Sunday, January 2, 2011

Making ingots

When I hear the word, "ingot", I immediately think of a pile of gold like this:

sitting next to someone like this guy:

But like almost everything I learned about in cartoons, it isn't quite an accurate picture of what an ingot is. Or at least not the kind I can make at my workbench. 

When the price of sterling hit $30 an ounce (an ounce!!  I used to buy sterling for about $12 an ounce...and that was only a few years ago), I decided to look more seriously into reusing my silver scrap.  I read up on what I would need to do and bought an ingot mold and rolling mill so I could start recycling my scrap into wire and sheet.  They sat for a while with all of the December traveling and festivities, but today I got out the ingot mold and the acetylene torch and braved the frigid garage to see what I could do with them.

I picked out my scrap and coated the pieces with flux, then dropped them in my crucible.

I prepped the ingot mold to make wire (if I want to make sheet instead, I can turn the mold around, but that is for another day.) I read somewhere that I needed to heat the mold to make sure there was no condensation hanging around in it, so I did that before heating the scrap.

Once it was molten, I just poured it in the mold.  Then I opened the clamp and used tongs to move the pieces to a dish of water to quench them.  Much faster and easier than I thought!

If I had used more scrap, it would have given me more pieces of wire in the end...something to remember for next time.  But not bad for a first run!

I suppose I could stack them in a cartoonish pyramid if I made enough, but the ingot mold I have creates round edges on the wire, so I'm pretty sure they would just roll all over the place.