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Old March 19, 2017, 08:20 PM   #1
Huh12345
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Steel wool effects on stainless steel

I have seen that you should not use steel wool with stainless. Why is this and how severe are the effects of it. Is it so urgent that I shouldn't even use a wipe I use on a blued gun that has had steel wool on it or is it more or a less a don't directly rub it kind of thing? Or somewhere in between.

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Old March 19, 2017, 09:22 PM   #2
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The contamination will start bleeding rust on the surface of the SS. It doesn't go away either.
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Old March 20, 2017, 07:27 AM   #3
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I have removed surface rust off stainless with steel wool. I do not see what harm steel wool can do to stainless
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Old March 20, 2017, 07:55 AM   #4
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I've cleaned SS rifles with steel wool with no ill effects. Never heard this one before. Never had any rust issues either, but I tape the muzzles during hunting season to keep water and debris out of the barrel. When the tape is removed there is some adhesive left on the barrels that is easily removed with a little oil and 0000 steel wool.
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Old March 20, 2017, 08:00 AM   #5
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Steel wool will imbed itself in the surface of the stainless steel it's being used on. When it does, it can cause discoloration as it oxidizes. This is seen commonly when it's used for cleaning or polishing stainless surfaces. For those that might not know it, you can buy stainless steel wool and use that instead of regular steel wool. The problem arises when shade tree gunsmiths get into projects they know nothing about.....use the right tool for the job or risk the consequences. joeb was correct in the first reply.
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Old March 20, 2017, 10:44 AM   #6
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Most unprotected SS alloys can and will form rust.

I don't like to assume anything but this time, I'm assuming that there is a good reason to even using steel wool on SS. I can't think of a time, I've ever had to do so. I do understand that SS barrels will show a non typical rust if left unprotected but has nothing to do with the use of steel wool. I use 0000 and 000 steel wood on blued barrels and parts and can't say that it promotes rust on those parts. ....

Don't see it or get it ???
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Old March 20, 2017, 11:45 AM   #7
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+1 for stainless steel wool

Stainless steel wool is available in many supermarkets. Highly efficient for removing surface rust when combined with a bit of gun oil. I refininshed several firearms for my brother that were subjected to saltwater contamination during hurricane Sandy. Pitting could not be cured but all surface rust was removed with gentle buffing.

I find that stainless steel wool is coarser but more gentle on both stainless and blued finishes than standard steel wool. Stainless does not leave any material residue as does 0000 steel wool. Use 0000 steel wool only for buffing out Brownell's Oxpho-Blue. By the way, after using several cold bluing products, Oxpho-Blue is by far the best cold blue due to ease of application and excellent durability.
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Old March 20, 2017, 02:23 PM   #8
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The corrosion resistance of many alloys involves the oxide coating .If you remove that coating you remove much of the corrosion protection !!
In making stainless steel products the proper way is to use all the tools ONLY for stainless steel .Tools used on carbon steel will carry over onto the stainless steel. The carbon steel particles will rust and that rusting carries over to the stainless and pitting that. Stainless parts are often "passivated " at the end of production with nitric or citric acid treatments to remove all contaminants like iron, and produce a thicker oxide coating.
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Old March 20, 2017, 10:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Steel wool will imbed itself in the surface of the stainless steel it's being used on.
Howdy

That is correct. Stainless steel is a steel alloy with a certain percentage of chromium in the alloy. The reason it is 'stainless' or corrosion resistant, which is the actual term, is because the raw steel forms an invisible layer of chromium oxide (passivation). The layer of oxide forms naturally with exposure to the oxygen in the air. The oxide layer is colorless, and does not alter the appearance of the steel. But like all oxides formed on the surface of steel, it prevents atmospheric oxygen from reaching the body of the steel, so it protects from further oxidation.

(Gun blue is another type of rust or oxidation. It prevents atmospheric oxygen from reaching the body of the steel.)

The chromium oxide that forms on the surface of stainless steel is a natural process. Scratch the surface, and the layer will form again, still preventing corrosion.

If regular steel wool is used on Stainless steel, chances are small particles of the steel wool will embed themselves in the surface. This can defeat the passivation layer. If the particles of steel wool start to corrode (rust) the corrosion can then get past the passivation layer and begin to corrode the body of the Stainless steel.

P.S. There are many different alloys of Stainless steel. Some have more chromium in them than others. Generally speaking, the more chromium in the alloy, the more corrosion resistant it is. The flip side is increased chromium content can make the steel more difficult to machine.

I bought a cheap set of stainless steak knives a few years ago on the internet. They are 'stainless steel' but everyone of them has developed spots of corrosion. Not very good Stainless steel, probably why they were cheap. I have stainless revolvers I have shot lots of rounds of Black Powder through. Some of them have developed some spots of corrosion, some have not. Different alloys.
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Old March 20, 2017, 10:37 PM   #10
Bill DeShivs
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Maybe in MACHINING metals, carbon steel will embed itself in stainless,
but steel wool will not embed itself in stainless gun parts. It's not hard enough.
If the stainless is very rough, I suppose you could get something to hang- but as a rule, it's a non-issue.
Many years ago I used to polish stainless S&W guns using steel wool. I'm sure if there were a problem, I would have heard about it.

If carbon steel wool fibers are left ON stainless, they can rust and cause discoloration.
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Old March 21, 2017, 08:00 AM   #11
David R
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Quote:
Steel wool will imbed itself in the surface of the stainless steel it's being used on.
This guy nailed it. Done it, seen it. The carbon steel contaminates the Stainless surface.

David
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Old March 21, 2017, 08:24 AM   #12
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I use bronze wool on my firearms when needed. I doubt you will find it locally. I acquire it from Amazon.com. It is far less aggressive than 0000 steel wool.

https://www.amazon.com/HOMAX-PRODUCT...onze+wool+fine
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Old March 21, 2017, 12:30 PM   #13
salt and battery
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how can steel wool imbed itself into stainless steel?? are we taking about soft pine or SS? if I had a rifle that the steel was that soft I would cut it with a demo saw and throw it away. how can steel that soft take 3000 degrees and 65K PSI in the chamber?
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Old March 21, 2017, 12:51 PM   #14
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I have read this for years, but not seen it.
I got in a gun with flecks of rust in the stainless, I did not refuse it because it was being discontinued and replaced with a much more expensive model.
A little oil and fine steel wool cleaned it right up, only a few faint dark spots left where the stainless had been attacked. No mild steel "imbedded" in the stainless to cause more rust.

I clean carbon fouling off blue guns with fine steel wool, too; and don't see the scratches I am told will be left.
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Old March 21, 2017, 05:03 PM   #15
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I have seen it happen. Even after cleaning and oiling, stainless that has been buffed smooth with steel wool will have microscopic carbon steel contamination that will sooner or later rust. The rust then starts eating the stainless steel, which is rust-resistant, not rust-proof.

I moved on to using 3-M Scotch-Brite pads on stainless. They are nicer to use, and do a better job.

Once I contaminated stainless steel with a Scotch-Brite pad that had formerly been used on carbon steel.

Keep the abrasives for stainless in a separate place is the best bet, all around. That's what I have wound up doing, and it has worked out well for me.
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Old March 21, 2017, 05:26 PM   #16
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I worked quite a bit around 316 Stainless Steel. Many of the parts went through a process we called "Rust Check". You take the parts and place them in a tank of 190 Degree F. Grade A water which is oxygenated for so many hours and then inspect them for rust. Tiny (under a 10X Magnifier) specs of rust will occasionally show up. This is a result of tool steel being embedded in the parts during machining operations. The parts were cleaned using acetone and Scotch Brite as well as other mild abrasives. The rust can be removed easy enough. The parts were tested again till they came out clean.

While I never heard of steel wool leaving tiny particles behind on stainless I guess it is possible, especially if the person doing the cleaning uses enough force to embed the stuff. If I was worried about it I would just use acetone and Scotch Brite. We also used small stainless brushes to clean stainless.

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Old March 21, 2017, 05:32 PM   #17
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Use Scotchbrite instead. It comes in many grits and I prefer the green. White is the finest and brown the courses. Check machine tool supply companies. I worked as a machinist in several aero space companies and whenever we machined out of stainless for NASA (usually 17-4 or 18-8) we had to have the parts soaked in an acid that dissolved any impurities that machining put in, such as steel from tooling. It was called "passivate"
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Old March 21, 2017, 06:04 PM   #18
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Twenty years ago I used 0000 steel wool and Flitz to remove severe scratches from a police turn-in S&W M65. Have never seen a problem since then.
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Old March 21, 2017, 08:41 PM   #19
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Stainless stains, ask any salt water boater Its called Stain-Less for a reason
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Old March 21, 2017, 09:01 PM   #20
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I've used steel wool on stainless for many years and never had any rust or corrosion.
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Old March 22, 2017, 12:37 AM   #21
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It's not possible to "embed" steel wool in gun stainless- no matter how hard you rub.
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Old March 22, 2017, 06:05 AM   #22
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Embed ?NO but if left on the surface it can rust and that rust continue through the oxide layer and continue into the stainless steel.
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Old March 22, 2017, 07:12 AM   #23
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I agree with Reloadron and Shimpy.

Why people insist on steel wool is not known to me.
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Old March 22, 2017, 08:04 AM   #24
NoSecondBest
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Quote:
It's not possible to "embed" steel wool in gun stainless- no matter how hard you rub.
I retired as an engineer from a multi-billion dollar world wide corporation. When I was working, I supervised two large, state of the art, metrology labs. I can assure you that you can embed steel into stainless steel and cause discoloration of the stainless. All materials have a "textured" finish to some degree. This is easily seen under magnification and it varies with the surface finish and material being observed. When two surfaces are rubbed together, they exchange material with each other. There are also different types of stainless and different types of steel. Depending on the interaction taking place, enough steel wool particulates can be "embedded" in the stainless to leave discoloration. Many, many gun owners have observed discoloration on their stainless steel guns and don't know what is causing it. In many cases, it's something "embedded" in the surface. That's just the way it is.
Example: http://nanovea.com/App-Notes/steel-s...terization.pdf
Note 1 Cause: http://www.sperkoengineering.com/html/Rust.pdf

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Old March 22, 2017, 08:42 AM   #25
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This is what they use in rifle barrels

http://firearmshistory.blogspot.com/...ern-steel.html
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