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Thread: Citric acid brass cleaner

  1. #61
    Boolit Master WallyM3's Avatar
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    Oh, and by the way...it's a good thing to wear gloves when using citric/phosphoric acid solutions.

    Anyone got band-aids?

    Sure works, though.

  2. #62
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Huh? Band-aids? You've got to be kidding.

    One only needs to mix 1 or two teaspoons of citric acid per quart of water. The instructions on my container of "food grade" citric acid indicate that a mixture of 1tsp/qt is completely safe to eat. It says, "Use 1 tsp per quart of water or juice for most fruits and vegetables." That's less citric acid than lemon juice contains.

    That's the great thing about citric acid-- it's safe to use.

    Phosphoric acid mixed properly is very similar. The usage instructions on the Birchwood-Casey Liquid Brass Cleaner solution say to mix it at a ratio of 2 ounces per quart of water. The mixed solution only has .4oz of phosphoric acid per quart. That's exactly the same amount of phosphoric acid as in Coca Cola syrup.

    As long as one does not pour the solution in one's eyes, the solutions mixed as advised are safe as lemon juice to handle. But I'd also not recommend lemon juice in the eyes, so one need only use the same caution as when cutting/juicing lemons. Good luck.
    Last edited by sagacious; 05-12-2010 at 10:40 PM. Reason: spelling correction

  3. #63
    Boolit Master RKJ's Avatar
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    I have been reading this thread (and even posted to it) and yesterday I was at my local supermarket and while I was getting some paraffin I saw a container of Citric Acid priced at $3.00. I got some as I had some range pickups that were black. I mixed 2 tablespoons in a pint of water (I know, overkill) and swished it about 3 times, after about 5 minutes they were ready to tumble. Man, it beats the koolaid bath I've been using by far. I'm converted. Sagacious, thanks.

  4. #64
    Boolit Master WallyM3's Avatar
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    sagacious, I'm not complaining about the mix, formula, technique, style, result or efficacy. Immersion in an acid solution of even mild composition, evidently, dries my skin to the point of creating painful cracks on my hands.

    What a jerk I am. I have a dry skin problem in low humidity conditions that appears to be exacerbated by acidic liquid contact.

    I should have been still, I think. I must be the only one.

    In any event, this will be an invariable part of my case processing routine.

    BTW, food grade walnuts will kill those who are allergic to them.

  5. #65
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    Will this clean the tarnish from BP cases also? I was thinking of getting ceramic tumbler media, but if this will work it will be a whole lot easier.

    John

  6. #66
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Wally,

    Hold yer horses, compadre! I did not at all intend to offend. You may have taken my response the wrong way. By all means wear gloves if you have a special skin condition. If someone suspects they might have an acute reaction to mild acidic solutions, they should please exercise all appropriate safety considerations specific to their individual case.

    Most folks can tolerate lemon juice or Coca Cola syrup on their skin-- that's the safety-level correlation I wanted to relate. This citric solution brass cleaning solution is weaker than lemon juice.

    Please note that the solution never needs to come into contact with skin. In several years of using acid washes on brass, I have never put my hands in the solution-- because I use it very hot-- and I take care not to splash it. Use appropriate care when pouring-off the solution after use, or in your case Wally, you may wish to simply neutralize it with baking soda and avoid any citric acid splashes entirely. If the mix needs stirring, please use a non-metal spoon-- as I advised in my opening post.

    Regards, and best of luck!
    Last edited by sagacious; 05-17-2010 at 02:55 AM. Reason: spelling correction

  7. #67
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garandsrus View Post
    Will this clean the tarnish from BP cases also? I was thinking of getting ceramic tumbler media, but if this will work it will be a whole lot easier.

    John
    John,
    I do not shoot BP, but the citric acid wash does a very good job of removing tarnish and crud from really dirty brass cases. I recently cleaned some old rifle cases that had a lot of crud in the primer pockets, and the citric acid wash completely removed every speck of gunk from the pockets.

    It will only cost a few dollars to test this solution on BP-fired brass, and I suspect it should work very well. Good luck.

  8. #68
    Boolit Master TDB9901's Avatar
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    This is a great thread!

    With the exception of my one inane half informed post...... Does anyone else think it rises to the level of a sticky??

  9. #69
    Boolit Master Faret's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TDB9901 View Post
    Does anyone else think it rises to the level of a sticky??
    Yes but need to make room on the page. Maybe a folder for stickys?
    Last edited by Faret; 05-13-2010 at 10:51 AM. Reason: spelling

  10. #70
    Cast Boolits Founder/B.O.B.

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    thread will be copied over to the Classics and Stickies area soon, don't want to move it too soon and lose info yet to be posted.
    Boolits= as God laid it into the soil,,grand old Galena,the Silver Stream graciously hand poured into molds for our consumption.

    Bullets= Machine made utilizing Full Length Gas Checks as to provide projectiles for the masses.

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  11. #71
    Boolit Master Von Gruff's Avatar
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    I picked up some citric acid yesterday at the grocery store to give this a try and have two queries.
    Is this as effective used cold ?

    Can it be stored and re-used next cleaning session?

    Von Gruff.

  12. #72
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Von Gruff View Post
    I picked up some citric acid yesterday at the grocery store to give this a try and have two queries.
    Is this as effective used cold ?
    Yes, it's effective at room temp-- just works faster when used hot. When it's hot it removes tarnish/crud almost instantly. You can mix the citric acid powder with hot tap water to make a batch.

    Can it be stored and re-used next cleaning session?

    Von Gruff.
    Yes, it definitely can be reused several times. I've been reusing an old batch just to see how much mileage it gets. The solution will eventually turn blue, but will still work until the citric acid is exhausted. You can store it in a plastic milk jug with CITRIC ACID SOLUTION written on the side. Store in a cool place.

    However, many people may find that it's easier to make a new batch than to store it. 1 or 2 teaspoons of citric acid in a quart of hot tapwater makes for a very inexpensive brass cleaner that is totally safe to pour down the drain.

    Citric acid is an organic acid and the solution cannot be stored for very long periods, like a year, as the acid may be neutralized over that time. Probably better to make a new batch if you won't be reusing it for a very long time.

  13. #73
    Moderator Emeritus/Boolit Master in Heavens Range
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    Green earth / EPA / good citizen disposal consideration: If you intend to dispose of used citric or phosphoric acid solutions, they aren't highly toxic, but stir a spoonful of baking soda in and see what happens. If it fizzes, toss in another sponful, until it doesn't fizz any more. This neutralizes the acids, and makes you feel good about pouring it down the sink. A little excess baking soda won't hurt, and is better than excess acid.

    Molly
    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

  14. #74
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Not a bad idea to neutralize, Molly, especially when using phosphoric acid.

    Fortunately citric acid is pretty friendly stuff. It's not listed as a hazardous or polluting substance under the guidelines of the Clean Water Act, and is very often actually used to treat contaminated wastewater. This citric acid solution is safe for septic systems, as some toilet bowl cleaners use citric acid at a pH of 2.0-3.0, so no worries on that regard.

    Microbes metabolize citric acid, and this is one of the reasons that long-term storage breaks-down citric acid. The 'feel-good' aspect is one of the best reasons to use citric acid.

  15. #75
    Boolit Master taminsong's Avatar
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    I've been looking for citric acid here in my location but for sure, no one is selling it. I really looked hard and the last recourse is to search the web.

    I did find a guy in Manila that sells it but in a "25 kls. bag"! I think its selling for $53.

    I also checked the amazon site but they will never ship to the Philippines. Though they're selling it for $5.00

    Maybe someone here's got a good heart to ship me a bottle, I'll pay via paypal.

    Thanks.

    Kynth

  16. #76
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by sagacious View Post
    I purchased the citric acid at a local vitamin store. The brand is NOW Healthy Foods. They package citric acid in 4oz and 5lb quantities. I purchased 4ozs to try, and it cost me $4 and change-- but one can sometimes find citric acid for $5/lb. Here is a link to the product I purchased, and they have a store-locator on the homepage of the website: http://www.nowfoods.com/Products/Pro...atural%20Foods

    You can also find citric acid sold as "sour salt" in the kosher foods section of many grocery stores, and I'll probably buy it from a local grocery store next time as it's likely to be cheaper there. 'Sour salt' is pure citric acid. You may have to look carefully in your local grocery store, as the employees may not be familiar with it. It is also sold in bakery-supply or cake supply stores. Note that citric acid is not vitamin C. Vitamin C is ascorbic acid, and I have no idea what ascorbic acid does to brass. If I recall correctly, it's ascorbic acid that prevents fruit from browning, and citric acid is what we're after.

    Thanks for the link Cheese, that's a great price.

    Hope this helps, good luck.
    I used the store finder and discovered, to my great surprise, that there was a small health food store close to me that carried citric acid and as it turned out it was just a couple of doors down from my local gun store!! Called them and discovered that they sold citric acid in any amount I wanted at $.50 per oz so I went in and got 4 oz for a grand total of $2.00!! Thanks for the tip.

    sleeper1428

  17. #77
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    Actually the acid would be good for our alkaline soils and waters here. Farmers mix sulfur with fertilizer to neutralize the soil. Many people read gardening articles written by people from acidic regions and add their fireplace ashes to their soil, but is raises the PH and turns plants yellow.

  18. #78
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by taminsong View Post
    I've been looking for citric acid here in my location but for sure, no one is selling it.
    ...
    Thanks.

    Kynth
    Kynth,
    See if you can locate a kosher-foods store. A quick Google check reveals that you might be able to buy citric acid (aka "sour salt) at a kosher store in your area.
    http://www.citem.gov.ph/kosher/

    Hopefully that provides a lead-- an email to them might help locate a local source. Keep looking, there is probably a way for you to buy it locally. Good luck.

  19. #79
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DLCTEX View Post
    Actually the acid would be good for our alkaline soils and waters here. ...
    Yes indeed. Heck, the instructions on my package of citric acid say that 1tsp/qt water helps promote sprouting in seeds.

  20. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by WallyM3 View Post
    sagacious, I'm not complaining about the mix, formula, technique, style, result or efficacy. Immersion in an acid solution of even mild composition, evidently, dries my skin to the point of creating painful cracks on my hands.

    What a jerk I am. I have a dry skin problem in low humidity conditions that appears to be exacerbated by acidic liquid contact.

    I should have been still, I think. I must be the only one.

    In any event, this will be an invariable part of my case processing routine.

    BTW, food grade walnuts will kill those who are allergic to them.
    Wally, mix Felix World Famous Lube 50/50 with a good anti-biotic ointment and apply to those cracks in your hands! I routinely steal a small bit of the lube ribbon that perpetually creeps from my Lyman 450 to smear on my chapped lips while reloading. Funny thing is I have perfected through many batches a really super healing chapped lip balm and keep a jar of it on the reloading bench, but the FWFL is more convenient and works almost as well.

    Sagacious, acid scarification is common practice in seed germination, as many seeds have evolved to require digestion to break the surface enough to allow air/water inside to initiate the process.

    One question for the Chemists: The factory stainless steel barrel of my 10-22 keeps getting nasty rust spots on it just sitting inside by the back door, would it be possible to treat the barrel (after removing it from the action, of course) in citric acid solution to calm this down? 140* for an hour, perhaps?

    Gear
    Last edited by geargnasher; 05-14-2010 at 12:42 AM.
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