. The pot bubbling was bad enogh, but one time I shoved in a pipe a little too fast, and the moisture caused the pipe to act as a cannon, blowing pipe residue out the end, shooting who knows what right past my ear! I learned to never aim the top end of the pipe at myself. I have also managed to get live primers in my melt. I now never just sweep up lead scraps from the floor and pour them in a hot pot, always sift through it first. Fortunately they just fire off while on the surface, but it will cause you to pucker a bit. ALWAYS wear safety glasses and gloves. I can live with burns on my arms, but I truly cherish my vision.

  16. #36
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    Same thing happened to me Springfield, but it was residual powder on the lube of boolits I had pulled. I tossed a few in without thinkin and next thing I know I got the little "Snap, Crackle, Pop" guys doing a dance on top of my pot.
    Good, Cheap, Fast: Pick two.

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  17. #37
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    One time my common sense deserted me also. Like Springfield I stuck a piece of lead pipe inot a hot pot. It's always too late when you realize your plan is really, really stupid. I near shat myself when the resulting eruption blasted out the open end of the pipe. Since then, about 25 years, I never add to a hot pot without preheating.
    Paul G.
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  18. #38

    Lead and water

    I was in the scuba diving equipment business for 25 years, one of the products we made was lead diving weights(500,000 Lbs. per year).

    I did most of the casting because I had more experience then any one else.

    One time I was casting from my small lead pot(300 lbs), I had used all the lead in the pot and was filling it scrap that was in the building for two days.

    I relit the furance, I heard a loud hissing coming from the furance. I went out side of the building not 20 seconds before there was a loud thump that kicked all of the lead out of the pot all over the building. I was glad I got out side of the building before the blow out. It is allmost impossible to know when there is water in scrap lead. The only way to be sure that this can not happen is to only load when the pot is cold.

    Mike Circle
    Circle Lead Products Inc.
    circle141@msn.com

  19. #39
    Boolit Master
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    I have had it happen. As I leaned forward sweat dripped into the pot and there was a stem explosion that splatterted lead across the from of my shirt of nylon tricot fabric that never wore out after years and years though I did eventually need to resew some of the seams where the stitching rotted away. I wore that shirt for YEARS when casting just to remind me to never lean over the pot.

    NEVER SAY NEVER

  20. #40
    Boolit Master

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    Your telling me that a bead of human sweat broke the surface tension of a pot of molten lead? This sounds like a job for myth busters, cause I can't believe that.
    Good, Cheap, Fast: Pick two.

    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
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