Old car batteries - how to retrieve the lead ????

Submitted: Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 19:28
ThreadID: 94778 Views:7922 Replies:12 FollowUps:9
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Greetings guys - over the years i have gathered a few old car batteries and deep cycle batteries that i can no longer use for camping as there lifeless - BUT i do have sinker molds - now has/ does anyone on here recover the lead from there old dead batteries and if so how is it done ? clearly i will need to use safety PPE - drain all acids and flush with water to dilute remaining acids as well as remove gasses - - could not find any info online except large recycling plants -

anyone able to throw in some help without it becoming a safety lecture ?

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Reply By: Roughasguts - Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 20:08

Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 20:08
With out the safety lecture I would slice the top off with an angle grinder!

AnswerID: 482624

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 20:17

Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 20:17

The OHS brigade are probably formulating their replies, as we type...........lol.

Seem to recall doing this many years ago, and heated the lead on an old forge, and just kept adding the plates as it started to melt. A lot of those batteries loose their tops easily, with some help from a hammer.

As I'm older, but questionably wiser, I'd be using gloves now, and probably a quality face mask too, followed by some good hot water/soap hand washing.

Oops, that sounds like the safety lecture......page 1. Sorry about that, ha ha.


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FollowupID: 757906

Follow Up By: Dust-Devil - Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 22:25

Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 22:25
Ah! Rough-a

I use to this as a kid in the goldfields of West Aust.

(1) take cell tops/caps/etc off and drain. We just used the empty paddock next door.

(2) Using a sledge hammer, carefully 'tap' around the bottom on the outer edge until it starts to split off.

(3) Once you have the outside case off, break up the lead plates the best way you can and discard the separators etc. and other non lead material.

(4) Now this will be the tricky bit for you - melting the battery leadthat you have just recovered.. We had a hand operated/blown Forge that was used to sharpen and temper mining picks, make ladder hooks and heaps of other mining stuff.

I had a small crucible with a long handle on it and just put it in the forge, packed it with coke around the outside and got on the blower winder handle which was my job when the adults were doing the aforementioned pick sharpening etc) until the crucible was glowing red and then started feeding the lead in.

Did I/we use protective gloves - Nup! not available. Did we think of or worry about fumes etc - Nup! Never heard of such stuff. Anyway the wind used to carry all that stuff away to share with the neighbours and fauna.

(5) The lead used to melt very quickly and all the dross/crap floated to the top and was scooped off prior to pouring.

(6) Left over battery cases were tossed on the rubbish heap in the paddock along side the house which was fired up approx once a month.

I used to get the best of the best of fires going that some times lasted all day, especially if I could round up some tyres to chuck on and then tip all the old sump oil from the machinery oil changes over the top of it all.

The good old days.

These days dude, just take your battery down to the local disposal site (my council runs one) pay your disposal fee and go off to K-mart or wherever and buy what you want, as the time, effort and money that you will waste complying with current Oooo! Oooo! brigade regulations recycling you own batteries into whatever, will demoralise, bankrupt and destroy whatever faith you have left in humanity.




I do miss those fires, especially on washing day.
FollowupID: 757916

Follow Up By: splits - Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 22:59

Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 22:59
I opened up a couple of lead acid types last year (not to make sinkers though) and found an angle grinder was next to useless. An ordinary old wood cutting hand saw was the best. There is some heavy lead under the top of the case then some thin strips going down to the suspended plates. After draining the acid and flushing with water, you measure down from the top of the case to the top of the plates. Mark the distance on the outside of the case then lay it on its side and cut through a few millimetres above your mark. All you are doing is cutting through thin plastic and the thin lead suspension strips. A wood saw will do that easily.

I used a large hand held propane burner like thishttp://www.bestbuytoday.com/tiger-torch/# to melt it although there are plenty of other things that would do it. I blanked of one end of a scrap piece of 30 mm x 3.2 mm wall pipe about 150 mm long then welded about half a metre of 20 mm square tube to the side of it like a long handle. I held the end of the tube in a vice then heated the pipe and dropped pieces of lead into it. There was so much heat in the pipe when it was full of molten lead, I had all the time in the world to pour it out before it started to solidify.
FollowupID: 757918

Reply By: Dennis Ellery - Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 21:54

Monday, Apr 09, 2012 at 21:54
Seen this done many years ago with flooded cells.
Flush and drain the batteries.
Build a big bonfire with batteries (minus caps) on top.
Next day after the fire has died down rack through the ashes to recover the lead.
Procedure would have to be altered for sealed batteries, by breaking the cases beforehand, to avoid explosions.
AnswerID: 482633

Reply By: V8 Troopie - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 00:47

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 00:47
I would not even bother with starter type batteries, there's so little *recoverable by melting* lead in there that the risks involved make it not worthwhile.
With deep cycle batteries with their thicker plates you may get more lead, I tried it once but the mess created and dangerous acid disposal makes that only practical way out in the bush.
Frankly, you are better off sourcing other used lead sources, like tyre balancing weights. Way less trouble to melt these.
AnswerID: 482641

Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 00:57

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 00:57
Great thread!!
Good to see a few old ways and attitudes remain in this Oh! so politically correct silly world we live in ;))

It didn't kill us as kids so I doubt it will kill us as adults.

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AnswerID: 482642

Follow Up By: Bill BD - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 18:49

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 18:49
No John, lead doesn't kill kids. It does cause learning disabilities and reduces ability to control temper. Cheers for the good old days when no one cared one way or another.
FollowupID: 757964

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 19:30

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 19:30
Yes I use to close spilt shot sinkers with my teeth, no wonder I am missing a few brain cells theses days. Just because we did it does not make it right.
Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 758062

Reply By: Wok - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 04:43

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 04:43
IMHO it would be less of a hazard if the battery was fully discharged [0volts] before attempting to disembowel it......this would convert the acid to water?
I do this before recycling my spent batteries.

eng hoe
AnswerID: 482645

Reply By: Bill BD - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 10:49

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 10:49
I have done it and found that the amount of lead you get is not worth the effort of retrieving it. Balance the safety aspects and amount of effort against what will amount, quite literally, to a few bucks worth of lead. Take em to a scrap yard and get a few dollars for them, then buy some clean lead while you are there.
AnswerID: 482669

Reply By: fisho64 - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 10:50

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 10:50
sheet of tin on the ground, folded up a little, light fire with batterys on top. Come back an hour later and the lead is pooled on the tin.

Of course you cant do it that way anymore.....
AnswerID: 482670

Reply By: patsproule - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 17:52

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 17:52
Take the batteries to a proper metal recycling centre (not the tip - they charge you), take the coin they give you (about $5 per battery) and go and buy some sinkers of the appropriate size. Job done.
AnswerID: 482691

Reply By: Madfisher - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 19:47

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 19:47
Begaboy also give some thought to the inviromental consequences of adding lead to our waterways. Most sinkers theses days are made from more benign material.
Cheers Pete
AnswerID: 482698

Follow Up By: fisho64 - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:16

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:16
if lead musket balls were found on the Batavia wreck after 400 yrs, I cant see them leaching out too much poison in the ocean.
In different forms maybe but not solid.
FollowupID: 757980

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 22:23

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 22:23
Most responsible fishers are moving away from lead, dont forget people in fresh water systems use it for drinking. I do see it as more of a problem in the fresh. Lead is quite and insidous metal and the effects build up over many years.
Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 757990

Follow Up By: member - mazcan - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 14:38

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 14:38
last time we were in exmouth we went to the beaches west of the light house and on low tide you can with the use of a snorkle float around in the shallow water and collect more sinkers and fishing rigs and a lot of it is brand new off the bottom than you will ever use in a life time or be able to bring home in your vehicle
it is several years since i was up there
april 2000 i think it was
and i am still using what i collected
my son and i had to make frequent trips back to the beach to empty the small dive bag as it very quickly got too heavy with lead and rigs
watching some of the fishermen and from my own experiences sometimes you lose rig every throw or every couple of throws when it gets
snagged on the rough bottom up there most of the stuff we collcted was 40 -100m from the shore so if your up that way go for it we carried a small pair of snips to discard any rusty or unwanted line etc but there were massive amounts on the ocean floor in some of the more popular fishing spots
yes a different type of fishing one could say !
FollowupID: 758042

Reply By: Begaboy - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 20:49

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 20:49
Thanks for the replies guys - especially loved the old school of thought - the lighting of a fire then looking for pooled lead following day i would have never thought of

Mad fisher does bring up a good point , something i had wondered a lot also - how many lead sinkers are littered on the bottom of oceans , creeks , rivers , ect ....


AnswerID: 482705

Follow Up By: fisho64 - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:19

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 at 21:19
I doubt it does much. Musket balls found on the Batavia wreck were there for 400 years and still intact.

Anzac veterans lived their whole lives with lead slugs in their bodies.
In other forms and ingestion-skin, lungs it is a big problem of course
FollowupID: 757982

Reply By: The Bantam - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:02

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:02
As has been said...these days it simply is not worth it.

the majority of the "lead" is batteries now is in a form other than solid metalic lead, but more as part of the paste that is packed into the expanded mesh or sceletonised lead plates.

There is also a lot of calcium in most modern batteries.

lots of this stuff burns off if you are using crude old style methods.

I few years ago a mate and I melted down a couple of old batteries and got less than half a cup of actual lead out of the whole process

The more sofisticated and responsible recyclers have better processes and can yeild more lead than you or I have any hope of.

As for the lead in sinkers being a problem......Ok it is an issue but its also a beat up too...the europeans are realy getting very narky about lead in all applications.

Most of the sinkers still availble in the shops in australia are still lead, and they are quite cheap, particularly if you buy in quantity.

If its a problem for your concience, there are plenty of alternatives..mosty steel.

Cutting up and drilling scrap steel is probably more viable than melting down batteries these days.

AnswerID: 482748

Reply By: Hairy (WA) - Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 19:30

Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 19:30
As others have said different batteries contain different amounts of lead.
I tried a lead acid battery a while ago and would never bother again.
Cut the top off with a grinder ripped out all the good bits and melted it down.......ended up with bugger all lead and a big mess to clean up.
It probably cost me more in gas than I made in lead!
Give it a go if you like.......but I wouldnt bother!

AnswerID: 482789

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