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sagacious

lead melting safety and techniques

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Can we get a sticky going on safe practices for lead melting?

Melting scrap lead and turning it into clean ingots, and working with molten lead involves significant risk if done improperly. Many of us have had to learn the hard way before we adopted even the most basic safety techniques and practices. Learning the hard way with molten lead can get pretty rough. However, I'm the type of person who understands the value of "a word to the wise", and I think there's a lot of people on TU who hold that same belief. Forewarned is forearmed.

I've posted a few replies on basic lead handling safety, as have many others. Let's put them together under one heading as a basic safety how-to resource for folks looking to get into lead pouring. Besides staying safe, getting set up with the proper equipment, and knowing what to do as well as what not to do can also mean big differences in the enjoyment you receive, the quality of your work, and the volume of your production.

Thanks, and good fishing!

sagacious

Note: Let's keep the posts related to lead-handling questions and topics, and lead safety.

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I'm new to lead pouring, but here are some things I do to prevent turning a hobby into adversity.

1. Lead pot is on a cookie sheet in case the lead overflows or the pour spout malfunctions.

2. Lead is heated and poured in the garage, door open, 2 fans on high.

3. Fire extinguisher next to lead pot

4. Respirator is worn as soon as the lead pot is pluged in.

5. Extension cord to lead pot is routed so that no one (especially my son or wife) trips over it.

6. Son & wife are pre-warned to stay clear of the garage.

7. Dedicated pliers and tools only for lead pouring.

8. Safty glasses worn

9. Dedicated lead pouring hat hat worn.

10. No beer until after pouring. (I'm also a home brewer, so like my barley pops)

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1. Wear leather gloves if you can. Especially on the hand that holds the mold in case lead pours over the mold or splashes.

2. Don't smoke, eat or munch on snacks when pouring lead. Because your hands are touching lead, and then you grab the cigarette, or the food and put it in your mouth.

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I don't do it, but my Dad had one of those oven/range hoods with the fan/light combo right over where he poured the molds at the work bench. Had a dryer hose running from the range hood to the window. Worked pretty good.

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A friend of mine just started pouring lead, and asked me what the main health hazards from handling lead are. I sent him the following, and along with the other good suggestions posted above, I thought it might be useful to the members of TU.

The main danger posed by lead, is poisoning through accidental lead ingestion--which means you generally have to eat the tiny lead particles, dust, and oxides to get poisoned by it. This is why children get lead poisoning from eating lead-containing paint flakes. The lead oxide (lead oxide was used as a white pigment) in the paint has a sweet taste, and that's why kids eat it. Your body can absorb a fair amount of the lead oxide you eat, so it's a particularly dangerous vector of exposure.

Eating finger-food while handling lead (especially dirty lead scrap), can put you on the road to lead poisoning. Have a meal/snack before pouring lead so you're not tempted to sneak a snack. Do not ever eat while handling or pouring lead, and also keep your fingers away from your mouth and face. Wash your hands and face after pouring-- and changing your clothes and showering after you're done pouring is a very good idea. Of course, keep lead melting equipment away from living/eating areas, and keep your pouring area clean.

The greatest risk that a hobbyist faces while pouring lead is not from "lead fumes", its mostly through accidental ingestion of lead oxides (that dirty black crud) that gets on your hands/clothes, and also lead dust. Lead dust can be powdery oxides, or just teeny-tiny bits of lead that can settle invisibly on your skin/clothes through routine lead handling and pouring. Not eating while pouring, and washing hands/showering after pouring molten lead is a very effective and simple way to significantly reduce the risks of accidental lead ingestion/poisoning. Small children can't keep their hands out of their mouths, so keep them away from lead and pouring equipment. Older kids should be educated on how to avoid lead poisoning. Another concern regarding children is that they can absorb lead far more easily than for adults, and it's more toxic for them. http://www.thedoctorwillseeyounow.com/articles/other/lead_31 / Search the web for more info.

At normal pouring temps, molten lead does not normally give off "fumes"-- despite a long-standing belief. (Molten lead doesn't really give of fumes like a pot of hot water gives off steam.) Lead generally has to be heated to around 1100*F to start giving off poisonous vapors, at which temp the lead is literally red-hot, and that's well above the temps anyone would pour at. So, even just a little precaution (such as pouring your jigs outside as opposed to inside) is usually sufficient to prevent lead poisoning through vapor and dust inhalation. Pouring outside in the open air allows for a considerable safety margin. This has been proven time and again through real-world experiments and blood-tests. However, many people also use a fan to mantain air movement away from the pouring area, and this is certainly a good practice. Risk associated with lead poisoning through vapor/fume inhalation is almost entirely a problem restricted to industrial and occupational exposure. For the hobbyist pouring outside-- there's virtually no risk posed by vapors.

However, most scrap lead is covered with dirty oxides, road grime, crud, etc. While melting the lead, that crud can burn and put off a lot of smoke and fumes-- and there is almost certainly lead vapor, lead dust particles, and lead oxides in that smoke. Take safety precautions, and don't breath that smoke! Wait for the smoke to clear, skim off the dross (that scum floating on top), and you can get back to pouring without fear. Dispose of the dross safely.

So, the bottom line is this: Some common sense, good hygene, and basic safety precautions will virtually eliminate the chance of lead poisoning due to handling and pouring lead. While I don't want anyone to ignore the potential risks, some sources have described the risks of poisoning as extreme and inevitable-- and that's not correct.

Hope this helps. Good luck, and stay safe.

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This may not happen often, but today when I (gently) dropped an ingot into the melt pot I got a nasty splatter which resulted in some burns on my bare arm. Like many of you I learned the hard way many years ago to be careful to keep everything going into the pot dry. Wondering what the f*** happened I looked in the pot and saw the blackened remains of a small moth that must have been stuck to the ingot and exploded in the melt. Thank God it wasn't a bigger bug!

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Wow, hope you aren't to bad off. I have one lead battle scar.

I have my own mishap but with a hook. I buried a 1/0 mustad wide gap into thetip of my thumb Friday. Went a little over 1/2" in, and that hook has a very nice barb lol. Couldn't push it throught because it was hitting the bone, soooooooooo, pulled it out. (At doctors)

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Yikes! Sure glad you weren't skewered worse, BLT. The only time I've been hooked deep (knock on wood) was with a barbless hook. At the time, the fishing was wide-open, and I had pinched the barb so I could release fish faster. Catch-n-release of your own finger goes a lot faster with a barbless hook too! lol!

Hawnjigs, hope your arm is feeling better. I have actually heard of another incident where a moth caused a lead splatter-- crazy world, huh? Another good reason to wear eye protection at all times.

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Long sleeves

good quality respirator

good ventilation

gloves

safety glasses

NO WATER (kaboom)

No eating, munching, etc

a safe stable set up. Lead is liquid at 650 approx degrees. Ya dont want it touching you.

Good pliers, and other tools

SAFETY FIRST!!!

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Yup, long sleeves might have prevented arm burns, and my safety glasses have quite a few burn marks from flying lead over the years. I'm being more careful to ease the cold ingots into the melt gradually now.

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Old lead water pipes always worry me. They sat for over a year in the garage, and I still used a big hunk of plywood as a shield lol.

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I once had some wheel weights sitting in a completely dry place indoors for well over two years and had a blow up. About ten pounds of lead blew into the air. Be carefull when melting wheel weights. The steel clips can work loose allowing moisture to seep in between the clip and lead. Just one wheel weight with a tiny amount of moisture in it can go off like a shotgun and empty the entire pot into the air.

All lead needs to be pre-melted outside in open air and then immediately stored in a safe/dry place and left there until it is ready to be used.

Important - Always pre-melt lead under some type of shed.

I was once melting lead outside and carrying it in a cast iron kettle over to a sheet of steel to pour it into strips. There wasnt a cloud in the sky but all of a sudden it started sprinkling rain for about four seconds. It scared the crap out of me and instead of throwing the pot i froze up and stood there with the pot in my hand. I was darn lucky none of the rain went into the pot or i would have definitely got blasted.

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Yeah, if you're in an area where salt is on the road from sea spray or freeze control that can get into the wheel weights and absorb water in humid conditions. Some years back I bought some antimony melt flux from a guy on eBay which was some kind of pink salt that sucked enough water from the air to become droplets in minutes. So atmospheric humidity could be a risk factor to consider.

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I feel like I need to add to this post since I recently just got burned on my arm from putting lead into my pot should've worn my welding gloves with the long sleves on them to prevent it won't take a chance next time.definitly isn't a burn that I will ever want to have happen again .

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I agree with all of the above,but would put safety glasses at the TOP of the list. Seems like pouring into a Do-it type mold they want to "spit" just a drop when you fill the cavity. You've only got two eyes.....

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Safety glasses are good, but if they are put on under a clear shield, I think the protection would be more complete. Maybe I was in military industrial work places to long. On the flight line, we'd wear ear plugs under ear muffs, same thing when servicing liquid oxygen, gloves, apron, and helmet mounted face shield.

Is over kill, I don’t think so, AFOSH safety standards were a result of implementing safety preventions after somebody was either injured or killed.

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Safety glasses are good, but if they are put on under a clear shield, I think the protection would be more complete. Maybe I was in military industrial work places to long. On the flight line, we'd wear ear plugs under ear muffs, same thing when servicing liquid oxygen, gloves, apron, and helmet mounted face shield.

Is over kill, I don

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Thanks Spike...I do have some experience with cartridge type respirators as I work in a papermill and have been part of there Emergency Response teams for about 20years, our Hazmat team gets annually fit tested, I didn't look to far into it as far as what type of cartridge would be the best application and thought someone might have the answer without me checking farther...Randy

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Hey guys, just a few words on safety again. I know this subject has been beat to death but I feel the need to say it again. I just talked to a friend that runs a local bait shop and he told me that a couple of guys that used to supply his sinkers and jigs and such for years had both died. And the cause? You guessed it, LEAD POISONING! They poured lead for years without proper ventilation and without wearing gloves. What makes this so strange is the two didn't even know each other. So I guess all I'm trying to say is, "BE CAREFUL" Most of us probably don't handle lead enough for it to matter, but why take chances. I know I've personally rethought how I do it. Just follow a few simple safety rules and we should all be alright. I don't know any of you folks but I would surely not want to lose any of you. Just my :twocents:. Take care. JIM

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