I'm new to muzzleloading and the mountain man. I would like to learn more about making my own balls and powder, so I can be more independent if I need to be. I can find the lead but what do you melt it in and how do you ladle it out to the mold???
Making your own powder is a mite tricky and more than a mite dangerous. Casting your own balls is the same as casting bullets, just use the correct mould. You can melt your lead in a tin can over the campfire or use the latest electric furnace. You can use a bent spoon to pour the lead into the mould but a ladle is better. Lyman has all you need, although other folks have good stuff too. http://www.lymanproducts.com/lymanproducts/Default.htm
Click on CASTING (upper right) The round ball chart is quite a ways down.
Jack, thanks for the info. Years ago I was with a friend and we were making the balls, I just couldn't remember what the lead was melted in, and I know it wasn't a lead melter, or anything fancy. I'm really not all that interested in making the powder, unless it really wasn't that bad, but I was very interested in the balls. Thanks again.
I hasten to add a few unmentioned dangers about casting bullets:
1. NEVER melt lead in an aluminum pot. You can melt the bottom of the aluminum pot and then the lead will drop through, splashing and streaming hot metal.
2. Keep all water and liquids away from molten lead. This includes ensuring a bead of your sweat doesn't drop into the molten lead.
A drop of water in lead may cause a violent explosion of the molten lead, from steam. You can imagine what a geyser of molten lead can do to eyes and skin.
3. Wear eye protection, a longsleeved shirt, pants, full shoes (no sandals or canvas topped sneakers) and hat. Cover as much of your skin as you can. Even a pinhead of molten lead on your skin can sting, making you react suddenly and causing a bigger incident.
4. Melt lead only in a well-ventilated area. I cast my bullets outdoors on the patio, keep an eye out for any approaching rainclouds.
Lead is toxic. It can cause major organ damage and even death if too much is introduced into the system.
Don't stand over the pot and breathe in its fumes.
Wash your hands after casting and don't eat anything with your fingers until you do.
If you take these simple precautions, your exposure will be nil.
I've been casting bullets since 1972. A recent blood test revealed no unusual levels of lead because I've taken the proper precautions.
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