Step 7: Smelting and Casting Aluminum

Picture of Smelting and Casting Aluminum
Okay lets get started with the smelt. Leave the blower turned off until the coals are established and have some grey ash on the surface. Turning the blower on prematurely will blow the fire out however once grey ash appears on several bricks the blower will greatly enhance the process from then on.

If you use on those charcoal starter devices with newspaper or whatever get your coals started. Otherwise remove the crucible and spray on a good dose of starter fluid. No need to go crazy, it won't help. Use the same sort of amount you would use the start the charcoal in your grill.

Light the charcoal and, holding the crucible the extended rod ends, place the crucible back into the furnace. **CAREFULLY** drop in additional briquets up to about the level of the crucible rod. Don't over pack, you can always drop in more briquets later.

Take the last two bricks and place them **CAREFLLY** on top of the furnace to form a chimney. They should be placed so that the center of the furnace forms a square framing the crucible. (see picture)

As things heat up the feedstock will begin to soften and then melt. As the metal melts addtional feedstock can be **CAREFULLY** added to the crucible. Eventually you will have either fed in all your feedstock or the level in the crucible will be "full". I wouldn't overfill the crucible, if it gets half full go with that until you a clear idea of how exactly things will go.

Dross and slag will float to the surface of the molten metal. I removed this using a long handled tea spoon. ( see picture ).

Once you have a nice crucible of silvery molten metal ( more or less ) remove the two chimney bricks from the top of the furnace. Hook the crucible rod with the coat hanger hook and lift the crucible out of the furnace. Tilt the crucible to pour the aluminum using the wood piece to lift the bottom (see picture), this approach provides pretty good control on the pour.

In this case I used a muffin tin as the mold. It was handy, worked and readily discharged the aluminum ingots in an interesting muffin shape ( sort of ). As you can see from the picture I've done two melts with this and didn't actually get a full muffin because I ran out of feedstock.

jadronx3 years ago
awesome instructable i will be trying this soon!
asteidl4 years ago
Love the idea, will try this soon! I drink a boatload of [citrus soda] and [cola] (I'll be fair, and not advertise, lol), and always save my cans for profitable scrap. I'll see how the scrap yard responds to processed ingots! I'm thinking I might even get a better price, since many impurities are removed, and pretty much did what the large recyclers do. The smaller recycling yards compact the cans, then ship them to a processor that either ships the cans to manufacturer (who processes the cans themselves) or shred and melt them down to ingots. I'll report my findings! :D
egbertfitzwilly (author)  asteidl4 years ago
Please do, I agree that you should be able to get higher prices for ingots although you may have to hunt for it. If you have ready access to a source of biochar/charcoal you might be able to move up the food chain ( buy cans and sell ingots )....
masoon4 years ago
what setting did you have your hair dryer set to? Did you let the charcoal burn awhile before using the blow dryer. If I use unheated air will that work?
egbertfitzwilly (author)  masoon4 years ago
Yes, any forced air source ( such as the blower output from an old fashioned rug vacuum ) will work. I used the cool setting on the hair dryer, its add no value as a heat source.

The more air that gets forced in the higher the temperature. Its not clear how hot this particular can safely get before the bricks begin to crack or the steel can crucible begins to soften and defrom.

I light the charcoal as one would a BBQ grill, when the flames had died down and grey ash begins to appear turn on the blower.
0087adam5 years ago
could wood be substituted for the charcoal?
egbertfitzwilly (author)  0087adam5 years ago
Yes, I believe so but it creates some challenges. For instance I'm not sure a blow dryer will generate sufficient air flow for heat or how much wood you might need to use. You could certainly make the wood into biochar and use that.
Nice one- well explained and accessible. Been thinking about smelting and forges for a while- I like the advantage of your stealthy approach, and you can have a BBQ before you start- yum yum!