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I Forge Iron

Lead in Junk Yard Steel?

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While I was looking at Hofi's bowl blueprint, my wife asked if there was lead in any of the steel I've been using and I told her the 1018 I bought fresh doesn't, but the stuff I got from the scrap yard could be anything.

The junk guy said that the steel I bought was excess from some manufacturing process, so I'm curious as to how I would know if it's got lead in it. Is this something that I could reliably test for, either by grinding or some other way? The blueprint on spark testing has a pattern for 12L14, but nothing specifically about what lead should do to sparks.

A more general question: do you folks make any sort of food-preparation/serving items from mystery metal? I'm working through the Blacksmith's Primer and am making meat forks now. In fact, the first fork I made I cooled and immediately used to turn a steak on the grill :D


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Yes, some steels contain lead. It is added in the steelmaking process to improve the machinability and ductility of the steel. However it is only trace amounts that would not enter any foods. Other alloys such as chromium and nickle are just as bad as lead in their pure forms, however these are the two main ingredients in stainless steel. They are also in far greater proportion to any amount of lead added to steel and are completely harmless in steel solution. The same holds true for lead and all other alloys.

The greatest health hazard of these alloys comes when welding on them and they vaporise in the heat of the arc and become air born. That is why you should have good ventilation at all times when welding.


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