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Thread: A myth about water and molten lead

  1. #81
    Hi all, just joined up.
    I also worked at a aluminum foundry (auto wheels) for 18 years. We had quite a few times were we had explosions.

    You all are right about moisture getting under the liquid metal. Most of the time it was people putting wet gloves or trash in the scrap hoppers. They were then dumped in to be remelted. From what we could tell the object was colder then the metal and would get in-cased then the steam would start to build (think hand grenade)

    As for things dropping on top. not a good idea, but not as bad. most would just burn off. Snow would come in through the roof and fall into the open furnace (Michigan) Someone came up with the idea of adding potatoes to help degas / flux the metal. Still not a good idea. When you add bees wax to the top of the lead to flux it, that's what your doing,,, adding a liquid to the top of the metal... just like a sweat drop.

    Another source was cold / damp sow molds (1,300 lbs) that were pulled inside to be filled. They would get about 1/2 full before they would pop. All the sows that were added to the furnaces would be set on the ledge to get hot, then pushed in with the next one when needed. Steele sample molds (3" round, 1/2" thick) would reach the roof if it was wet. If a low psi. mold would leak on a pour and spill to the ground, the concrete would have enough moisture to flip over a 4"x 3' x 3' thick cooling sheet aluminum.

    I don't want to come across as a know it all, still got a lot to learn and been checking out some good stuff here. Just be safe. BT

  2. #82
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    Welcome aboard, and a good point about those that may dump hot ingots or lead onto concrete. It can, and will explode.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
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  3. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonk View Post
    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.
    Wow. Thought that would have exploded.

  4. #84
    Boolit Master mroliver77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supersonic View Post
    Wow. Thought that would have exploded.
    Have you read this thread? The water explodes when trapped UNDER the surface. Lead is much more dense tyhan water. It would be hard for water to push water under the surface of lead unless of course it had sufficient velocity. The worst offender as I see it is lead ingots with moister trapped or moist utensils pushed under the surface. Many of us here have done tests of dripping, pouring and splashing water onto a lead pot with little to no surprises.
    Jay
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    "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

  5. #85
    Boolit Mold perazzi's Avatar
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    or, in my case, a 15* ladle into 750* lead pot.

  6. #86
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by sundog View Post
    Try adding cold ingots to already working pot..., don't ask.
    whew, tell you what. i have had them boil hot lead onto the table. scarey if your sitting right there infront of it

  7. #87
    Boolit Man
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    I just had my first explosion... had an ingot which I figured must have been dry enough after two hours... and was apparently wrong. The word stamped into the ingot must have had some water still in it. Next thing you know, enough volatility to have a few drops hit the underside of the garage door. Awesome... and scary. It all went straight up, fortunately.

  8. #88
    Boolit Man
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    Smile just my 2 cents on moisture,

    I have seen burps and pops with my lead pot,

    then have seen aluminum explosions in the past,

    imagine what went through my mind when one of the melt pots where I work,
    induction melter 50lb pot, had a coil break through and we had water in the pot with 2800F metal ,the metal being suspended in the middle of pot by the induction field, with the water coming in the bottom and steaming off, we tilted the pot and then backed off the power and ran, figuring we were going to have a very bad day,

    believe it or not we did not have a steam explosion but had some hairy moments till things got cooled down
    best one of the month,

    about unique and IMR unequal, They really did duplicate it, made it equally unobtainable

  9. #89
    Boolit Mold
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    wow! What I'm learning!

    I joined cast boolits a couple of years ago then had a minni-disaster at home that required a lot of remodeling. So I'm just now geting around to 'scouting' the forums and learning, learning and more learning!
    I had fooled [note that operative word there] around with smelting and casting lead for several years, pouring sinkers and various fishing baits. But had never taken time to actully try and learn something about what I was getting done. Fortunately I learned about mixing water and molten metal w/o any serious reprocussions.
    I also learned about spilling molten lead on damp concreate, with only a few holes in my pants legs Now that I've let a buddy who shoots 'cast' almost exclusivly, talk me into expanding my horizions by adding to my passion for guns the shooting of cast bulnets also. Well Actully a good part of the need to go to cast bullets has to do with an old 'country boy' judy wanting to keep on surviving. So I figured I had better learn something about what I'm gonna be doing? Hopfully so that I won't keep on getting 'fooled'.
    Right now I'm spending a lot of time just clicking and reading.
    Thus the reason for butting in on this thread. I have noted in several places refrences to 'kitty litter'? as well as using scads of materials to 'flux' with? I've purchased a couple of 'casting' books, Lyman's Bullet casting being one of them. I spend a lot of time searching for more info. on the subject and when I scare up something that I haven't ehard of I axk WHY?, Who, What, and Where to find info.
    Since I'm an old Phart that has lost more memory than he has left I seem to have to keep re-learning! Like the 'kitty litter' and various and sundary items/substances for fluxing that has been mentioned? I know this is just too simple a question to be true but I'ma gonna ask one of those never ending questions anyway Is there a 'forum page where 'old and new tricks are discussed such as 'floating Kitty litter, or old motor oil Etc.? Oh Yeah and here's the second question and it's related to the above. Since I have smelted and cast before I did have a reasonably workable system put together and was in the process of improving on it when I came across a discussion last night where several members had discussed various smelting and casting setups. Some of those discussions gave me several ideas for refining my own 'kit' But I've forgotten which forum I was on when I read that? Is there some way that I can call back up a thread that I have made post on? So far my feble efforts to 'search' it back up have failed and so I just took to browsing other intresting stuff, figuring some day I'll stumble back across it!
    Finally [I promise, this is my last question, fo now] I intend to be around for a while and do not want to wear out my welcome w/o even knowing I've managed to whizz off a whole bunch of members so If it appears that I might be drifting in that direction somewhere down the road? Someone just whisper a word of caution in me ear and I'll tune myself back up some!
    Thanks, thtwit
    Last edited by thtwit; 11-26-2011 at 11:59 PM.

  10. #90
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  11. #91
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    according to the experts here, none of which have tried it, lead cannot splash out if water is dropped in the pot. So, this video is not possible.

    My offer still stands, for one of the "it can't happen crowd" to come over the next time I am smelting WW and pee into the smelting pot.

  12. #92
    Boolit Man Inkman's Avatar
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    Little experience last nite......

    ....First time casting in the cold here in kalif and made sure to use ingots that were garage temp but definitely dry. Carried some extras out to the back yard to add to the pot after the first batch was cast. Added a cold one to the pot and heard the "sizzle" lol and a tiny bit of steam came off the pot. Scared the **** outta me and i jumped back. Turned out the ones i brought out to add to the pot had a little condensation on them from sitting out in the cold air after only about an hour.

    Didn't even occur to me the need to warm them up on the rim first as i usually just toss em in and use the pots cool down/warm up time as a break to hit the head and let the mold cool down. Not anymore.... I was amazed at the time that moisture would form on the ingots in such a short amount of time, but thinking afterwards, it's not so amazing after all

    All part of the learning curve i suppose

    Al

  13. #93
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    Sure glad you survived your visit by the tinsel fairy. Hope you never forget it over the years.

    The next time you take a cold beverage from the fridge and pour it into a glass count the seconds before condensation starts to form. The big difference between PB and the glass is you expect it on the glass.
    WE WON. WE BEAT THE MACHINE. WE HAVE CCW NOW.

  14. #94
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    man, I upended a 35 gal drum of wheelwts into a molten 100 lb pot, but ony about 20 lbs of lead in the pot, to empty the last of the wheelwts into it. The drum had stood outdoors for who knows how long, and had ICE in its bottom! Lordy. I had to cut the laces of my boots with my knife, a big splash having gone down inside of my sock, and still got the hell burned out of my ankle.

    I also once overturned a 20 lb pot into my lap, with the phone cord. I still can't believe how fast I moved! If I could just move like that all the time, I'd be MMA champ of all time.

  15. #95
    Boolit Master 59sharps's Avatar
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    I Seen first hand a little bit of spray form opening a beer empty a pot too. water and hot lead do not go well together. If you think its ok then I guess you should go cast in a little rain shower. try your luck have at it! Why NOT!
    14th VA. CAV.
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  16. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idaho Sharpshooter View Post
    according to the experts here, none of which have tried it, lead cannot splash out if water is dropped in the pot. So, this video is not possible.

    My offer still stands, for one of the "it can't happen crowd" to come over the next time I am smelting WW and pee into the smelting pot.
    Not to 'stir the pot' but there's a distinction here that you're missing. In that video, as in any case where there is an actual lead spray, the water had to get under the surface of the melt before it flashed to steam. Standing a few feet away and giving a mighty squeeze to a turkey baster can give the water stream enough inertia that it will penetrate the melt surface when it hits. The same thing can happen when a raindrop has 2000 feet to accelerate before hitting the surface of the melt. If a fellow could 'dribble' enough he actually could safely pee in the pot...except for the cloud of rising steam that might cook his weenie

    If the video guy REALLY wanted to demonstrate a tinsel fairy he should have tied a saturated cotton ball to a wheelweight and tossed that into the pot!

    Gently pouring the water on top is an entirely different thing than forcefully shoving it under the surface. As long as ALL the water remains above the melt then the steam has someplace to go when it expands. The problem is that it's not all that hard to accidentally drag a bit of water below the surface..especially if it's hiding on something you're adding to the pot.

    I have some 1lb ingots that have been stored in the garage for two years now, but they once got wet and so they have a little layer of oxide on them. If I don't rest them on the edge of the pot for a few minutes to let the tiny bit of condensation inside the oxide layer bake off I'll get a small eruption when I add them. Again, it's because the water is being carried under the surface.

    So, to summarize:

    1) Water ONLY on the surface won't cause a tinsel explosion
    2) Water below the surface will cause one
    3) The threshold between (1) and (2) is an easy one to cross accidentally
    4) Keeping water away from the melt is, in general a good idea.

  17. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by trench View Post
    man, I upended a 35 gal drum of wheelwts into a molten 100 lb pot, but ony about 20 lbs of lead in the pot, to empty the last of the wheelwts into it. The drum had stood outdoors for who knows how long, and had ICE in its bottom! Lordy. I had to cut the laces of my boots with my knife, a big splash having gone down inside of my sock, and still got the hell burned out of my ankle.

    I also once overturned a 20 lb pot into my lap, with the phone cord. I still can't believe how fast I moved! If I could just move like that all the time, I'd be MMA champ of all time.
    As my little Spanish wife would say,,,"mucho be careful"

  18. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elkins45 View Post
    Not to 'stir the pot' but there's a distinction here that you're missing. In that video, as in any case where there is an actual lead spray, the water had to get under the surface of the melt before it flashed to steam. Standing a few feet away and giving a mighty squeeze to a turkey baster can give the water stream enough inertia that it will penetrate the melt surface when it hits. The same thing can happen when a raindrop has 2000 feet to accelerate before hitting the surface of the melt. If a fellow could 'dribble' enough he actually could safely pee in the pot...except for the cloud of rising steam that might cook his weenie

    If the video guy REALLY wanted to demonstrate a tinsel fairy he should have tied a saturated cotton ball to a wheelweight and tossed that into the pot!

    Gently pouring the water on top is an entirely different thing than forcefully shoving it under the surface. As long as ALL the water remains above the melt then the steam has someplace to go when it expands. The problem is that it's not all that hard to accidentally drag a bit of water below the surface..especially if it's hiding on something you're adding to the pot.

    I have some 1lb ingots that have been stored in the garage for two years now, but they once got wet and so they have a little layer of oxide on them. If I don't rest them on the edge of the pot for a few minutes to let the tiny bit of condensation inside the oxide layer bake off I'll get a small eruption when I add them. Again, it's because the water is being carried under the surface.

    So, to summarize:

    1) Water ONLY on the surface won't cause a tinsel explosion
    2) Water below the surface will cause one
    3) The threshold between (1) and (2) is an easy one to cross accidentally
    4) Keeping water away from the melt is, in general a good idea.
    These things here match my experience with casting.

  19. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by 59sharps View Post
    I Seen first hand a little bit of spray form opening a beer empty a pot too. water and hot lead do not go well together. If you think its ok then I guess you should go cast in a little rain shower. try your luck have at it! Why NOT!
    Actually I have cast in a rain shower. Well, not boolit casting, rather ingot casting. I had my turkey fryer setup in the back yard, and had about 50lbs in the pot when the sky opened up! Here in FL it can go from sunny to a monsoon within 5 minutes! When the first few drops started I kept filling the ingot moulds, as I had 2 more to fill. By the time I had them filled the rain drops were getting much bigger, so I decided I better call it quits. I turned off the gas to the fryer, and then stepped back a ways, and kept a watch for the tinsel fairy which I was sure was going to come. Well, the pot made lots of hissing noises, as did the filled ingot moulds, had lots of steam coming off them too, but not one drop of lead came out of the pot, or the ingots! 20 minutes later, when the sun had come back out there was an inch of water in the dutch oven over the lead, but other than that there was no way of knowing it had even rained at all! The surface of the lead resembled the face of the moon, all sorts of nice craters in it, and the ingots had a rough finish to the exposed lead as well. I was going to continue on with the smelting, but decided that I had enough ingots cast for the day, so I just poured off the water, and left the remaining lead in the pot for the next smelt.

    So I've seen it with my own eyes. The water didn't get under the surface of the lead (I don't know how!), so there was no explosion. Would I want to do that on a regular basis? No. But I don't worry if a drop of sweat gets into my pot either.

    And as for the video in the YouTube link above, the guy doing that was really risking his pot, as if some of that water he was squirting at it had gotten in to the electronics of it, that would have fried it!
    - MikeS

    Want to checkout my feedback? It's here:
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  20. #100
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    I've cast in the rain outside too, and the snow and with bugs and birds around. The fine point to this whole argument is that water ON THE SURFACE of a molten lead pot will flash off. Water/moisture getting UNDER the surface will work like any other rapidly expanding gas- It'll take the path if least resistance if it can. So while the force is directed in all directions the upward and outward areas are where the splash happens. Until it gets under the melt surface we aren't going to see the explosion because the gases aren't contained. Anything gets UNDER the surface- yupper, tinsel fairy.

    5 pages to come to a simple realization that what we say and how we say it matters. Sheesh!

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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