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Thread: Citric acid brass cleaner

  1. #21
    Boolit Master

    MtGun44's Avatar
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    Oh come on StarMetal, the sailing ships were long gone when you were in the Navy,
    replaced by the coal fired steamships, right? Did you have to shovel coal very
    often?

    Sagacious - thanks for the verification. Chemistry was a long time ago, but I was pretty sure
    that this was a reduction reaction, and if so - no damage, and as you say - passivation
    is a plus. I'll definitely give this a try.

    Any idea if nickel plated cases are adversely affected by either acid system?

    Thanks

    Bill
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  2. #22
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtGun44 View Post
    Any idea if nickel plated cases are adversely affected by either acid system?

    Thanks

    Bill
    Bill,
    I have never used either chemical on nickel cases. Usually the nickel ones tumble-clean easily, so I process them that way.

    My understanding is that nickel is unaffected by citric acid. This is why citric acid is used to safely passivate stainless steel. Citric acid reacts very strongly with iron, but does not react at all with nickel or chromium. This leaves the ss surface enriched with nickel and chromium, and increases it's "stainless" property.

    As a test of your question, I boiled some old (but shiny) Super-Vel 38Special nickel cases in citric acid solution for 3 minutes. The cases came out bright and looked identical to the unboiled cases. So, the citric wash should be perfectly safe for use on nickel-plated cartridge cases.

    The Birchwood-Casey phosphoric/glycolic acid Liquid Brass Cleaner solution does not mention nickel on the package-container usage instructions. It does say to let the brass cases soak for 3 minutes, and then remove and rinse. As a test, I boiled some of the Super-Vel 38Spec nickel cases for 1 minute in the B-C solution. The nickel cases clearly reacted with the phosphoric/glycolic acid, and came out with a grayish stain (nickel phosphate, perhaps). So, I can not recommend the hot phosphoric acid wash on nickel cases.

    Good shooting!

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtGun44 View Post
    Oh come on StarMetal, the sailing ships were long gone when you were in the Navy,
    replaced by the coal fired steamships, right? Did you have to shovel coal very
    often?

    Sagacious - thanks for the verification. Chemistry was a long time ago, but I was pretty sure
    that this was a reduction reaction, and if so - no damage, and as you say - passivation
    is a plus. I'll definitely give this a try.

    Any idea if nickel plated cases are adversely affected by either acid system?

    Thanks

    Bill
    Bill,

    That NSFO (Navy Special Fuel Oil) looked like liquid coal and about burned like it. Feels like a long time ago with all these new age ships they have.

    I don't like nickel cases, I feel they are too hard on the dies. Still feel the easiest to get and cheap is lemon juice, vinegar, and dash of dish soap.

    sagacious,

    On the above formula they recommend a dash of salt, why?

  4. #24
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StarMetal View Post
    sagacious,

    On the above formula they recommend a dash of salt, why?
    The acid in the lemon (or vinegar, same process) reacts with salt to form a weak solution of hydrochloric acid.
    The hydrochloric acid helps with cleaning metal.

  5. #25
    Beekeeper
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    Not to change the chemical but I have been using a swimming pool chemical called PH down.
    It is a bycarbonets of soda compound and it works wonders on old range pickup brass or like mine that have been stored for a long time.'
    A teaspoon of the stuff in a gallon of water will clean a hundred cases in about 5 minutes with just a few swirls with your hand.


    Jim

  6. #26
    Black Powder 100%


    cajun shooter's Avatar
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    I shoot only BP but have used lemon juice concentrate to soak my brass on the way home for quite a while now. Included in that is Pine Sol and Dawn with OXY. These are put into a gal of water at 2oz each. Later David
    Shooter of the "HOLY BLACK" SASS 81802 AKA FAIRSHAKE; NRA ; BOLD; WARTHOG;Deadwood Marshal;Bayou Bounty Hunter; So That his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat; 44 WCF filled to the top, 210 gr. bullet

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by sagacious View Post
    The acid in the lemon (or vinegar, same process) reacts with salt to form a weak solution of hydrochloric acid.
    The hydrochloric acid helps with cleaning metal.
    Thanks, I quit putting it in, but knowing that I guess I'll add it again.

  8. #28
    Boolit Master

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    Sagacious,

    Thanks for doing the testing! I suspected that the citric would be OK with the nickel but
    I was a little leering of the phosphoric. I think I'll sort out any nickel cases before I treat
    any with phosphoric. I have some old salvaged .30-06 match brass that could benefit from
    the citric or phosporic acid treatment before I tumble it.

    Anybody ever come up with a cheap & EASY way to get the asphalt sealant out of unfired
    dissassembled military cases? Nasty stuff! I'm thinking soaking in solvent for a few days,
    but that is anything but cheap and easy, and then it will be all over them, not just in the
    necks.

    StarMetal -- is that the same stuff as Bunker C oil? My Dad was skipper of the USS Truckee
    (fleet oiler) many years ago and he spoke about Bunker C, apparently very heavy oil chosen
    because of extremely high energy per unit volume - more steaming range on a given fuel tank size.
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtGun44 View Post
    Sagacious,

    Thanks for doing the testing! I suspected that the citric would be OK with the nickel but
    I was a little leering of the phosphoric. I think I'll sort out any nickel cases before I treat
    any with phosphoric. I have some old salvaged .30-06 match brass that could benefit from
    the citric or phosporic acid treatment before I tumble it.

    Anybody ever come up with a cheap & EASY way to get the asphalt sealant out of unfired
    dissassembled military cases? Nasty stuff! I'm thinking soaking in solvent for a few days,
    but that is anything but cheap and easy, and then it will be all over them, not just in the
    necks.

    StarMetal -- is that the same stuff as Bunker C oil? My Dad was skipper of the USS Truckee
    (fleet oiler) many years ago and he spoke about Bunker C, apparently very heavy oil chosen
    because of extremely high energy per unit volume - more steaming range on a given fuel tank size.
    I'm sure it was the same oil. You had to heat it to move it. We heated it to 150 degrees before spraying into the boiler firebox.

  10. #30
    Banned 45 2.1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtGun44 View Post
    Anybody ever come up with a cheap & EASY way to get the asphalt sealant out of unfired
    dissassembled military cases? Nasty stuff!
    You might try mineral spirits. We use it to clean prime off of concrete when necessary.

  11. #31
    Moderator Emeritus/Boolit Master in Heavens Range
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtGun44 View Post
    Anybody ever come up with a cheap & EASY way to get the asphalt sealant out of unfired dissassembled military cases? Nasty stuff! I'm thinking soaking in solvent for a few days, but that is anything but cheap and easy, and then it will be all over them, not just in the necks.
    Most any alphatic solvent; Lighter fluid, kerosene, lamp oil, turpentine, etc. Might try PineSol and d-Limonene based cleaners too.
    Regards,

    Molly

    "The remedy for evil men is not the abrogation of the rights of law abiding citizens. The remedy for evil men is the gallows." Thomas Jefferson

  12. #32
    Boolit Master BABore's Avatar
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    I add about a half teaspoon of pure orange oil to my lizard bedding (crushed walnut shells) case cleaner media. Strong enough to cut the lube off cases and makes them bright and shiny. Smells up the room good too.

  13. #33
    Boolit Master cephas53's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cephas53 View Post
    Have used citric acid solution for awhile. First read about it in the NRA "Handloading" manual that was first published in the 80's, Their info was from from Frankford Arsenal. The cases are clean but not shiny bright. Interestingly they also mention a sulfuric acid dip, no thanks, and vinegar and salt solution. Have seen citric acid also at stores that sell wine making supplies.
    Dusted the book off ("Reloading" not Handloading as I first said) and read the article. Just a note on the vinegar and salt solution. They used 2 tsp salt to gt of vinegar and soaked for 15-20 minutes, followed by a 5 minute water rinse. They noted cases soon tarnished after. A rinse with vinegar was reccomended before the water, in hopes of alleviating the tarnish, but cases still tarnished.

  14. #34
    Boolit Master madsenshooter's Avatar
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    Here's where I get my citric acid: http://www.qcsupply.com/qcsupply/bro...romPage=search

  15. #35
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtGun44 View Post
    I'm thinking soaking in solvent for a few days, but that is anything but cheap and easy, and then it will be all over them, not just in the necks.
    Bill,

    Swab the case necks with Goo-Gone (d-limonene). Removes tar/asphalt quickly. Handy stuff to have on the tool bench, and is great for many gun-cleaning applications. It's easy on your hands, unlike some other solvents, and it smells nice. You can buy it at your hardware store (get it in the liquid bulk-package). Here's a link: http://www.hardwareandtools.com/Goo-...x-u768033.html

  16. #36
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cephas53 View Post
    Just a note on the vinegar and salt solution. They used 2 tsp salt to gt of vinegar and soaked for 15-20 minutes, followed by a 5 minute water rinse. They noted cases soon tarnished after. A rinse with vinegar was reccomended before the water, in hopes of alleviating the tarnish, but cases still tarnished.
    Cephas53,
    I'm glad you mentioned this. I have seen the same thing many times. Brass or copper treated with acetic acid will discolor and tarnish. Acetic acid cleans fast, but it does NOT protect and passivate the brass cases like citric acid does.

    Vinegar apparently leaves an acetic acid or acetate residue on the brass, and it does not wash off with a clean water rinse. If you tumble after washing in vinegar it minimizes the effects, but you still do not get the passivation effect of citric acid.

    If anyone wishes to use the acid + salt solution, it's probably better to use lemon juice and not vinegar. Note also that the hydrochloric acid (aka muriatic acid) produced will not passivate brass.

    When I first started using citric acid on brass, I cleaned some cases and let them sit for a few days because I wanted to see if the brass would suffer the same discoloration that vinegar causes. Citric acid causes no tarnishing, and actually protects the brass from tarnishing.

    This testing indicates to me that citric acid is one of the best possible brass case cleaners available, and it has no disadvantages that I am aware of.

  17. #37
    Boolit Bub Archey's Avatar
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    This is a great thread. Another advantage to the liquid cleaners is that you can clean different calibers of brass at the same time with out them getting stuck together like they do with tumblers.

  18. #38
    Boolit Master

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    Thanks, Sagatious. Now another question - what, if any, effect does polishing have on the passivation of the brass?
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  19. #39
    Boolit Master cheese1566's Avatar
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    I'm lost ...please clarify ...

    citric acid: good/bad?

  20. #40
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheese1566 View Post
    I'm lost ...please clarify

    citric acid: good/bad?
    Citric acid is good.

    Carry on.

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