This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
Considerable experience is necessary to insure success in compounding alloys, especially when the metals employed vary greatly in fusibility and volatility. The following are rules supplied by an experienced workman:
1. Melt the least fusible, oxidizable, and volatile first, and then add the others heated to their point of fusion or near it. Thus, if it is desired to make an alloy of exactly 1 part of copper and 3 of zinc, it will be impossible to do so by putting proportions of the metals in a crucible and exposing the whole to heat. Much of the zinc would fly off in vapor before the copper was melted. First, melt the copper and add the zinc, which has been melted in another crucible. The zinc should be in excess, as some of it will be lost anyway.
2. Some alloys, as copper and zinc, copper and arsenic, may be formed by exposing heated plates of the least fusible metal to the vapor of the other. In making brass in the large way, thin plates of copper are dissolved, as it were, in melted zinc until the proper proportions have been obtained.
3. The surface of all oxidizable metals should be covered with some protecting agent, as tallow for very fusible ones, rosin for lead and tin, charcoal for zinc, copper, etc.
4. Stir the metal before casting and if possible, when casting, with a white-wood stick; this is much better for the purpose than an iron rod.
5. If possible, add a small portion of old alloy to the new. If the alloy is required to make sharp castings and strength is not a very great object, the proportion of old alloy to the new should be increased. In all cases a new or thoroughly well-cleansed crucible should be used.
To obtain metals and metallic alloys from their compounds, such as oxides, sulphides, chlorides, etc., a process lately patented makes use of the reducing qualities of aluminum or its alloys with magnesium. The finely powdered material (e. g., chromic oxide) is placed in a crucible mixed with aluminum oxide. The mixture is set afire by means of a soldering pipe or a burning magnesium wire, and the desired reaction takes place. For igniting, one may also employ with advantage a special priming cartridge consisting of pulverized aluminum to which a little magnesium may be mixed, and peroxide of magnesia, which is shaped-into balls and lighted with a magnesium wire. By suitable additions to the pulverized mixture, alloys containing aluminum, magnetism, chromium, manganese, copper, iron, boron, silicic acid, etc., are obtained.