Introduction: Brass Casting - Got Nice Ingot

In this short article, if I can call notes about my humble experience an article :) I'd like to show how I casted 614 gram (1 lb. 5 oz.) round brass ingot. For many people who start melting and casting metals, it can be hard to melt brass, bronze, copper after for example, lead and aluminum. The main problem is high brass melting point.

That’s why I had to upgrade my blowpipe before melting and casting brass. It was a real challenge to exceed 900 °С (1652 °F).

Step 1: Loading Charcoal, Some Coal and Start Melting

Picture of Loading Charcoal, Some Coal and Start Melting

I used charcoal as usual but added several pieces of coal. It gave me nice temperature and very quickly. In fact, it took me approximately from 10 to 15 minutes to melt brass. I used still crucible, so there was a risk that it could start melting.

Step 2: Casting

Picture of Casting

Crucible was very hot, steel became white and it meant that the temperature reached approximately 1200 °С (2192 °F). Nevertheless, it withstanded and didn’t burn through. As a mold, I’ve decided to use an empty steel coffee can. It worked fine with aluminum but I can’t say the same about brass.

Step 3: After Casting Process

Picture of After Casting Process

Because of much higher temperature brass welded with the can and became one whole. I had to use an angle grinder to remove pieces of the can. I've got a lot of additional work.

Step 4: My Results

Picture of My Results

Finally, I can say that I am very satisfied with the results. I had several attempts with my old air supply system and couldn’t melt brass. That’s why I was very glad to make this round ingot with my new blowpipe.

Comments

I use my super ZVS Magnetic Induction and works perfect...

But your work is excellent too, but take care my friend not burn with the molten metal... Now built some mold and create whatever you want... COOL!!!

Thank you very much mate! This was one of my first instructable. From that time I've made a very efficient furnace and casted a lot of cool things. They are practically all here on instructables :)

Blackcloud161 (author)2016-09-19

I have been researching melting brass for a short while and this one article taught me quite a bit!

It covered things I did not even think of, like using a rusty steel container to prevent the brazing action, to the blowpipe idea!

Thanks to DuralM for posting and to all who assisted with answer questions. Both have been very informative !!!

DuralM (author)Blackcloud1612016-09-20

Thank you very much for your comment Blackcloud161. It's a great pleasure to know that my information is useful and I do it not only for myself but can share it with others. It's really important.

rbeech1 (author)2016-09-12

Where does one get coal or coke in Florida?!?

JOEYS CARVED ART (author)rbeech12016-09-13

You can order high grade coal on ebay for a reasonable price.

DuralM (author)rbeech12016-09-12

If coal a problem in
your state than maybe try to search coal or charcoal briquettes. I think that even charcoal briquettes will work much better than simple charcoal. If this is also an issue than I think propane is a good alternative.

Dark Solar (author)DuralM2016-09-13

Second the propane/LNG option!! Sure it's a little costly but it's also super-clean, has fairly low sulfur contamination risk and you get to have the fun of building a burner (Ron Reil's Mongo burner is a pretty good example) that can melt everything from pot metal to cast iron! :D

Dark Solar (author)rbeech12016-09-13

If you can secure a coal (ideally anthracite) supply, coking it is easy enough --the process is similar to making charcoal via distillation method. Alternately, you can start a coal fire in a container and when the coal you can see on top of the fire turns white, dump the whole mess into a tub of water. Give it a rinse and once it dries out, you'll have a good grade of coke. Or, you could take the lazy path and just get a lid for your crucible. ; )

About the author's mention of charcoal briquettes; they do win out over lump charcoal in terms of ease of acquisition but they also produce much, much more ash relative to volume consumed, have the potential clog your furnace mid-run and to produce slag (coke and coal are much worse when it comes to clogs/clinkers) at brass melting temps due to the presence of clay binders used to hold the briquettes together. Long story short, all four fuels will do the job with minor variations in what you'll need to do while the furnace is running so it's going to come down to a judgment call on your part. Good luck and happy casting!! :D

ironsmiter (author)rbeech12016-09-12

I would reach out to the Flordia Artist Blacksmith Association.

( http://blacksmithing.org/ )

I am sure they could help you out with starter coal, or a solid lead on where to buy it. Personally, even being from Illinois (lots of coal here, not all smithing grade though), It's hard to beat some of the internet pricing for 50lb bags of coal. When i take a trip near the mines, I swing in and pick up a couple hundred pounds, But if I am running low, amazon is just a click away, and a heck of a lot faster than planning a long vacation weekend

BeachsideHank (author)2016-09-09

I commend you for achieving a very difficult goal, melting brass and copper is no trivial accomplishment.

I suggest that if you intend to continue with further projects in your foundry, you try and acquire some personal protective gear, at a minimum wear long legged jeans and leather boots, additionally a long apron is useful too. While they are far from ideal, the are much superior to sneakers and shorts.

DuralM (author)BeachsideHank2016-09-09

Thanks. Completely agree. Of course I try to do everything safely. I don't use jeans and leather boots because of hot summer. Now it's September but still +27 C (80 F). It'll be colder soon, so I can use some protection :)

BeachsideHank (author)DuralM2016-09-09

I understand. I melt and cast aluminum here in Florida U.S., where heat and humidity are legendary, still though I suit up, but do have a blower salvaged from an air conditioner situated to cool me down some, and also plenty of water to drink.

I don't anticipate a major catastrophe like a crucible failure dropping a half- liter of ally on me, but it's the minor splashbacks that can really cause personal injury and dangerous disorientation during handling that I'm mostly concerned with.

DuralM (author)BeachsideHank2016-09-09

I see and I'm from Ukraine. In October-November it'll be much colder. Of course not as cold as, for instnce in Alaska or Canada but much colder than in Florida :) How guys in Game of Thrones say: "Winter is coming". :)

BeachsideHank (author)DuralM2016-09-09

I'm in awe of you guys from the Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, you do so much with so little and get great results. I watch YouTube videos all the time from there, no need for translation, the craftsmanship speaks for itself. ☺

DuralM (author)BeachsideHank2016-09-09

Thanks again for your kind words Hank. :) I can only say the same about USA. I started to be interested in melting and casting because of videos made mostly by craftsmen from your country.

graydog111 (author)DuralM2016-09-11

You might want to look at the brass knife bolster I made on this i'ble: https://www.instructables.com/id/Bowie-Knife-2/ This knife is pretty rough, but that was the look I was going for. Here is another knife I made that's much nicer: https://www.instructables.com/id/Hunting-Skinning-Knife-Made-Easy/. I heated the scrap brass in an aluminum can with oxy/acetylene torch.

DuralM (author)graydog1112016-09-11

Thanks for your links graydog111. Both knifes look awesome. I like such things. I have several knifes and a sabre. Could be interesting to make something like you did myself.

It's a pitty that I couldn't see the process of melting brass by oxy/acetylene torch. I've never seen how it works. You really did it in aluminum can and it didn't melt or burned through. Are you sure that it wasn't a steel can? First time I tried to melt down aluminum in a steel can and it burned through when aluminum started to melt: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Crucible/

zacatewo (author)2016-09-11

good work!, are you blowing the charcoal with air or is there other kind of stuff?

DuralM (author)zacatewo2016-09-11

Thanks Indromac. Yep, that's charcoal + coal (black coal or hard coal) + air = brass ingot. :) I couldn't rich enough high temperature with pure charcoal. It was enough for aluminum but not enough for brass! I added just several pieces of coal. Coal gives much higher temperature than charcoal.

zacatewo (author)DuralM2016-09-11

oh good tip! thanks! gonna try this one ;)

DuralM (author)zacatewo2016-09-11

You're welcome. Good luck.

Jobar007 (author)2016-09-09

You effectively brazed your ingot to your mold when you poured the molten brass into a steel can. You'd need to use a well rusted steel mold to prevent the brass from adhering to the mold (at least that's the cheapest way to get into brass ingot molds).

Congrats on getting brass casting temperatures. Keep an eye on that crucible and retire it as soon as it starts showing signs of wear so you don't have a castrasophy.

DuralM (author)Jobar0072016-09-09

Thanks Jobar007. Yep, I'll never cast brass in a steel can again :) I'll think about some mold types which can be used. Maybe steel, maybe some mixtures of fire clay, grog, graphite...

ToolboxGuy (author)DuralM2016-09-11

Consider learning how to make sand castings. A bit more involved, and heat can ignite the oil in the sand, but you can be far more creative with your end results.

DuralM (author)ToolboxGuy2016-09-11

Hi ToolboxGuy. Sand casting is also my purpose. I've just got some results in it, so will share them in a week or two. Please, follow my channel on youtube and here on Instructables. I've made a flask and green sand. Everything works good enough. Did you hear about some mixture of green sand where oil is used? I tried just mixture of sand and clay. In my opinion, that's more than enough to get a good mold.