There are many guides and many ideas I've collected and, being that I completed this (the first one... I made a completely new setup just for this instructible... you should feel special.) within two days and most importantly... cheaply.

My cousin /assistant / camera man and I created this instructable so we could share our wonderful smelting smelting experience and win the hearts and minds of the instructable community.


This instructible includes fire and molten metal.

Also; If you mortally wound yourself while duplicating this instructible, please delete this from your history internet history before dieing. i don't want to be held liable.


We shall begin.

Step 1: Parts / Tools

In retrospect, the parts / tools list quite long but it should be things that are easily available.

The most expensive thing was the torch. I'm really cheap but it turned out to be a rewarding investment.

The other parts are as follows:

Quick Setting Quickrete (I got a 20 lb bucket for under 10 bucks)
Something to mix the Quickrete in
Something to stir the Quickrete with
Large Coffee Can (6 inch)
Small Coffee Can (4 inch)
Hack Saw (or any metal cutting tool)
Drill (or metal punch or improvised hole making tool)
An empty 14.1 oz propane tank (make sure it's competently empty)
Scrap steel bar like from a printer, about a foot long (you can buy 5/8 steel bar at lowes)
A sharpie (or any marking tool)
Short (about 2 or 3 inches) iron or steel tube that the torch head fits in. (optional)
A ball peen hammer (any hammer will suffice)
Some propane gas (i buy the ones for camping stoves because their $4.38 for a 2 pack of 16.4 oz tanks.)
An oven (optional)
A vice. ( kinda optional. you could find another way but i find the vice necessary)
A mini muffin tin (optional. you just need something to pour the aluminum into.)
Some cheap thin steel wire (1/8 diameter max. but strong enough to hold some weight)
<p>Just a idea to make your forging much easier. Check this out from Budget Casting supple. Also I have been a mason for over 40 years I know first hand that fire and concrete don't mix, I would never put a flame to concrete. I have built hundreds of fire places and masonry smokers and grills.Get a book on green sand molds you can't get any cheaper than making your molds from sand. Good source is Lindsay Publications Inc. Bradley IL.</p><p>I copied this from Budget Casting Supple. </p><p>A crucible is <br>needed to withstand the extreme temperatures encountered in melting <br>metals. The crucible material must have a much higher melting point than <br> that of the metal being melted and it must have good strength even when <br> white hot.</p><p> <br>It is possible to use a home made steel crucible to melt metals such as <br>zinc and aluminum, because these metals melt at a temperature well below <br> that of steel. However scaling (flaking) of a steel crucible interior <br>surface is a problem. This scale can contaminate the melt and thin the <br>crucible walls rather quickly. Steel crucibles will work if you are just <br> getting started and don't mind dealing with the scaling.</p><p> <br>Common refractory materials used in crucible construction are <br>clay-graphite, and carbon bonded silicon-carbide. These materials can <br>withstand the highest temperatures in typical foundry work. Silicon <br>carbide has the added advantage of being a very durable material.</p><p> <br>Our Clay Graphite Bilge Shape crucibles are rated for 2750 &deg;F (1510 &deg;C). <br> They will handle zinc, aluminum, brass / bronze, silver and gold <br>alloys. The manufacturer states they can be used for cast iron. Made in <br>the United States!</p><p> <br>The &quot;A&quot; shaped crucibles are useful for metals up to 2000 &deg;F (1093&deg;C). <br>They will handle zinc, aluminum, brass / bronze, silver and gold alloys. <br> Made in China.</p><p> <br>The Silicon Carbide Bilge crucibles are rated for 2750 &deg;F (1510 &deg;C). <br>They will handle zinc, aluminum, brass / bronze, silver and gold alloys. <br> Made in Mexico.</p>
<p>Thanks for the lead! I've been melting down steel vessels like it's the cool thing to do. </p>
<p>Oh I forgot that you can buy a crucible from Budget Supple for as low as $22.00</p><p>Seem to me you would be better off buying one than making one your self. at such a low cost and you would get better resuilts from your forging.</p>
<p>Which of the three crucibles would you prefer?</p><p>And what other materials would I use to do a aluminum anthill project? </p>
<p>I'm a little worried about using quikrete as an insulator... all ceramics have the potential to experience a steam explosion when exposed to molten metals. The moisture trapped inside the 'crete turns to steam, expands and eventually ruptures the construction, flinging hot metal, and sharp fragments of stone in all directions. (look this stuff up, it's pretty nasty, and yeah... it DOES happen). I think a better mix would be sand/plaster of paris/water. Little cost difference ($5 or so) a MUCH better insulator, and it removes the danger of a steam explosion. If you feel so inclined, you might toss in a short segment about that in this instructable? Thanks!</p>
<p>Absolutely right. I have one made of quickrete/sand that's been cured for a couple weeks before use. I also pre-heat it before I fire it up to make sure there's no residual moisture. Safety first - or at least a solid third.</p>
<p>Obviously, safety first - or at least a solid third. It's molten metal after all...</p><p> A little late to the post. So I've had a very similar foundry made for a while now made of Quickrete surfacing mix and sand in a steel bucket. It's also a solid fuel foundry (charcoal briquettes) with a small electric air mattress pump for air supply. Melting down aluminum is easy enough and for the price of a bag of charcoal, I can melt down 15-20 pounds of aluminum cans. Temp runs between about 1100 and 1900 deg F depending. If I cover the foundry (quickrete/sand cover a couple inches thick with a vent hole in the center) it will soften steel enough to cause a failure.</p><p> The problem for me has been the crucible. Tried steel milkshake tumblers. Failed about 20 cans in. Tried small empty fire extinguishers cut down to height. Failed after one or two pours. Haven't tried an empty propane bottle yet. I imagine they are about the same thickness as an extinguisher? Can anyone report how long these last for? If these fail, next will be schedule 40 stainless pipe with a welded bottom plate. Be cool if anyone has a lead on something similar...</p>
<p>Hi to Everyone,</p><p>Regarding the safety issues related to this and numerous other posts...... I think anyone that takes instructions directly from a post on the internet without thoroughly researching the project and safe practices related to that project should be a poster child for Darwin's theory of evolution. People forget that the #1 cause of death in humans is not heart disease, cancer or any medical condition.....It's STUPIDITY! </p><p>Dumb Kills!</p>
<p>Its their choice to be stupid.</p>
<p>Notl1 what would you use as an insulator if concrete can explode?</p>
<p>sorry...</p><p>JUST saw this...</p><p>I use Plaster of Paris mixed with very fine sand and water. in a 5 gallon steel bucket.</p><p>I don't keep track of the mix. I do it by feel/consistency: it should be like thick soup, not depression chili. take a look at &quot;Grant Thompson&quot; (kingofrandom) on youtube. he's got some top notch videos on this specifically.</p><p>I typically try to make the walls nice and thick. 1.5&quot; or so, and 1.5&quot; thick on the bottom.</p><p>sorry for the super delayed response... doesn't look like you responded to me, so I never got a notification...</p>
<p>What termperature does that concrete withstand upto? I cant find any info on it.</p>
<p>thank you for your very helpful guide I hope you'll understand how helpful you really are to all the people who see this. I would have had to search for hour or days if it weren't for you. SO THANK YOU</p>
Well I plan to make one of these but my question is, after you pour the aluminum into the muffin tins, how do you get them out? I know this may sound stupid so please ignore my ignorance.
<p>I just semi-lightley hit the bottom of the muffin pan </p>
<p>Move the tray onto a well-cured concrete pad or some rocks and spray the bottom with water. The muffin tray will be red hot so be super careful as it will steam and pop. Just keep putting water on it and once the bottom cools, spray some on the top. Eventually, the aluminum will shrink and you can simply turn the muffin tin upside down and they will fall out.</p>
<p>To Mgr12,</p><p>If you are going to hate on someone, at least spell everything correctly and actually think about what you are saying. Chances are if someone is reading this, they know that fire is dangerous, and that melting some metals release harmful gases. and if they don't chances are they are still researching what they are doing.</p>
<p>Don't blame him, he's probably from New York where any soft drink larger than 16 ounces is considered a risk to safety. Or California, where literally everything causes some form of cancer.</p>
<p>I am melting cans and find a lot of slag in the aluminium melt,what can I use to float the slag off and what can I use to degas the aluminium.</p>
I use a spoon of char coal ash and a spoon of rock sea salt . they act as Degassing agent and flux . the salt you get at the food isle at the store.
<p>As far as a propane tank crucible:</p><p>1: make sure tank is empty.</p><p>2: make sure tank is empty</p><p>Then:</p><p> a: light a small camp type fire </p><p> b: have a protective barrier pre set</p><p> b1: Make sure you understand b: then place tank in fire</p><p> c: walk rapidly to protective barrier (b:) 10 yards+</p><p> d: get a gun and fire a round through top of propane tank</p><p> e: fire 2nd round at tank if any doubt 1st round hit</p><p> f: retrieve tank (retrieve next day if unsure of first 2 rounds</p><p> f1: Shoot another round next day</p><p> g: Finally, cut tank as you see fit</p><p>3: Foot note for pros: </p><p>Try with full tank, but double distance to protective barrier and have &quot;friend&quot; place tank in fire. Results......impressive, but don't expect a usable crucible via this method.</p><p>4: COME ON PEOPLE...if unsure of any steps required to do any of this safely DO NOT ATTEMPT. Once Forge is built the true danger shows up. If concerned about steps.....you have to far to go to MELT METAL safely. Fumes, heat, reactions via moisture or chemicals, gas build-up, splatter, slag, fire, burn through, etc......molten metal is easy to achieve, what to do with it once liquid, that is the true danger. Good luck all. </p>
<p>Taking the valve off then filling it completely with water is another good way of verifying that all the gas is out and it's safe to cut.</p>
Awesome instructable <br><br>The one thing that caused some concern for me was cutting into a pressurized container. Even though you make sure it's empty. I've seen tanks explode just be careful is all.
It's easy to depressurization most tanks like that.I'm surprised though that in this post they don't say how
What were to happen if you made your furnace in dirt would it make much a difference
Hi I really the idea of this cuz I've been thinking of what I could use as a crucible in my forge and I saw this. I was wondering how do you make sure the butane tank (the one that will be the crucible) is completely empty? I showed my dad this and he was like "NO!", but I wasn't about to cut into a pressurized tank like that. We have an "empty" tank but I'm not sure how pressurized it still is. So how do you depressurize it?
Easy take a valve tool and remove the Schrader core out doors... fill the cylinder completely with water then empty it and feel free to cut away
<p>best way is to hook up the torch head to the propane tank your going to use and hold it under water. if bubbles rise from the tip then it still has pressure, if not then you should be fine. i am not liable for stupidity though </p>
<p>I have a question for you.. Do you think A home made coal forge can be made out of aluminum? Minus the fire pot of course. </p>
Look up a blacksmith forge you will find they are cast iron pans... heat rises... coal coke and ash insulates the bottom of the forge pan.. the air is blown from the hand crank blower through the coal to increase its heat output..
<p>I don't think so. I think it would be unsafe to construct the forge out of anything less than iron/steel. The inner surface should be refractory cement (or firebrick) as well. Aside from the risk of overheating the aluminum, the stability/strength of the iron is desired.</p>
<p>question -- what would happen if you mixed fine glass powder smaller then sand with the molten aluminium and mixed them together why'll the aluminium is in liquid form </p><p>is their a chance of EXPLOSION or will it just make the finished product brittle pending on the amount added </p>
This is ironic you asked about molten aluminum and glass... glass charge is actually spread across molten aluminum beds to make sheet glass.. glass floats on the surface of molten aluminum.
<p>Sort of going off ash springer, the explosiveness in thermite is all about how readily aluminum oxidizes, and the heat that is produced from the reaction. You'd have to do an energy balance to figure out whether there is an energy deficit or increase. Keep in mind there is a lot of free energy in molten aluminum. <br>In the case that the oxygen molecules from SiO2 don't explosively move to the aluminum molecules, you'd still have a really brittle product - I guess thats what you want, so it might be worth a try. <br>Definitely do the energy balance though to evaluate the risk..Then post the results up here! Sounds like an interesting idea. Whats the goal in extra brittle aluminum? b/c another solution is to just leave the melt out and oxidizing or restir the dross back through the melt.</p>
<p>GOOD POINT ! i think there is a chance not of explosion but of intense thermic reaction perhaps , which may well end in explosion my pyro chemistry is not my area but alot of pyro based products are made from aluminium flash powder for example now silicon dioxide may well make a thermite when mixed with powdered aluminium but im unsure because both will be in liquid phase whether there would be enough surface area to cause a reaction as one would expect liquid silicon dioxide and liquid aluminium + tin + byproduct annealing products, to all be very different in density and not mix well (you avoid agitating the pot while smelting alli) the sodium lpercarbonate used to seperate off the label junk and tin impurities adds another possibility. thats not an answer just my thoughts evoked by your statement, try it why not but be very careful as thats a very big dangerous cherry bomb if what you suggest happens. </p>
<p>I made this, based on another persons build. Worked great... actually... mine worked too good. We accidentially melted the STEEL propane tank used for melting the metal. So apparently I need a better crucible.</p>
In other words use fire extinguisher not water.
&quot;Mixing water or other contaminants with molten aluminum can cause explosions. Explosions can also occur in the aluminum scrap re-melting process due to moisture and contamination in scrap.&quot;-See more at: http://www.aluminum.org/resources/electrical-faqs-and-handbooks/safety#sthash.aeX9BvQg.dpuf
Warning! Use fire extinguisher, not water! Aluminum is explosive! Keep it away from water! See this page:http://www.aluminum.org/resources/electrical-faqs-and-handbooks/safety
<p>MOLTEN METAL AND WATER DONT MIX!!!!! Also make sure your muffin tin is steel... i had an aluminum one which i quickly discovered after trying to pour molten aluminum into it.</p>
im not sure exactly what the cause was but last weekend i had a propane torch and i decided to heat a penny with it and discovered that it melts, then i did it on my wet carport and it exploded all over my face and it looks like i scraped up my face really bad, i could have been blinded easily and i recommend being very careful with water!!!!!!!!!
<p>Glad you're okay. Basically, as soon as the molten metal got in contact with the water/moisture it turned it to steam almost instantly, that expansion (volumetric ratio well above 1:100) is what sent the molten metal flying upwards. Again glad your okay, especially your eyes. There is a very good reason foundry workers get around in all that protective gear...</p>
It's the same reason that you don't place water onto a grease fire. The water rapidly (very, very rapidly) turns into a vapor. When it turns to a vapor it expands and moves outwards. In the case of a very hot liquid, the water turns into water gas and pushes everything outwards. There is no need for a chemical reaction. Rather, the physical transition between phases is what causes the explosion.
actually if the grease or oil is hot enough the water decomposes into hydrogen an oxygen instantly ignites and creates a huge fireball might look cool but is very dangerous
Water decomposes into hydrogen and oxygen around 3,000C. Then plasma incineration. Cooking oil (such as canola) top out around 500F. So it is simply a phase transition. As a solid or liquid transitions to a gas they expand and occupy much more room. When this transition and expansion happens very quickly it is termed as an explosions. A bomb undergoes a chemical reaction that gives off heat and gas at the same time which makes it occupy more room very quickly. Gundpowder is a great example. Just a tiny bit can hurl a tank shell for miles. Water thrown into a 500F fire immediately and rapidly expands into a gas. This transition throws oodles of burning oil into the air. Not a lot of fun to be around. But no chemical reaction is necessary.
some pennies melt because at some point they started making them out of zinc (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that explosion was probably the concrete exploding underneath the molten metal when it was heated, because there is still small amounts of water in the cured concrete...when you heat it, that water turns to steam, creating lots of pressure, eventually it explodes due to built up pressure , thats why you use so little water in the cement when you make this furnace, you also have to ram it in to eliminate any air pockets.
In 1982 they switched from basically pure copper pennies to copper coated zinc. In fact, pre-1982 pennies are worth more as scrap copper than they are as pennies.
1944-1982, US pennies were 95% copper. 82 and newer are a zinc blank, with a copper wash. <br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cent_%28United_States_coin%29">Wikipedia on Pennies</a><br/><br/>
well put

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