Reclaiming Scrap Lead

It’s all about range time, and how expensive it can be.  Casting your own bullets (widely referred to as booollits) will allow more range time, resulting in more fun, and accuracy.

We have some range lead (stuff gathered from the backstop at a gun range……mostly mushroomed bullets), and some wheel weights……..used to balance tires, getting harder to find the good ones.

reclaiming1I want to thank Mac for sending this stuff, it’s gold.

Anyways……first order of business is to clean the stuff.  NOT IN WATER…………water has a bad tendency to boil, put off steam, and spatter you with hot lead from the melting pot.  USE COMPRESSED AIR TO DUST THE SCHMUTZ OFF THE STUFF, IT’S SAFER.reclaiming2Simple air gun, while cupping your hand around the lead fragments to keep them from blowing off the pan.  Removes the light dirt particles very easily. reclaiming10While you can load the first melt by hand, in a cold melt pot…….add any further material to the melt pot (after it’s gone liquid) with a ladle, or something similar……..keeps you hands away from any dangerous splatter.reclaiming4The crap (wheel weight clips, rocks, etc) will float to the surface after the lead has melted.  There’s a scientific explanation for this……something to do with specific gravity……but I wouldn’t stress over it 🙂reclaiming5At this point, you’ve skimmed the crap offa the top with your ladle.  (Let the ladle sit/float on the surface of the molten lead to get it up to the melt temperature, this makes it easy to strain the crap from the good lead… will run back into the molten metal).

The bit of flame you see is from “flux”.  Simply any suitable hydrocarbon mixed into the lead.  I use Alox 50/50 bullet lube.  Works great.   Stir it in while it’s burning, and skim the stuff that comes to the top of the molten lead. The purpose of this is to separate out the trace crap from the mix.  It works, I’m not a chemist, so don’t ask me why 🙂reclaiming6This is what you should wind up with.  Nice shiny surface, ready to pour into ingots.  Don’t worry about the traces of crap floating on the surface, they won’t mess up your lead.

Because you’ve let your ladle float on top of the molten lead, it’s hot enough to pour lead with, without having a bunch of lead “freeze” in the ladle.  You’re ready to rock.reclaiming7reclaiming8After pouring the lead into the ingot mold, let it cool until the surface is “cloudy”.  This tells you it’s cool enough to dump.  It may take a while if the ingot mold is hot, so be very careful while the lead is still in the liquid state.reclaiming11After all’s said, and done, you have some useable lead for casting bullets.  Note the crap in the frying pan, it’s the dross/slag/garbage that’s been skimmed off the lead (wheel weight clips, dirt, etc).  Normal, and reduces yield somewhat, but………it’s lead that you wind up with 🙂


The last thing you want is Zinc in your mix.  Plays Hell with casting.

To test suspect pieces of scrap, use Muriatic Acid.  Spread a drop on the sample, and look for a foaming reaction.  If it foams, it contains Zinc.  Discard that piece, you don’t want it in your ingots.reclaiming9aMuriatic Acid is DANGEROUS, treat it with respect.

Safety Issues

You’re working with hot metal (above 700 degrees), wear long sleeves, pants, and leather shoes.  Eye protection is mandatory.

Lead, while molten, produces dangerous fumes.  Work outdoors, and stay upwind of the melt pot.  If indoors, make sure that you have ventilation, with forced air taking the fumes away from you.

Lead dust is toxic, and easily inhaled, or ingested.  Wash your hands when done, and don’t eat/smoke while working with lead.

misc,_stuff_020Any day above ground is a good day

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