The dangers of lead melting (A tale of horror)

10 posts / 0 new
Last post
Goldenfishberg's picture
The dangers of lead melting (A tale of horror)

Although thrifty and very financially responsible pouring lead to make an angler’s own sinkers pose many dangers to soft organs including but not limited to the eyes, skin, ears, nose, throat and the soft skin around the eyes which I suppose could be included in the skin category.


One should always wear protective gear when melting and ladle-ing lead into molds and so forth. Protective gear includes:

-Eye protection such as clear glasses or a nice medieval style full face shield

-Long style pants to shield the soft and hairy skin on angler’s legs

-closed toe shoes not Sandals or those cool but funky toe shoes where each toe is nestled in it’s own toe cocoon or chrysalis if your into butteryflies.

-heat proof gloves such as thick leather, suede or that sweet sweet velour. So soft.  

-long style sleeved shirts not festive summer themed cut offs.


Anywho, tonight we had a smelting accident. Those who know my style know I like to pour lead into spent shell casings for sinkers mostly old pistol rounds and a few rifle rounds when I can get um. These ‘bullet weights’ are a great conversation piece and make really good sinkers too. Typically these are all spent cartridges that have no live powders or primers left in them. Well a friend of mine who goes by the name “Korn” supplied me with some empty cases he couldn’t use in his reloading press for various reasons. Unbeknownst to myself and my compatriot lead smelter Billy we had one rogue .357 shell in the bunch that had a live primer still in it. (Typically I check for these before the lead pouring begins) well I ladled up a nice scoop of molten lead in my cast iron dipper and began to pour into some cartridges we had lined up on my melting table (a chunk of old laminated table top with a gorgeous fake veneer finish) I made it halfway down the line of empty shells when I poured into this aforementioned rogue .357 shell. Well when hot molten lead around 700 degrees makes physical contact with a live pistol primer the results are disastrous. The primer exploded with all the fury of the 7 horsemen of the apocalypse. Hot molten lead and flecks of burning powder and red hot brass were thrown up at our faces. I flinched and was only mildly impacted with shrapnel. It was then I saw Billy drop to the ground holding his face. Hot lead was thrust into his eyes from this primer explosion. He was in trouble, in a big way. He needed a hose and fast. The bottle of water we had nearby wasn’t cut out for emergency purposes. Luckily in my backyard I have a 50 foot garden hose with a hell of a good water pressure. We stuffed the hose into bill’s face and I was praying to the fish gods his eyes were not permanently damaged or his face grotesquely disfigured Phantom of the Opera style. After many minutes and what must have seemed like a lifetime to poor Billy we got most of the lead out of his eyes and he was not blinded. There was visible burns to his eyes but thankfully no ER trips had to be made.

He soldiered thru this moment of hysterical eyeball pain and afterwards we finished making our sinkers. Thanks to the high heavens for Bill not loosing his eyesight or worse. Bill is forever the recipient of the bad ass smelter award for taking a hot load to the face and still finishing the job. My mom even made a surprise stop by with fresh baked cookies to hopefully make the pain to Bill’s eyes less intense.


Let this be a lesson to all of you would be lead smelters and sinker fabricators. WEAR EYE PROTECTION!!! For the love of God please always wear eye protection. And always be kind to your mother she might just stop by with fresh baked cookies.


tom's picture

Holy shit dude. Glad you guys are OK. Sometimes when we do things that involve risk for long enough (especially in the persuit of fish) , we get a little too comfortable. Then the universe gives us a little uh... friendly reminder. 

TonyS's picture
good gods...

take care of them peepers, maybe check with the eye doc too.  Getting stuff in there is no good, worse for those of us at higher glaucoma risk but really for anybody.  I stopped wearing contacts after taking a sinker to the eye at mach 10, now I always at least have my regular glasses - which is better than nothing.  Anyway, glad you boys are ok. 

Graceclaw's picture

I'm glad you were able to react properly and quickly enough to save his eyes! If I were to get sprayed in the face with molten metal, you're the #1 person I would want to do it with. Glad to hear everything worked out - that could have been so much worse. 

andy's picture

That is some scary stuff.  Glad Bill's okay!  I will have even more appreciation for my bullet sinker when I slide one on the line next time.  Also an additional story to tell folks when they inevitably ask about them.

Goldenfishberg's picture
Update on poor Bily's eyes

Thanks guys yea he will for sure be going to the Doctor today to get things checked out make sure no real damage was done, thanks Tony for the advice (googling moletn lead in the high provides some allarming results) Billy should chime in later after his visit to the eye dr. to let us know how it went, for science. 

Ya just Can't catch um from the couch.

Outdoors4life's picture
Lead is great and horrible at the same time

I used to have lead pouring parties and had people over all the time. 
After a few instances I realized that I was better off pouring what I wanted for myself and that is about it. Even with laying ground rules people forget. I have had some nasty burns including the eyebal also. I even had a 6 branded on my hand from a no roll sinker for a few months. It has since faded to nearly invisible. 
Glad your buddy is OK. There are no do overs with things like that.

It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections

Gary's picture
Holy crap

"No visit to the ER was needed." 

You guys have balls made of steel. I would have been screaming all the way to the hospital if I were in Bill's shoes. Y'all be like, "Rub some dirt on it and get back to work!!!"

Hope no bad effects pop up after the fact. this could have been much, MUCH worse. Makes for a great new story around the campfire, though!!!

Do not meddle in the affairs of BAGMAN, for thou art crunchy and good with Old Bay seasoning...


Eric Kol
Eric Kol's picture

that is a great reminder. man. hope he is ok long term

Carpy Diem!

Cast_and_Blast's picture
Wow, scary situation.  I'm

Wow, scary situation.  I'm glad everyone is ok.  Eye protection is important.  The other day I was pulling on a hung up sinker rig that landed across the river in a tree.  In my attempt, the rig came free with stretched monofilament power at about 300 feet per second and the sinker hit my dad in the shoulder like a bullet.  I just thought, what if that was to hit him in the eye.  That would be an ER moment I would NOT want to live through.