You'll find several books to choose from concerning this kind of work here:
Melting aluminum is fairly easy. The tricky part is achieving high temps
with whatever kind of flame you are using. It gets lots easier if your
flame is working inside a high temp insulated furnace.
Tibur Waltson wrote:
When I was but a wee lad, I found out the hard way that it is possible to
melt aluminum on an electric stove. Specifically, if you boil water in
your mother's heavy aluminum pan, and forget about it, and all the water
boils away, and the pan just keeps heating and heating ... well, let's
draw a merciful veil of silence over the memory of my mothers's reaction
when she picked up the pan and the bottom stayed behind.
There was a neat little "Hershey's Kiss" shaped piece where the aluminum
had melted down onto the drip pan. At least, *I* thought it was really
DTTAH! (Don't try this at home!)
On Fri, 23 Jul 2004, Steve Smith wrote:
Natural gas or propane will do it in a proper furnace. No need for hotter
stuff. I recommend you do some reading on the subject. There are a number
of good books. There are lots of ways to hurt yourself. Best bet would be
to take a class at a local community college and do the work in the class.
You will learn much faster and have better results with the proper equipment
A few courses or self study is definately recommended. Safety issues are
critical - water tends to explode pretty violently when exposed to molten
metal, and molds can also explode if not perpared properly. Very dangerous
if you're not meticulous about it.
You dont need an acetylene torch. Just LP, or even natural gas. The less
metal you are melting the easier it is to melt. The best way is to make a
cup shaped item out of steel, put a handel on it, and line it with
refractory material. Home Depot sells a furnace cement - if you mix that
stuff with vermiculite you get a pretty good crucible liner. I had one
crucible like that which lasted at least 100 cycles of heating / cooling.
You could probably slip-cast a wax model with regular ceramic slip, but you
would definately want to fire it completely prior to pouring the metal. Clay
will pop and explode if you dont fire the hell out of it - but that's how
it's been done for thousands of years.
Charcoal furnaces are OK for single use. Gas is better.
But a better question is "how not to".
Random scrap is crappy for casting. I'd stick to automotive aluminum, and
try to clean it as good as possible before melting. Never - ever allow any
plastic in your furnace. And, some items are painted. You might want to
power wash your scrap, sand blast it, or tumble it in a cement mixer to
clean it off prior to melting. You'll have less dross, and no HAP's.
i've been reading about a new and cheap fuel alternative that is
starting to catch on in some places is using used vegetable oil as a
fuel source for castig metal the prep it properly they cn use it as is
and it is a fairly easy comodity to get a hold of since every restaurant
has a barrel of the stuff around they are more than willing to give you
all you woud like to have , the picture of the flame i saw on this one
site you could tell it was hot hey they make diesel from vegetable oil
so why not?
That would be one of those classic "Sounds good, but BZZZZZZZT!!!! Wrong
answer!" concepts. Most restaurants that dumpster or barrel grease for
pickup not only *CAN'T*, due to contractual obligations, but *WON'T*,
due to financial and/or liability reasons, let anybody but the grease
pickup service even LOOK at their grease barrels, let alone allowing Joe
Random Person to take any quanitity at all from them. Y'see, even though
it's "garbage", it's still worth a little cash to them. Just had a
fellow get a 2 year prison sentence over this exact issue about three
weeks ago. He was originally charged with several counts of larceny, and
one B&E after the local grease-collector (Who contracts with most of the
restaraunts in the area to pick up, and in turn, sells it on to the
rendering plant) started noticing a lower-than-usual amount of grease on
the route with no change in number of places he was collecting from.
Investigation found the fellow doing exactly what you're talking about
(He plays extensively with steam, from what I gather, and was using it
in a modified fuel-oil burner to run a boiler) and led to him being
The moral of the story: Waste grease may seem like garbage, and some
places might even be willing to let you tote it away, but chances are,
they're not going to do that unless you pay them for the privilege. And
even then, they may not be able to because they've already got a
contract with someone else.
Don Bruder - firstname.lastname@example.org - New Email policy in effect as of Feb. 21, 2004.
Short form: I'm trashing EVERY E-mail that doesn't contain a password in the
I've bought and studied the Gingery books from Lindsay Tech Books
< www.lindsaybks.com > and studied them, very interesting, and open your
eyes to the fact that there are usually several ways to get things done.
www.backyardmetalcasting.com has a lot of info, and a very knowledgable
discussion forum. They even have info on that grease-powered furnace.
I've melted aluminum in a coffee can surrounded by charcoal and fed with a
hairdryer, used a propane weedburner in a pottery kiln, and a old vacuum
cleaner setup as an oxygen lance to get a brushpile hot enough that it
melted a half gallon cast iron pot full of pistons and scrap.
Melting aluminum isn't hard, it's doing it safely that matters. I always use
welding gloves, a leather jacket, boots, a plexi face shield, and like
having a bed of sand under everything.
Have fun, and be safe!
One guy locally melts aluminum all the time with an old oil burner off an
old furnace. Acetylene and MAPP gas would be a lot more expensive to
operate. He used an old tank, lined it with refractory cement and installed
the burner on the side.
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