Melting Batteries for the Lead

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Melting Batteries for the Lead

#1 Post by JimT » Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:58 pm

Salvaging lead from batteries can be hazardous to your health. The "maintenance free" batteries are not like the older lead plate batteries. The ones these days have calcium and other alloying elements in them.

The danger comes when alloys containing calcium are melted with those containing antimony and arsenic (such as in wheelweights). Compounds are formed in the melt which becomes mixed with the dross. When the dross is discarded, if it comes in contact with moisture highly toxic gases can be released.

For instance, an alloy containing calcium mixed with wheeweights will have a silvery-looking scum that forms on it fairly quickly. It tends to cling to the ladle and often ends up in the mold. In the melting of these two alloys small crystals are formed and a reaction can occur. Two of the most common reactions are:

2Sb + 3Ca=Sb
2As + 3Ca=As

Neither one of these compounds can be fluxed back into the alloy and will become dross.

The danger lies in what happens to the discarded dross.

If moisture is introduced, the calcium oxidizes for form lime while the hydrogen combines with the antimony or arsenic to produce either stibine gas or arsine gas. Both are actute poisons.

The gases are heavy and will lie in low places, such as the bottom of a garbage can.

As little as 50 parts per million of arsine can impair the function of the blood or cause pulmonary edema. A few breaths of it can be fatal.

Calculations show that 1 pound of the above alloy can produce about 0.1 cubic feet of gas. If trapped in a garbage can, it could prove a fatal dose should one inhale it after taking the lid off. It would only take 0.3 cu. ft. of such gas to contaminate the air in an average basement or garage.

It is best not to mess with melting down batteries.

The above information was gleaned from "CAST BULLETS" by Col. E.H. Harrison, article "Battery Plates: Bad News For Casters" by Dennis Marshall, page 116.

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#2 Post by homefront » Mon Jan 14, 2008 6:43 pm

Thank you Jim.

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#3 Post by Ysabel Kid » Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:12 pm

Yes, thank you Jim!

I know we are all a thrifty bunch, and pride ourselves on our abilities to stretch our shooting dollars, but risking this would be insane! :shock:

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#4 Post by JReed » Tue Jan 15, 2008 12:17 am

Well thats enough to make me not to try it. Thanks Jim.
Last edited by JReed on Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#5 Post by Sixgun » Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:08 am

Thanks for the education Jim. Not to mention that salvaging lead from batteries is an extremely messy job and a sure way to destroy what you are wearing. Its not worth the end result as a weekends work will result in a hundred pounds of nasty toxic lead. Its so much easier to go to the gunclub on an off day and sift through a wheelbarrow load of dirt. In a couple of hours I have accumulated several hundred pounds this way. -----Sixgun
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#6 Post by Oz n bolivia » Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:10 pm

I was always concerned about the absorbed sulphuric acid, what effect would that have on equipment?

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#7 Post by Jeff Quinn » Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:28 pm

So Jim,
You're saying I should have my WIFE to melt down the lead?

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#8 Post by budliteguy » Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:11 pm

I can't get mine to clean my blackpowder rifles after I shoot them, something about Rotten eggs. I know she would not melt down a battery for me!!!!! The blonde roots don't go that deep.

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#9 Post by piller » Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:20 am

Maybe we can talk Hillary into making an effort at pretending to like gun owners for a try at garnering votes. If she melts down battery lead for me, I might consider voting for her. Note I said might, and I might be able to survive a total brain removal.
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#10 Post by k8bor » Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:31 pm

Often wondered about this. Thanks for the info
Last edited by k8bor on Mon Jan 28, 2008 7:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
de k8bor


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#11 Post by Old Savage » Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:45 pm

I don't know Jeff would it go something like this in court - So, Mr Quinn, then it is true that you actually knew there was a serious hazard to your wife's health and well being when you directed her to melt the batteries as it says on this public website on which you posted the query. Mr Quinn, does that seem a bit insensitve to you? :wink:
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#12 Post by Paco » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:17 pm


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#13 Post by Rusty » Fri Feb 01, 2008 6:00 pm

As an aside to this topic... I went to my local recycler yesterday to get rid of our accumulation of cans. While there I found out that they pay $5 each for batteries brought in. Take 'em down there and go buy yerself some lead.

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#14 Post by omgb » Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:11 am

The Discovery Channel runs a series called "How It's Made" A recent episode showed them recycling batteries for the lead. IT was an entirely automated and sealed process with everyone around it wearing breathing apparatus. I took that to mean that it was not a "do-it-yer-self" type of thing. Now I know why.
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#15 Post by CanadianCowboy » Wed Feb 27, 2008 12:23 pm

I gave up slagging batteries, If they have large terminals I may still cut them off, but otherwise, the rest goes to the dump, or if I can find someone who wants them to them

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#16 Post by swany » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:03 pm

Which ones make better bullets 6 or 12 volt? :twisted:

Never have done a battery melt though I have seen a few from freeway fires still in the vehicle. I do believe that some battery lead mixed with a little mercury would make a good bullet for varmiting in D.C.
Take care and have fun. Swany

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#17 Post by chadbr » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:04 pm

Good info Jim - thanks for looking out for everyone!


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#18 Post by scr83jp » Tue Apr 29, 2008 6:13 pm

Lead sewer pipes were used in homes and businesses built in the 1700's,1800's and early 1900's.Lead was used to seal cast iron sewer pipes used in houses built in the 1900's so if you see an old house being demolished check around for lead pipe or lead sealed cast iron pipe.I have a friend who was a termite inspector & he'd find old lead pipe seals lying on the soil under homes here in CA,he brought them to me since I was casting 5# sinkers for our deep water bottom fishing off of Ventura CA.

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Good Source for Lead

#19 Post by horsesoldier03 » Fri May 16, 2008 5:32 pm

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#20 Post by Lefty Dude » Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:07 pm

The only way I will ever melt old Batteries down is if everything goes to Hell in a hand basket & I have no bullets to protect my family & friends from the hoards of Scum bags. And of course some one beats me to the abandoned vehicles left to rot.

Hey that is not a pretty picture, better move on to another thread as I just dirty this one up a bit.

Sooooo Sorry :wink:
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Re: Melting Batteries for the Lead

#21 Post by southernutah » Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:38 pm

Sell the batteries to a salvge yard and go talk a tire store out of wheel weights with the money

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Re: Melting Batteries for the Lead

#22 Post by ke4sky » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:34 pm

Disease Information for Arsine gas (Hydrogen arsenide) poisoning


Arsine is arsenous hydride/arsenous trihydride CBW used in WWI, not used but highly planned for in WWII, flammable; cheap to make; most contemporary exposures are industrial in electronic chip manufacturing soldering, etching and galvanizing or lead plating; smells like garlic; common problems observed after 24 hour delay in treatment is hemoglobinuria severe with acute hemolysis and renal shut down, and anemia with tissue hypoxia; fever, rigors then bilateral kidney pain with dark urine are best clues.

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Re: Melting Batteries for the Lead

#23 Post by goon » Tue Sep 09, 2008 2:13 am

What about battery terminals?
Are they also unsafe to melt down into bullets?

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Re: Melting Batteries for the Lead

#24 Post by scr83jp » Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:19 am

One of my friends lived & worked for the sheriffs dept in 29 palms and watched when the base had sales,he found lots of good quality lead & tin bars plus lots of other goodies.The marines were clearing an area for new construction with mine detectors and kept getting loud responses,they brought out heavy equipment and located bomb revetments buried by the drifting desert sands since the late 40's they were full of ammo boxes of 30-06 & 45acp ammo,grenades & rifle grenades .

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