Monday, October 7, 2013

10/7/13 Report - Karen, Dug Melted Metals & Current Beach Detecting Conditions.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Melted Spash of Lead.
 Sometimes you'll dig up metals that appear to have been melted.  Some ship wrecks were burned intentionally and some accidentally.  One of my readers mentioned that recently.  That could be the source of some melted metals that are found on the beach.

Sometimes items, like spikes or nails were burned when camp fires were made by survivors.

I've read that iron spikes that have been burned in a camp fire do not seem to corrode as much and seem to remain in better condition on a beach than those that weren't.  That wasn't a scientific observation, but could be true, I suppose.  There are probably other factors involved.

In any case, knowing something about materials and how they look after being burned can be helpful when you find a item in the field that looks like it might have been burned.  Knowing what to look for can sometimes help you narrow down the source.

Melted Lump of Lead.

There is a good possibility that you have dug melted lead before.  Here are two examples of melted lead found on a beach.

Lead melts at a much lower temperature than many other metals - 621 degrees Fahrenheit.  Silver has to be almost three times as hot to melt.

That fact that lead melts so easily makes it especially convenient for manufacturing musket balls and other items.

Below is a list of some common metals and their melting points.

Bottom of the Above Lump.
Copper 1981 degrees Fahrenheit
Pure Gold 1945 degrees
Iron 2802 degrees
Lead 621 degrees
Nickel 2651
Platinum 3224
Pure silver 1761
Sterling silver 1640
Silver coin 1615

I have seen numbers that vary considerably from the above.  These numbers are from KITCO so they should be pretty good.

Here is the link to the KITCO list of metals and their melting points.

I read where one person said their camp fire was hot enough to melt aluminum - around 1150 degrees.  I've also read that a bonfire can get up to 2200 degrees.

That means that a small camp fire might melt lead but not silver or gold and certainly not iron.

A hotter fire, however, might melt copper, gold, or silver.  Silver having the lower melting point of those three.

The low melting point of lead made it convenient for making musket balls and other items.  Its malleable nature also made it useful for making items or repairs.

When I was a child I received a set that included an electric heater and molds that was for making lead soldiers.  Could you imagine that today?  Giving a child something that would get that hot, and poisonous lead!  Couldn't happen today, but I wish I still had it.  I really enjoyed it and would love to have it today.

Hmmmm.  I just found you can get Hot Pot II for melting lead from Pro Bass Shops.  Nice!

I also see you can buy melted lead from Civil War and Revolutionary War campsites on eBay.

Old oxidized melted silver looks similar to melted lead.  I'll try to make some photos of melted silver.

Of course you can tell the difference using an acid test.  In fact with some experience you won't even need the acid.

Take some lead and rub it on the back of a ceramic tile.  It will leave a mark.

Also take silver and rub it on the back of a ceramic tile.  If you try enough examples you can probably eventually learn to tell the difference between the two metals mostly from the rubbing. You can also tell by the feel and screech that lead makes as it is rubbed.  Silver doesn't make the same kind of sound.

Lead will scratch differently also if it has a crust like the bottom example above.  You'll have to get through the surface crust.

In either case you have to rub down to get below any surface crust.

Don't assume though that a melted bit of metal has no value.  It could be silver or another precious metal.  And depending upon where it came from, it could point you to other things.

You might remember that back some time ago, I think it was 5/25 of this year, that my post showed a gold medallion that was partly melted.

And you've undoubtedly come across melted glass burnt trash piles or whatever.  Glass melts at over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, depending upon the composition and thickness.

If you come across melted metals, inspect what appears to be the bottom.  You might be able to tell what it was on when it was melted by the bottom of the blob.  Look for imprints.  It might show the imprint of the grains if it was burned on the beach.

In the case of the second example above, the bottom is flat.  It appears the lead was melted while it sat on something flat.

Most of us on the Treasure Coast have seen those melted titanium bits on the Florida beaches resulting from the space shuttle explosion, which produced some very high temperatures.

Yesterday I incorrectly said that Honeymoon Island State Park was in the Panhandle near Destin.  That is incorrect.  I received the correction by email.  It is down on the West Coast of Florida.

Karen has pretty much fallen apart.  There is a new system coming off of Africa.

Yesterday the surf was calm as predicted.  The sand bar at the beaches I saw was anywhere from about 20 yards out in the water at some locations to right at the beach in others.

There was a lot of sea weed that washed up recently.

I didn't see anything encouraging for old finds.   There were a lot of beach goers and boaters though.  There should be some new recent drops.

Happy hunting.