We were casting lead to make fishing weight
s as kids and we're still here. Don't let the health & safety boys put you off!
As with most things in life its about reducing risks and a little common sense goes a long way. Just remember you are playing with molten metal and take suitable precautions.
Hear are some suggestions based on my experience (cock ups) casting metals of various types over the years.
Most accidents are caused either during the melting, transport or pouring of the molten metal (or in the mould itself).
1. Wear stout shoes, gloves & eye protection (and a jacket & long trousers) keep exposed skin to a minimum!
2. Think what might go wrong (eg if you drop the container of molten metal). Do a dry run & clear any obstructions out of the way.
3. Don't balance your crucible (ladle/saucepan) over a flame and then be surprised when it tips over and spills lead everywhere - make sure its supported and stable.
4. Use a suitable container to hold the lead - make sure its strong enough - especially the handle attachment. A long handle is better than a short one Two handles are even better - more so as the amount (and therefore weight
) of lead increases.
5. Molten metal mould water = steam
Make sure the mould is dry - Put it in the oven at 100 deg for at least an hour - if you're still not sure leave it a day & repeat! Plaster/clay/cement moulds take longer than you think to dry out so be patient as if you put them in the oven damp they will crack (or explode - this is still better than going bang when you are pouring the lead so don't skip this stage). I prefer MDF/wood moulds as they are simpler (and if you can't tell when these are wet you probably shouldn't be attempting this).
6. Make sure the mould is stable and adequately supported - (remember you are adding weight
7. Don't stand directly over your mould when pouring and have it tilted mould slightly away from you - if the worst happens the lead will make a rapid exit. You will not have time to duck so make sure you are not going to be in its way before hand.
Lastly if something goes wrong don't be a hero. Get out of the way and let the accident happen on its own - that way you will still be around to deal with the consequences (and face the music
if you are daft enough to do this in the kitchen).
If you follow these steps you will reduce the risks by 99%.
By the way if you are thinking of using sand as a mould - Bake silver sand it until its bone dry and add engine
oil as a binder - won't do complex shapes and stinks of burning oil but will produce simple castings quickly.