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I am just writing to remind anyone and everyone who does not already know, that Zinc plated or Galvanized steels should never be used in blacksmithing.  The Brake rotor forge I had recently build used a galvanized pipe flange. I knew about the perils of heating zinc long before building my forge, but I convinced myself that the pipe fitting wouldn't get hot enough to vaporize (1665 F). I was obviously quite wrong. This past weekend I was out using the forge and as soon as I came back in the house my throat felt awful and raspy.  The next day I had a few flu like symptoms that seemed similar to the Infamous "Metal fume Fever".  Thank God, by Sunday morning I was feeling fine and my illness had past.  I have a good reason to believe that my brief ailment was caused by zinc fumes and was not just coincidental. The Bottom Line is beware of Zinc coated steel when blacksmithing and never use them in forge construction unless you are 100% sure that they will not get too hot! 

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I agree but I have to ask, was there thick white smoke coming up from below the firepot? That is generally what happens when you burn zinc.

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Please describe the construction of your brake forge and what parts were zinc coated.  It may be that you have additional problems with the forge causing the zinc to vaporize.

 

Zinc can be nasty stuff when inhaled. There are several threads on the site discussing this issue.  If ever in doubt do not use zinc or zinc coated metal around heat, or wire brush or grind on zinc coated metal.

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To macbruce: I didn't see any white smoke, but it doesn't mean it wasn't there.

 

To Admin: Its just the pipe flange that Galvanized all the other parts are "black iron". I plan to strip or grind the zinc off of the flange before i forge again. 

 

 

There is something I didn't mention. I was forging a Galvanized rod that I inspected beforehand and could have sworn it was painted gray rather than galvanized. I was a rather windy night outside so I don't see how I could have been exposed to much. Who knows?

 

I just have to be more careful in the future.

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I had this exact same problem last weekend, I'm always careful about galvanised stuff, and I still can't work out how I got it. Same forge as ever and the steel I was working with was definitely not galvanised. Could large amounts of coal dust cause similar symptoms? I was working with the bottom of the barrel, so that's all I can really think of.

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 could have sworn it was painted gray rather than galvanized. 

 

Zinc paint? Lead paint? Cadmium paint!?!

Unfortunately there are so many airborne nasties in this trade other than just the celebrity ones like zinc fumes.

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I had this exact same problem last weekend, I'm always careful about galvanised stuff, and I still can't work out how I got it. Same forge as ever and the steel I was working with was definitely not galvanised. Could large amounts of coal dust cause similar symptoms? I was working with the bottom of the barrel, so that's all I can really think of.

 

Could be carbon monoxide, similar effect/symptoms

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Zinc fume fever also known as the zinc flu, the monday flu and by other names is often a quick flu like symptoms that disappear in a few days. In some shops where zinc is commonly welded the worker get the symptoms and by Wednesday are feeling better as their bodies adjust, and then over the weekend they adjust to no zinc and get "the Monday flu"

Hard on the body

 

Cadmium is often deadly even first dose.

 

Lead bearing paint burning off would be a one time dose, and while the heavy metals accumulate in the body not as bad as Cadmium.

 

Coal smoke itself is a witches brew of chemicals and NOT good to breath.

 

No dust is good to breath.

 

So use a stack, stand upwind, use known metals to forge and enjoy.

 

Ptree the industrial Safety Guy.

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Stand upwind, wind blowing from you to the forge, and stand so the wind blows shoulder to shoulder. Otherwise the wind will suck fumes from the forge and they will form eddies in the *shadow* your body creates with respect to the wind.

 

Do not stand in the exhaust of the fire. It may feel warm but even without smoke you are getting all the by-products of combustion. 

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Log on to Anvilfire. Zinc fever did NOT go away in a couple of days for Paw Paw. He DIED!!!! I still have bad lungs from welding around zinc on Kodiak Coast Guard Base in the 1970's. Don't FOOL with it PERIOD. There's a zillion tons of zinc free metal around. Find it.

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I have seen several posts about using galvanized pipe and galvanized fittings when building forges and burners. I have built three burners for gas forges (two are Mr. Frost’s design). I cannot easily get short threaded pieces of black pipe nor fittings.  I have used stainless pipe and fittings. Stainless is more expensive than black pipe, but it seems to last a lot longer, with no problems.



 

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I have done alot of welding of galvanized items over the years. If you do get the fever one of the best way's to off set the effects is to drink a lot of milk. As strange as it might sound it does work and has been used by welders for many years.

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Thanks for the info, I think it may well have been carbon monoxide, perhaps with the heavy wind some of it may have got trapped inside the garage which I forge next to where I keep my anvil and most my equipment (my forge sits just outside.

I'm going to make a hood and small chimney for it, seems the best option as it should draw most of the smoke and fumes above me rather than blowing straight into my face!

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I'm going to make a hood and small chimney for it, seems the best option as it should draw most of the smoke and fumes above me rather than blowing straight into my face!

I think this would be #1 on my to do list if I were you..... :rolleyes:

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I soaked my pipe flange in white vinegar overnight and when I came home this afternoon the zinc was completely stripped! who knew vinegar was so effective.

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Somebody is going to pipe up and say that milk doesn't work.  Way back when I was in college, taking an advanced chemistry class, the question of zinc poisoning came up.  The method (as I recall) of the poisoning is the zinc interfering with the normal action of calcium in the body (nearly the same size and both with a positive charge, but calcium is +2, zinc is +1).  The idea behind recommending milk is to increase the calcium to drive the zinc out.  I don't know if it actually works or not but it seems to me having sufficient reserves of calcium before exposure is probably better than trying to build up calcium reserves after.

 

ron

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There are several discussions on galvanized metal and zinc on IForgeIron. 

 

I started this one in order to try to inform about the dangers.

 

Zinc Questions, read this first

 

ZINC !!  If you do not read the entire article at least read post 10, 15 and 16.

 

Galvanized, zinc, fumes, and milk  

 

 

 Zinc, Cadmium, Hydrogen Fluoride and other toxic compounds  

 

 Brake Cleaner = Phosgene Article  

 

 

There are 197 topics under the safety section for a reason. Personal safety is your personal responsibility.  We can post the material, we can relate the stories, we can provide references, but until you read all 197 topics, or more, you are missing some critical information.

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Interesting reading on the milk zinc thread. The know doubt that metal fume fever is bad news and I have suffer through it several time in my carrer before finding out what was actually happing. Pehaps it is mind over matter. All I can say from my personal experience it seemed to help me. Like slices of raw potatoe and a wet wash cloth over your eyes for arc flash. Perhaps this could be the start of another thread on home remedies for blacksmiths.

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Just so we are all on the same page.  Galvanized is some nasty stuff yes.  Forged, stick, mig or torch welded.  I have welded it with a shop vac suckin the smoke and I have welded it on the table, outside or whatever.  Here is the thing.  I will NEVER weld it again.  Another thing.  Plasma dust is not only nasty it is fatal as well.  Protect your lungs.  Bein sick from shop stinks yes. 

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I cut out a bunch of angle out of a refrigerated boxcar back in the mid 70's. even with both side doors open and top hatches open , it still kicked my butt

that stuff should have never been invented

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i would like to mention that zinc is not the only hazardous metal that smiths can encounter in their work. i have worked extensively with silicone bonze, and careless handling can result is very unpleasant flue-like symptoms.  it seems that one can be exposed to bronze/copper through polishing (dust inhalation), forging (scale dust inhalation), tig welding (fumes), and even extensive handling of freshly forged metal with bare hands (the scale rubs of readily and is absorbed through the skin). i don't know what, if any, the long-term effects are. the symptoms usually subside in a day or two. i suspect all metalworkers would benefit from chelation therapy at some point in their career.  and remember to daily thank your liver and kidneys for getting rid of all the bad stuff we absorb in our work.

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Log on to Anvilfire. Zinc fever did NOT go away in a couple of days for Paw Paw. He DIED!!!! I still have bad lungs from welding around zinc on Kodiak Coast Guard Base in the 1970's. Don't FOOL with it PERIOD. There's a zillion tons of zinc free metal around. Find it.

 

Paw Paw Wilson had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease from a lifetime of smoking, the zinc fumes only agrivated this condition.  The COPD is what caused his death, any irritant to the respiratory system could have done the same thing.  My wife Candy had COPD, a common cold was more than her system could stand and she died not from the cold but from the COPD aggrivated by the cold. 

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