Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
In fairness to all, we don't discuss pricing on the Wall. Thanks for your cooperation.
Need to contact us? Visit

Lead wiping

TonySTonyS Member Posts: 849
Any old timers out there familiar with cleaning zinc from the solder pot using sulfur?


  • jonny88jonny88 Member Posts: 1,139
    lead wiping

    Hi Tony,sorry I am not an old timer but where I live you are required to wipe a lead joint .Very interesting and you gain a lot of respect for the old timers who did it on a daily basis.What do you need help with.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Cleaning Lead:

    Contaminated lead is sort of like a woman loosing her virginity. You can only loose it once. After that, most consider them used goods.

    There's a reason that lead pigs say "100% Virgin Lead". There's not supposed to be any impurities in it. Just pure lead with a little slag mixed in. I think the reason our code instructor was always mentioning about how to tell lead from solder is because the tin makes it hard and virgin lead is soft. So, if you scratched what appeared to be lead with your fingernail, and it didn't make a groove, it was contaminated with tin.

    I have never, not once heard of a way to separate lead from tin unless there is a way because of the two different melting points.

    I don't know how you would use sulphur. In Jr. High and High School metal shop, we took a test every semester on safety. One question has always stood out. About not getting water into molten lead. It will explode. It does. I saw someone melting old lead into a lead pot and the lead scrap was an old lead water service. Good thing when the small amount of water hit the lead that the blast was away from him. It blew all over the wall and not on him.

    If anyone knows how to remove tin from Lead, open up. But why would you? Its dangerous and 5# cake lead isn't all that expensive. Considering the risks.
  • TDRTDR Member Posts: 5

    I remember my Dad teaching himself to wipe lead pipe. He used new wiping lead, that the supply house had. I also think he may have used some sulfur to bring out the dross. He also

    used candle wax to sweeten the lead.

    I also remember my Mother making his wiping clothes from pillow ticking.

    He never did reuse old lead for wiping lead pipe joints.

    I hope this helps
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    "Wiping Lead"

    Remember, "Wiping Lead" wasn't or isn't Virgin Lead, but actually 50/50 solder. Lead melts at 620 degrees, Tin at 580 degrees and 50/50 solder (50% lead, 50% tin) melts at 360 degrees. When you mix the two in various rations, the melting point drops to below the melting point of either base metal as an alloy of lead and tin. The things you used to clean the lead are like "tinning" copper to be soldered today. Believe it or not, that 260 differential in temperature is the basis of lead wiping. The "lead" in the pot had to be just over melted, so it would stick to the lead.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    You'se Tubes:

    Check out this demonstration from the You'se Tubes.

    Read down on the comments and there's an explanation on the sulphur in the lead pot from someone.
  • TonySTonyS Member Posts: 849
    Thanks for the replies but

    I think some of you misunderstand. Im pretty well versed in lead wiping and alloys as I am an avid bullet caster. What I cant seem to get a good answer on is the removal of Zinc that has permeated the solder pot. This would happen to the old timers after using the pot to tin brass ferules and also for preheating brass. The Zinc would leach from the brass. In bullet casting the same thing happens when a zinc wheel weight makes it into the pot. I have come up with several processes in old plumbing books. Some say to bring the temp up just above the melting point and push the sulfur under and slowly bring the temp up, the sulfur forms Zinc sulfate and rises as dross. Others say to bring the temp of the solder up to the point the pot glows in the dark and then stir the sulfur in. Sulfur is flammable and can contain moisture not to mention it can blow your lungs out if inhaled. So before I started to venture out and experiment with these different methods I was looking for someone who had already been through it so I would avoid any unseen problems.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Bullett Casting:

    You found what you were looking for.

    I was going to suggest to ask your bullet making friends. They've been casting bullets for hundreds of years. It must be a common problem with getting Zinc and other impurities off of molds.

    I had never seen lead pipe wiping done until I saw that video. Where they had that almost molten lead/solder in the pot and sort of "wiped" it out with a rag was the most interesting.

    There must be some Internets groups for ammo loaders. There are a lot more of you and them than there are electricians or phone workers doing lead splices. And why on earth any jurisdiction would want plumbers to know how to do something that they will never need to do in their entire life is beyond comprehension.
Sign In or Register to comment.


It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!