Hi everyone, My name is Paul and i'm just starting to melt some stuff. I've been lurking here reading for a while, watching videos, reading some books by a guy named Ammen, and i just got enough of a push to sign up by a member i know from another forum. I just have a small charcoal foundry similar to the mini-metal-foundry video by some guy on youtube and i have successfully made a few aluminum muffins, as well as a smaller copper blob (didn't have enough to make a whole muffin). My goal is to be able to melt copper into ingots, and then into things via sand casting. Nothing big, nothing load bearing, nothing that has to contain pressure, just small shiny things as a hobby. I'm interested to learn all i can about bigger, more complex projects, but i don't foresee myself doing anything beyond mostly ornamental stuff for the time being.
The reason I'm shooting for copper is because i have a lot of the stuff. I'm encouraged by the fact that i did melt some of it, but it wasn't very efficient. My process was basically to put a bunch of hard lump charcoal into my mini foundry and blow air in through the side. While it got hot enough to melt the copper in fairly short order, i would run out of charcoal inside before i could melt very much of it. The charcoal seemed to burn up and blow out the top fairly quickly, and a bunch of it would fall into the crucible on the way out, filling the pool of molten copper up with junk. I probably lost 2/3 of it to a giant lump of ash/copper in a concretion.
So my initial question is how to improve this system. I could shape a lid for the crucible out of sheet steel to keep the ashes out (and maybe keep the oxygen out), or I could use a different fuel. I got some briquettes advertised as "more airflow, higher temperatures", i think it's mainly due to the shape having more surface area. There's a video of someone using briquettes to melt brass, do you think with enough air it could melt copper? I'm hoping the lower spark/ash output of the briquettes would help keep the crucible from getting too contaminated. I also found a place somewhat nearby that sells anthracite in case i need to go full-coal, but i'm thinking my rapidly-decaying sand/plaster lined foundry may hit a wall here pretty soon if i keep pushing it. Any thoughts/tips/suggestions are greatly appreciated, i'm just a hack who made some aluminum muffins on his driveway so i need all the help i can get! Reading this forum has already been hugely helpful, so thank you all for that.