View Full Version : How to purify my lead? for casting

06-14-2011, 2:53 PM
Hi all, I searched and didn't find the answer.

I will be making .58 caliber minie ball rounds for my blackpowder hawken rifle with my Lee mold. I had already made a large batch. When I made them I used wheel weights, and when I melted them I used mostly the sticky-tape ones (dropped em in and skimmed the stickum). When those ran out I started using the clip on versions, and I had removed the steel clip after the lead melted off.

So I thought this would be good. However when I took it to the gun shop (I told the proprietor I would give him some to sell since .58 aren't that easy to come by and he can spread em around) he tried to scratch them with his fingernail and said these are too hard and you should re-cast them. He said get a couple of 1" squares of parrafin wax or some kind of wax and toss it in the pot. The wax reacts with the metal and causes the impurities to rise to the surface and you can scoop em off thus purifying your lead.

So my question is, is this best (parrafin wax)? Where can I get the proper material, so that these will be done right and I won't have to try 3 times to get it right?

I have the feeling these would shoot fine out of my hawken as is, however if he's going to sell them, I want them to be such that they wouldn't hurt someone's antique/low-end/gone through 50 rounds without punching gun.

Just that and any other input. Thanks all!

06-14-2011, 4:10 PM
The process is called fluxing. Many ways to go about it. Some use sawdust, Marvelux, motor oil, parrafin, and the list goes on. But if your lead is to hard, I don't see how fluxing will make it softer. Just find someone who has some pure lead to blend with your wheel weights. what brinell hardness are you looking for?

06-14-2011, 4:13 PM
for black powder you need soft lead wheel weights are to hard for black powder.
you can flux but it won't make the lead softer .
you need to start with soft lead.
good luck Ray

06-14-2011, 4:17 PM
You cannot make the lead softer, it is an alloy that is not readily separable.

Use stickon wheel weights or sheet lead, they are frequently closer to pure lead and thus much softer.

Spend some time over at http://castboolits.gunloads.com The folks there are great and happy to help a new melter.

06-14-2011, 5:34 PM
OK thanks for the replies. I had used almost only stick on weights, perhaps the test group came from the few clip on style I finished up with. Problem is from here on out, the rest is all clip on style wheel weights. The shop owner explained using the wax to flux it would help me separate impurities and and up with a more pure lead, but what I'm hearing here that isn't the case.

What Brinell Hardness am I looking for? I didn't even know that existed, but this guy (http://www.surplusrifle.com/shooting/alloyhardness/index.asp) says that:

Pure lead, as used for muzzleloaders and black powder cartridge arms, has a Brinell hardness of about 5; wheel weights have a brinell hardness of about 8 or 9. Linotype has a brinell hardness of about 22, making it an excellent alloy of bullet casting.

He goes on to say the Linotype 22 is good for smokeless powder firearms..
So yeah, I guess pure is BHN 5 and wheel weights are 8/9.

I cant tell the difference, and I have no idea where I'm going to get enough pure lead to mix in with the 3+ buckets of wheel weights I have got ahold of to make it useable.

I guess I'll just leave it sitting and put it off indefinitely... ugh... stuck at square one again...

06-14-2011, 5:37 PM
you cant really un-harden your lead. When you find soft lead it is already the right hardness for black powder.

06-14-2011, 5:42 PM
+1 http://castboolits.gunloads.com/

Check Swappin & Sellin for soft lead

06-14-2011, 5:45 PM
Those buckets of wheel weights should trade about even for softer lead

06-14-2011, 5:47 PM
If you want we can trade ww for lead. I have 100 pounds of pure lead. Their soft and perfect for black powder. PM me if you want to.

In your case I don't think you can soften lead since you already have mixed alloy in the lead unless you add more pure lead to it.

06-14-2011, 5:57 PM
The wax is not to soften the lead when you add wax to the pot it will ignite and create a flame. This flame melts the tin to stir it in to the mix keeping it as hard as possible for the alloy it is. I think if you do not add wax and scrape off the top layer (the tin) with a spoon you will soften the mix some but not enough for a muzzle loader. You do want pure lead.

06-14-2011, 6:06 PM
Real beeswax is great for fluxing but, it doesn't separate the tin, antimonium, etc. So, the lead will still be the same hardness. I've shot lots of cast roundballs made from WWs and other harder lead without any problems but, I would not buy hard RBs.

It's not hard to find .58 cal projectiles even midway has a few:


Dixie Gun Works and Track of Wolf obviously have larger selections. So, there are lots of options already out there but, if yours are priced right and someone happens to know that your LCS has them in stock, you might sell a few boxes every now and then. Good luck. Oh, if you can find old stained glass window lead or even reclaimed lead from plated or jacketed bullets, it'll be pretty soft.

06-14-2011, 7:23 PM
Excellent answers so thanks for that. I just weighed 3 buckets and another small box to a grand total of 433lbs of wheel weight lead.

06-14-2011, 7:26 PM
You can easily trade it straight across for stick-on WW over at castboolits.gunloads.com in the swapping & selling page.

Just post a Want-to-trade (WTT) ad for pure lead for your clip ons. You can get about 50 lbs in a medium flat rate box. Each person pays their own shipping.

As has been said before, you can't un-harden the lead. However, the good news is that most casters love to use clip on WW for regular pistol & rifle bullets.

06-15-2011, 6:35 AM
or um... with a few ppl here ;)

06-15-2011, 9:11 AM
I would do the mail swap for wheel weights for Soft lead. As longas the wheel wheights are all lead not the new environmentally Ca legal ones mixed in.

Cowboy T
06-15-2011, 12:47 PM
True, you can't separate it readily. What you'd basically need to do is react the tin and antimony with something that doesn't react with lead and precipitate those two out. Not fun.

Now, if you have a centrefire cartridge gun, I'd just re-melt that clip-on WW lead into boolits for that. This is the alloy I use for pretty much everything from light powder-puff .38 Spl all the way to near-full-house .357 Magnum.