Introduction: Melt Aluminum With a Hole in the Ground

Picture of Melt Aluminum With a Hole in the Ground

I've been interested to try this design for use as a survivalist foundry for quite some time now. The name of this type of fire pit is a Dakota Fire Hole, and I thought with a little extra air flow provided by a fan it might have the potential for some real heat!

I've received a number of comments from users unable to view videos from mobile, so until that issue is corrected you should be able to access properly from a desktop.

Some notes regarding casting:

It can be dangerous to pour molten metals into a casting surface that has not been pre-heated to drive off moisture. The bubbles you see forming in my cast at the end of the above video are formed from water boiling off the soil. While I was not too concerned with the danger while wearing proper safety gear and pouring onto an aerated surface, there is a chance of rapid expansion of water throwing molten aluminum into the air, especially if using metal casting forms.

Some excellent DIY casting methods have surfaced in the last few years that would be fun to try with this furnace. Of particular interest to me is lost foam casting, so we'll see if I get around to another video on that subject in the future.

Items used for this project:

  • Shovels (both standard and narrow)
  • Fan
  • Steel pot
  • Channel locks or vice grips for lifting the hot crucible
  • Fire wood
  • Scrap aluminum
  • Safety gear (eye protection and/or face shield, non-synthetic clothes with long sleeves, closed toe boots)

Comments

terrefirma (author)2016-01-20

This seems dangerous. The way you are bending over seems to be putting your face and lungs at risk. What type of shield do you recommend? I try to encourage trying new ways but people are so litigious that it needs to be well thought out. Thanks.

Pizzadrum (author)2015-06-01

this works really well! good way to spend my Saturdays! nice job!

brianchadorourke (author)2014-12-14

I'm gonna have to give this a go. Thanks a bunch.

PopsicleGhoul (author)2014-11-13

Hey NightHawkInLight,

Nice video! I have melted a bunch of aluminum before and done a lot of sand casting and stuff but now I have a few boxes of very large, unweildy scrap that won't melt nicely in a traditional furnace, so I may use this method to melt it.

I also wanted to share a funny story about molten aluminum on wet surfaces. I was casting one day and I had a furnace made from a paint can (not my "real" furnace shown in my aluminum bowl casting 'ible) and I put a really heavy lid on top. Eventually the lid tipped the paint can over, and the aluminum spilled out. It only spilled on to the pavement, which looked dry. Heh heh. I was soon running for my life, as the aluminum started to literally explode as liquid and solid chunks that flew yards away! I slowly came back to the scene and the very pavement had exploded, as had the aluminum, both as solid chunks ripped apart by the explosive force and as liquid blobs thrown in the air. Though I failed to cast the ingots I wanted, it was still a fun day. :)

What are your thoughts on using charcoal for this method of melting aluminum? Do you think it would work, or would it be optimal to use firewood? Thanks!

nightmare_man (author)2014-08-11

Do not pour molten metal in to water, that's ridiculously stupid. For that matter use caution when pouring molten metal over concrete or asphalt, explosions are very possible.

nancyjohns (author)2014-08-07

awsome. My older brother and i for a few days just melted aluminum in our fire pit and we didn't need a fan. I suggest that the next time you do that you pourit into water, beacase it makes a really cool shape:)

walkernstan (author)2014-08-01

Clicking second image just gives me a bigger version, no video I'm afraid

I've had a number of complaints recently that embedded videos don't work on mobile. If you try on a computer everything should display properly.

kevenr17 (author)2014-08-01

Very cool thx for sharing!!

zfollette (author)2014-08-01

Is there a video?

Kiteman (author)zfollette2014-08-01

Click on the second image (it may look like a black rectangle).

enelson8 (author)2014-08-01

This is amazing!

jmwells (author)2014-07-31

Well done!

About This Instructable

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Bio: I like turning boring things into awesome things! Usually on video.
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