I've been scrapping

It’s a valid interest for a detectorist.
Iron scrap is actually worth more than lead (and lighter).
At a future point I hope to offer a service that will allow a payout for the iron sand that comes in with the gold dust.

Lately I’ve been busy, busy with some projects for metal detecting.
I’ve been getting into scrapping, there’s plenty of gold and other metals to be gathered.
(more on that in some future posts)

Today I’m just showing you some of the lead that I’m melting.
The vast majority of this came from metal detecting, though I did find a drainage pipe in whanagrei that had several handfuls of lead roofing nails come out of it. Weird, whoever renewed the roof must have just left them up there, and they washed down with the rain.


If you want more information on smelting you can join up with the gold refining forums, it does cost $10/year. https://goldrefiningforum.com/
This guy was expecting an explosion, but it was much bigger - lucky he did not get hit with any of the moulten lead.
Melting lead for ingots with explosion! - YouTube

I washed my lead, cleaning the sinker holes out.
Sorted into two categories, clean & dirty.
I was naughty and dried both in the warming part of the oven, but only at 100 degrees for 5-10min - so not too many nasty gasses and aired it our while still on.
Just to ensure there was absolutely no moisture hiding in the sinker holes.

This first melt was the dirtly lot, I did not even strain it - and you can see a nail stuck firmly in there. Wanted to get the lead to coaless together.
There was a lot of lighter stuff that I just took out, some I broke off the top. Save all this scrap, there will be some residual lead that can be smelted out of it at a later date.
Also I figured out what the huge super heavy chunk (from Ngunguru) is. As I suspected, from a lead battery - it’s Antimony, with some lead, you can see the lead beading out of it.
A fire can easily get to 400 degrees which melts lead, wheres Antimony melts at 630 degrees, a bit more difficult to get to.

Do not worry about some of the ash/embers getting in your melt, it is good to add a bit of coal, this will help take out purify lead oxide and float any other impurities.

Use an old fork to scrape off any floaters. You can do this when you have removed it from the fire, while it’s still hot.

My oven mitten was smoking, which made me concerned that it was wet. However once it started to turn black and break I discovred it was filled with a foam - and that was melting, the whole mitten was burning - the fire was hot! :smiling_imp:

When cooling lean the pot on an angle so it is easier to remove when solid. Especially important if your pot has a wider base. You’ll hear a lot of cracking sounds, this is just the lead shrinking away from the sides of the pot.
The weight 630g. I’ll be resmelting this later.

Now for the clean lead.

I scraped the top this time and added that to the scrap pile.

It’s a real beauty, golden sheen. I’ll add some more lead that I recover from my scrap remelt at a future date.
Weight 3.8kg, the damn thing nearly smashed things when it fell out of the pot. You’ll need to press on the side of the pot to free it up.

Make sure you engrave your pots with POISON & DO NOT USE FOR FOOD, and the fork too.

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Excellent write up.

I use a length of 10" dia heavy steel pipe resting in a well established bed of embers at a slight incline.
Feed the lumps in one end, and catch the dribble out the other (whack round sinkers with a club hammer first to stop them rolling straight through!) Loaf tins make nice ingots

Big advantage is you can keep it going as long as you need, and it’s FREE. I worked out I was spending more on gas than I was recovering as scrap dollars!

Also, the radiant heat of the fire dries everything out before it gets anywhere near the molten explody stuff.
Leather welding gauntlets and a visor is a minimum if playing with this stuff.

I love that molten shimmer on the surface.

Picasso-style illustration…


That’s a brilliant idea.
I wonder if using a graphite tube inside a steel tube would help remove impurities?
Also several different sized gauze sheets above the ingot tray to catch the dross.

I tried melting some (about 20) 1cent and 2 cent coins today using a mapp gas torch and a suitably shaped broken bit of terracotta pipe bend as a crucible.
I managed to melt the coins into a lump but they never got liquid enough to pour.
Do i need to build a kiln to contain the heat or did i give up to soon?. The clay was red hot around the coins.
Would like to sandcast some small bits of bronze art.

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hi westie i melt gold with map gas so o think ya must have given up a bit early unless the melting point was higher with the coins ive done copper wire as well and it took longer than gold but got it to a liquid tho just had to hold the flame in one place for a while and i build my own crucibles out of potters clay and fire bricks


Insulate your pipe by burying in soil, or sand. If you can.
I’ve used lots of broken scrap fibreglass paneling, all stacked in layers and burried in soil.
You will need to wait a while, I just used coal or wood as my fuel.

I’ve been breaking down the large lead chunk from Ngunguru for futher smelting.
It looks like a chunk of clay, very heavy though.
As I was hammering away I hear a loud pop - I’d just broken a piece of 2.5mm drill bit.
Later I found some other rusted iron pieces.
So I’ve determined it is not from a car battery, it is lead (mostly) and some other bits of metal, that has come from a boat fire, or wharf and melted into the mud.

An interesting video of traditional African Smelting. (with Hyena turds :laughing:)
There are some good tips from go to woah, making your own charcoal from scratch and selecting hardwood, and the best type of iron ore (we’ve got loads magnetites & hematites here in nz). I’d love to try smelting some at a future point for fun.

I’ve got some silver and gold to smelt. So I’ll see if I can make a ground furnace video soon (weather dependent).

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Made a mould from clay.

Pour was at night and not interesting, so didn’t record.
The spillage over top was only tinfoil thin.

Shiney top is due to double pour - the cold night air cooled my pot too quick, but it seems solid and it won’t matter for the final product.
It was a bit rough, was going to file the sides, but as I was hammering - discovered that is better at smoothing the surface anyway.

Will show final result once I extract the pipe :confounded:

Building an Earth Furnace

Found a nice flat spot with a vertical drop for large conical air intake.

Took a shortcut over hill with wheelbarrow - chose the quick way down.

Nice clay ground to insulate, will bake hard from furnace heat too.

Will line with bricks, to help keep the heat in, create a firm structure, and oxygen flow coming in below the embers.

Needs to be 5 and a half bricks deep. The half is for 50mm clay top cover.
I put a thick board over intake to help keep water off and strengthen.

Well, I’d love to get it going tonight - cool air means more oxygen. But I’ve got to push 100kg of bricks over muddy hill - no shortcut down this time :stuck_out_tongue:
Then have some work for the crucible holder to be done.
And really want to detect river early tomorrow.
I could pull and all nighter :astonished:
We’ll see…


Seen this?
Rough Science

Yeah, that might have actually been the inspiration to find Paydirt website back in 2011 :slight_smile:
Actually built a crappy sluice, with sheep wool, tried the clay hills here with zero results.
Shame I didn’t get down into the river, where I’m going to go soon. I might have actually found something. Note to self: grab some river grit to pan.

It only took 3 wheelbarrow trips to transport my bricks over the hill.
Tyre was practically flat too - but I reckon the low pressure helped me get through the muddy track.
Wussed out on working through the night, would be difficult to work with one hand holding a light anyway.

Here is a central cut away of my furnace, so you can see how I’ve designed the air flow.

My hope with the holey bricks is they will keep the basement air intake flow working, even if ash falls down blocking spaces between these bricks.

The ash-drain / basement intake doubles as a water drain - especially for rain. Though I have covered furnace with corugated iron.

My original plan was to have two layers of bricks on each side for superior insulation.
But I had a change of plans with the gaps on sides (more on that in the future).
Also was running low on bricks and the clay is very good natural insulator.

More soon…

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Was wondering why the pipe was in there…? Is it a venting thing?

No, pipe was to make a nice central hole through middle of lead weight to attatch line.

What about using 6mm dowel, it won’t burn out, but will be easy to drill/hack out?

I think dowel would burn. Pipe was just what I had lying around, also the hollow pipe was to help cool it a bit. If I’d thought about it more, I should have wrapped the pipe in baking paper to give it a bit of room to be pulled out.

I did cut one side of pipe inside with a drill to bend end smaller, which helped free it up.
Then threw it in freezer - hoping expansion & shrinkage would help. I think it did.
Now my plan is to cut the bottom off and feed a hacksaw blade through centre to cut the pipe the entire length - then I can work it loose with pliers. I’ll give it a few more bashes with the hammer before I do that.

Dowel will stand up to lead - I used to cast sinkers into drilled holes in 3x2 and other than charring there was little damage to the wood.

Remember those egg carton-cast sinkers I found?

Yeah, dowel should be fine, even with that volume of pour - only has to hold up until the lead skins anyway.

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Found another coal location, so will stock up soon.
Decided I need more, as I may need to run the furnace for 4 hours for it reach the required gold melting temperature.

Learn from an idiots mistakes.

Chucked the bastard in the freezer for a few days to see it that would help contract it - it did losen a bit after that and I was able to turn about 120 degrees.
So, after much hammering, procrastination, twisting, and lead covered hands.
The pipe joint broke clean off! Well at least I didn’t have to saw it.
Then had to reopen other end that I’d tried to tapper off to help extraction.
AND BROKE END OFF PLIERS (not mine, so extra peeved).
After much sawing with wood coping saws, finally got out the hacksaw, but the blade went all the way though but would not come out the other side!

Conclusion; I’ll just leave the copper pipe where it is! :rage: Less lead on my line at the end of the day. So it is a giant sinker for my diving line; weight 4.5kg

Another useful item that can be made with lead.