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What kind of non-sparking ball mill media can I use other than lead? Answered

I want to make a ball mill but I can't find any lead fishing sinkers (they're bad for the environment so nobody sells them anymore). Is there anything else I can use to grind chemicals in a ball mill that won't create sparks?


Penny's and marbles is what I always use.

non-lead "sinkers" are made of zinc , and copper-nickel alloys are as hard as steel but still non sparking !

I know this 'cause I am a retired US Navy engineer and did a LOT of repair work on submarines !

Some types of ceramic media are *said* to be nonsparking.  I would not bet my life on it.  Bronze is hard enough for milling and does not spark.  Brass is somewhat softer; it will work though.  Copper is too soft and will probably contaminate the mixture being milled (lead does so too).

Be sure to run the mill outside, at least a hundred feet from anything that could be damaged by the explosion of several pounds of <whatever you are milling>.  Plug in using an extension cord, remotely.  Be safe!

I know ceramic media have been used in ball mills when the goal is to clean/polish larger pieces (rough castings, for example); I have no idea whether they would work for this purpose.

Brass - I worked in a paint factory for a short while, and all the exposed metal in the areas that handled explosive solvents were made of brass because it doesn't spark.

Failing that, you can get lead-free sinkers. I don't know what they are made of, but they feel soft enough to be sparkless.


7 years ago

Could you order what you need online?

Depending on what your location is, you should still be able to get lead sinkers, I certainly can in my hillbilly area.

Won't those make sparks when they bump into each other though? I'm going to be milling explosive chemicals so I have to be sure that the milling media won't blow everything up.

No, you can't get sparks off copper and bronze. Traditionally wood was used in explosive milling if I remember correctly.

Copper and bronze are not hard enough to create a spark.