Lead is a highly malleable metal that can be melted in a variety of accessible ways, due to its relatively low melting point (621F, or 328C). Historically, lead was used in making plumbing pipes, bullets and even brass knuckles. Presently, fishermen and various hobbyists melt lead for use in fishing weights and toys. Although melting lead is not a complicated process, you must take adequate safety measures to avoid lead poisoning.
Wear protective glasses and heat-resistant gloves. Melt lead only in a well-ventilated room or outdoors. Lead is a toxic element, exposure to which can cause both short-term and long-term health problems. Make sure that both the inside of the melting container and any tools that will come into contact with the lead are completely moisture-free. Also, you must preheat any tools, such as a metal spatula, ladle or any other metal dipper, with which you plan to make contact with the melting lead. Failure to preheat your tools may result in splattering of molten lead when your cold tool comes into contact with the molten lead.
The heat source can be a kitchen stove, portable oven, bonfire or electric lead-melter. For safety reasons, an electric lead-melter is preferable. Typically, lead-melters come with a cast iron container for melting lead and a heat-resistant handle. You can purchase a lead-melter from your local hardware store or over the Internet. Alternatively, you may use a pot or a can made out of stainless steel or cast iron. Do not use tin or aluminium cans because those metals have relatively low melting points (tin melts at 449F, or 232C, and aluminium melts at 1220F, or 660C).
Turn on the heat source. Regardless of the heat source you use, be sure to wear protective gloves. Place the lead into the container. As the lead melts, a patina will form on its liquid surface. If you like, you may take the top layer off with a preheated metal tool. As soon as the lead melts completely and resembles a silver liquid, turn down or turn off your heat source. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes. You are now prepared to pour the lead into a mould.
Pouring and Cleanup
Handle the container with lead carefully and pour it into the desired mould. Let the lead cool down in the mould. This process usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. Once the lead has cooled down, you may take it out of its mould. Make sure the heat source is turned off. Be sure to wash your hands. Take off and wash your lead-melting clothes separately from your regular laundry. Do not eat or drink until your hands are clean and you are wearing your non-work clothes.
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