In this project I’m going to show you how I cast even very dirty old lead into nice pure ingots ready for any project I might have for them in the future. Because lead melts at a comparatively low temperature of 327°C or 621°F it’s easy to do at home with even the most basic of kit.
How to smelt lead
Most applications for lead really dont need a very high purity of lead, and this is the easy method I use. I have added an additional step of adding candle wax as a flux for even purer lead if needed.
- Unless you have a specialist lead smelting workshop with fume extraction, melting lead is a job that belongs outdoors.
- A portable stove, preferably gas works well, standing behind the stove so the wind is blowing away from you at all times.
- A face mask, eye protection, gloves, and sensible clothing are a must.
- Whenever using a standard household pan to melt lead in, work out the maximum safe load that the handle will take, then work well beneath that weight. I always apply some vice grips to the opposite side as an extra safety measure.
- Although a gas torch isn’t necessary, it will help melt the lead to create an initial layer in the bottom of the pan, this conducts heat better to speed up the melting process. It can also be added to the underneath of the pan to speed things up yet further. In fact a gas torch can be used on its own without a stove, but it may overheat the lead, which will release more lead vapour.
- Test the weight of the pan now and again so you don’t add too much scrap lead. A screwdriver or metal rod used as a depth gauge will allow you to accurately judge depth and therefore volume and weight. Great for calculating how much lead you need in the pan to fill your molds.
- When the lead is ready scrape off any slag or dross on the surface, but don’t lean over the lead, consider fumes and flames at all times. Slag will also be on the bottom of the pan, this can often be brought to the surface and removed.
- OPTIONAL STAGE – A small amount of paraffin wax or bees wax (about ¼ to ½ of a tea light) can be added to the lead if you want to, this acts as a flux and makes the impurities clump together for removal. I rarely bother with this stage for my applications, but it helps for more critical applications like bullet making.
- Finally pour the lead into the mold, I use loaf trays and muffin trays. For a nice clean bubble free finish to the ingots heat the mold gently first with the gas torch, or after the first casting the natural heat in the mold will work just as well as long as it is still warm.
The above project is aimed at adults for education and entertainment purposes only, not to replicate. Anyone doing so takes full responsibility for their own actions. Molten lead is incredibly hot, heavy, and will give off nasty fumes when heated, at no time do not want to breathe the dust, or work without gloves, especially if handling food stuffs later.