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Old July 5, 2012, 12:49 PM   #1
KMAX
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Cleaning brass.

How do you clean your brass? I read that muriatic acid cleans brass well, but no mention of if they were referring to ammo brass or not. Anybody do this? Just curious. Not planning on doing it myself. Seems like to much trouble for my needs.
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Old July 5, 2012, 01:10 PM   #2
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I use a Lyman vibrating tumbler with corn cob media add a little new finish car polish with a about a capfull of mineral spirits, and brass comes out very clean and shiney
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Old July 5, 2012, 02:58 PM   #3
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+1 on the corncob. It's a set and forget method, and I usually have spotless brass in about an hour and a half.
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Old July 5, 2012, 03:12 PM   #4
Ethan.G
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i just bought a cheap sonic cleaner from harbor freight, ill let you know how it works out for me on monday. i have been using corn cob works great i just dont like how long it takes
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Old July 5, 2012, 03:38 PM   #5
Don P
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Quote:
How do you clean your brass? I read that muriatic acid cleans brass well,
First question I'll ask is have you ever used muriatic acid???
Working as a supervisor in a concrete plant I'll state this, muriatic will eat concrete, metal, wiring harnesses and anything else it comes in contact with. Nasty, nasty stuff. Tumble your brass in corn cob or walnut media.
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Old July 5, 2012, 04:17 PM   #6
Woody55
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I use the tumbler and media. Works fine.

I didn't answer when I first saw the OP because I thought he was talking about cleaning the cartridge cases for already loaded ammunition.
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Old July 5, 2012, 04:18 PM   #7
Al Norris
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Muriatic acid is simply another name for Hydrochloric acid (HCl).

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Muriatic acid attacks and dissolves copper.

Now, what was the question?
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Old July 5, 2012, 04:37 PM   #8
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I have heard of folks using a weak acid, such as citric acid or acetic acid(vinegar) to clean brass. Even then, I would use a pretty dilute solution and for a limited amount of time as any acid will dissolve metal. Zinc in particular is quite reactive to acids.
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Old July 5, 2012, 05:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
I use a Lyman vibrating tumbler with corn cob media add a little new finish car polish with a about a capfull of mineral spirits, and brass comes out very clean and shiney
Interesting, Old 454. I also use corncob myself (50-50 with crushed walnut) and a capful of nufinish along with cut-up pieces of old dryer sheet. I do not use mineral spirits but I am intrigued. What do you like about using mineral spirits?
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Old July 5, 2012, 06:07 PM   #10
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I recently stopped cleaning my revolver brass, it just doesn't get dirty enough. My auto pistol brass often gets clogged with debris because of where I shoot.

Anyway, I tried various types of wet cleaning, including citric acid. In the end a sonic cleaner filled with a cheap car washing detergent works well for me (rinses very cleanly and cleans well).

I decap, then dump the brass into the sonic cleaner for a 1.5 hours, rinse, then dry it in a inexpensive convection oven.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ls_o05_s00_i00

I only use this oven for the shop, obviously!
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Old July 5, 2012, 06:35 PM   #11
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I have both a sonic cleaner (el cheapo Harbor Freight one pint model), and a vibratory media tumbler ( I use fine walnut sand blasting media in it). Before that I used a Gatorade bottle with dish soap, vinegar, and water shook for a bit, poured out in a strainer, then rinsed well.

In the end they all do the same thing. Clean the brass. The question to ask yourself is "How shiney do I want the brass to be.)


I use the tumbler to clean super dirty range pick up brass, and to remove case lube from bottle neck cases that have been full length resized. It is faster than waiting for it to air dry using the sonic cleaner. The sonic cleaner cleans the primer pockets out of decapped brass. Oh and it only takes 3 or 4 three minute cycles to get it nice and clean. One or tow more cycles to make it super shiney if that is your thing. (I never cleaned them before so that makes no difference to me.) I use the sonic cleaner more than anything else for the simple reason of I have bad allergies, and the dust from the tumbler will make me sneeze, and wheeze for a day when I use it.

My fired revolver rounds I do not clean there is no need. They shoot just the same. Rifle round that I use the Lee Collet die on I do not clean. They shoot just as well. Semi Auto brass as long as it is fairly clean I do not worry about it. Range pick up .223 Rem brass that is super dirty goes into the tumbler before I lube, and size it.

As long as it does not have debris on it that will scratch dies, or case lube that can cause problems in bottle necked cases wiping them off with a cleaning patch will work.
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Old July 5, 2012, 06:35 PM   #12
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Citric acid powder is mixed 2 teaspoons to a quart of almost boiling water. High concentrations are not needed. Citric acid is the active ingredient in home-made brass cleaners that use lemon juice.

The advantage of citric acid is that it will not penetrate or damage the brass like ammonia-based brass cleaners will. it works very fast in less than a minute. Citric acid passivates the brass, which means that after washing in the hot solution, the brass is actually made more corrosion-resistant.
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Old July 5, 2012, 08:48 PM   #13
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You can get cheap lemonade mix (10 cents a pack) that works good or go through the hand dish washing liquid section of the supermarket and look for Lemi-shine. About a teaspoon in enough water to cover your brass and let it work. I usually let it sit overnight (just put it to bed) and get it in the morning. It's good for removing tarnish and does a decent job of cleaning but not like a tumbler.
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Old July 6, 2012, 07:35 AM   #14
KMAX
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I tumble in corn cob media. I was only curious as to if anyone used any kind of acid cleaning. I do realize that any acid would have to weak. I thought about experimenting with some muriatic I had left over to see what it would do to the ammo brass, but decided I wasn't that interested since it wouldn't be anything I would actually do in practice. I just gave away my left over acid to a neighbor. I didn't want to store it.

Seems that acid cleaning is not all that popular. I can understand with all the prep, rinsing, drying,and dispoasal of the acid (whatever type you chose). And how much good does it do. A dull case can shoot as good as a shiny one.
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Last edited by KMAX; July 6, 2012 at 08:01 AM.
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Old July 6, 2012, 09:27 AM   #15
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I was watching the History Channel program about the archeology of the Custer Battlefield at Little Big Horn. The archeologists were cleaning the old cases they found with an acid solution so they could read the head stamps and identify the primer stike markings. They were trying to ID the different weapons used by the Sioux in the battle! As it turns out, the Indians were using repeters (Henry's, Winchesters and Spencers) while the Troopers were using single shot Springfields!

The acid cleaned the cases, but it was obvious that it also thinned the old brass!

I would stick with tumbleing in corn cob or walnut!
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Old July 6, 2012, 12:36 PM   #16
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I have thought about it more now and have decided it was a really dumb question since the acid would be causing chemical decompostion of the brass into copper and zinc salts whereas the tumbling simply uses the abrasion method of cleaning, leaving the brass compound intact. Not to mention all the extra work involved, for what effect. I sometimes lay awake thinking of foolish ideas.
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Old July 6, 2012, 02:17 PM   #17
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I use a 2.5 liter sonic cleaner from Harbor Freight. It's just like the Lyman sonic cleaner.

I dilute CLR cleaner (from my local home depot) 1:50 with HOT tap water and add a few drops of liquid laundry detergent. Run it through 4 cycles of 480 seconds each. That's the longest you can set this sonic cleaner's timer for. Rinse in tap water, drain, wrap the brass in an old towel for a minute and then dry in a 175 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

The CLR solution works as well as the Hornady stuff at a fraction of the cost. I've tried a 5% solution of citric acid too but I have not found a good source for bulk citric acid at a reasonable price (I don't want to buy 50 pounds at a time).

De-prime all brass before sonic cleaning.
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Old July 6, 2012, 02:34 PM   #18
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For 90% of my cleaning I just use my vibratory with corncob and rapid polish. For REALLY REALLY dirty or stained brass I soak them for a few minutes in a citric acid solution then tumble them. The citric acid is available many places, won't harm your brass, and can be reused. It also is perfectly safe and can be poured down the drain to dispose of it.
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Old July 6, 2012, 05:41 PM   #19
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I just vibrate in either corn cob or walnut for a couple of hours. I would not want to use any homebrew additive that might leave a residue to interact with the powder.
I am making ammunition not jewelry.
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Old July 6, 2012, 06:01 PM   #20
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I use stainless steel pin media in my rolling tumbler.
It works Great and I'll Never need to replace the media.
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Old July 6, 2012, 07:32 PM   #21
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Quote:
I use stainless steel pin media in my rolling tumbler.
It works Great and I'll Never need to replace the media.
I have been happy with my corncob.walnut mix, but I must say I an intrigued by the stainless pins. How does this work exactly? Do you have to clean/rinse them regularly? How is the noise level vs "normal" media? Does the brass come out shiny?
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Old July 8, 2012, 02:10 AM   #22
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Why would anyone want to fool around with acid, when the tried and true walnut & corn cob media works so well. It's also organic and easier on the environment to dispose of.
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Old July 8, 2012, 08:16 AM   #23
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Quote:
I use stainless steel pin media in my rolling tumbler.
It works Great and I'll Never need to replace the media.
I need to know more about this.
Anybody else here use stainless steel tumbling media? Why can’t you use it in a vibratory tumbler? Do you use soap and water with it? Any info would be welcome. Thanks.
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Old July 8, 2012, 06:29 PM   #24
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The stailess steel pin cleaning method is a wet method requiring you dry the brass after cleaning, I have been satisfied with corn cob and nufinish polish or midway's polish for many years and untold 1,000's of cases. I don't use SS pins so I'll let someone that does tell you about it.
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Old July 8, 2012, 06:29 PM   #25
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It's also organic and easier on the environment to dispose of.
Yep, with all that there lead dust and burnt powder residue being easy on the environment and land fill
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