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Black Angus McPherson

Battery Lead

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OK, I'm not trying to start whupping on an old dead horse here.  I know melting car battery lead is dangerous/deadly.   I'm not about to try recovering it myself.

 

BUT, If someone else has already melted the lead into ingots is it still dangerous, or is it then safe to use for bullets?

 

The reason I ask is a coworker said he knew a guy with a bunch of lead for sale that he recovered from car batteries and melted down into ~5# ingots.  Apparently he didn't kill himself doing so.  It got me to wondering if that process evaporated all the dangerous gasses or if it would still kill ME if I tried to remelt his ingots to make my bullets.  (the only luck I've got is bad.  If something bad is going to happen it'll happen to me)

 

What say the SASS chemists?  Buy cheap lead or pass?

 

This also has me worrying about buying lead from a scrap yard that this guy has recovered from car batteries and sold to them.

 

Angus

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From the NRA info page.

--------------- https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2012/3/21/bullet-casting-bullets-on-the-cheap/

 

" Lead-acid batteries, like those used in automobiles, often have arsenic in the plate alloy, as well as calcium. When arsenic and calcium come into contact with the hydrogen generated in the normal chemical reaction in the battery they form the ammonia analogues arsine and stibine. These are heavy gases, once used in chemical warfare nearly a century ago. Very small amounts of either of these gases can kill you, so the recycling of car batteries for bullets isn’t worth the risk. "

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21 minutes ago, Cliff Hanger #3720LR said:

From the NRA info page.

--------------- https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2012/3/21/bullet-casting-bullets-on-the-cheap/

 

" Lead-acid batteries, like those used in automobiles, often have arsenic in the plate alloy, as well as calcium. When arsenic and calcium come into contact with the hydrogen generated in the normal chemical reaction in the battery they form the ammonia analogues arsine and stibine. These are heavy gases, once used in chemical warfare nearly a century ago. Very small amounts of either of these gases can kill you, so the recycling of car batteries for bullets isn’t worth the risk. "

 

I understand that, but, it doesn't quite answer my question. 

 

Does the danger stay with the recovered lead indefinitely, or does the danger lessen or disappear after it is initially recovered and remelted?  If the danger sticks with the lead what must be done to return the lead to its original "danger-free" condition?  Surely there must be a way to return lead to its inert state.  Even if that process is prohibitively expensive.  I'm just getting really curious about it now.

 

Angus

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From what I have read the lead is still dangerous as arsnic and calcium when combined with humid air can form stibine gas.

 

 

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From what I read online in a few articles, If properly smelted then the lead should be safe. Does this guy actually process it properly is another question.

 

Even if he does it's probably much too soft for most bullets as car batteries typically do not contain much antimony so it's probably not a great source even if it is useable.

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4 hours ago, El Cubano said:

From what I read online in a few articles, If properly smelted then the lead should be safe.

This would be BAD conclusion.   Calcium cannot be separated from lead alloys easily.  There is NO known way for it to be "properly smelted" short of going to a commercial secondary lead smelter.

 

Calcium and arsenic dissolve right into lead and antimony alloys.  Once calcium or arsenic are in the lead, the DIY'er or scrap metal dealer has NO cheap or easy way to get the calcium/arsenic cleaned out!   

 

Calcium tends to separate a little into the dross (the crud on top of pot, Ca makes the dross look like lumpy oatmeal), where a caster is tempted to skim it off.  Tossing that calcium-containing dross into a container that can allow some moisture from the atmosphere in, lets arsenic and antimony there turn into those poisonous gases mentioned above.

 

Plus, if that wasn't bad enough, calcium makes the lead alloy hard to cast. It usually takes an extra 100 deg F temperature, and bottom pour pots clog up frequently, and bullets contain more imperfections. 

 

NO WAY I want ANY calcium-contaminated lead in the range berms.  That will just contaminate any otherwise excellent bullet lead recovered from range berms!

 

DO NOT use battery lead.  Almost all of it now is HORRIBLE to use for bullet making.

 

Good luck, GJ

 

(yes, degrees in Metallurgy, and work experience in, of all things, a commercial high-tech battery recovery plant)

 

 

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Gosh!  I remember busting up old batteries in the early 50s so my Dad could melt down the plates and cast bullets.  I’m not sure today's batteries have the same lead composition.

 

No, I don’t have a metalurgery degree.

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8 minutes ago, Crusty said:

Gosh!  I remember busting up old batteries in the early 50s so my Dad could melt down the plates and cast bullets.  

 

That explains a lot about you......:P

OLG

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Year's ago I recycled battery lead into bullets.  They didn't have any return value so there was no incentive to trade them in.  I don't know if they even took them back in then.   Anyway,  we had a dump on the farm.  I would pull the caps and turn the battery over and let the acid drain.  Next trip to dump I would bust the case off.   Next trip pick out the case material and put on burn pile.   Some time later I'd gather the lead and melt it into ingots.   The lead went into a general mix of scrap lead.  I don't remember having any casting issues. But that was at least 30 years ago.  

 

That still doesn't answer your question.  

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Crazy talk.  Lead in its pure form is bad enough.  Why would anyone want to mess with reclaimed battery lead???

 

Just my thoughts.

 

Sheriff Langston.

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38 minutes ago, Warden Callaway said:

 

I wonder what their life expectancy is?

 

 

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50 years ago, car batteries were made with antimonial lead, about 4%.    A fairly rapid transition to calcium-lead alloy occurred shortly after that.  Since 1990, all have been Ca-lead.  No antimony content at all - interferes with the calcium content.

 

When they were antimonial lead, all that would hurt you was the strong sulfuric acid, the 30% lead oxide and sulfate powder that remained after you melted the guts, and the lead-contaminated rubber or plastic case parts.  So, if you didn't care what contaminated the place where you recycled them, you could make maybe 10 pounds of decent bullet casting alloy from a 40 pound battery.

 

NOT   ANY   MORE.

 

Even golf cart batteries, fork lift batteries, power storage cells are mostly low-maintenance calcium-lead.  

 

What worked 40 years ago with batteries does not work today.  Please stop thinking it does.

 

Good luck, good health, and good neighborhoods.  GJ

 

 

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OLG, you’re not colluding with Shooting Bull are you?:D

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Watch this video reclaiming lead from a battery.  IMO, a caster has to be really hard up for lead performing the steps for the little amount of  lead reclaimed ... 

 

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Back in the day, I used to check out old home sites and look for the cast-iron sewer pipes. Each joint had a ring of lead. A few whacks with a sledgehammer would bust the cast iron pipe. I know some wire also had a lead sheath.

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I guess I'm going to pass on messing with that guys reclaimed lead.  I was leaning pretty hard away from it before.  Even more so now.  I'm just not that hard up for lead.  I haven't seen the "guy that knows the guy" lately anyway.  I never did hear how much he wanted to sell it for.

 

It's a shame all that lead is going to waste.

 

Angus

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20 hours ago, Sheriff Langston said:

Crazy talk.  Lead in its pure form is bad enough.  Why would anyone want to mess with reclaimed battery lead???

 

Just my thoughts.

 

Sheriff Langston.

 

^ Bingo!

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3 hours ago, Black Angus McPherson said:

It's a shame all that lead is going to waste.

 

It won't.   NONE of it will "go to waste."  Lead at a scrap yard typically ends up being sold to a licensed secondary lead smelter, where it is refined back into pure soft lead, then, if needed, alloying metals are added to make ammunition lead, plumbing lead, roofing/flashing lead, or even battery lead.  All the lead now used in the US was either imported, or was recently scrap lead recycled by secondary lead smelters - because we have no more primary (from ore) lead smelters operating in the US.  The smelter at Doe Run, MO was the last primary smelter, and it was closed about 4 years ago.  We use all our recycled lead!  We import the rest as needed to satisfy our demand for leaded goods production.

 

Don't cry for that lead, Argentina!  Lead is one of the most completely recycled metals.   Mostly because lead has enough hazards that no one following our current laws discards it to landfills or (even illegal) disposal spots.

 

Good luck, GJ

 

 

 

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most ranges eventually get reclaimed as well , altho im not so sure on cowboy ranges - it takes a certain amount to make it worth while and years of use to accumulate that much , we got a bit over a million pounds off ours here a number of years back , 

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On 8/1/2018 at 4:25 PM, Black Angus McPherson said:

OK, I'm not trying to start whupping on an old dead horse here.  I know melting car battery lead is dangerous/deadly.   I'm not about to try recovering it myself.

 

BUT, If someone else has already melted the lead into ingots is it still dangerous, or is it then safe to use for bullets?...

 

Season is winding down; I’ve got about only 400 rounds left.   I’m a bit on the conservative side so I’m looking for sources of free lead before Spring.

 

At work I’ve been tripping over an old car battery.  Been laying in the warehouse for about a year…hmmmm.

Now some Cowpokes caution against recycling car batteries because of hazardous materials like sulfuric acid.  Well Cowpokes shoot guns, handle lead bullets, smoke, drink alcoholic beverages and drive Fords which ain’t the safest ether, so why not recycle the lead from car batteries ask I?

 

So I hoisted that car battery up on Gray and took it back to the ranch.

 

Took the fill caps off the top and drained the sulfuric acid.  For proper disposal of sulfuric you will need to fill out Federal Environmental Protection Agency, State Board of Health, County Health forms and notify the local Fire and Police departments.  DO NOT DISPOSE SULFURIC ACID BY DUMPING ON THE GROUND!

 

The wife has been treating all the neighborhood stray cats for worms.  I’ve noticed that the worm medicine is so strong, that the grass dies where the cats recycle their food intake (poop).  And if you ignore my “DO NOT DISPOSE SULFURIC ACID BY DUMPING ON THE GROUND!” you will not be able to convince nobody (especially my wife) that it was the cat’s worm medicine poop that has killed off her flower garden and ate thru the steel water line to the house.  Trust me on this one.

 

Then using cold water (after water line is repaired) to flush any remaining sulfuric acid from the battery.  Contain all rinse water and dispose of per Federal Environmental Protection Agency, State Board of Health, County Health Fire and Police departments’ guidelines.  Dumping the rinse water into a ditch will kill most of the neighbor pets, all vegetation down stream for 2 miles and will also lead to a very difficult explanation to the arresting Officers.

 

After bonding out of the calaboose I used a hacksaw and tried to cut the plastic case off.  Don’t use you favorite hacksaw, better yet borrow one from an anti-gun neighbor because no matter how well your rinsed the sulfuric acid out of the battery, the hacksaw ain’t going to be worth much when done.

 

Using a butane torch to burn off the plastic case off works but make sure you stand up wind.  Boiling sulfuric acid residual mixed with plastic case fumes all blowing down wind has the tendency to kill shrubbery and the rest of the neighborhood pets, including gold fish in indoor aquariums.  When the Federal Carpet Baggers arrived, suggesting that it was a terrorist act will keep your bond from being revoked.  Trust me on this one.

 

Fire up your outdoor melting pot and start throwing sections of the battery in.  After burning up a half tank of LP you will noticed that in between every 6 wafers is a substance that will not burn or melt and sucks up the heat.  Manually remove this substance.  After 6 hours (not counting jail time) I have ¼” of lead covered by a 1” of dross in the melting pot.   My cost breaks down to:

 

Butane torch fuel $2.

Refill LP tank $22.

Flower garden replacement: $247.13

Repair of water line:  $785.54

Bond Agent:  $500.

 

Total is $1,556.67 for about a pound of lead.  Cost does not include pending lawsuits or gold fish replacement.

 

My conclusion is using car batteries for a source of lead is viable.  I’ve got most of the remains of one battery left and if pressed I can leave it go for $2 or $3 thousand dollars.  I figure at that price I’ll enough to recoup my costs with some left over to skip the territory.

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Based on Matthew Duncan's findings I am convinced not to use any old car battery lead. Especially thinking about the wrath of my honey if it were to mess up any of her garden. That said I like to get lead cheap but that just seems like way to much work for a very little amount of lead.

 

Sgt H

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Garrison Joe, thanks for the great info.

I had never considered battery lead and now can pass on the info you provided to any who mention it.

Once again, was was once o.k. is not today.

What was an apple has turned into an orange.

Thanks for helping keep SASS shooters safe responsible.

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