Small brass bells image by Penny McEvilly from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>
The creative combination of zinc and copper makes the metal that is best known for its decorative hue: brass. Brass, like aluminium, has a relatively low melting point compared to other metals, such as steel and gold. Because of its low melting point, however, it is more difficult to melt than gold because as the brass nears its melting point, the zinc and copper begin to separate. Fortunately, brass can be melted safely if all variables are controlled.
Build or buy a metal melting furnace. You can find a small furnace through jewellery or craft supply stores. Many DIY sites offer instructions on building a melting furnace. Find a site that has well-documented results, preferably from several individuals. The furnace must be large enough to hold the crucible and materials that will generate an immense amount of heat. Brass has a melting point of 871 degrees Celsius.
Gather and clean your brass. To melt any metal safely, you must remove any nonmetallic pieces. Remove all crystal, plastic, cloth and other pieces. Wash and dry your brass to ensure that any chemical residue is removed. Any chemicals or materials left on the brass and placed in the crucible may cause an accidental fire.
Choose a crucible. If you bought a jewellery furnace, a crucible has been included. Otherwise, you must find a crucible that is large enough to hold the brass but small enough to fit in your furnace. Read the packaging to ensure that it is capable of withstanding a fire hot enough to melt the brass. In addition, choose metal tongs to fit the crucible.
Heat the furnace. Place it in an open, well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors. Clear away any flammable materials from a wide area around the furnace. Follow the instructions that came with the furnace. With a homemade furnace, consider test-firing the furnace a few times before attempting to melt your brass. Keep the fire extinguisher handy, but not directly in front of the flame.
Put on the safety welder's gloves, apron and protective eye covering. Place your brass in the crucible. Using the tongs, place the crucible in the furnace according to the user's instructions. You may want to test-fire a small amount of brass to practice reaching the melting point safely and accurately. Pour the melted brass into the mould and let it cool.
- Small brass bells image by Penny McEvilly from Fotolia.com