Lead is a metal element that mankind have known and used for ages; most of us are aware of its three main features:-
- It is soft and malleable.
- It is very heavy in weight.
- It is poisonous enough to kill us. It is, in fact a neurotoxin and cases of lead poisoning were documented from the times of the ancient Romans, Greeks and Chinese.
Not so many will know that its chemical symbol is“Pb” (from the Latin: plumbum) and its atomic number is 82; nor that lead has a comparatively low melting point of 621.5 °F
Day to day usage of lead has almost finished for things like eating plates or vessels; roof linings, water pipes; and additives to paint and gasoline or diesel fuels – due to concerns over the health issues. However, it does remain a metal of choice in several popular fields. It is an excellent radiation shield both for atomic radiation protection and blocking-ray penetration but these are somewhat specialised uses.
When scuba divers wish to sink to the bottom of the ocean; they use lead weights on a belt around their waists to overcome the body’s natural buoyancy. When anglers want to catch fish from deeper water; it is lead that provides the sinker for their hook and line. People who like to fire older guns need lead for their bullets or shot depending upon the age of the weapon.
Melting & Casting
Because of its low melting point, the above hobbyists could place lead in a heavy duty saucepan and melt it on their kitchen stove and then pour the lead into molds for whatever shape they wish to produce. There are two problems with this scenario:-
- The wife would object.
- It would not be very practical for any sort of volume production.
The solution would be to setup a separate workshop and invest in a Lead Furnace in which to melt your lead prior to casting it into bullets, shot, diving weights or fishing sinkers. You could even reproduce antique toy lead soldiers if you so desired – all you would need is the Lead Furnace and suitable molds for the shapes you wish to make; you could even set up a commercial lead casting business.