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Dirty (especially cast/lead) bullets are harder to distinguish from rocks. IME you'll still miss some rocks/stones/pebbles and end up with a few (even if you'd swear you've gotten then all). A friend and I used to "mine" a backstop many years ago for lead.

My procedure with ("cleaned" and "dried", usually hosed off, spread out, and left in the Sun for several days) range pickups was to put a bunch in a cold pot out in the back yard (Lee electric pot with an extension cord), load it with "cleaned" range pickup, turn on the pot, and back off for a while to let it melt. Stlll get jackets, dirt, and pebbles/stones floating to the top. Wore a leather apron, leather gloves, and face shield. Skimmed off the floating dross, fluxed, etc. Lots of better ways to do larger quantities, but that's what I used to do with what I had at that time. You get some interesting smells off a lead pot sometimes, and I always assumed those may not indicate good things, so I'd back off and do initial melts out in the yard, with all of the outdoors as ventilation, well away from anything.
I do mine every year (I think it’s time now) so I know what you mean about missing some. The dirt usually just grows to it like a husk. Honestly I just haven’t really figured missing a small piece here and there was that big of a deal. Especially when I mainly hunt slugs,pumpkin balls and any 308 and up projectile.
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 · (Edited)
I'm going to have to ask my friend I'm getting it from. They have a shot tower and have done tons of this over the past 15 years. They are competitive sheet/trap shooters and go through tons of it...literally. But, their procedure has some elements of what Max said.

They wash theirs but may have something to due with producing shot, not sure. I'll find out more. The lead is in five gallon buckets and is sitting outside. So, its already full of water. I'm supposed to get a bucket this weekend. I want to deal with one bucket and see how the lead casts and how big of a PITA it is before I commit to 3,000 lbs. He said there would be lots of trash generated from it. He could not say really how much as they have not weighted trash vs lead. But he said he would guess 25% - 40% range for loss to dirt, rocks, copper, etc.
 

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How tall is their shot tower and the temp at their drip pan?
I toured the Remington plant at Lonoke, AR many years ago in the cold of winter. Our group toured the tower first. We left our jackets at check in. Wish I had swim trunks, nope thermals with jeans and flannel shirt. The lady at station 1 is in a Tee shirt and shorts watching the gauges of the coolant that the shot drops into. Up the steps to station 2. The lady is in a tank top, shorts and was wet. She watches the forced heat at 3 points. I don't have a dry thread on my body at this point. Up the steps to station 3. This guy is almost naked, 3 hours into his shift and his soiled towel bag is almost full, towels not paper. He gets to watch the flow of melted lead onto the drip pan. Walking back down I think I had water coming out of my boots with each step. Then we learn that the wall of the tower is 20 inches thick. Viewing glass is 3 inches thick. Lead is melted at the bottom and pumped up. We toured start to finish of a shotgun shell and our trip was through. I felt froze by the time I made it to my car and sat forever before I felt heat.
 

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Don’t hold your breath but I just scored enough pipe for three 12”x 10” tall smelting pots like Ellis’ and four 8”x10” ones. First 12” is mine. Soonered and Bass have dibs on the other two if they are interested. A few more 12” are in the works. Will be at least a month or so
 

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Don’t hold your breath but I just scored enough pipe for three 12”x 10” tall smelting pots like Ellis’ and four 8”x10” ones. First 12” is mine. Soonered and Bass have dibs on the other two if they are interested. A few more 12” are in the works. Will be at least a month or so
You know I am! All you gotta do is tell me how much to make the check out for, lol.
 

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You know I am! All you gotta do is tell me how much to make the check out for, lol.
Lol Mr. Ed called me a couple hours ago and wants one. The last one of the first batch is yours. I’ll call you when I’m closer for details of what you want. I’m doing mine on a separate stand with burner and a shelf to hold molds. I’ll do you just the pot or the whole set up
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
Phillip, and others, I wish I could express adequately how much I appreciate everyone's help. I would not have started this adventure and not progressed as rapidly had I not gotten all the help I've been given. I now have over 1,000 lbs clean lead with hopefully more on the way. And I've been able to cast useful 45 acp, 9mm, 357/38, 50&45 cal muzzle loader and 35 Remington bullets. Can't wait to try 40 s&w, 30 & 31 caliber military rounds, 45-70 and hopefully for my 6.5 & 7 mm mausers. I'm really looking forward to getting 45-70 bullets working well. I've got 3 45-70's to feed. I'm both truly blessed and greatful.

Thanks everyone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
I just wish I had your lead supplier, LOL.
I've stopped at a bunch of recyclers as I've traveled around the state and found one good deposit I've now depleted. Stopped at one in AR last week and they only had about 30 lbs of sheet lead at a dollar a pound...I passed. I strike out much more than I score.
 

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I've stopped at a bunch of recyclers as I've traveled around the state and found one good deposit I've now depleted. Stopped at one in AR last week and they only had about 30 lbs of sheet lead at a dollar a pound...I passed. I strike out much more than I score.
That sound like me with pawn shops. I probably hit 10-20 for every deal I find. With the COVID mess that’s probably dropped to 1 in 30+.
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
Don’t hold your breath but I just scored enough pipe for three 12”x 10” tall smelting pots like Ellis’ and four 8”x10” ones. First 12” is mine. Soonered and Bass have dibs on the other two if they are interested. A few more 12” are in the works. Will be at least a month or so
@phillipd Any progress on this? When you do start would you start a new thread with pics so we can follow the progress as well as learning from problems encountered and attempted solutions?
 

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Discussion Starter · #55 ·
I bought 10 three gang ingot molds from @phillipd. They are 5 1/2” long so should cast 1 1/2 lbs ingots. They look great. I coated them with graphite spray. So, I’ll be able to pour 45 lbs of ingots per batch which closely matches what I can do in a batch of lead in my Dutch oven.

C86C98AE-1352-4883-AD87-9DEF16DFE1AC.jpeg
 

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He has two versions no heat and heat handle lengths, LOL.
 
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