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Thread: Flux and smoke. What do you use?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master nueces5's Avatar
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    Flux and smoke. What do you use?

    Good evening everyone, here in Buenos Aires at 7pm, the thermometer reads 11°C or 53°F, so the casting season opens.
    I made my first batch of boolits and I realize that when I use pine resin for the flux, it leaves everything full of smoke, and I would like to know what you use. I have read a little on the forum, but there is little information or I am a fool searching. I found that some grind the charcoal and add it as a thin layer of powder on top. Many use sawdust, but I think it also smokes.
    I don't have sawdust and it is difficult to get it, and I would like to put something in the pot that doesn't generate dirt so I don't have problems with the nozzle that supplies the lead, if there is dirt it is difficult to seal.
    I think there doesn't need to be a flame for it to be a good flux, but I'm not sure.
    What do you use?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Most folks do not flux in their casting pot because it clogs the pour spout. We clean/flux the source of our alloy in a separate operation using whatever will produce carbon when burned. Some doesn't combust and smolders and smokes. When the carbon forms you stir and scrape the pot and stir the liquid alloy through the carbon layer to remove the unwanted material when it bonds to the carbon which is dross. In this process you also reduce the oxides in the alloy. We pour ingots of clean alloy for use in our casting pots.

    Since your alloy is clean all you need to be concerned with is reducing the oxides in your alloy. You can do that with pine resign, wax or paraffin. Even old engine oil. You don't need much. Something about the size of a kernel of corn. Stir and scrape your pot while it melts and smokes. It may even catch fire which will cut down on the smoke. Make sure you have a good flame proof glove.

    I use sawdust and candle wax to flux the alloy when making ingots. I use pine rosin or wax or paraffin in the casting pot. I only flux at the start of the casting session.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by jsizemore; 07-08-2024 at 01:14 PM.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    I flux my smelting pot in two steps...first sawdust...let it blacken as it is stirred in. Skim off the charcoal from the top. Next...I add two pea sized globs of pure bee's wax...this I ignite with a long click lighter...or a wooden match, whichever I have at the time. This gets stirred and stirred...then I skim off the dross from the top.

    At this point...I have a real shiny pot of lead....I then start pouring ingots.

    These cleaned ingots get put in my casting pot...and it does not require any additional cleaning/fluxing other than to occasionally pull any dark dross off the top.

    redhawk

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  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I also do not flux during casting sessions. One additional help is to turn down the heat on the pot as low as you can while still getting good fill-out in the mold. this reduces the formation of oxides as well.
    Hick: Iron sights!

  5. #5
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    I flux one time in the pot [Lyman Mag 20] when the alloy is first melted and brought up to casting temp of 715 - 725. Then I put a small marble sized chunk of beeswax on the alloy and 3 wooden matches. The matches ignite and burn the smoke while I'm fluxing the meld.
    Larry Gibson

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    ― Nikola Tesla

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I flux ... in my pot , Lee Magnum Melter , a couple times during a session .

    A heaping teaspoon of pencil sharpener wood shavings ... cedar wood smells nice .
    To that I add about 1/2 teaspoon beeswax... stir all well with a little wooden paddle / stick ... when nothing but ash is left on surface ...Skim Well .

    There is something about wood shavings and beeswax that does a complete job of fluxing ... better than just using one or the other .
    Commerical lead flux powder , like Frankford Arsenal CleanCast , is a non-smoking , non flammable lead casting flux that I also use ... it doesn't smoke or burst into flame and has no odor but some say it causes rusting on metal surfaces and builds up in pots ...but I think they use too much ... I use a little and have seen no rusting of metal in my shop .
    Gary
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  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I use sawdust and a small amount of bees wax or bullet lube igniting the smoke, be careful here indoors. I cast in front of an open garage door and building is 10' to the rafters. Stir and mix as it going. I normally mix the sawdust thru till its charred well then add the beeswax and mix again. It dosnt take a lot of wax pea sized or a little less.
    Also when fluxing be sure to work the sides and bottom of the pot working the flux down thru the alloy and the allot up thru the flux.
    One way to flux with less smoke is to use a wooden paint stir stick. and just stir and scrape.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master nueces5's Avatar
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    The truth is that it is very difficult for me to prepare the ingots outside of my Lee oven, at one time I did it, but my Coleman heater broke.
    I was seeing that here in my country, I get flux for people who do silver or copper soldering. Do you have any idea if any of these compounds work? I'm going to see if I can see what chemical compound they are. If anyone has the Frankford arsenal, please send me the information on the label that I see about getting it in Argentina.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master schutzen-jager's Avatar
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    wax from wife's old candle stubs -
    never pick a fight with an old man - if he is too old to fight he will just kill you -
    in this current crisis our government is not the solution , it is the problem ! -

    ILLEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM

    as they say in latin

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    A paper clip shoved up the nozzle will clear any blockages.

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master


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    I always flux with sawdust when I have some dry around. I once used dried leaves and they worked fine. I then flux a second time with beeswax. When I’m casting ingots I just use sawdust and I’m less concerned about getting it perfect in the casting pot.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy Gobeyond's Avatar
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    You coulduse frankford arsenal casting flux. It doesn’t smoke much. But not necessary for previously fluxed lead. Cleans up nice but you need a pot where you can stir good. No valve in the way.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Stir the mix with a dry stick. My sticks are about 1/4" x 1/2" about 10-12" long. Ripped a 2x4 or 1x2 on the table saw or bandsaw. What I don't use for smelting make great marker sticks for the garden.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy hermans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duckiller View Post
    Stir the mix with a dry stick. My sticks are about 1/4" x 1/2" about 10-12" long. Ripped a 2x4 or 1x2 on the table saw or bandsaw. What I don't use for smelting make great marker sticks for the garden.
    This exactly what I do as well. Start with nice cleaned ingots, and I just stir with a wooden stick when I start to cast, and then only when fresh ingots are added.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master WRideout's Avatar
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    I use candle wax, paraffin wax, or vegetable oil. All of them burn with little smoke, and they don't leave residue. If they don't ignite instantly, you can light it with a match or welders spark lighter. The veg oil smells like French fries.

    Wayne
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    Venison is free-range, organic, non-GMO and gluten-free

  16. #16
    Boolit Master nueces5's Avatar
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    I make my alloy according to what I am going to make (pistol, rifle...), for that I have pure lead in clean ingots and linotype, sometimes I add a little extra tin
    I prefer not to make linotype ingots because each piece of lead is of different weight, so I handle the alloy by adding different amounts of linotype.
    that's why I need fluxing in the Lee pot

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    If whatever your using is clean then you don't need to flux. All you need to do is reduce your oxides and you can do that with candle wax. You only need to add something the size of a pea. Stir and scrape the pot to mix your alloy. Since your using linotype to make your alloy you'll have a slushy, bubbly stuff floating on the top of your alloy. Take the back of a spoon and mash it against the side of the pot and stir it into the alloy. It's your antimony that has come out of solution and needs to be mixed back in. You may need to raise your pot temp a little or light your melted wax on top of the melt. That stuff is part of your alloy and not dross. It needs to be mixed back in.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master nueces5's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsizemore View Post
    If whatever your using is clean then you don't need to flux. All you need to do is reduce your oxides and you can do that with candle wax. You only need to add something the size of a pea. Stir and scrape the pot to mix your alloy. Since your using linotype to make your alloy you'll have a slushy, bubbly stuff floating on the top of your alloy. Take the back of a spoon and mash it against the side of the pot and stir it into the alloy. It's your antimony that has come out of solution and needs to be mixed back in. You may need to raise your pot temp a little or light your melted wax on top of the melt. That stuff is part of your alloy and not dross. It needs to be mixed back in.
    very good information, thanks

  19. #19
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    Great comments. As far as the smoke goes, I smelt in a separate Weber grill that I converted to smelt with. Point of this is it has a lid which hid the smoke from the nosy neighbors who were only about 25 feet away at the time. You couldn't tell what I was doing when the lid was on. Just a thought in how you could construct something to smelt in first. Plenty of set ups, including mine, in the older posts. Half propane tank makes a great pot to smelt in. Good luck.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    We had a member that used old motor oil to get rid of the sludge on the top of his melt when he was smelting. Instead of raising the temp of the whole pot of alloy, the fire on the surface would be localized to keep him from manually have to mix the antimony/tin back into the melt other than stirring and starve the oxygen from the surface of the melt. He had plenty of old oil that's easy to ignite. He lived in a fairly isolated place and neighbors weren't a concern.

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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
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