Extracting lead from car batteries?

I have a couple of battered old car batteries. There is no local scrap dealer that will take them so I was wondering if it would be possible to extract the lead myself and sell it for scrap. I have searched on google and cannot find anything about this and I suspect it would be dangerous and impractical. However I thought there's no harm in asking here. I was imagining that I could open the battery up and pour the acid into some kind of strong alkali, neutralising it to make it safe for disposal. But then, I certainly wouldn't like to try this without some advice first.

sort by: active | newest | oldest
1-10 of 21Next »
NachoMahma6 years ago
.  It is very difficult to handle lead in a safe manner, especially if you plan on melting the lead. If you melt it, you have lead fumes to worry about (plus fuel costs). If you don't melt it, you still have gloves and other protective clothing to dispose of.
.  The sludge (lead sulfide/sulfate/sulf?) may be difficult to process into elemental Pb without creating pollutants and/or using a lot of energy.
.  For small amounts, it just isn't worth the risk. Looks like scrap Pb is selling for about 0.50 USD/lb (but I didn't look very closely).

Egads, is that my problem ?   When I was younger, I not only played with raw mercury,  but made a whole bucket load of sinkers out of a large lead brick......*sigh* 

I used to sell lead by the pound, as flashing for roofs and windows.  We used to unroll the lead sheet with bare hands, cut it with a knife, and roll it up again.

The metal is mostly dangerous if formed into pellets and fired at high velocity.

To process the sludge, I'd dry it, then heat it in air (say, in a clay plant-pot in the coals of a barbecue) to turn the sulphides into oxides, then stir in some powdered unburned charcoal, add a lid and heat again.

If you've remembered to put a collecting vessel under the hole in the plant-pot, you'll collect molten metallic lead.

OK, it's a bit smelly when you roast off the sulphides, but just do it outdoors.

lukemarq Kiteman5 months ago

That is excellent info not easily found! Thank you.

Modern batteries have very thin plates that sulfate all the way through. With this info I can turn old batteries into new home made ones (that will live longer).

back in my teens, when I melted the lead for sinkers,  I did it in the basement ....*sigh*
Lead melts at about 620F, but vaporizes at 3100F. That's a lot of safety margin. It's safe to melt, but I do suggest doing it in a well-ventilated area with personal protective equipment (smock, gloves, face guard).
seandogue6 years ago
All in all, it would be far better environmentally to hand them off to a garage or other business that can better dispose of them than to attempt to personally recycle the batteries. As evidenced by lemonie's comment about "lots of lead-sludge"

The amount of money you would garner by selling the recovered lead is imo far outweighed by the environmental damage you're likely to do in the process of extracting them.
I'll agree, if the thing is old it'll be sludgy... but I have a facility for the sludge (or so I've been told).

well, if that's the case, but the author said he had no recycling facilities nearby...

eh...No offense intended, but I still feel that  the profits from such work still  far under-weigh the potential for environmental damage, especially if one needs to ask how to reclaim the lead in a garage setting. I'm of the mind to leave the battery recycling to the professionals, since their facilities are mandated by fed law (in the US) to maintain a certain level of "hygiene" that few individuals will be able to match. I expect the laws are equally or more stringent in the UK and elsewhere in the EU.

(on a personal note: I realize the material disposal laws are less strict for individuals than they are for corporate level players, at least in the USA, but imo, using that excuse in cases like toxic battery packs is really stretching the loophole. a dried 1/2" deep can housing the bit of house paint is one thing, and it's exactly  the quasi draconian situation the law was designed to prevent .  but batteries are entirely another. Yeah, one battery is nothing, but multiply that by 300+ million individuals and you get one huge, steaming pile of             sheesh)

blahblah mode off.
I wanted the lead and acid. Yes I'll agree with you otherwise.

1-10 of 21Next »