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Old December 22, 2012, 06:25 PM   #1
Pyzon
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How did I mess up cleaning this brass ?

I put a batch of .223 brass through the ultrasonic cleaner with a squirt of Dawn and a shake of Lemishine and was quite impressed with how shiny they came out. I then left them in a bucket of clean water for a couple of days to rinse and when I dumped them out, about 20% of them look like this. I'm not hung up on loading only like new ammo, but I am concerned that something important to know happened to these. The "copper" staining or maybe even etching seems to clean off with 000 steelwool but the brass does not quite go back to the original yellow color.

And no, as a beginner reloader I dumped these in without decapping first.
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Old December 22, 2012, 06:40 PM   #2
jcwit
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Looks like you leached the zinc out of the brass, probably still had to much LemiShine in the rinse water.
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Old December 22, 2012, 06:47 PM   #3
hounddawg
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Let me guess this brass was really old and nasty before you cleaned it right ? Bet where that pink color is now the brass looked black before cleaning.

When brass oxidizes ther are two types of oxidation. The common type is black (CUO) in color and this is dissolved by Lemishine. The other type of brass oxidation is red (Cu2O) in color. Citric acid is pretty worthless on that type. Before cleaning old and scrungy brass looks black since the black oxidation covers up the red oxidation When you removed the black that revealed the red. This is the reason why it looked like Lemishine caused the red coloration but in reality it actually only revealed it. That is also the reason why only some but not all brass had the red color after Lemishine

Polish off the pink with a tumbler or non ammonia based brass polish, Never Dull is great, then examine those cases. As long as the brass is not pitted it is safe. If you see any pitting then toss it
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Last edited by hounddawg; December 22, 2012 at 07:23 PM.
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Old December 22, 2012, 07:47 PM   #4
Pyzon
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Thanks for the quick information. 95% of what I cleaned was ammo that my son and I fired as new factory ammo, the remainder was range picked up stuff, so not really old and decrepit stuff like I have seen. I am mostly curious what caused it, so if I got lazy on the rinse, that should be easy to avoid the next time.

I think the discoloration is on the surface only but I think Santa is bringing me a tumbler, so I'll put it through that and examine closely.

Do most of you tumble rather than ultrasonic clean your brass ? I also think decapping before cleaning would have been smarter.

Thanks again, friends.
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Old December 22, 2012, 07:55 PM   #5
Spammy_H
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Yeah, I did the same thing with a batch of .40s&w. My brass looked stained, but not as badly as yours. I think you may need to deactivate the acid as well with a baking soda rinse. But yes, you need to decap first to keep the priming compound from leaching.
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Old December 22, 2012, 08:10 PM   #6
hounddawg
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citric acid is not an oxidizer and what you are seeing are oxides ( the O in the Cu2O and CuO). More than you probably want to know about oxides here but it is in pretty easy to understand language

http://www.reade.com/products/35-oxi...cas-1317-39-1-

and on page 3 of this link you can clearly see that citric acid is not an oxidizer

http://wine.appstate.edu/sites/wine....nlessSteel.pdf

so the Lemishine just pulled a magic trick, David Copperfield style...groan...and revealed the hidden pink oxidation. It did not create it. You don't have to take my word on this you can prove it to yourself by soaking a piece of clean brass and a piece of brass that has turned black in a strong solution of acetic (vinegar) or citric acid. The clean brass will not turn pink, the piece of brass with black oxidation present before soaking will have the black oxidation go away and you will see the pink oxidation appear.

Now just to throw a curve ball into it if your detergent contains a oxidizer such as bleach or oxi clean, for example, that will cause the brass to oxidize then the citric can react both to the oxidizer and the oxidized brass.Dawn does not so that was not an issue in your situation.

Just once again check the cases that exhibit scaling and see if there is any pitting underneath if there is the pitting was there before cleaning and occurred over the period of weeks and months, not an hour or a day. Toss any case that is pitted in the least degree.
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Last edited by hounddawg; December 23, 2012 at 09:12 AM.
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