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Will .22 lead slugs work in a ball mill in place of ball bearings? Answered

I'm making a ball mill but am having trouble acquiring lead ball bearings.



7 years ago

Forget the lead, go down to your local hardware store and purchase a box or two of brass nuts. Depending on the size, you can get a box of 100 for less than $10 U.S.
Its going to be much cheaper and definitely easier and safer than trying to pull the slugs from a couple of boxes of .22 bullets.

By .22 slugs I meant pellets from my .22 caliber airrifle

You can buy the projectiles as a separate item.

Why would you want to use lead in a ball mill? This does not make a lot of sense. Using lead balls the lead will abrade away because it is soft and probably not accomplish what you are hoping for. In addition lead is not very healthy to work with especially if it is broken down into a fine powder. Rather than lead ball I would recommend alternatives such as, steel bb's, steel marbles or glass marbles. The balls in a ball mill needs to be harder than the material it is processing.

Although 0.22 lead slugs might work for your application, if you really want to use lead balls you might also try these alternatives: 50 cal black powder slugs or fishing weights.

Only trouble is lead is soft enough to gently pulverize chemicals like gunpowder, while steel is so hard it will act more like a pair of hammers and ignite the mixture.

My co-worker was telling me of a local chemical factory where the operator intentionally committed suicide by throwing a bucket of steel shot into the open-top ball mill while it was running. Very splodey + shrapnelly.

Brass or copper are also non-sparking metals, I think they'd work well too.


Try the fishing section of a sporting goods store. Sinkers and split shot line weights are available in both lead and lead-free varieties in several sizes.

Suggestion: Get an auto restoration supplies catalog. Car rebuilders use ball mills to polish restored or handmade parts. Those catalogs usually offer a variety of media in varying degrees of hardness... and unlike lead, they won't give you heavy-metal poisoning.

Too soft - you might try metal BBs