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Casting From Aluminum Cans

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  1. #1
    PickerBenny started this thread.
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    Lightbulb Casting From Aluminum Cans

    Ive been looking at youtube videos all day of people making homemade furnaces and casting aluminum into cool shapes and sizes. But, im new and never casted anything before. I have spent several hours researching the safety and the steps to melting down aluminum, but have come short as to how to make the furnace. Its not a big job, just melting down aluminum at small quantities at a time.

    I was looking at cast steel molds on ebay and stuff, Ive seen like corn bread molds and christmas cookie molds that would seem to work great with aluminum.. does it work on those?

    Thanks in advance.


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    armstrt8's Avatar
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    I dont know anything about an actual furnace, but I do know this...

    When my cousin and I were younger we did something similar up at his cabin quite often. We would find a nice big thick soup can (not the think ones) and put it near the base of the fire into the pile of coals... like stuff it in the coals. We would slide a popcan in which fit almost perfectly. Within 10 seconds the can would shrivel up into a pile of liquid. We then would take with the the grabber things and dump it into the lake and it would form all sorts of cool hardened shapes.

    So, if your not doing something huge im sure its possible to just use a soupcan and a fire =D




    Side Note: Funny story =P Same cousin and I also took an old whiskey barrel that had the top/bottom cut off and put that onto a pile of ashed from the night before. Within a few seconds a noise came from within the barrel that sounded like a windstorm and BURSTING out of the top of the barrel came flames that were shooting ~15 ft up and towards the cabin! We burnt the screen out of 2 windows haha! As soon as he kicked the barrel over the fire was gone


    Quote Originally Posted by Jax View Post
    Used a popcorn tin, the holiday ones you get at christmas.
    Hope all that makes sense. I ramble sometimes
    I JUST pulled one of those off my neighbors trash like 3 days ago!! They went outta town and left the garbage out for like 4 day son the curb and the things just sat on top of the can for a few days before I decided I had to grab it as I walked the dog past haha. Benny, ya in Minneapolis?! If so I got a tin haha!
    Last edited by armstrt8; 08-14-2014 at 09:23 PM.

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    I've made my own furnace before for this very reason. Used a popcorn tin, the holiday ones you get at christmas. Got a 1/2in piece of steel pipe, cut hole near bottom side of the can, insert that pipe and put a nut on the inside to hold it. I took my air compressor and hooled the air hose to that pipe. Then fill inside with charcoal, insert your crucibal inside the charcoal, take lid hole the size of crucibal, then put lid on, light furnace, turn on air compressor start adding cans. I recommend a respirator. You will need thick welding gloves and some good tongs to pour with.

    Hope all that makes sense. I ramble sometimes

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    ....For the record if I ever try that with the popcorn tins, if my wife gets mad, I'm blaming you Jax.



    Sirscrapalot - I've been in love with the same woman for forty-one years. If my wife finds out, she'll kill me. - Henny Youngman

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sirscrapalot View Post
    ....For the record if I ever try that with the popcorn tins, if my wife gets mad, I'm blaming you Jax.


    Sirscrapalot - I've been in love with the same woman for forty-one years. If my wife finds out, she'll kill me. - Henny Youngman

    Oh yea, I did that while the wife was at work! They never want us to have any fun!!

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    A furnace for small quantities of Aluminium, can be as easy as the pail and charcoal furnace mentioned above. The key to getting to meting temps quickly is having a blower of some sort to inject air into the fire under the crucible, people have used hair driers, leaf blowers, shop vacs, and air compressors for the job. Searching google images for "charcoal furnace for aluminium" should show some easy setups for you.

    Aluminium cans are not the best to start out with if you want to try casting into shaped ingots. You get lots of dross from the inks and coatings on them, and you need to melt lots to get any substantial amount of molten ali to cast. It also doesnt have the silicon content in it that allows it to pour smoothly into molds (it is like pouring porridge). One more downfall with cans is the high chance that there is liquid in them, if submerged under molten aluminum, it will cause a vapour explosion and spray molten aluminium everywhere including you. Great care must be taken to pre heat cans to burn of any water before going into a molten pool of metal, the pop happens so quickly and its not a good thing, trust me on this one.

    Some of the best casting Aluminium is from things like lawn mower chassis and engine parts, also car engine parts like inlet tracts, heads, manifolds, housings, etc are great for casting too. Anything that has been cast before has the right chemistry to pour (fluidity and shrinkage rates).
    The worst are cans, all extrusions, sheet and tube (too pure and lacking the silicon content for pouring into shapes, plus high shrinkage)

    My advice would be to avoid the cans for melting (as I do) and go for the lawnmower and engine parts. Much less waste (dross), a faster melt, and 9 times out of 10, you will get an ingot you will be happy with.
    That said, I did my time melting and making ingots from cans, it was a valuable part of the foundry learning curve and taught me many things, if only by comparison and mistakes learnt.
    Pouring molten metal into new shapes can be addictive, get stuck in and stay safe.
    If it wasn't for the laws of physics, I would be unstoppable.

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    PickerBenny started this thread.
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    Thanks for the info, now i know! Ill keep my eyes out for lawnmower cast aluminum blocks..

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    Well you are in luck. I have a Youtube video that shows you the furnace and a series of tutorials that go into great detail how to make one. It burns propane and can melt up to 100 cubic inches with the extension added. Or less with just the base and the lid. I do not recommend using cans since they produce too much dross (oxide). Use old ladders, mowers etc. The video and the tutorials can be found at my Youtube channel rlbob1 under metal casting. I will go ahead and embed the most popular of the 4 videos so you can see what you are getting yourself into.

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  17. #9
    BRASSCATCHER's Avatar
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    Rlbob thank you for that linq to your youtube channel. One of the best Tutorials I have ever seen. Going to give this a try. May send you a pm with some questions as I do this build. Thanks again. Nice contribution from a new member!!!
    I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them. John Wayne-- The Shootist

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    As much grief as I give BC, if he says it's good stuff I'ma go with it.

    An yea..I'd imagine exploding molten metal is not a good thing to get on you. lol.

    Be safe out there you crazy people melting things!

    Sirscrapalot - I'm meltiinng..- Kim Kardashian..err the wicked witch of the west..or was it east..gah!


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