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Hello all,

I have been making my own shot for over a year now, and I have recently changed my process to speed it up and have some questions....

Until two weeks ago I was using a lee pro melting pot to melt tire weights into ingots, now i have switched to a propane burner, and a lager pot to be able to melt more lead at a time. this is my set up:

Propane burner (new)
Stainless steal pot (new)
Bees wax to bring the impurities to the top
Lead tire weights

My process hasn't changed, I still melt the the lead, skim the metal tabs from the wheel weights, throw in some bees wax, skim the impurities....

YET HERE IS MY QUESTION: for some reason, after doing all of this I am getting a blueish film at the top of the lead. I'll skim the film out....and it comes back again? I haven't run any of this lead through my shot maker yet out of fear that it might "stop it up." I can't remember every having this while I was using the Lee pro lead pot....

Am I running to much heat?
Do i need a cast iron pot instead of a stainless steel pot?
Am I an idiot and just need to not worry about the lead because what i'm seeing now is normal?

blessings,

Christyouthguy
 

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ChristYouthGuy:

I'm no authority, but if you read the Lyman Guide to Bullet Making, you will see 2 specific issues mentioned.

(1) WRINKLED bullets are poured too COOL

(2) FROSTED bullets are poured too HOT

I would guess that any stainless steel pot is too thin, too hot, and that you should switch to one of the Cast Iron Dutch Ovens. Besides that, a Propane Heater alone, would be evidentiary of a much hotter temp, at least much moreso than a simple Lee melter.

If that stainless pot is hot enough, could it be that the blue film is showing the steel is slowly "cooking off" into the lead?

/ I would consider that.

/ [but....what do I know? I was a poster child for the Literary Society's publication:

"How To Write a Book For DUMMIES for DUMMIES" ....well Yah!]

/

/
 

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Hello:

The blue/gray scum on the surface is probably tin raising to the surface. You do not want to skim this away. It is the most valuable part of your alloy.

The purpose of the beeswax (flux) is to recombine the tin with the lead and bring impurities to the surface.

After your metal reaches temperature where it will pour easily through a dipper, drop your beeswax in the pot, as it smokes, you can light it with a match, lighter or striker, this eliminates the smoke.

Stir the metal energetically with the dipper, working the floating tin and flux material through the molten metal.

Metal properly fluxed will take back the tin, leaving the surface almost mirror-bright and flecked with impurities which can now be skimmed off.

As the metal sits in the pot, the scum will reappear as the tin again separates from the lead, and must be fluxed again.

Try this. If your scum layer recombines with the lead during fluxing, it is the tin you are seeing.

Regards,
 

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A safety tip... propane is hotter and harder to control the temp than an electric pot. The electric pots don't get hot enough to vaporize the lead (very bad to breathe)... propane could get hot enough.

Have you been to the "cast boolit" forums? There are some really knowledgeable guys there about melting, casting, and anything else you'd want to know... I've learned a lot there.
 

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Too hot...Too long...
Zactly that. The Lee P pot has a thermostat, the propane burner does not. The alloy keeps getting hotter and hotter. The bluish is the hint:

From Wiki..."Tin(II) oxide (stannous oxide) is a compound of tin and oxygen where tin has the oxidation state of +2. There are two forms, a stable blue-black form ..."
 

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CYG,
Dial the heat back once you've got a melt, the best thing you can do for yourself is get a thermometer, readily available. The other trick that will really help once you've got your melt fluxed and skimmed is to get a layer of fine wood charcoal on top of the mix. The charcoal will help prevent oxidation of the surface, recontaminating the mix. Lastly for your pour, get a Rowell ladle;
http://www.theantimonyman.com/ladles.htm
Bill is the most knowledgeable guy I've ever talked to about lead, and it's various alloys. Get a #2 or #3 ladle and a thermometer, use the charcoal, and you'll be amazed at how your quality/consistency of lead ingots improve.
Cheers,
R*2
 

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I agree, it's some of the tin near the surface beginning to oxidize.

Also you want to be VERY careful that you scoop out all the Zinc & Steel wheel weights before you start smelting. With a burner like this, the temperatures can easily rise above 750 degrees (melting temp of zinc), and if you melt some newer zinc wheel weights into your alloy - it's pretty much useless to you after that. At least for casting bullets - not sure about casting shott.

Buy a thermometer - they're pretty cheap. I have a similar smelting setup - it's a propane fish fryer...



It's incredibly easy to get that stuff too hot. Just run it full blast until the temp rises enough to start melting the weights, and then start dialing back the flame so you're running just under 700 degrees F. This will ensure that you don't melt any zinc into your alloy.

I personally use a cast iron dutch oven - but they were never really meant to handle temps much hotter than 500 to 600 degrees. They become very brittle at casting temperatures so you have to be careful not to clank / bang the pot while it's on the burner. They CAN crack & splash molten lead all over the place. I've not done it myself, but I've seen pictures of it - it's very dangerous.

I'm soon upgrading to a thicker steel smelting pot whenever I can get around to it.

Once you start seeing the blue coloration like that on the surface, turn down the heat ASAP, melt some more flux on top, and stir the blueish oxide in with a DRY paint stir stick (moisture is bad to put into molten lead as you know).

Hope this helps!
 

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Huge advice,
When melting down Wheel weights, do not try to heat them up too fast or get the lead too hot. The reason for this is when you do it slowly or the right temp, the lead weight will melt alone, leaving the non lead weights not melted (such as zinc).

If you over cook the batch with too much heat, then you could end up melting the non lead type weights, which will mix with the lead and ruin it.

My method for reclaiming wheel weights is to get a small amount stated first (melted) using a electric plate type burner, then add more weight in as I scoop some of the lead out. This allows the temp to be more controlled, and the non lead weights removed long before they start to melt.
 
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