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Old 07-19-2013, 08:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Have you built a homemade kiln/foundry?

I want to melt aluminum to pour into ant colonies. I need to build a portable furnace so I was wondering if anyone on these fine forums have experience with this?

So far my plan is to line a steel garbage can with high heat concrete and use charcoal as a fuel. Ill put aluminum inside a steel pail to melt. I haven't figured out how to lift the can off the pail or pick the pail up to pour yet. I imagine just a hook on a wooden handle of some sort. This all will cost about $100-$150.
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Old 07-19-2013, 11:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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And will probably get you killed if you get it hot enough.

There are better and safer ways.

My neighbor does iron, steel, aluminum and other metals casting with home made equipment... he would tell you the above plan is nuts. Your pail will get so soft that it will basically turn to crap before it does you any good. You need something thick to hold whatever you plan to melt... a pail is maybe 16 ga, steel... you want something a half inch plus thick.

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Old 07-19-2013, 11:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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A coworker of mine said he made one out of an old wheelbarrow
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Old 07-20-2013, 03:32 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Use a propane burner as your heat source. Much more mobile than charcoal and easier to control the temperature.
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Old 07-20-2013, 03:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Melting point of aluminum is 1220.58 F. How much aluminum do you think you need volume wise to get a good casting? A good turkey fryer burner should get you there temp wise might need a few fireplace/refractory bricks to help the heat some. Cast iron melts about 2000'F so a Lodge cast iron Dutch oven should do it for a vessel. Getting the aluminum into the ant mound without burning yourself is the trick and welding gloves won't quite get you there. I've taken 1st degree burns through welding gloves working with 1095HC steal at 1200'F.
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Old 07-20-2013, 09:12 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Wait, lets step back for a second here and address a rather important question about this plan...

Why on earth do you want to fill ant colonies with aluminum? If you are just trying to kill the buggers, then try boiling water, or boiling vinegar, or maybe just some good old pesticides. (Don't boil that last one however.)

Or are you trying to make some kind of weird modern art? Sadly ant hills tend to be fairly moist, with lots of little bits of debris in them (ie, ants) that will not only spoil an already difficult casting (as most channels would not be complete loops, so you get air pockets trapped everywhere), but the amount of water is going to be enough to flash boil and cause you very dangerous problems.

Before going further with the project, do be aware that this is a great way to get yourself killed if you screw up even slightly.
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Old 07-20-2013, 10:20 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Interesting enough...

What happens when you pour 1200F molten aluminum into an anthill? - YouTube
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Old 07-20-2013, 10:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Grendal50 View Post
That soil looked pretty sandy, which would be a good casting medium. I bet the soil type and water content will be big factors once you get the aluminum available to pour.
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Old 07-20-2013, 11:05 AM   #9 (permalink)
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One of the professors at UofF is a world renowned entomologist and makes some pretty cool castings. Its easier to do it this way than to try and dig out the ant mound and map it. Most of Florida is sand with a water table very close to the surface (read usually less than 3 feet) very little soil and next to no basements. Besides the fact that they are probably fire ants and that's reason enough!
Lets see, **** I have used on fire ant mounds; blackpowder, gas, diesel, nitro methane, chlorine tablets & ammonia (chlorine gas), boric acid. Nope molten metal isn't on that list.
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Old 07-20-2013, 11:31 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I have a homemade foundry that I cast aluminum and bronze in. It would be simple enough to make one portable. Artists and scientists have cast into ant hills and old tree roots and even copied African termite mounds. I use a 25 gallon drum lined with refractory, propane and an old shop vac with air restricter.
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