Maybe it’s just because of Facebook, but we are noticing a trend these days among dedicated fishermen – lots of them are making their own lead sinkers. Lead melts at a relatively low temperature, and many sporting suppliers sell molds for casting the fishing weights. It’s fun. But beware – lead dust and fumes can be extremely toxic. Even if you are melting and casting lead outdoors, you still need to protect yourself with a respirator.
Let’s cover some of the basics for folks making their own sinkers. Take some precautions and wear protective gear. Ventilation is certainly key. Lead smelting should really only be done outside where you have the best chance of dissipating the bad smell and carbon monoxide. And remember – there is no respirator cartridge that will protect a person from carbon monoxide.
Lead can be found in lots of different places. One of the reasons it’s so toxic is that many of the sources, such as old tire weights, can be very dirty. If the smell isn’t bad, a simple 3M 2091 filter will keep the lead dust out of your lungs. At PK Safety, we offer a perfect, inexpensive respirator package, the Lead Dust and Asbestos Mask Combo. If the smell from the smelting process isn’t good, try the more expensive, but very effective 3M 60926 Multi-Gas Cartridge.
Another thing to keep in mind while making lead fishing sinkers is that you will likely want to wear a Tyvek suit to keep the lead dust off your skin and clothing. You wouldn’t want to throw your lead-dusted clothing in a washing machine with the babies/kids clothing, for instance.
The process may seem innocuous enough, but if kids of any age are involved, the long term effects are not worth any satisfaction derived from your hobby. Adults can certainly be affected by the lead dust that may settle on clothing, etc., just not as easily or severely.
Finally always wear safety glasses. There is no reason to have your eyes possibly subjected to molten lead splash or smoke with lead particles. Use something like the Ztec safety glasses from Pyramex at the very least.
Hope this helps.
Send us a picture of the fish you caught with using your homemade lead weights.