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Best Lead Melt Flux?

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Well now I get it. Thank you very much for the explanation. Just out of curiosity, how do you know so much about lead and it's properties? I read your profile. Is it from being a firearms instructor? You really know your stuff. Good info. If you don't want to reply here, you can PM me.....Thanks again.............Ted

Ted,

Thanks for the kind words. Always happy to share where and what I can.

My father was a geophysicist, but had done some hobby foundry work and metal pouring when he was a teenager. For fun, he made his own blackpowder cannons, and also cast the 1" projectiles. With his help, I was casting my own blackpowder cannons by the time I was a young teenager. When I was about 15, I created an alloy that decomposes water and creates hydrogen, but just recently I heard that someone had done the same and had patented the alloy for possible use in hydrogen fueled vehicles. Doh! Oh well... :mad:

I studied metallurgy, and have continued working with, and pouring, metal ever since I was a child. I have made molds for various things from machine parts to bullets to jewelry to lures, and other than the book stuff I guess I've just picked up a few tricks along the way. I've worked with virtually all the metals that can be melted and poured on the home/shop foundry level, including some precious metals, so if it can be melted I've probably melted it LOL!

Since lead is easy to come by and easy to pour, I've had a fair amount of experience with working with it in a variety of applications outside of hobbyist tacklemaking. That experience has a lot of 'crossover' applications in lead pouring/tacklemaking, and I've been trying to share some of that knowledge with TU members. A lot of what I had to learn was done through hands-on practical experience, so I've been trying to shorten the learning curve (and costs) for some of our lead-pourers when there's something I can shed some light on. It's nice to see folks learn something new, or experience success in their endeavors.

There, that's the short version lol! :wink: Glad some of this stuff is useful to you guys!

Good fishing,

Eric

Edited by sagacious
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OK, tried the flame flux today and am very pleased with results. Lit wood matches tended to snuff on the melt so used silver dollar size pieces of paper towel lit in the propane burner flame to drop into the pot 2 pieces in sequence usually needed per flux. Wax smoke definitely minimized and fringe benefits noted: there was far less oxide slag to skim and main thing is that the wheel weight melt poured well at a significantly lower temp than unfluxed. This is gonna save a bundle on fuel cost as propane is now $4.50 per gal. out my way. Lower temp castings also have a more even finish and less oxide dust residue than hot.

Sounds good. Yup, the fluxing process goes better/faster/more efficiently with some flame right at the top of the melt. Better chemistry for better lead pouring! Glad everything worked out for you on the first try. I've got it down to to an art, so that I try not to waste a single Btu. And hey, that smoke has Btu's in it! :yay:

I often use wood matches or a wood splinter when melting down tire weights, as the match ends up perched on the steel clips (out of the wax flux) and thus burns for a while. Use whatever works. Or better yet, use whatever works that's also free (scrap paper).

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Ted,

Thanks for the kind words. Always happy to share where and what I can.

My father was a geophysicist, but had done some hobby foundry work and metal pouring when he was a teenager. For fun, he made his own blackpowder cannons, and also cast the 1" projectiles. With his help, I was casting my own balckpowder cannons by the time I was a young teenager. When I was about 15, I created an alloy that decomposes water and creates hydrogen, but just recently I heard that someone had done the same and had patented the alloy for possible use in hydrogen fueled vehicles. Doh! Oh well... :mad:

I studied metallurgy, and have continued working with, and pouring, metal ever since I was a child. I have made molds for various things from machine parts to bullets to jewelry to lures, and other than the book stuff I guess I've just picked up a few tricks along the way. I've worked with virtually all the metals that can be melted and poured on the home/shop foundry level, including some precious metals, so if it can be melted I've probably melted it LOL!

Since lead is easy to come by and easy to pour, I've had a fair amount of experience with working with it in a variety of applications outside of hobbyist tacklemaking. That experience has a lot of 'crossover' applications in lead pouring/tacklemaking, and I've been trying to share some of that knowledge with TU members. A lot of what I had to learn was done through hands-on practical experience, so I've been trying to shorten the learning curve (and costs) for some of our lead-pourers when there's something I can shed some light on. It's nice to see folks learn something new, or experience success in their endeavors.

There, that's the short version lol! :wink: Glad some of this stuff is useful to you guys!

Good fishing,

Eric

Thanks, and very impressive.

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...

It was suggested to flux when melting down wheel weights for ingots.

1. Is this done before or after the clips are skimmed?

Forgive me for not typing this out again. Everything you need to know on this question is in my response here: http://www.tackleunderground.com/forum/wire-baits/13878-lead-quality-3.html#post100177 More questions? Just ask.

2. Then when adding ingots to my melting pot, I should flux again?

Depends. Fluxing again won't ever hurt anything, and it'll definitely make sure your pouring goes as smoothly as possible, and that's always good, right? If the melt has more than a tiny bit of 'scum' floating on the top, or if you can see small particles of 'gunk' floating in the lead (sometimes looks like goose-pimples under the surface) then the melt should be fluxed.

3. How often should I flux the melting pot?

Whenever you add another couple lead ingots to the melt, or if you see the symptoms noted above in my response to question #2.

4. Can you flux too much?

Good question. Answer: nope. One of the many things fluxing does is make sure your lead is in the best condition for pouring. It removes oxides and 'dirt' from the lead (very often there's LOTS of lead oxide bits and tiny pieces of, well, crud floating around within the lead. During a long pouring session, more lead oxides can build up on and in the lead. That stuff can dramatically reduce the fluidity and 'pourability' of the lead-- but you can't always see it. So, aside from the recommendations I've listed, if your lead starts to lose 'pourability', it probably needs to be fluxed again. Fluing only helps, so when in doubt: flux.

I use an 80lb melting pot when spincasting. The lowest I will let it get is about half empty (full??). I will then either add ingots or my sprues from casting. Should I flux at this time?

...

George

Absolutely. Definitely, flux again once those ingots are melted and the melt has been stirred. By that time, you've probably got a bunch of lead oxide particles and crumbs floating around in the melt (but like I said, you might not be able to see them). That stuff is called "entrained oxides" and what that means is just "oxides and dirt that are thoroughly mixed into the lead melt". You can bet credits to navy beans that those entrained oxides will give you some incomplete pours, or increase the likelyhood of incomplete pours.

Questions? Just ask. Hope this helps, good luck!

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You have changed my out look on fluxing. Thank you. Not to change the subject but how dos smoking the mold help. I am having trouble seeing a difference in my pour and do not any change. I would think all the prep would be during the flux proses. One last thing A past post cadman having good pouring when cold out (close to sea level? no moiture in air). I am lucky to have alot of pouring like that and live in utah. Can altitude or lack of moisture in the air change the properties, change like boiling water at high altitude it needs to be hoter to boil.

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You have changed my out look on fluxing. Thank you. Not to change the subject but how dos smoking the mold help. I am having trouble seeing a difference in my pour and do not any change. I would think all the prep would be during the flux proses. One last thing A past post cadman having good pouring when cold out (close to sea level? no moiture in air). I am lucky to have alot of pouring like that and live in utah. Can altitude or lack of moisture in the air change the properties, change like boiling water at high altitude it needs to be hoter to boil.

Kelly, I was just thinking about that thread I started, and I was going to bring it up in a couple of days. But since you brought it up, I'll give you my feedback. All winter I poured a lot, as I was really busy. You know that I don't recall ever walking away from my pot frustrated. Everthing poured great. Yesterday I was pouring, and I had a mold that poured really well, and then 100 hooks later nothing worked. I got frustrated, and just stopped and walked away. I figured I pour the rest tomorrow. Today I poured in the morning and everthing poured flawlessly. I'm stumped. Both days were hot and humid. I read somwhere that moisture and or humidity definitely affects pouring. My question is this I poured both days consecutively. One day was horrible, and the next was perfect. What gives?

Sagacious or anyone else, I'm curious if you have any insight on this. If I have to pour like I did yesterday, then I better give this up, or buy myself a big meat cooler and pour in there:lol::lol::lol:.

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You have changed my out look on fluxing. Thank you. Not to change the subject but how dos smoking the mold help. I am having trouble seeing a difference in my pour and do not any change.

Smoking the mold is good general practice, and good advice for anyone using metal molds. However, you're right-- in some cases it doesn't seem to make a noticeable difference. I always smoke a new mold, just in case.

Smoking the mold does several potentially critical (potentially very helpful) things:

First, it helps 'break in' a new mold. The surface of the cavities of an aluminum or steel mold may not be completely anodized, or coated with 'bluing' (steel mold), and the lead may tend to stick in the cavities until the mold has been used for a few times. The soot layer functions as a very good non-stick coating for the cavities.

2) The soot (carbon) layer is a thin insulating layer in the cavity. What that does is allow the lead to 'slosh and slide' into the cavities freely and fully for a fraction of a second before it starts to solidify. That's always good. It can be particularly helpful in getting a mold to fill out in a narrow collar area.

3) The soot layer helps prevent hollow areas or voids in larger molds, as it reduces the potential for the lead to freeze in the gate, or to freeze where it contacts the side of the mold cavity.

On some molds, such as smaller jig molds, or molds with tight tolerances, I'll smoke the entire face of the mold halves. Sometimes a speck of lead, or many specks will hold the mold open a tiny bit and cause flashing on the jighead. I'm sure that's happened to many of us. If the mold face is silver, it can be a real pain to track down and scrape off all the lead bits-- and they often stick really tight. If the mold face has been smoked, and bits of lead that get splashed on are instantly visible, and easily removed.

I'm sure there's other benefits that I haven't listed. Maybe someone will chime-in with their thoughts or experience.

I would think all the prep would be during the flux proses.

Well yes, but part of the prep is prepping the mold cavities (if necessary), pre-heating the mold, organizing your pouring space, preheating your hooks and forms (if necessary), etc. No doubt you do all that stuff without thinking about it any more, but there's a lot of folks new to lead pouring that haven't worked out all the kinks. Smoking the cavities is easy, and it will definitely help in many cases. There's enough frustration to be had in learning to pour lead, so every bit of prep that will save grief later is good general advice. I can recall a few people here on TU that replied they had better pours after smoking the cavities. So, you're right, it may not be important for you with your mold(s), but it's a good thing to keep in mind, and a good thing to do to head off potential problems.

One last thing A past post cadman having good pouring when cold out (close to sea level? no moiture in air). I am lucky to have alot of pouring like that and live in utah. Can altitude or lack of moisture in the air change the properties, change like boiling water at high altitude it needs to be hoter to boil.

I'm not sure, I haven't seen any data on elevation re lead pouring, and have no experience with pouring lead above 1000'. Could be, but my guess is there's probably little affect due specifically to altitude.

Humidity? Now that could just be a significant factor, as increased humidity can increase the amount of surface oxides formed, and so could adversely affect mold fill-out. Plumber's lead is 'pure' lead, and pure lead is more prone to develop a significant amount of surface oxide than hard lead-- so you may have something there! So, if you pour soft lead, high-humidity days may not give the best results. And, if you pour soft lead when humidity is high, flux the lead every now and then to keep the melt fluidity high and to remove the lead oxides-- so that you don't run into problems. Also, adding some ww lead to the soft lead when humidity is high is another option, as that will reduce surface oxide formation too. Lower humidity during wintertime sounds like it might make more than enough difference to offset the cold air (it's relatively low humidity all year where I pour).

Good questions, good stuff-- you guys may have gotten to the bottom of a frustrating phenomenon! Flux early, flux often is a good solution to many problems.

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...

All winter I poured a lot, as I was really busy. You know that I don't recall ever walking away from my pot frustrated. Everthing poured great. Yesterday I was pouring, and I had a mold that poured really well, and then 100 hooks later nothing worked. I got frustrated, and just stopped and walked away. I figured I pour the rest tomorrow. Today I poured in the morning and everthing poured flawlessly. I'm stumped. Both days were hot and humid. I read somwhere that moisture and or humidity definitely affects pouring. My question is this I poured both days consecutively. One day was horrible, and the next was perfect. What gives?

I think you nailed it: humidity. Low humidity during winter, plus with pouring high-volume, you go through the lead before entrained lead oxides and surface oxides build up to a deleterious point.

As the summer day wears on and the temp rises, so does humidity.

As the humidity rises and time passes, the melt eventually develops a significant amount of surface oxide, as well as entrained oxide. (You know when you get that hazy grey scum on the melt, and you stir it back in, and the melt surface is shiny again? Well, you've just stirred in all those oxides so they can cause lots of problems. Better to flux the melt and just remove the bad stuff. :))

You pour 100 jigs. As humidity increases and time passes, more oxides form and collect in the melt until it becomes sufficient to prevent good pours. You stop and start over again when the humidity is low, and everything is back to normal........... until the humidity rises and enough time passes.

The soution to directly address this problem is, of course, fluxing the lead. Maybe fluxing twice, if you had a frustrating pouring session and you want to be sure. Flux early, flux often.

So, as my gramdma would say, "the proof of the puddin' is in the tastin'!" Next time you pour when the humidity is high, flux the lead once every hour, or more often if you're adding a lot of lead ingots per hour. Try that, and get back to us. Should be, "problem solved!" :yay:

Sagacious or anyone else, I'm curious if you have any insight on this. If I have to pour like I did yesterday, then I better give this up, or buy myself a big meat cooler and pour in there:lol::lol::lol:.

Or get a de-humidifier! Better yet, just flux early, and flux often!

Edited by sagacious
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I think you nailed it: humidity. Low humidity during winter, plus with pouring high-volume, you go through the lead before entrained lead oxides and surface oxides build up to a deleterious point.

As the summer day wears on and the temp rises, so does humidity.

As the humidity rises and time passes, the melt eventually develops a significant amount of surface oxide, as well as entrained oxide. (You know when you get that hazy grey scum on the melt, and you stir it back in, and the melt surface is shiny again? Well, you've just stirred in all those oxides so they can cause lots of problems. Better to flux the melt and just remove the bad stuff. :))

You pour 100 jigs. As humidity increases and time passes, more oxides form and collect in the melt until it becomes sufficient to prevent good pours. You stop and start over again when the humidity is low, and everything is back to normal........... until the humidity rises and enough time passes.

The soution to directly address this problem is, of course, fluxing the lead. Maybe fluxing twice, if you had a frustrating pouring session and you want to be sure. Flux early, flux often.

So, as my gramdma would say, "the proof of the puddin' is in the tastin'!" Next time you pour when the humidity is high, flux the lead once every hour, or more often if you're adding a lot of lead ingots per hour. Try that, and get back to us. Should be, "problem solved!" :yay:

Or get a de-humidifier! Better yet, just flux early, and flux often!

I would need a big de-humidifier in my garage:lol::lol:.......Thank You for your wealth of knowledge, your insight and all of your help:worship::worship::worship:. If you ever need any help down the road PM me.

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"gat0r", sup to you but after 10 years of blundering I'm staying out of the closet! Second flame flux session today with softer alloy again produced quality castings at a lower temp than I thought possible. And in a 150+" rainfall climate with 90% humidity normal. "cadman", I too have had frustrating WTF! days so you're not alone. How are you other born again fluxers doing?

Edited by hawnjigs
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"gat0r", sup to you but after 10 years of blundering I'm staying out of the closet! Second flame flux session today with softer alloy again produced quality castings at a lower temp than I thought possible. And in a 150+" rainfall climate with 90% humidity normal. "cadman", I too have had frustrating WTF! days so you're not alone. How are you other born again fluxers doing?

I saw an advertisement about your jigs in In-fisherman magazine. Well I'm impressed. Very nice looking jigs if I don't say so myself. Just out of curiosity, do they all come out so perfect. Very nice, and a vey nice plug hopefully for you business.

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OK, it is official! I am out of the closet and never going back. You guys would have given good money to be a fly on the wall watching this operation. I used some parafin I had laying around, cut it into about the size of a sugar cube. Got some chunks of paper towels to light with and my lighter. The melt was ready to go. I dropped in the cube of wax, not sure of what exactly to expect. Grabbed the chunk of paper towel and the lighter and lit it. Now I have to admit, I really thought Sagacious had lost it when he said to light the smoke as I had never seen or heard of that being done. Thought I was performing one of those magic shows when I introduced the burning paper towel over the melting wax cube. Poof! Scared the tar out of me. It flamed a bit higher than I expected, which worried me some. Grabbed the long handled ladle and commenced stirring. Got a ton of smoke with the parafin, so will try to get some bees wax for future use. Once the smoking died down, I skimmed the sludge off the top and started casting. Oh yeah, I also lowered the pot temp. Casting went flawless and the melt was sludge free. No more dross whatsoever throughout the entire casting session. Can't believe I have been doing it wrong for so long.

Sagacious, I want to really thank you for sharing and teaching. Without your help I would still be destined to a life of mega-dross. Wow, I am so impressed. Anyway, thank you a thousand times over. If ever you need something that I may be able to help you with, you just ring the bell and I will answer.

Guys, this has been an amazing post, that I think (from what I am reading anyway) everyone has learned from. I would love to have Sagacious come to my shop and show me what else I may be doing wrong, but that is just wishful thinking, but you are invited if you ever get to Oklahoma.

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George,

Excellent, glad you're out of the closet (so-to-speak ;)), and everything worked out first-time! Sounds like you had fun with your magic show!

I use a chunk or paraffin about the size of a sugar cube when fluxing a large pot of melted tire weights. That amount of flux is needed to wet all the steel clips, and for all the extra crud and road grime. If you're fluxing a pot of lead without all that crud, or if you are fluxing a smaller pot, then you could use about half that much wax. Give it a try and see what works best for you.

I like to cut up a bunch of chunks of wax that are about the right size, so they're handy when I need 'em. It's easier to cut up the wax if it's a little bit warm. I use a sharp chef's knife and slice up a deli-cup of wax chunks-- some a little larger, some smaller-- to have on-hand for different fluxing chores. A deli-cup full lasts a long time.

Glad to hear the fluxing and pouring went well. The nice thing about working with lead is it seems like there's always something new to learn-- but that certainly doesn't mean you're doing anything else 'wrong'. The thing to take from this is that often there are techniques and methods for dealing with just about any problem. Believe me, I've had to struggle with many days of frustrating pouring/casting problems. So, if you find you're having a problem or difficulty with something, or you're just not getting the results you expect-- let me know, and if there's a solution, we'll find it. And as you've seen, sometimes the solution can be surprisingly simple. Simple tricks are the best tricks, hey?

Thank you very much for the kind words, George. If I'm ever in your neck of the woods, I'll give you a shout! :yay:

Good luck!

Edited by sagacious
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I know you can use candle wax, parrafin and bees wax. I use bees wax. I guess the amount of wax seems to be about the size of a sugar cube give or take. Experimentation with the amout of wax and fluxing often, is the key based on what Sagacious said above. Guys you can correct me on any of this if I'm wrong. For those who are looking for bees wax, below is a pic of what I bought. It was available in chunk or pellets. I know you can cut the chunk, I opted for the pellets. One less thing to do. You can go to the site below and find out all you need to know about bees wax, candle wax and parrafin. I searched for awhile on sites about beeswax, and found this place to be the best quality for the money. I bought 5 lbs of yellow beeswax for $22.00 + $8.60 shipping last year. 5 lbs is a lot of beeswax. You can buy smaller quantities which naturally cost more. Here is the link www.swanscandles.com

Ps. Sorry guys about my earlier post regarding jigs from Hawnjigs. I didn't mean to de-rail this thread. I just wasn't thinking.

beeswax.jpg

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Edited by cadman
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"gat0r", sup to you but after 10 years of blundering I'm staying out of the closet! Second flame flux session today with softer alloy again produced quality castings at a lower temp than I thought possible. And in a 150+" rainfall climate with 90% humidity normal. "cadman", I too have had frustrating WTF! days so you're not alone. How are you other born again fluxers doing?

Don't get me wrong Hawnjigs. I went and bought wax last night! Haha! I intend to but I was hiding in the closet still out of embarrasment of not doing this until now. Bladesandbaits advised me to do this in my pouring a couple years ago and I'm ashamed to say I haven't until today. Today will be my first flux. I feel like a virgin again - HAHA!

Thanks again guys for all the good information. Thanks for the sources of wax Cadman. Am I going to regret just using chunks of a small votive candle. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about candles or wax. I've got a problem with migranes and candle scents are probably my worst trigger for them. So I avoid them like the plague. Haha.

Edited by gat0r
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"gat0r", haha, that reminds me of how I was behind my buds in...uh...experience and how satisfying it was to finally get the flux into the pot. Let us know how it goes.

"cadman", threads don't de-rail, they sometimes divert to other interesting destinations. PM sent to ya.

Guess I expected miracles but yesterdays #3 flame flux session with problem Do-it 1 oz. Arrow Heads still a tough full fill out of the spike barbs. But, thanks to TU theres still a bag of tricks to try on that.

edit: "cadman", that candle/wax site is really interesting!

Edited by hawnjigs
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All this fluxing talk is great! But don't forget that when you flux you are going to get a ball of fire and smoke in your lead pot. If you haven't fluxed before chances are you will be surprised at how much fire and smoke can be produced. Make sure you are in a safe environment. Don't set the house on fire or cause smoke damage to the ceillings. The first time that I fluxed, I used too much parafin. I had flames shooting out of my lead pot that licked the ceilings. Smoke residue was deposited there too. I consider myself lucky that I did not set the house on fire. So, just words of warning, "Be careful!"

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Jeez "turkeylegs1246" how much "too much parafin" was that?

Update on less than successful yesterdays pour - lead alloy was too hard and switching to softer alloy today (flame fluxed of course) had much better results. Because paper burns out too quickly as a flux smoke igniting agent, tried dipping rolled up small pieces of paper towel in my ol' friend WD-40 which extended the burn for the duration of the fluxing. Perhaps someone has a better idea?

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I know you can use candle wax, parrafin and bees wax. I use bees wax. ... For those who are looking for bees wax, below is a pic of what I bought. It was available in chunk or pellets. I know you can cut the chunk, I opted for the pellets. One less thing to do.

...

I bought 5 lbs of yellow beeswax for $22.00 + $8.60 shipping last year. 5 lbs is a lot of beeswax. You can buy smaller quantities which naturally cost more. Here is the link

That's a great suggestion, and a good value for the price. Being able to buy the beeswax already in pellet form is a real convenience. And you're right about that-- 5lbs of beeswax is a lot of beeswax, and that amount will last most folks for a while. Excellent info-- this is bound to probe helpful to many people.

Ps. Sorry guys about my earlier post regarding jigs from Hawnjigs. I didn't mean to de-rail this thread. I just wasn't thinking.

No worries, Hawnjigs does indeed make some really great-looking jigheads! And besides, if I hadn't butted-in with my comments, some of the ideas and info presented here might have had to wait for another day...... or may never have come up. Just shows ya you never know how the worm's gonna turn!

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...

Today will be my first flux. I feel like a virgin again - HAHA!

...

Am I going to regret just using chunks of a small votive candle. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about candles or wax. I've got a problem with migranes and candle scents are probably my worst trigger for them. So I avoid them like the plague. Haha.

Non-scented votive candle wax should work just fine for fluxing. No, there's no reason you'll regret using it. There's all types of votive candles, but I think most are made from paraffin wax. You may wish to try beeswax as well, and see if you have a (smell) preference.

Hope this helps, good luck!

Edited by sagacious
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