I have been really considering casting. I have 3 5 gallon buckets of lead. How do you melt lead in bulk?
First off -- want to sell the lead -or- trade it?
Always in the market!!
For large batches, I melt it down using my propane turkey/fish fryer and a stainless steel pot. Many people use cast iron pot for the task. I just happened to have a stainless steel one I got at a garage sell. I have some Lee ingot molds that I use to make the ingots for future casting. I have also used muffin pans (get one at Wal-Mart for about $4.00) and they work well. Just make sure that the ingots you make will fit into your casting furnace/pot.
Pure Lead will melt around 630-50degrees -- some of the lead alloys may require a little more heat.
A few things to remember:
1: Make sure that your fryer stand will hold the weight of the lead you wish to melt. I usually melt it in 50lb batches. I have my pot marked on the inside to let me know when I have about 50lbs melted.
2: Lead fumes are toxic - always melt it in a well ventilated area - I do it outside and use a fan "just as a precaution."
3: Keep your batches separate - this is especially true if you are using wheel weights, range lead, or a mixture of lead sources. Each batch will be different in its composition. As you know - Consistency is the key to accuracy.
4: Lead and water DO NOT mix. A single drop of water in your molten lead will be like a small explosion sending molten lead everywhere. Make sure that your lead and anything you use to stir/poke the lead is completely free of moisture.
5: Wear protective clothing - I wear an apron, long sleeves, and gloves ... a couple drops on the 'ol skin "hurts - for days!!"
6: You should “flux” the molten lead before casting into ingots and/or bullets. There are many options regarding “fluxing” - the need to, how often, what flux agents to use, etc, etc, etc … The purpose of fluxing is to help remove the impurities in the lead and all carbon to the mix for a harder alloy and easy of casting. There are several commercial fluxing agents out there and they work well, When I am making a 50lb batch of ingots, I use a little sawdust and bees wax stirred into the melt with a wooded stick (wood/sawdust holds moisture - so make sure it is completely dry - I actually put it in the oven for a few minutes). After fluxing, remove all the “crud” off the top of the melt. I use a large spoon with holes in it for this task.
NOTE: If casting bullets and not ingots, you will want to flux often.
I know I probably went on a little too long -- I just looked back over you question, “How do you melt lead in bulk?” Of course the simple answer is to put it over some heat ….