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Campfire powered foundry?

Hey guys, Ive been checking out a few of the foundry instructables here, and I want to make one. I have 2 problems. 1, I don't have any charcoal, and two, I don't have a fan. So I was wondering... is there a way that I could make a foundry that would get the heat from a campfire or firepot? I'd there are 101 uses I can think of for molten aluminum.., Thanks in advance! IaC

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MechisX1 year ago

I have successfully melted aluminum repeatedly using only an open fire contained in a large barrel or sand pit. I don't recommend soda cans or foil. I have had best results with window frames, old siding, and small engine blocks (weed eaters, lawnmowers) as you can tell from my choice of metal sources I tend to salvage things. As a side note all the glass that falls out of the old frames makes some neat blobs in the ashes when they cool down.

pinkpython7 years ago
We found some white hot coals in our campfire and threw in an aluminum can and a bottle cap, they both melted pretty quickly I just wish i knew of a good container to put the aluminum in.
Anything with a higher melting point than the aluminium, a normal tin can for example. Thin aluminium will melt fairly readily - Soda cans and foil and bottle tops but anything heavier will take some real energy to get it melted no matter how long you wait because the heat radiates away faster than it is added by the fire.

BE AWARE ensure there is no water in your can or on the material because water and molten metal = Explosion and flying metal everywhere.
I_am_Canadian (author)  pinkpython7 years ago
Tin cans! I make charcoal in thems.
jtobako7 years ago
You can melt aluminum in a tin can buried in a good campfire. It takes a while, and the fire has to be open enough for the coals under and around the can to get air. The can only lasts a few (sometimes only one) melt, but they're cheap : )
I_am_Canadian (author)  jtobako7 years ago
Awesome. Thanks :-D I tried, but it didn't work so well, so Im just going to build a foundry. Thanks again :-D
sprout_less7 years ago
yes you can definently do it just may take longer for it to melt. But i have a question what is this used for
rickharris7 years ago
Aluminium melts at approx 660 deg C - This is achievable on an open fire of the aluminium is contained in a suitable vessel and the fire is force fed air (with bellows or a fan) Coal - Coke- Charcoal make for longer lasting fuels. I don't see getting charcoal is a big deal - If you live in the outback then make your own there must be lots of wood around. Our forefathers smelted copper and bronze over wood fires.
I_am_Canadian (author)  rickharris7 years ago
Thanks very much! Ive decided to give it a go, whats the worst that could happen? Thanks again.
Prfesser7 years ago
The fire needs to be enclosed, and an air draft provided, for efficient melting of aluminum. You may be able to do so in a campfire but it's likely to take a good while if it works at all.

First, re. charcoal: Almost every store of any size in the U.S. will have charcoal briquettes for grilling. But if you really need to make charcoal, that can be done in a campfire, after a fashion. Basically you heat dried wood out of contact with air. Details at http://www.twinoaksforge.com/BLADSMITHING/MAKING%20CHARCOAL.htm

Furnaces can also be fired using propane, natural gas, and waste oil. See http://www.backyardmetalcasting.com/index.html for ideas.

An old hair dryer, a vacuum cleaner, even a homemade bellows can provide the draft. As a last resort a tall "chimney" can be constructed from stove pipe, and attached to the lid of the furnace to provide a draft. That's inconvenient to say the least.

Good luck!
Prfesser
I_am_Canadian (author)  Prfesser7 years ago
Thanks very much for the info! Ive decided on a sort of inbetween idea - In an enclosed space, but I wouls still like to try with normal firewood. Thanks again!