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Old October 15, 2012, 03:49 PM   #1
Pond, James Pond
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Sonic Cleaner solutions. Everyday alternatives?

My Hornady sonic cleaner arrived today and I hope to soon see what it can do.

However, I need some solution as this could not be mailed overseas with the rest.

The easiest would be to buy a household product alternative that is cheaper, and easier to source.

I've even heard that vinegar solutions can work! That, at least would be a breeze to find.

So. Any recommendations?
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Old October 15, 2012, 04:03 PM   #2
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If you are in a part of the world that still allows freon to be sold in gallon cans it is the best I have ever used. I got it as tri chloral tri floral ethane. It is volatile but not flammable. Use in a well ventilated space.

Not sure but you might also look at naptha, if you can use a flammable solvent.
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Old October 15, 2012, 04:32 PM   #3
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Try this out. I used it, and it worked pretty well:

http://www.6mmbr.com/ultrasonic.html

I then read about Alconox's Citranox, which is a lab instrument cleaner, works even better, but you may not be able to get it where you're at
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Old October 16, 2012, 02:21 PM   #4
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Citric acid crystals, 1 or 2 TEAspoons per quart of water. The solution can be siphoned off and, if the sediment is allowed to settle in a glass jar and carefully poured back into the cleaner, the solution can be reused several times.
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Old October 16, 2012, 02:28 PM   #5
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Sounds like a nice option!!

Now.... what is the Estonian for "Do you have any Citric Acid crystals knocking about?"


I will have to look into that!!
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Old October 16, 2012, 03:17 PM   #6
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Citric acid at 5% by weight with water (7 oz dissolved in a gallon of water is close enough) is an old Frankford Arsenal formula. You can use it in the ultrasonic until it stops working. I usually add just a drop or two of dishwashing liquid as a wetting agent.

Citric acid will be sold in your neck of the woods by wine making supply outfits and can probably be ordered through a pharmacy (apothecary, chemist's), but those are likely the most expensive options. Some canning supply outfits sell it, here, so I assume they will where you are. It's also available in Kosher grocery stores as Sour Salt. I am able to get 10 lbs of food grade citric acid for about $30 here, or just under 2£/lb., to give you an idea of a reasonable price, but I have to get the 10 lb quantity to get the price that low. It's enough for about 23 gallons of solution.
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Old October 16, 2012, 03:26 PM   #7
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I actually just asked my wife if she had an idea, expecting a raised eyebrow, a less than interested expression and demands as to why I'm asking her about anything related to firearms.

Instead, I get "oh, that stuff: there's some in the pantry..."

She's cool!!

I feel my first .308 decapping and cleaning session coming on this weekend!!

I have also found some Hornady solution, but at about $50 a "quart" (litre to me) I think I'll raid my wife's jam-making stocks for now.
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Old October 16, 2012, 03:39 PM   #8
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I started using dishwashing detergent for cleaning brass. It's worked pretty well for me...and it's dirt cheap.
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Old October 16, 2012, 03:40 PM   #9
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Lemon juice is citric acid. Not all solvents are ultrasonic compatible. Water soluble degreasers diluted to 1/2 strength or less work good, but metal compatability must be observed, and some e.g. aluminum stain badly, if not rinsed immediately.
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Old October 16, 2012, 04:03 PM   #10
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I like car washing detergents, they're super concentrated, can be rinsed thoroughly and are inexpensive.
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Old October 17, 2012, 12:01 AM   #11
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It is quite simple:
You need a detergent.
This can be Dawn hand dishwashing soap, or most any dishwashing machine soap, or most any clothes washing machine soap (see Tide HP).
Then, one can add citric acid to improve cleaning action.
I would not recommend vinegar.
Hot water will speed up cleaning.
Note: ultrasonic cleaning solutions are aqueous. If you want to use hydrocarbon, place part and hydrocarbon solution in glass jar and place jar in water-based ultrasonic bath.
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Old October 17, 2012, 09:35 AM   #12
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you can get right down to it with a bucket of hot water, soap and a stick to stir it up with. while shiny factory new looking brass is nice, it really doesn't make much difference
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Old October 17, 2012, 01:03 PM   #13
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Fresh lemon juice is about 5-6% citric acid, while concentrate is about 3.5-4%, which is good enough. But cleaning in pure lemon juice is expensive no matter where you get it. You can use a smaller quantity as an additive to detergents as a brightener, but dilution will lower its working speed by raising pH.

There are surfactants that can help remove carbon, but it's not easy to break down. The citric acid solution soaks into carbon and it helps the ultrasonic lift it from underneath by making small gas bubbles. But if you add a surfactant, like a few drops of Kodak Photo-Flo, it will penetrate and lift better. A drop of dishwashing liquid also helps wetting and suspends dirt and carbon. I expect the car washing detergents without wax that don't allow water spots to form as they dry would be a good way to get a combination of the two in one package.

5% citric acid plus a little Dawn:

Before:


After:

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Old October 17, 2012, 01:26 PM   #14
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Well, I've just pillaged the local grocery store's bakery aisle by ransacking their year's supply of citric acid crystals!

So this weekend: set up .308 dies, decap and collet neck size, then my first cycles in the cleaner!!

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Old October 17, 2012, 04:33 PM   #15
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Try Lemonshine and dishwashing detergent, the type used in dishwashers. Merely soaking in very hot water, gets brass acceptably clean. It should do even better in an ultrasonic cleaner.
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Old October 17, 2012, 08:10 PM   #16
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I have the tiny Harbor Freight US cleaner and I use 1/2 teaspoon of Lemishine, a tiny bit of salt, and a couple drops of Dawn dissolved in about 16oz of water. Works well in about 15 minutes per batch.
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Old October 17, 2012, 08:15 PM   #17
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Quote:
Fresh lemon juice is about 5-6% citric acid, while concentrate is about 3.5-4%, which is good enough. But cleaning in pure lemon juice is expensive no matter where you get it. You can use a smaller quantity as an additive to detergents as a brightener, but dilution will lower its working speed by raising pH.
If maintaining the acid concentration is a concern adding dish washing soap, a base, is going to neutralize some of the acid and the base will be consumed in the reaction. Conversely if you want the soap to be concentrated adding acid is going to neutralize some of the base and the acid is going to be consumed in the reaction. That might be what you are saying and I just did not understand.
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Old October 20, 2012, 05:11 PM   #18
Pond, James Pond
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That sonic cleaner is ....... goooood!!

Just collet sized and decapped all my .308s. Cleaned them in the cleaner (40g of citirc acid crystals in 1lt of distilled water, no washing liquid this time), rinsed them, dried them and trimmed them.

Reloading rifle is much more involved than straight cased revolvers!!

Tomorrow, deburring and checking the cases over in daylight for signs of weakness.
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Old October 22, 2012, 10:12 PM   #19
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We need before and after pics please.
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Old October 23, 2012, 12:28 AM   #20
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Before pics are going to a bit hard to come by now!!
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Old October 23, 2012, 12:41 AM   #21
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I'm from Guam, and things here are hard to get. What I use for a tumbler is a old used dryer. It suits my needs, and for some reason I can easily get explosives shipped to Guam, but I can't find anyone to ship me a tumbler
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Old October 23, 2012, 09:23 PM   #22
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That's different. Try a jewler's supply. The have vibratory rock tumbers. Also, try a smaller outfit like Thumbler's Tumblers and see if they can accommodate you?
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