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1.We get a lot of questions about "pure lead" and BHN.
First off, most of you who are looking for soft lead/pure lead are probable muzzle loaders; although there are a few of you who use it in limited fishing applications. What you all are really looking for is soft lead (plumbers lead, roofing lead, etc.; BHN about 6). Although most beginners confuse this with purity, purity really has two meanings that apply to this:
1. Containing nothing that does not properly belong
2. Unmixed with any other matter
Now, all commercially available lead is some sort of an alloy; there are always some trace elements, or small percentages of things that won't really affect the operation/intended use. So let's say plumbers lead is 99 percent lead with a 1% percent of trace elements, is it still soft? Of course! Will it still work for muzzle loading? Yep. But is it "unmixed with any other matter"? No, it's not 100% lead.
The only thing close to this definition of "purity", that I am aware of, is laboratory grade lead (BHN around 4) which is available on eBay at the time of this writing (12/14/19) for $314 for 250 grams. For you muzzle loaders out there this means if you are using this definition of purity you would only have to spend $34.88 per bullet (assuming a roughly 430 grain bullet). Does this sound reasonable? Heck no!
So let's examine the other definition of purity."Containing nothing that does not properly belong" So let's say I'm new at casting, and I go to my local tire shop, and get a bunch of wheel weights and melt them down. What is going to happen is you are going to end up with dirt, Zinc, and lead all mixed together. Now if I started ladling this into molds THIS WOULD NOT MEET THIS DEFINITION OF PURE!
Dirt and Zinc definitely don't belong in the mix! Nothing will wreck your castings faster than Zinc in your mix, but through fluxing and a proprietary "filtration" process we remove much of the foreign material. We keep the zinc out by not using wheel weights in any of our casting lead. By doing this we meet this second definition of purity "Containing nothing that does not properly belong" So an alloy can be pure? Yes! As long as it is good and clean.
Laboratory lead BHN 4
Plumbers lead BHN 6-7
Range lead BHN around 10
Even based soley on BHN you can see range lead and plumbers lead are both alloys (and to some un-pure), but if there is nothing that does not properly belong they can be classified as pure. A better descriptive word would be soft lead.
Hope this helps, and happy casting!