Beginner to melting iron.

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Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2012
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Victoria Australia
One of my viewers made a comment on my channel that because of me he is hooked on pouring cast iron. It is great to see someone else having a go at melting cast iron. He is pouring house numbers in cast iron and they come out great for someone new to melting cast iron. He uses green sand with a coating of graphite so the sand comes off with no effort post casting. The one mistake he does make is pouring in the middle of the house number which can lead to washing away some detail. So if you are sitting on the fence wondering and need a little push to try cast iron have a look at his two very short videos.

Those are some nice plaques.
The letters look surprisingly clean and crisp.

I ran across another video of one of the "ingot-guys" pouring some gray iron ingots using a naturally aspirated propane burner.

I was not aware the cast iron could be melted with a naturally aspirated propane burner, but here is the video.

This ingot-guy makes some rookie mistakes, but does pretty well considering his equipment.

The propane tank generally has to be put in a tub of warm water to allow it to vaporized fast enough to hold a significant enough pressure to melt iron.

And normally one uses some sort of combustion air blower with a propoane burner to help melt the iron, such as a hair dryer, the output from a shop vac, a leaf blower, or some similar device.

I have seen several folks use crucibles that were not a "Morgan Salamander Super" clay graphite "ferrous-metal-rated" crucible, and every time the crucible either leaks or folds up like a wet paper sack.
One guy said "the salesman said it was iron rated"; don't believe salesmen.

And the ingot he cast is full of holes; not sure what exactly is going on with that.

But to give credit where credit is due, the ingot guy melts and pours gray iron, so that is a significant accomplishment I think.

The satanite-coated ceramic blanket furnaces seem to be capable of melting iron without much trouble, but a furnace with a 1" hotface of refractory such as Mizzou will far outlast a coated satanite-coated ceramic blanket.

The furnace lid interior can be a problematic area, and I see a lot of furnace failures starting at the lid interior.
A domed 1" Mizzou lid interior will not fail even if it cracks, and it withstands iron temperatures and splattered iron slag very well.

Here is 100model's channel, otherwise known as luckygen1001, or ironman as I call him.

100model has taught several people that I know how to cast gray iron, including myself, so hats off to you Sir for paving the way with your extensive iron knowledge, and for helping others to learn how to make things in iron (such as engines).
As I have said before, don't think that melting and casting iron will be a casual Saturday even shared with a few beers with the boys, although some do just that.
To be safe, and to have a lasting furnace, it takes a concentrated and thoughtful effort.

Iron is the cats-meow for engine parts though, in my opinion, and depite what is often said to the contrary, casting commercial grade gray iron parts in the backyard is fully within the serious hobby realm.

I was not aware the cast iron could be melted with a naturally aspirated propane burner, but here is the video.
Look at pauls garage youtube channel, he use a naturally aspirated propane burner to melt cast iron. It easy to pour iron into ingots but to pour thin castings in a sand mold and to fill the mold completely with no rounded edges on sharp corners is beyond these type of burners. Ask anyone who successfully pours cast iron and all of them use a blower of some kind.

I forgot to mention that he was using propane to melt cast iron which blows out of the water the myth that propane will not melt cast iron. He is thinking of using diesel which is slightly cheaper where he lives.
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You can definitely melt cast iron at home with gas, you do need a blower of some description to get it to the right temperatures. Pure iron has been made for centuries with nothing more than coke, lime and a hand bellows. The trick with most crucibles in one get the right grade and secondly slowly heat them up, if you do it too quickly you can thermo shock the crucible and it will crack. I have had great success in using a crucible in a blacksmith forge for melting small amounts of iron
I would like to try melting iron one day, but at the moment I will stay with aluminium. When I was given a Renault wheel to melt I first had to burn off the paint on it. I had a pit dug in the garden ready for a pond, so I used that. I built a small fire with scraps of wood (I had cut the wheel into pieces at this point) and used a wire mesh grill to put the wheel pieces on. I did fan the flames with a small piece of ply, but didn't use a blower. The paint burnt off fairly quickly, and I noticed that some of the wheel chunks were melting. This made me wonder about the old methods of melting metal, including iron.