Smelter Debris?

Hi, 1940’s print shop here again. We were wondering what if anything can be done with the pile of lead cast offs from the old smelter? ( It is a Hammond Easykaster 8). These sit in a nasty pile behind the old machine probably a 3 x 3 x 3 solid chunk. Does this melt down yet again? Or is it just scrap?

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its called dross, it can be smelted and about half of it would be reclaimed, not many people smelt these days, if you take it to the junk man he will give you about half of what he pays for lead.

You can try to sell it on E-Bay. People buy lead (and even dross) for melting down and making bullets. It goes for anywhere between 1 -2 dollars per pound. Ship it in Priority Boxes. (If it fits it ships)

Thats so wierd because the dross is the most valuable part of the reclaiming ,it contains high levels of tin i believe.

You are right Peter, i was always told its higher in tin and antimony, but take it to a junk dealer and they tell you its not pure lead so its worth less.

So, we can cut it with a blow torch? Into box sized hunks. Sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday. Thanks!

you might be able to break it up with a few swings of a sledge hammer.

One more question- Could we use it in the strip caster? We were wanting to try that out.

you need regular metal for the strip caster, you can throw linotype slugs in the pot but the strip caster goes thru a fair amount of lead, dross will be too hard, don’t use foundry type for the same reason. Do you have any experience with a strip caster?? I have worked with lead most of my life, running linotypes and ludlows, even ran a few elrods, i must say most of my scars are from the elrod, most machines will screw up once in a while and you will get a little lead on your skin, but the elrod i swear knows how to get to you, any machine that is set up so you have to reach across where the lead comes out when it squirts to make adjustments will eventually get you.

OK You are the second one that has told me to beware of that machine. I guess I’ll just have to let that go. I didn’t know anything about them until I owned this one and read a bunch. I just find it rather fascinating. Maybe, I could just find
it on You Tube

it is a fascinating machine, i bought a very old one years ago, after many squirts and a few good burns i decided to hang it up, some day when i have a weak moment i just might pick up another one, what the heck there is still a few spots where i haven’t been burned yet.

It was drilled into me as a young un that you dont lace your boots but pull the laces tight and tuck the ends down into your boot to help quick removal if you get a molten bootfull.
added to this was always roll your shirt sleeves on machinery but not the platen . The platen by some quirk and bad luck has all those grab points and a rolled shirt sleeve will catch on everything you dont want to get caught on .

dickg & peterluckhurst [and all… :) ]

I *think* there’s often a little bit of confusion on the Internet over the words ‘dross’ and ‘smelting’, particularly nowadays.

‘Dross’ is a mixture of oxides removed from lead (and alloys)- typemetal dross is a grey/brown powder. However, ‘dross’ seems to be often used in the letterpress/casting community to mean the skimmings from the surface of the pot, which are a mixture of dross and undissolved tin and antimony. Dross won’t look like a metal at all- skimmings do.

By definition, skimmings are quite a lot richer in tin and antimony than the bulk of the metal in the pot, as undissolved tin and antimony float to the surface, along with dross. You should never throw away skimmings for that very reason- you’ll weaken the metal very quickly. Dross itself, though, contains only a slightly higher percentage of tin (as oxides) than the metal in the pot (generally 1-2% higher), and antimony levels in dross increase with alloys containing >15%. Remelting a few times really won’t affect the composition of the metal that much.

Similarly, ‘smelting’ is the process of obtaining a metal from its oxides by reduction, but seems to be often used interchangeably with ‘melting’. If you take scrap type, melt it down, clean it and recast it into ingots for your caster, you’re not ‘smelting’.

Smelting to obtain lead from lead oxides is a pretty complex industrial process, which is why true lead dross doesn’t fetch much of a price for scrap- since metals want to oxidise, you have to put a lot of energy into the process to get a metal from its oxides. In the UK, I think there are a couple of large, non-ferrous metal companies who will take lead dross, but I’m pretty sure you won’t get any money out of them- their costs involved in having the relevant licenses to deal with it must be pretty high.