Safety First! Its super important to remember when you are learning how to melt metal at home that is a hazardous, and potentially destructive, process that should not be taken lightly. Your safety should come first, so be sure you have done enough research and have prepared yourself well before you begin. Safety goggles, heat protective clothing including gloves, and a working fire extinguisher are excellent ways to help make sure you are protected against any eventuality.
After your melting furnace is all set up, you have your air supply, and all the safety precautions have been put in place, you will need to decide what metal you want to start melting. One of the cheapest ways to learn how to melt metal at home is to use materials you already have lying around. Aluminum cans, copper wires, or old brass pipes are great materials that can be found around the home, or junkyard.
The type of project you are planning will help determine what material you want to use. Consider if you are making a long-lasting tool, you will want a harder metal that will stand the test of time. Brass is the hardest of the three I have suggested already and would probably be the best to make a tool from. If you are making a purely decorative item, softer metals will work just fine. For this guide, I will focus mostly on how to melt copper and aluminum.
Once you have the melting furnace going, you aren’t going to want to leave it for too long without eyes on it, just in case, there is an unforeseen issue. That is why you need to have everything you need on hand before you start the fire. When learning how to melt metal at home, you will likely need:
Feel free to check out my post on basic tools and equipment, before you start. This list might start to vary, as you learn more about how to melt aluminum and copper. It should get you started on figuring out how to melt metal at home and familiarize you with your metal melting furnace kit. Finally, you are ready to begin!
Start up your melting furnace, whether you use charcoal or propane, to get the crucible hot enough to melt the aluminum cans or copper scraps. Your metal melting furnace kit should have a lid, which traps the heat in the furnace and speeds up the whole process. Once the crucible is red hot, it is ready to start melting.
Some blacksmiths start heating the melting furnace with the metal scraps already in the crucible. This works, but it slows down the heating process a little. If you are working with aluminum cans, this won’t work, because they are too big to all fit at once! Crushing the cans first will help speed up the aluminum melting process, but the crucible will not be able to hold them all until they are liquid.
Part of learning how to melt metal at home is learning how to safely and efficiently add your scrap metal or cans to the crucible. You should always use your protective gloves, and tongs are also needed reach down inside the crucible for any reason. If your metal melting furnace kit is properly designed, you should be able to keep the lid on while you are dropping in the metal. If not, use the tongs and gloves to remove it first.
Drop your scraps in the hot crucible one at a time, until it is full to the top. Once you have some liquid metal, add the borax to help illuminate oxidization and purify the metal. The two metals melt very quickly, so you should have melted aluminum and copper in no time! Use the steel spoon to stir the liquid but avoid pushing any solid scraps down into the crucible. This could cause air pockets to form which could be dangerous if they cause an explosion.
Copper and aluminum are very easy to work with and take around 20 minutes to fully melt in a hot crucible. Check that it is fully liquid by using the steel spoon to fish out any un-melted pieces. Learning how to melt metal at home also means learning how to deal with metal waste. With the aluminum cans, you will find there is slag left over, which you can remove with the slotted spoon.
Carefully use your tongs to remove the lid and take the crucible out of the melting furnace. Your kit may have been designed with a specific way to remove the crucible, but you can also use your tong and spoon for this step. Hold the crucible firmly with the tongs and use the spoon to tip and direct the crucible while you are pouring directly into your mold. There is a high chance of a fire now, so wear your gloves! Put the empty crucible on a brick or stone to cool while you wait for the metal to harden within the mold.
Once it is cool enough to remove from the mold, use your tongs again to pull the project free. It will still be extremely hot, so immediately put it in the water bucket. The metal will boil the water, so you can use this time to turn off the furnace and get everything back to normal temperatures.
Your project should be almost complete unless you plan to clean it up with files and tools or polish it up for display. Remember to cut or file off any channel you created and make sure it did not form with any defects or air pockets. Now you know how to melt metal at home!
Disclaimer: This article is meant as an informational guide and does not make the author or any affiliated party responsible for any outcome of this guide. The individual performing these tasks is fully accountable for their own use of this information. Melting metal is dangerous, and all necessary safety measures should be taken, regardless of their inclusion in this article.