Even Romeo knew the weight of lead. He tells Mercutio,
“Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes
With nimble soles. I have a soul of lead
So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.
“Romeo and Juliet,” Act I, Scene IV
Held in place by his heavy heart, Romeo explains to his friend that he will need to be a torch carrier because his leaden feet are too heavy from broken heartedness to dance.
Not just Romeo, but a variety of companies and industries understand the weight and melting properties of lead, a soft, malleable and heavy post-transition metal. Manufacturers and heat treating companies all use some type of industrial gas burner to operate lead melters.
Used in everything from making lures to both handheld and automatic tools, lead melters provide a safe and effective way to turn the lead, the 82nd element on the periodic table, into a malleable metal. Whether you use an industrial burner or a kettle heating burner, there are six basic steps to melting lead:
- Step 1. Set up heating source and lead melters vessel. Lead must be melted in a well ventilated, fire safe area. Otherwise, it can create dangerous fumes and present a fire hazard.
- Step 2. Place the lead into the vessel, adding more lead to the vessel than you anticipate you will need. Because of its properties, some of the lead will re-solidify onto the sides of the vessel when you are pouring the completed product.
- Step 3. Heat the lead in the lead melting pot until it melts. Turn on your heat source and adjust the heat to its highest setting, if adjustment is allowed, applying the heat as directly to the lead as possible. Lead melts at the temperature of 328 degrees Celsius, which is also 621 degrees Fahrenheit, so it will take time to melt larger amounts of lead.
- Step 4. Pour the molten lead into the chosen mold. Once the lead has melted, you can turn off the heat source and prepare to pour it into whatever mold you have prepared. Work quickly because the lead will cool and solidify very fast. Pick up your vessel with heat-resistant gloves, swirling it gently to avoid allowing air bubbles to form in the lead. Avoid placing hands directly above the vessel. Hot gases will be escaping and will likely present a burn risk.
- Step 5. Allow the lead return to a safe temperature. After the initial pour, do not disturb the lead for at least 10 minutes. By this time, the metal should be cool enough to handle safely.
- Step 6. Carefully clean up any spills. If the lead has spilled or overflowed, it will spread out and harden onto the surface where it was spilled. Although hardened, it will not form a strong bond so you can dislodge it with a chisel or another tool like a flat-head screwdriver.
In the 14 years ending in 2013, industrial production in America increased more than 30%. These industrial products are used in more places than just our country. In fact, more than half of all U.S. exports are manufactured goods.
A recent U.S. manufacturing study showed that 95% of commercial operations reported using at least one type of oven. While we might often think of ovens being used in bakeries and breweries, they are also used by industry to melt lead, one of the heaviest elements known to both modern men and Romeo.