Zinc contaminated lead


Seeker of knowlege
Have a chance to get 30 lb of wheel weight lead that had a few zinc ones melted in with it. Where a person was using the float to the top method. They got distracted while melting lead for sinkers, without good temperature control, and let a few melt in. It is already in 1 lb ingots.
What I was wandering, If I could get it for free, would it even be worth messing with. Would there be a way to refine it some how that would cost less than the price of just buying good lead.
He says when he remelts to pour it is "sludgy" and barely will fill out a fishing weight mold.
Last edited:


Undesirable member in absentia, Northern NY
Sounds like either he isn't getting it and the mould hot enough or there's a lto more than what I think of as a "few" in there. Any chance you could get a sample and see what you can do with it?


California's Central Coast Amid The Insanity
Purifying zinc contaminated mush is not as easy as one would think. I once lost most of a ten-pound pot to one zincer that slipped by me.
Unless you are in that desperate need of lead alloy, or are looking for a Winter-long project, I say pass.


Active Member
I bought some supposed COWW/range lead ingots from fleabay a few years ago. Put 20lbs in a pot. No good bullets. A friend had a sample checked, 3% zinc.
50lbs of alloy wasted. And about 10hrs of frustration. Not to mention the $75 lost.

That kind of free is nothing but a worthless Headache.


Halcyon member
I did a experiment with 1% zinc in a 94-3-3 alloy, do a search of my threads here and you'll find it.

The short story of that is, with just 1% zinc, I still had some oatmeal-like dross form on the surface of the melt, which was fine for bottom pouring bullets, but it would raise heck with ladle casting. Raising temperature of the melt will help, but that just increases dross formation.

But, if I were you, I'd still get that zinc contaminated COWW ingots if it's free. Just set them aside for future use. I had a small batch (15 lbs) of COWW that I smelted and got some zinc contamination, unknown percentage. I cast them into 1lb ingots. When I am casting some general plinking ammo where I'm using COWW, I'll throw one of the 1lb contaminated ingots with the 16 lbs of alloy that fills a 20 lb pot. The zinc content becomes so small, it's unnoticeable in casting or dross formation.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Would it be worth trying to influx some copper into the mix, using the zinc as a catalyst?
I guess it would depend on how much zinc is in there.


Resident Half Fast Machinist
I would take it for free, I just wouldn't use it to cast bullets if a few tries didn't yield good results. I would use it to cast hammer heads or fishing sinkers or something. I've also found that some bullets cast well with almost ANY alloy and some are far pickier. A 452374 or 358311 with no sharp edges and round grease grooves will work when a sharp shouldered square grease groove SWC won't fill out at all.
Last edited:

Dusty Bannister

Active Member
I am going to agree with JonB and others who suggest diluting with good alloy. If you have 30 ingots and add one ingot to a full pot, you will be getting free bullets and that is never a good thing. I would suggest that you use the alloy for short and fat bullets, not rifle bullets where the shooting distances are long.

On the other hand, I have a dive weight mold just in case something else is in that alloy and it just does not work.


High Steppes of Eastern Washington
When Japanese cars first started showing up on the west coast with WW's of Asian scrap in the early 1990's, I ended up with about 65 pounds of zinc contaminated WW's. From the lab results where I worked, I started getting good pistol bullets about 1/2 percent from a diluted small sample with lead and tin. Calculated that I would need about 180 pounds of lead and ten pounds of tin. I had nothing in the wheel weights except a pizza and six pack of beer, I just scraped it. Sold to a guy to make a sailboat keel weight for $10 and he hauled it away. Probably leaching lead, tin, zinc, antimony and aluminum into the Pacific to this day.


Seeker of knowlege
I have only talked with the fellow that has this at work. Have not looked at the ingot.
After hearing all of you out. At my current level of experience, and with limited storage. I have decided just to just leave it alone.


Resident Half Fast Machinist
Just because you CAN do something doesn't always mean you HAVE to do something. I've found that saying no to yourself is often harder than saying no to somebody else.


Well-Known Member
am I the only one here [besides Popper] that intentionally adds zinc to their alloy?

you use zinc to get copper sulphate into the alloy.
it's also fairly easy to remove through temperature and sulpher scrubbing.
you hold it in solution with tin.


Seeker of knowlege
Fellow just asked me what he should do with it, after I just turned him down.
I told him, why don't he fasten it somehow it to the rear axle of his 2wd work truck, to help with traction in the winter.
I was being sarcastic, He thought it was a pretty good Idea. Go figure.:cool: