melting aluminum in a home-made mini foundry

Get a steel bucket. Pour a refractory wall made of plaster and sand 1:1 ratio. Use a steel can as a crucible. Pack the bucket with charcoal and ignite it. Blow air through a pipe at the bottom. The crucible will get hot enough to melt aluminum. Cover it with a plaster/sand lid to keep it hot.

Once the charcoal starts burning, the crucible gets hot pretty quickly. But keep it covered to raise the temperature even higher (and more quickly).

Starting the fire seems like a black art. Take your time and use plenty of lighter fluid - but careful with that fluid, it makes pretty big flames when things are hot.

The hole in the refractory wall is just big enough to fit the crucible with one layer of charcoal pieces around it. I usually lay one layer of charcoal at the bottom, drop the crucible on it, then fill the empty space between crucible and wall with one layer of charcoal pieces all around the crucible.
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