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Melting Copper!

SikarianSikarian Registered User
edited April 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
Is there any relatively easy way someone with a fireplace at home may be able to melt down copper? I've come across a bunch of copper that I'd like to try to melt down into an ingot...no real purpose, just thought it would be cool to polish up my own copper bar and have it.

Is it possible to generate the kind of heat necessary with a fireplace? Any recommendations if I can on how to make a mold I can melt it into?

Sikarian on

Posts

  • ArikadoArikado Southern CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    The melting point for copper is something like 1900F if I remember correctly. It'll take a looooong time with a fireplace, no matter how you look at it.

    EDIT: In what form is the copper you possess? If it is in wire form, you can do it with a concentrated flame. It just won't be perfect looking like an ingot usually is.

    Arikado on
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  • MagicPrimeMagicPrime FiresideWizard Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    If you want to go all out its pretty easy to build a small forge in your back yard with ceramic bricks and mortar.

    You'd need to find a crucible though.

    MagicPrime on
    BNet • magicprime#1430 | PSN/Steam • MagicPrime | Origin • FireSideWizard
    Critical Failures - Havenhold CampaignAugust St. Cloud (Human Ranger)
  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    No.

    Copper melts at nearly 2000 degrees F, depending on the alloy and purity. You could, however, build a primitive furnace into the ground, where it will be thoroughly insulated. But you would have to build a bellow leading beneath the fire.

    Your mold needs to stand the temperature of the fire. Rock would be best for a in ground furnace type fire. However, you can use a cast iron pan or mold. The problem is, however, the copper brazing to the pan, making the ingot impossible to retrieve.


    Without any APPARENT previous experience with metals...let alone pouring casts and molds, I would just try to find a bar/chunk of copper, if all you want to do is polish some copper. Hell, I can send you a small one if you want.

    Forbe! on
    bv2ylq8pac8s.png
  • FellhandFellhand Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Like others have said, you're basically looking at making a hobby foundry.

    Fellhand on
  • MagicPrimeMagicPrime FiresideWizard Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    My friends and I made a forge once a few years back, the whole thing was less than a cubic meter when we were done. Had a basic bellows put together. Started the fire with wood and then started adding coal. We melted down some silver and made .45 ACP Silver bullets. Still have them, don't really plan on shooting them - unless a Werewolf comes into my house.

    If you do this be VERY careful, as you can imagine Hot is an under statement. We were lucky because one of my friends is a metal worker and brought a bunch of heavy leather welding gloves/aprons.

    MagicPrime on
    BNet • magicprime#1430 | PSN/Steam • MagicPrime | Origin • FireSideWizard
    Critical Failures - Havenhold CampaignAugust St. Cloud (Human Ranger)
  • Cowboy-BebopCowboy-Bebop Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    This is a kind of a similar question so I hope I'm not hijacking but...

    I'm interested in making a ring. What I thought I could do is either purchase a plain band and work with that or mold my own somehow. I want the ring to be just a plain band with a small seashell at the top.

    How would I go about setting the seashell onto the ring and making it sturdy? Is this possible with little to no experience working with metals?

    Cowboy-Bebop on
  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Take a metalsmithing/jewelry class at your local community college.

    There are about 10,000 ways you could do that. Most involve equipment the average person does have laying around. Theres PMC which requires a torch or kiln, lost wax (centripetal casting, sling casting, vacuum casting), wire work, etc etc etc.

    Forbe! on
    bv2ylq8pac8s.png
  • MagicPrimeMagicPrime FiresideWizard Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    This is a kind of a similar question so I hope I'm not hijacking but...

    I'm interested in making a ring. What I thought I could do is either purchase a plain band and work with that or mold my own somehow. I want the ring to be just a plain band with a small seashell at the top.

    How would I go about setting the seashell onto the ring and making it sturdy? Is this possible with little to no experience working with metals?

    Well, to forge a ring you have to trick the elves into helping you. Then forge the band in the fires on Mt. Doom while infusing it with your greed and malice of all things. The rest just happens naturally.


    In reality - you need much of the same equipment above. Ingots, Crucible, Furnace/Forge, Mold, and all the matrerials to polish and trim the ring when you're done. If you're just wanting to add stuff on to a pre-exsisting band then you could possibly do this with a jeweler's blow torch.

    As a side note - a common practice in jewelry is to put your ingots into a good ceramic crucible then blast the fuck out of them with a blow torch. It would definatly be able to melt your copper too. But as said before, wear proper protective gear.

    MagicPrime on
    BNet • magicprime#1430 | PSN/Steam • MagicPrime | Origin • FireSideWizard
    Critical Failures - Havenhold CampaignAugust St. Cloud (Human Ranger)
  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    primitivefurnaceox8.jpg

    Picture of a simple furnace, similar to the one I am building for a research project.

    MagicPrime wrote: »
    As a side note - a common practice in jewelry is to put your ingots into a good ceramic crucible then blast the fuck out of them with a blow torch. It would definatly be able to melt your copper too. But as said before, wear proper protective gear.

    Its a common practice in jewelry to put casting grain to a ceramic crucible then gently raise the temperature of the metal with an Oxy-Acetylene torch. This is of course after adequately fluxing the crucible, and heating it up to a light plum. Also, fluxing the metal prior to it turning molten.

    "blasting the fuck of of them" will only burn your metal and remove crucial base metals that stabilize the metal. IE: Creating a brittle or incomplete cast.

    Forbe! on
    bv2ylq8pac8s.png
  • SikarianSikarian Registered User
    edited April 2008
    On the jewelry side, I've looked into it previously and found something called Precious Metal Clay or something similar. It's regular clay that you mold and when fired, the clay goes away and leaves gold or silver.

    As for the copper smelting, I've got just a bundle of copper wire is all. I live in an apartment so making a backyard furnace isn't an option. Ah well. I have a hookup at a local college that may have a furnace, she's going to see if they can melt it for me

    Sikarian on
  • ZonkytonkmanZonkytonkman Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    backyardmetalcasting.com

    Zonkytonkman on
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  • cfgausscfgauss Registered User
    edited April 2008
    You know, it occurs to me that it would be fun to try to do something like this with something like thermite... Flash casting! I could instantly make jewelry. Plus fire and explosions.

    cfgauss on
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  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Sikarian wrote: »
    On the jewelry side, I've looked into it previously and found something called Precious Metal Clay or something similar. It's regular clay that you mold and when fired, the clay goes away and leaves gold or silver.

    PMC is expensive, and prone to drying out. PMC shrinks, as well, because of the water boiling out during heating.

    It isn't something I would work on without some sort of carving/forming experience, as you need to be fairly precise in your measurements. If you are interested in casting, simple sling casts can be built from a chain and a dowel rod, or a steam casting handle, all you need is a crucible and a torch.
    cfgauss wrote: »
    You know, it occurs to me that it would be fun to try to do something like this with something like thermite... Flash casting! I could instantly make jewelry. Plus fire and explosions.

    And instantly burn through the investment/whatever you were casting into?

    Forbe! on
    bv2ylq8pac8s.png
  • cfgausscfgauss Registered User
    edited April 2008
    Forbe! wrote: »
    cfgauss wrote: »
    You know, it occurs to me that it would be fun to try to do something like this with something like thermite... Flash casting! I could instantly make jewelry. Plus fire and explosions.

    And instantly burn through the investment/whatever you were casting into?

    Thermite doesn't melt through everything, man... It only gets to like 5,000 degrees. You just use the thermite to instantly melt whatever metal you want to cast. Although, I guess you'd end up with an alloy of aluminum oxide and whatever metal you had, but, hey, it gets to like 5,000 degrees, so you don't need that much. Not to mention it would be more fun to do it that way, and totally, completely safe.

    cfgauss on
    The hero and protagonist, whose story the book follows, is the aptly-named Hiro Protagonist: "Last of the freelance hackers and Greatest sword fighter in the world." When Hiro loses his job as a pizza delivery driver for the Mafia, he meets a streetwise young girl nicknamed Y.T. (short for Yours Truly), who works as a skateboard "Kourier", and they decide to become partners in the intelligence business.
  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    You would create an impure ingot. Plus it seems like more work than necessary. A torch and a simple forge would be easier, and probably more accessible.

    5000 degrees F is enough to melt a steel or cast iron mold.

    Forbe! on
    bv2ylq8pac8s.png
  • cfgausscfgauss Registered User
    edited April 2008
    Forbe! wrote: »
    You would create an impure ingot. Plus it seems like more work than necessary. A torch and a simple forge would be easier, and probably more accessible.

    5000 degrees F is enough to melt a steel or cast iron mold.

    I never said it would be a good idea, I said it would be fun and look cool. :D

    cfgauss on
    The hero and protagonist, whose story the book follows, is the aptly-named Hiro Protagonist: "Last of the freelance hackers and Greatest sword fighter in the world." When Hiro loses his job as a pizza delivery driver for the Mafia, he meets a streetwise young girl nicknamed Y.T. (short for Yours Truly), who works as a skateboard "Kourier", and they decide to become partners in the intelligence business.
  • LemmingLemming Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Get this and this

    The first one details how to make the furnace you melt stuff in, and the second has tons of information on how to use green sand (this is the name for sand used to mold things, it's essentially just sand, clay and water) to actually mold and cast things. This is all for aluminum, though, not copper. Aluminum melts at a lower temperature and is more readily available, and it's a ton of fun to do.

    Lemming on
  • SikarianSikarian Registered User
    edited April 2008
    Okay, so it may look like the school furnace idea is out. I still can't make my own furnace as, like I said, I live in an apartment.

    Need other options. Possibly digging a hole, loading it with wood, igniting it, fashion a home-made or buy a blower to blow underneith with a cast-iron pan sitting above the hole? Chizel out the copper later...would lose some but would still get me some progress.

    And I realize the thermite idea is out as stupid, how about Magnesium strips? I've had to fight that stuff in vehicle arson before, but never looked into exactly how hot it is. Will it melt copper? Will it melt a cast-iron pan? Put a strip of magnesium in the pan with the copper, ignite, wait until complete, copper++?

    I may be reaching here, would hate to see this copper go to waste just sitting around my home looking dumb. I could always bring it to a recycling place, but the closest recycling place isn't close enough to warrant gas for the little price I'd get for it

    Sikarian on
  • MushiwulfMushiwulf Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    How much copper are we talking about?

    Mushiwulf on
  • SikarianSikarian Registered User
    edited April 2008
    Not much, I don't know exact weights or anything. Just some copper wire I've been taking out of old electronic equipment, rolled into a cloth bolt shape. Maybe 4 inches long by 1inch thick in the middle, tapered out to the ends.

    Sikarian on
  • Victor15bVictor15b Registered User
    edited April 2008
    You can start smelting copper ore into bars at lvl1. Just visit the trainer in Ironforge.

    Victor15b on
  • SikarianSikarian Registered User
    edited April 2008
    Victor15b wrote: »
    You can start smelting copper ore into bars at lvl1. Just visit the trainer in Ironforge.

    Aside from being mean ( :( ) it's also wrong. Minimum level 5 to learn Apprentice profession.

    Sikarian on
  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Sikarian wrote: »
    Okay, so it may look like the school furnace idea is out. I still can't make my own furnace as, like I said, I live in an apartment.

    Need other options. Possibly digging a hole, loading it with wood, igniting it, fashion a home-made or buy a blower to blow underneith with a cast-iron pan sitting above the hole? Chizel out the copper later...would lose some but would still get me some progress.

    And I realize the thermite idea is out as stupid, how about Magnesium strips? I've had to fight that stuff in vehicle arson before, but never looked into exactly how hot it is. Will it melt copper? Will it melt a cast-iron pan? Put a strip of magnesium in the pan with the copper, ignite, wait until complete, copper++?

    I may be reaching here, would hate to see this copper go to waste just sitting around my home looking dumb. I could always bring it to a recycling place, but the closest recycling place isn't close enough to warrant gas for the little price I'd get for it

    That diagram I drew for you is pretty much what you just said. The 'furnace' is just a hole in the ground lined with rocks. Read please.

    As far as blowers go, you can use a leaf blower, or fashion a primitive bellows out of a garbage can, a garbage bag, a rubberband and a pipe.

    The idea of melting down metal is to keep it in a reducing atmosphere, meaning, to let little oxidizing substances in. Borax or another type of 'flux' will help remove impurities, but keeping the metal under torch flame or within a confined furnace type set up will reduce the inclusion of impurities. So the magnesium is a bad idea.

    Before using the cast-iron pan, get it nice and dirty! Heat the pan up and douse it with old motor oil. Or rub charcoal ash into it, and get a nice thick coat of dirt on it. This will keep the liquid copper from joining with the cast iron, in what is called 'brazing', where the liquid copper diffuses through the molecular structure of the iron. Essentially joining the two, making it impossible to remove the ingot.

    I'm majoring in metalsmithing, so if you need anymore help please ask.

    Forbe! on
    bv2ylq8pac8s.png
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Where, might I ask, does one major in metal smithing?

    Improvolone on
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  • LegionnairedLegionnaired Registered User
    edited April 2008
    So, torches.

    Forbe!, that backyard metasmithing guy has a torch that you light with an open flame on a pan full of alcohol. This pan full of alcohol creates enough heat to boil the gasoline inside the torch. The gasoline comes screaming out of the regulator, and burns.

    This seems like a good way to die.

    I take it oxy-acetlyene is the way to go? Is there anything I can get set up with that would be more on the hobbyist level without, you know, boiling gasoline?

    Legionnaired on
  • SikarianSikarian Registered User
    edited April 2008
    Forbe! wrote: »

    That diagram I drew for you is pretty much what you just said. The 'furnace' is just a hole in the ground lined with rocks. Read please.

    I did read, I meant no disrespect. I was pretty much restating for my own musings.

    I've been checking around a lot on amazon and ebay, been able to find some fairly cheap graphite crucibles for around $20 or so, and then some ingot molds for around $10-15. I think pretty much this should work well. I just need a blower and some tongs, but again easy to come by stuff.

    Sikarian on
  • SikarianSikarian Registered User
    edited April 2008
    I'm ordering my crucible, tongs, gloves, etc etc, the only thing I need now is a blower/bellows. I know home depot and typical fireplace places has them, but they are pretty ornate and I don't need anything fancy. I saw mentioned of a garbage bag version. Anyone have a link that may show how to make one? My brain fails me on how one would be crafted :(

    Sikarian on
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