Cleaning some round balls

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Stony Broke

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I've got sort of a goofy question that hopefully someone can help me with. I came into some .445 Hornady round balls that have been stored away for a long time somewhere. They are coated with some pretty thick white junk and it's chunky and not even across the surface. I've shot some and they have done pretty good, but I'd feel a lot more confident shooting matches with them if they were cleaner. I tried putting a bunch of them into my tumbler and ran them for about 4 hours, but it didn't seem to help much. I was wondering if someone knew of some type of liquid that would help remove the white stuff ?
 

hawkeye2

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It's lead oxide, very poisonous. Don't handle them with your bare hands or eat, drink or smoke while handling them. I've been told WD 40 will remove it but haven't tried. Put some in your tumbler with the WD and try it. You can always melt them down with good ventilation and recast them.
 

oldwood

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Last time I got some old balls like those , I threw them into the melter , recast them and they came out shiny , and amazingly were a caliber I could use.
 

Stony Broke

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I'll give the vinegar a try. I probably have about 3 or 4 hundred balls to clean up.
 

garypl

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When I cast a bunch of balls, before I store them I spray them with some WD 40 and roll them around until they are all coated. Keeps them clean and shiny for a very long time!
 

Leadball loader

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When I cast a bunch of balls, before I store them I spray them with some WD 40 and roll them around until they are all coated. Keeps them clean and shiny for a very long time!
WD coats oxidized lead and and seals the oxidation for better handling. I shot some round balls just recently.
LBL
 
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Lead oxide is bad stuff, use common sense. Once you get them cleaned up, tumble them with graphite. They will look new and beautiful. The graphite seems to delay oxidation,
 

hanshi

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Attention! Do NOT shoot those balls until they are cleaned up. If you hit a deer with one the deer will quickly die. Seriously though, don't ingest that stuff by accident, be careful.
 

smoothshooter

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I've got sort of a goofy question that hopefully someone can help me with. I came into some .445 Hornady round balls that have been stored away for a long time somewhere. They are coated with some pretty thick white junk and it's chunky and not even across the surface. I've shot some and they have done pretty good, but I'd feel a lot more confident shooting matches with them if they were cleaner. I tried putting a bunch of them into my tumbler and ran them for about 4 hours, but it didn't seem to help much. I was wondering if someone knew of some type of liquid that would help remove the white stuff ?
I would drop them 8n a sturdy Zip Loc bag, shoot a couple of squirts of WD-40 in there, close it up, and shake and mush them around for a while. Then dump them out on an old towel and rub them dry.
As someone else has said, keep the lead oxide off of your body.
 

Stony Broke

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I tried some white vinegar on about 100 of them yesterday and soaked them all day. It didn't seem to take much off, although it did seem to turn the mix a little white....so it was probably trying to do it. I think maybe I'll try some wd-40 and see if it does any good and if not I just might forget the project and order about 500 more and start over.
 

smoothshooter

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I tried some white vinegar on about 100 of them yesterday and soaked them all day. It didn't seem to take much off, although it did seem to turn the mix a little white....so it was probably trying to do it. I think maybe I'll try some wd-40 and see if it does any good and if not I just might forget the project and order about 500 more and start over.
As long as the treatment you use keeps the oxide from transferring to your fingers, you should be fine.
 

oldwood

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Visited a post colonial historic plantation house in Franklin , Tenn. about 1990. It was restored to it's previous condition. Amazingly , it had cast solid lead rain gutters. Soon as I looked at the rain gutters , Casting round balls came to mind. 2nd thought , once the guide noted the rain water from the lead gutter system went into a storage cistern for house hold use. Wonder how long the folks there lived , using lead-water on a daily basis??? Gasp!!!!!!!!......................oldwood
 

sawyer04

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Visited a post colonial historic plantation house in Franklin , Tenn. about 1990. It was restored to it's previous condition. Amazingly , it had cast solid lead rain gutters. Soon as I looked at the rain gutters , Casting round balls came to mind. 2nd thought , once the guide noted the rain water from the lead gutter system went into a storage cistern for house hold use. Wonder how long the folks there lived , using lead-water on a daily basis??? Gasp!!!!!!!!......................oldwood
Still a bunch of lead pipes in the ground at municipalities that got public water systems in the early years, late 1800's.
 

HughMan

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someone on this forum did some research on that white oxidized lead and found that the Romans used it as a sweetener on food and if you notice there aren't any Romans around.
It would cause Romans to die a painful death with bad caesars!

In all seriousness, there's lots of helpful info in this discussion.
 

hanshi

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I had a few that looked like they had little furry bodies. I put them in a jar of soapy water, gave it a few shakes and then rinsed them. Much improvement but still a bit of white. I sprayed a shot of WD40 & wiped off the excess and put them away. They shouldn't return to the original condition and need another wash, ever.
 

Stony Broke

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My wife and I did a tour of old plantations in Mississippi some years back and saw one mansion that had a lead pipe leading from gutters into a cistern for their drinking water. I have no doubt that the owners suffered the problems it caused.
I played around with the round balls some more, and basically gave up on them for the present time, and ordered 500 more from Graf and Sons. I took the white ones and put them all in a large jar and wet them all down with a mix of alcohol and Murphy's oil soap. They will sit on a shelf for a long time as I am shooting up the new ones at matches. The oxidized ones actually didn't shoot bad, just bugged me. I shot a match last sunday and managed to nail two 50's and two 49's with them....so I guess I can't gripe too much.
 

Mustakrakish

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I tried some white vinegar on about 100 of them yesterday and soaked them all day. It didn't seem to take much off, although it did seem to turn the mix a little white....so it was probably trying to do it. I think maybe I'll try some wd-40 and see if it does any good and if not I just might forget the project and order about 500 more and start over.
If you're mixing lead with vinegar, you're potentially making lead acetate. That's very nasty stuff. You can absorb it through your skin, so wear gloves, and please don't dump it down the drain. Your county's hazmat department should be able to deal with it.

Still a bunch of lead pipes in the ground at municipalities that got public water systems in the early years, late 1800's.
Some parts of the US were still installing lead service lines in the 1980's. They're everywhere. For most of the Americans on this forum, our tap water has passed through a lead pipe at some point. Almost every utility buffers the water slightly to a mildly alkaline pH, which effectively prevents any lead leaching. When they don't, you wind up with Flint MI.

Rainwater in a lead storage system would have been perfectly safe before acidic rain.
 
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Some parts of the US were still installing lead service lines in the 1980's. They're everywhere. For most of the Americans on this forum, our tap water has passed through a lead pipe at some point. Almost every utility buffers the water slightly to a mildly alkaline pH, which effectively prevents any lead leaching. When they don't, you wind up with Flint MI.

Rainwater in a lead storage system would have been perfectly safe before acidic rain.
After more than thirty years as a licensed plumber in the service and repair industry this information is 100% correct.
 

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