Mining Lead

Hi everyone, welcome back to Cody's Lab.
So today I'm going to show you how I got these twenty pound lead blocks that I've used as weights in a few of my videos.
Now many of you may be surprised that I'm actually standing in a limestone quarry.
Wouldn't you expect me to get the lead out of one of my many mines on the property? Well, actually, I find it's much easier to get lead that's already been refined, and in this case, it's going to come from bullets.
Because you see, out here, people are shooting all the time.
I came out here on a weekday, so there's not very many people right now, But usually on weekends, there's just constant gunfire going on.
And, as such, there's quite a bit of lead in the ground.
Which is an ecological disaster, but I'm going to take advantage of it.
As you can see over here, there's piles of shotgun shells, and all kinds of things that people have been shooting up.
Including a frying pan, by the looks of it.
So let's pick a spot over here, and get a scoop of the ground, and see what I can get.
So the technique I'm going to use today for getting the lead out of the ground is actually going to be dry panning.
So I've got me here this [taps pan] rusty iron gold pan.
Iron's good because it's stiffer than the plastic, so I can shake it harder with heavier stuff and it's not going to flex.
Let's, uh - also I can dig with it.
Get a nice big scoop of material here, ok? Now you shake it, just like this so that some of the material goes over the edge, it's exactly what I want.
Throw away the bigger rocks, and after just a couple seconds of doing that, you'll notice that I have here a concentration of lead bullets.
Isn't that awesome? Now in the past I've brought a blower rig out here so I can shovel dirt into a little path of an air stream to blow away the dirt and keep the bullets.
But I find that when I've got the rhythm going, I can process more material just with a gold pan than I could with that.
So, this is what I'm going to use today.
And I'm just going to concentrate it down to about like this, and then I'm gonna throw it into a bucket.
And then I'll process it using wet panning later to extract most of the dirt from the lead.
Let me actually show you that again from a slightly different angle, so you can see what's going on here.
So I'm shaking the material to get it kind of fluidized So the heavier materials will sink to the bottom.
And then I got a little circular motion going here I just kind of let the material fly off the edge, using like almost centrifugal force Let's get rid of the bigger rocks, as they kinda mess things up.
As you can see here, I'm just throwing material off, and you can actually hear the bullets scraping the bottom of the pan.
Then here, throw away some more rocks, and that's about a far as I can go without loosing the little pieces of lead shot.
And as you can see, there's lead bullets here.
Now this process could be used for panning gold, but you're gonna only be able to find large nuggets, Y'know, fine flakes, forget about it.
But it is a good way to process material down when you don't have water and you really are just looking for big heavy things, like bullets.
One thing I should mention, is that you want to kinda stand up wind from this.
Because the dust in the ground could contain lead, and you probably don't want to breathe too much of that.
Here, let's see how fast I can do this.
There ya go.
Throw it in a bucket, ready to scoop again.
And you do lose the occasional bullet over the lip, just like there.
But, really considering how much there is here, it's not that big of a deal.
Now that I'm back home and can process my concentrates in peace, The first thing I'm going to do is run it through a screen, to separate the larger bullets from the fine shot and the dust.
Now all I have to do with these large lead bullets is give them a rinse in some water to remove the last of the mud, and to clean them so I can determine which are rocks and which are actually bullets, and then lay them out on a sheet of tin to dry.
And they're pretty much good to go.
Ready to be melted down.
The fine dust containing the lead shot is gonna take a little bit more washing to get it separated.
But, I'm just gonna pan it out just like I would pan out any other pan of dirt to collect any heavy materials.
And there we go! It's mostly lead now, there's still a little bit of dirt trapped between the lead particles But, for the most part, this is good enough that I could melt it down.
So I'm just set this out to dry, and then I'll process the rest of the material that I've got.
So here's what I've collected today.
About half a bucket worth of lead bullets, and about this much of the finer pieces of lead and lead shot.
Let's see how much that is exactly It's right about - I'm gonna call that five pounds.
It's not very much.
Bucket's on the scale, and the weight looks like right about a hundred and ten pounds.
I'll call that about a hundred pounds worth of bullets.
Y'know, factoring in the bucket and everything.
Let's melt down some of it and see what we get.
So I'm not going to melt the lead shot in with the lead bullets because the lead shot contains lots of antimony and tin to make it hard, as well as some arsenic.
Which makes for some lead that's really hard to work with.
Which isn't a problem if I'm using it for lead weights, but, I kinda like to keep them separated just in case I wanted to make bullets out of these eventually.
Here's the bullets Think I got just over twenty five pounds of them in this can.
Let's see if I can melt them down.
I know, tin can's a terrible way to melt it down but, It'll work once or twice.
So I've got a little furnace here set up to melt the lead.
A little thing to set the can on, there we go, just like that.
First, gotta put some fuel in there.
So I'm gonna stuff in some rags, some honeycomb, Just like that.
Maybe some pieces of coal, alright.
Now let's light it up.
[Yelling]So while this is cooking I thought I'd mention that first of all this is a good idea, because occasionally there's a live round in there that explodes.
And second, here's this mold I'm gonna use.
I've just warmed it up to get rid of any water, so the lead doesn't splatter when I put it in here.
This is a thing I made a while ago, so it's exactly the dimensions needed to have a twenty pound chunk of lead.
You can see down in here that the lead is just starting to melt.
Looks like all the bullets are melted, you can see the copper casings are floating to the top of the lead And it's just about time to do our first pour.
[Speaking normally]So here it is: a twenty pound block of lead It's still cooling off.
You can see there's some more lead here.
That's stuff that I wasn't able to put inside the mold and I just dumped out on the ground, so that I can re-melt it later.
And, also some of the bullets that still contained lead in them, just like this.
I'll put these into the next melt and just melt them down again.
As for the bullet jackets, they are made out of copper, but they've got quite a bit of lead mixed with them.
There is a place in Salt Lake that takes them for recycling though.
And they'll give me like fifty cents for every pound for em'.
But that's a pretty good deal considering that there's really not much else I can do with these.
Perhaps if I had a hotter furnace I could melt them down into an ingot and then electro-refine it.
But, This works for now.
[Hissing] Now that it's completely cooled, I can tip it over, and knock it out of the mold.
Just like that.
Nice, square, chunk of lead.
Let's see what it weighs.
Let's see if I was accurate on the twenty pound thing.
I'd say it's right on the spot! Excellent.
Twenty pounds of lead.
And now I've got something like eighty more pounds to go through.
Hope you all enjoyed, and I'll see ya next time! [Music].