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Best Lead Melt Flux?

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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?

Very good, glad it went better. That the softer lead worked, and that fluxing the harder lead didn't solve the barb fill-out problem is a likely indicator that the barb isn't vented adequately. If you wish to use hard lead in that mold, you might try some of your venting tricks on that barb. That and fluxing may just do the trick.

I have thought about trying one of those long push-button bar-b-que lighters, as that seems like perhaps the best thing to light the volatile wax smoke-- or to re-light it quuickly if the flame goes out. If anyone gives that a try, let us know how it worked.

Good luck!

Edited by sagacious
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I use a bbq lighter to light my propane torch so there you go, that's what I had for my first bout of fluxing. I was not ready for how large and how long the flame burned. But I stirred the pot with my long handled lee ladel and things went well. I skimmed off the impurities and my pours seemed a bit better but now I have a stupid question.

On this fluxing, is this to make better "BOTTOM" pours. I use a Lee Pot and still tilt and pour rather than using the bottom pourer precision pot. I have one that blades loaned to me but the pour hole is clogged and the pours were incosistent and uneven (without fluxing).

Should I clean the pour hole with something or will fluxing help fix my former bottom pour problems?

I realize my question may be too vague and need more details to answer. So fire away. I'm thick skinned.

Also ordered a fluid bed today from TJ's to hopefully help with too much powder on my jigs.

Haha - I'm a mess!

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I use a bbq lighter to light my propane torch so there you go, that's what I had for my first bout of fluxing. I was not ready for how large and how long the flame burned. But I stirred the pot with my long handled lee ladel and things went well.

Thanks for the feedback on the bbq lighter. Yup, you have to be prepared for the flame, but like I say, if you light the wax flux asap, the flames will start out smaller. If you wait until there's billowing clouds of smoke, and then light it, you'll get a 'whoosh!' and bigger flames. As always, melt/pour/flux lead where spills of molten metal, or flames, will cause no harm.

I skimmed off the impurities and my pours seemed a bit better but now I have a stupid question. On this fluxing, is this to make better "BOTTOM" pours. I use a Lee Pot and still tilt and pour rather than using the bottom pourer precision pot.

That's an excellent question. Yes, fluxing will absolutely benefit ANY pouring method. OK Sagacious, just how can that be?

Well, fluxing removes impurities/dirt/oxides from within the lead, and not just from the surface of the lead. That's why you stir the lead while fluxing-- you need to stir it up really good so the dirt/oxides that are contained within the lead have a chance to be wetted by the flux, and removed from the melt. Stirring vigorously with a long-handled Lee ladle works very well to help the flux remove the dirt/oxides from within the lead melt. If you just toss a chunk of wax on the melt, light it on fire, and then skim off the soot, that won't help a whole lot. You need to really stir the melt up good, and also scrape the dirt from the sides of the pot while fluxing-- so it all gets removed. Make sense now?

I have one that blades loaned to me but the pour hole is clogged and the pours were incosistent and uneven (without fluxing). Should I clean the pour hole with something or will fluxing help fix my former bottom pour problems?

I think you're gonna be using that bottom-pour again. :yes:

What you need to do is clean out the pour hole. And from then on, use only ingots in a bottom-pour (don't ever melt down scrap or tire weights in the bottom-pour pot). When you're going to use the bottom-pour, let your ingots melt, and then always flux before you start pouring. Flux again about once every hour, to keep the lead free from oxides and dirt. That should help keep your pours consistent, speed up production, and avoid a lot of frustration. If you do that, it will help you avoid most of the clogging/leaking problems. :yay:

Hope this helps, it should make a difference for ya! More questions? Just ask!

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Having been a student of this thread, I have since been putting together the pieces of a conversation I had about a year or so ago with someone whom I cannot remember who, about the use of a substance called salammoniac. We were not discussing fluxing but as I recall it was centered around refining the dross that was skimmed off the pot over time and built up. I was going to make a few boat anchors with what I had accumulated but he said he would about once a year, melt his down and add about a teaspoon of this salammoniac and was able to convert the better part of his dross into useable lead for casting. I had always meant to purchase some but failed to do so. I was to get it from the company that I get my silicone mold material from, Contenti.

So having refreshed my memory of this conversation some, I went to their website and look the stuff up. I think it was $15.25 for a 25lb. pail. I am due to order some more mold material this week and may well get some of this and use it to flux with as stated on their website - Jewelry Making Supplies | Contenti - Jewelers Tools, Beading Supplies, Metal Working Tools

Anyone heard of this stuff? Stories to tell before I spend the money? Otherwise, I will keep you posted as I intend to give it a try. If nothing else, I have a ton of dross piled up that can now be recycled.

George

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George,

Just use beeswax or paraffin to flux the dross. It works perfectly fine. Put the dross in a cast-iron pot and heat it up a little hotter than you might pour at. Part of the dross will tend to separate into sort of a foamy scum, and float on top. Add a good-sized chunk of wax, light the wax, and stir the melt vigorously. Like magic, all that foamy scummy dross will turn into a grey or black powder and quickly separate from the melt. Skim all the grey/black powder off, and you'll have lead that will pour great.

Sal-ammoniac is ammonium chloride. It's used for some precious metal fluxing and brazing/soldering. It can be used to flux lead, but I sure wouldn't. Ammonium chloride produces fumes that will rust any iron or steel in the area. And when it starts rusting, it keeps rusting. I have a friend that used to work for Speer bullets, and he once told me they (unknowingly) used ammonium chloride for one of their processing tasks. Every bit of steel in that shop was soon covered with a layer of orange rust, and it was a hopeless task to keep up with it. It took a while to figure it out, and eventually Speer switched to another chemical-- but what a mess!

I wouldn't spend the money, unless you need smoke/fume/flame-free flux, and in that case, I'd strongly recommend the Marvelux flux carried by Brownells. A small jar will last you a very long time. You can find it on-line. The old-timers would just use a scoop of tallow to flux that dross, and it works perrrr-fect!

Hope this helps, good luck!

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Sagacious, once again I thank you! Very valuable info. I dislike smoke, but I dislike rust even more. Of course I didn't mention that to ship a 25lb. pail of the stuff would no doubt cost more than I paid for it, made it less attractive. I kind of thought that the wax would do the same thing, just needed confirmation.

Now I think I spotted a post on powder painting that I may be able to get involved in. Thanks again.

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Yeah, I once bought some of that stuff online from a rather odd individual who wouldn't disclose what this secret antimony flux was. Didn't know what exact chemical it was until I saw this post and did some research. Like "sagacious" said "what a mess!" Shucks "reeves", I thought you had discovered a magic treatment for my bucket of strained out powder skim - guess I'm stuck with it?

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Thanks sagacious. Yup. It helps a lot. I will definitely get that bottom pour out and clear it out. I'm guessing like a spinnerbait wire could be used to jar any big pieces out of the pour hole. I'll do that after a healthy flux. You were right. I melted my lead. Cut off a piece of parafin, dropped it into the pot. As soon as I saw smoke, I got my BBQ lighter and poof - FIRE! I felt like Tom Hanks on Castaway! I have made FIRE!

Anyway I stirred quickly and vigorously because the fire wasn't going down and I was a bit paniced at first. But 5-10 seconds and it was dark and powdery on top and clean clear lead. And the fire didn't really ever get higher than the pot. It just burned on the sides and across the top of the lead.

So I'm anxious to break out the precision pour pot. And see if fluxing was really the root of my problems. I've got 20 pounds of pure lead (From a x-ray vests) that I can play with in that pot.

So that brings me to my next point, pouring with pure lead. Will it be too soft you think for a good football jig? Again this might be a nooby question and if I need to do research on old posts just let me know. Usually I would melt that pure lead with some wheel weights or that strip lead you get from BPS.

Curious if I need some other "harder" alloy to make my jigs stronger.

Thanks again for this great post. I feel like I've learned a lot.

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Hey "gat0r", since pure lead jig heads are just slightly tougher than a water balloon, think your hardening idea is wise. If your (fluxed) hardened lead is a tough pour on the smaller heads, 2-3% tin added might improve the pourability. I would guess tho that your bottom pour should do OK with 50-50 WW-soft or maybe even straight wheel weights for the larger size heads. Last resort alloy wise would be 4-5% tin added to pure which is the easiest to pour alloy I know of. The tin adds significant corrosion resistance and a bit of toughness to soft lead.

Edited by hawnjigs
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Thanks sagacious. Yup. It helps a lot. I will definitely get that bottom pour out and clear it out. I'm guessing like a spinnerbait wire could be used to jar any big pieces out of the pour hole. I'll do that after a healthy flux. You were right. I melted my lead. Cut off a piece of parafin, dropped it into the pot. As soon as I saw smoke, I got my BBQ lighter and poof - FIRE! I felt like Tom Hanks on Castaway! I have made FIRE!

Anyway I stirred quickly and vigorously because the fire wasn't going down and I was a bit paniced at first. But 5-10 seconds and it was dark and powdery on top and clean clear lead. And the fire didn't really ever get higher than the pot. It just burned on the sides and across the top of the lead.

FIRE! Ha ha! That cracked me up! Very good, glad it worked out on the first go. Isn't it great to see that mirror surface of nice, clean lead?

If you can clean out the pot without emptying it, then proceed. If it was me, I might try to empty the pot and then clean the spout-- just to make absolutely sure everything was cleared out, and so I'd know there weren't any surprises/frustrations waiting for me later on. Nice to make a fresh start sometimes. Do whatever you think is best. (Note: if you empty the pot and pour some ingots, you'll be set to mix up a batch of 50/50 soft lead and ww lead later.)

So I'm anxious to break out the precision pour pot. And see if fluxing was really the root of my problems. I've got 20 pounds of pure lead (From a x-ray vests) that I can play with in that pot.

Fluxing will definitely reduce the chance of the spout clogging again, and keep it cleaner. And it'll also keep the lead pouring easier so clogging is less of an issue. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pot when fluxing-- there can be a lot of gunk hiding down there. You may want to scrape out the spout with your spinnerbait wire after every couple of pouring sessions, just as preventative maintenance. And of course, never ever melt down scrap lead in that melter.

I think you're right, not fluxing may have been at the root of the problem, but now you've got that problem whipped! :yay:

So that brings me to my next point, pouring with pure lead. Will it be too soft you think for a good football jig? Again this might be a nooby question and if I need to do research on old posts just let me know. Usually I would melt that pure lead with some wheel weights or that strip lead you get from BPS.

Curious if I need some other "harder" alloy to make my jigs stronger.

Thanks again for this great post. I feel like I've learned a lot.

My jigs hold up much better if cast from harder lead, vs pouring them from soft lead. I think the advice of Hawnjigs above, about using 50/50 ww lead and soft lead is very good advice to start with.

Note: The "problems" with pouring ww lead are virtually eliminated by fluxing. So, adding some ww lead, and fluxing the melt should make everything go very smooooothly, and that's exactly what we want. No more worries about ww lead. Flux early, flux often! :wink: Some time you might even try straight ww lead for the larger jigs. Thats all I use any more.

Glad that this thread has added a few new techniques to your bag of tricks, and brought that bottom-pour out of mothballs!

Keep us posted. Good luck and be safe!

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Thanks again Hawnjigs and Sagacious and others who have contributed ideas. Didn't mean to hijack your thread. Was just learning a lot on in one thread and figured might as well get all my newbie questions out there. To think I've been pouring leadheads for 2 years now and didn't know half this stuff.

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gat0r

Like I told Hawn earlier in this thread, I've been pouring (almost 35 years now) since I was a kid and had never fluxed my lead, kept the different hardness leads seperate and used what worked in my molds but never fluxed.

Now that I've tried it I LIKE IT!! You can learn new things to make things easier.

On the Lee bottom pouring pot (production Pot 4) I wear heavy gloves and heat the pour spout with a propane torch and have an old jighead with a L bent in it that I clear the pour spout with, when you're pouring and need to clear it out I have a small tin cup that I sit under the spout and use a piece of spinner wire really long and slide it down and run it back and forth out the pour hole. Really makes the lead flow well.

Always clean the pot after use, it really works better if you do.

Fatman

Edited by Fatman
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I have an old steel cup that I pour any leftover lead into and it makes small round plates that will fit back into my melter.

When all the lead is out of the pot I WEARING GLOVES tilt it forward to get any remaining lead to flow out the hole, I turn the pot down to about 200 degrees and then I shove the jig wire up into the hole from the bottom and remove any clogs/buildup, then I use my spinner wire and do the same from the top.

I then turn the pot off and let it cool totally, I usually trim sprues from the jigs and a quick swipe with a piece of sandpaper for any that don't come off clean.

I then pack up my jigs in zip bags for temp storage till I get to painting. I put all the sprue heads in my clean lead bucket and then to the pot. I pull the pouring bar out of the pot and use a piece of steel wool to get any crap off it and then use an old flat head screwdriver to scrape the sides of the pot down. I tip the pot over and knock all the scrapings out then use a big piece of steel wool to wipe the inside of the pot till totally clean.

I've done this with any pot I've ever had and it works really well for me, plus when you go to pour again everything is clean and ready to go.

Fatman

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I don't know if there is a "Thread of the Year" award, but if there is, this one is in the running. I don't melt or pour lead, but I have a few friends that do and the amount of totally new information that I have gained has been fantastic. It is now a Wire Bait Forum Sticky.

TO ALL THAT HAVE SHARED AND ADDED TO THIS THREAD - THANK YOU ONE AND ALL!!! KEEP IT UP.

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Well. I think differently than some people. When I finish pouring lead, I fill my pot with lead and flux it and clean the dross. Then I turn it off and let it cool until it solidifies. My thinking is that the fluxed lead left in the pot actually keeps the pot from oxidizing when not in use.

Next time that I pour, I don't have to fill the pot. Just turn it on and start pouring after the lead melts. If you store your pot with fluxed lead in it, it should not cause any problems. And the clean up time is reduced. Cleaning the pot of all lead after each use seems mighty time consuming and seems like you are actually exposing yourself to a great liklihood of getting burned.

Is there really any need to empty the lead pot if stored with clean lead?

:yay:

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Turkeylegs,

If you're using a bottom pouring pot I'd recommend emptying it after your done, but that's ME. There have been threads here on TU about bottom pouring pots that continually dripped, and if you've never gotten tinged with one consider yourself lucky. If your leaving the lead in the pot the pour hole is completly solidifying and it takes a while for it to clear and you'll most likely end up with the spout dripping.

The amount of time it takes me to clean the pot is well worth it, and most of it is done AFTER the pot is already cold again.

Now I had one of the old hot pots with the handle that you tipped and poured your lead with and I personnally believe that I did alot of damage to the heating coils by leaving the lead in it.

But, it's your pot and it's your decision whether to leave the lead in or not, I have two of the Production Pot IV's and one is for smelting, although with my cleaning method I can use if for pouring if I want. I've had them for over 20 years now and not a problem with either one.

Fatman

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Turkeylegs,

If you're using a bottom pouring pot I'd recommend emptying it after your done, but that's ME.

...

I had one of the old hot pots with the handle that you tipped and poured your lead with and I personnally believe that I did alot of damage to the heating coils by leaving the lead in it.

...

Fatman

There's certainly more than one way to skin this cat. If what you're doing works fine, well then keep on keepin' on!

However, I just wanted to weigh in with a consideration that may affect some of the lead pourers here. If you leave some lead in the pot, it's generally less strain on the heating elements, since that lead provides a 'heat sink' that better absorbs the heat from the heating elements. If the pot is empty, the heating elements initially have to work harder to melt the lead.

Consequently, the lead will also melt faster. That saves time and wear-and-tear on your equipment. Those who melt over a turkey fryer or other heat source are usually well-aware that having some left-over lead in the bottom of the pot will reduce the time required to melt the lead. Same is true for an electric pot. I call it keeping the pot "primed."

Keeping the spout clear and unclogged is a function of keeping it clean of dirt and oxides. This is why stirring the lead during fluxing is so important-- it removes the lead oxides within the melt. If you don't do that, then the oxide crud is strained out at the narrow gap between the spout and the valve rod. Result........... a clogged spout. Fluxing the lead properly, and occasional cleaning is a good way to keep the spour clear.

Good luck!

Edited by sagacious
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Sagacious,

I would like to thank you... I tried fluxing for the first time yesterday and boy did that make a difference in the lead. I could not tell what kind of wax candles we had at home so I just put a small one in the pot while it was warming up and once the lead was melted I lit the smoke and mixed it. I then skimmed of the powder ash of the top and the lead poured very well. My pot was looking ugly at the top before hand, it had a bunch of "crud" on top. This took care of that and made pouring so much more desireable.

Thank You Very Much,

Romeo

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Ok, so i did some extra reading online about fluxing and most of the information states that fluxing is just to get alloys to "stick" together better and that it does realistically nothing more for removing impurities than stirring with a wooden stick, adding sawdust, or cat litter. My question is "how" does it make the pouring process easier? I have not yet started to pour lead because I am trying to read as much as possible before jumping in. Thanks!

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