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Thread: Are pop cans a good source of material to make aluminum castings?

  1. #1
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    Are pop cans a good source of material to make aluminum castings?

    Hello all,

    Was curious if pop cans or any kind of every day consumer products that you could suggest would be a good source of aluminum for castings.

    Thanks,
    Brian

  2. #2
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    Hi Brian, welcome to the best forum on the net. To answer your query, in a word no, they would place somewhere around the bottom of the list in desirability as far as casting stock is concerned. That is not to say that they cannot be used if that is all you have but you will be better off looking for other aluminum scrap, it's every where. any thing that was originally cast is the best, (i.e. old auto parts, aluminum wheels, appliance housings etc, etc, etc.) Your next best bet is extrusions like old window and door frames and the like. Then comes old aluminum siding and last is the aluminum cans. The thin stuff has a lot of surface area that is exposed to the oxygen in the atmosphere which results in a lot of dross in your melt. You can minimize this by mashing them as flat and compact as you can but expect a lot of dross. I hope this is not too much info for you but it should answer your question. Let us know what your plans are and we love pictures.
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    Thanks for the info hobiejack.

    I am preparing to create a furnace using the " 2 bucks " model but at a scale with (2) 5 gallon steel buckets. Picked up some Heatcast 40 castable refractory with a working temp of 2200 degrees and above. I am going to use the upwind propane Oliver-upwind propane burner as my heat source. I do have another question on minimum thickness of refractory for the " 2 bucks " style is there a general formula or is that an ask the refractory manufacturer question.

  4. #4
    Hello all, this is my first post, I don't know if I have to introduce myself somewhere ...
    I was wondering if pouring ingots from aluminium cans and then remelting them leads to a good castable metal. That is to say, is it just a question of dross because of little thickness and paint, or is it a different kind of aluminium in itself ( little impurities to get an alloy more suitable for making cans)?
    Last edited by SbronzoDiRiace; 03-28-2013 at 12:14 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Essej's Avatar
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    different kind of aluminium in itself
    Yes; cans,extrusions, etc. are different aluminum alloys than those most commonly used for casting.

  6. #6
    The problem you will have with soda can aluminum, is that it will shrink. I remember reading somwhere here on the forum, the aluminum is actually too pure and shrinks. It also does NOT machine well. It is very gummy and tears out.

    If you are learning then by all means, melt cans! I melted my share of cans and it was fun... In the beginning. Then it was work constantly adding cans and skimming the melt. You will learn much, but do not expect factory quality results from cans.

    I think you can add in some alloys to make a better final product. I am wanting to say I read something about silicon. But then again it all runs together after a while. Somebody will be along to elaborate further.

    Justin

  7. #7
    I will give it a go, I have about 250 cans in my garden! I discovered not all of them are aluminium, some beer cans look like aluminium but didn't melt ... now in the rain they got rusted. what a disappointment seeing my brand new furnace glowing and my can still there unmelted!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by SbronzoDiRiace View Post
    I will give it a go, I have about 250 cans in my garden! I discovered not all of them are aluminium, some beer cans look like aluminium but didn't melt ... now in the rain they got rusted. what a disappointment seeing my brand new furnace glowing and my can still there unmelted!
    Welcome to the forum SbronzoDiRiace. Be prepared for disappointment in this hobby. Lot's and lot's of disappointment. But it is also very rewarding to overcome a problem!

    Do you have any pictures of your furnace?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by indiscriminate scavenger View Post
    Welcome to the forum SbronzoDiRiace. Be prepared for disappointment in this hobby. Lot's and lot's of disappointment. But it is also very rewarding to overcome a problem!

    Do you have any pictures of your furnace?
    I don't have any pictures yet, I will take next week and post them: it is made with an oil tank, refractory mortar and powder perlite. I realized it is too big for melting just a little amount of metal. My mistake was building it before finding the crucible, that is an old steel pan.

  10. #10
    Senior Member mutant's Avatar
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    I'm new to metal casting myself. I have yet to cast anything other than muffin ingots. Right now, I'm practicing and getting used to melting metal. I've done melts with cans, tin foil, scraps of anything I could find. I'm amazed on how much aluminum I get even after I skim the dross. I do smash the cans as small as I can. Even the tin foil. I pound them into little solid cubes and toss them into the crucible. It helps if you have liquid aluminum in the crucible and you can submerge the cans and such. It's fun and I'm learning. When it come time to cast, I'll start the learning part all over again.

    Go for it.
    Last edited by mutant; 03-28-2013 at 03:08 PM.
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