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Thread: Citric acid brass cleaner

  1. #861
    Boolit Mold
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    27
    I use hot water, a couple granules of Lemishine, Dawn and steel pins for 1 quart.

  2. #862
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Southern Ky.
    Posts
    522
    New wrinkle on an old theme. Have the electric DC motor from a treadmill and the front part of the treadmill frame where the DC motor is mounted. Did not change anything where the motor is mounted. Tossed everything else from the treadmill, controls, etc. Made a tumbling drum from 6" PVC with a stop on one end and a step-down to about 4" on the other end. Found a rubber cap for the step-down and use a large hose clamp that is screw tightened. Bought 5 lbs of stainless steel pins for the drum from a vendor on the site here. Of course, you have to have the proper PVC glue for the end cap and the step-down. Whole thing is about 18" long or so. Put two pieces of aluminum baffle to jar the brass around inside the drum. That thing will hold 30 lbs or more of brass. Takes just a half-teaspoon or so of citric acid and a few drops of dish detergent. I use hot water and place the drum on the remnants of the treadmill with the back roller moved to within 6" of the front roller (Used some old pieces of 2"X4" for the framing). Since the motor is DC, I use a heavy duty old Sears battery charger set on high jump-charge and in about one hour or so it will have all the brass clean as a pin, including primer pocket, inside and out. Yes, you have to de-prime every piece of brass before putting it in the drum but it is worth it to have brass that looks like new. Easiest thing I've found so far. Big Boomer

  3. #863
    You can buy citric acid(Vit C)powder by the pound on Amazon.

  4. #864
    Boolit Buddy

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Northern Kentucky
    Posts
    491
    Vitamin C is ascorbic acid.
    God Bless, Whisler

  5. #865
    Boolit Mold
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Posts
    4
    remark about pure ammonia :

    **** I made : the ammonia will attack the copper and gradually the brass turns into copper: the color changes, the elasticity of the case also !

  6. #866
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    UTAH!
    Posts
    533
    The first time I used Citric Acid and dawn to clean my cases, I was amazed at how quickly it worked , and how well it cleaned the brass. See no reason to tumble more than a small amount if at all.

  7. #867
    Boolit Buddy

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Northern Kentucky
    Posts
    491
    I citric acid/dawn cleaned some 45 ACP brass and decided to tumble it in corncob media to make it "shiny". Then I had to clean the media out of many of the flash holes. "Shiny" isn't worth that much hassle. From now on I'll settle for just clean.
    God Bless, Whisler

  8. #868
    DOR RED BEAR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    1 mile from chickahominy river ( swamp) central va
    Posts
    2,157
    Clean works just as good i used vinegar and salt for years.

  9. #869
    Boolit Man
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    NE Texas
    Posts
    79
    I'm still using the same old (bought in 1983 for cleaning drafting ink pens) small ultrasonic cleaner I used when I first (finally)started re-loading in Jan of 2011. Originally used the old drafting pen cleaner solution, then decided to just use 50-50 vinegar and water. It did a good enough job cleaning what little I needed to process after a shooting session. Then tried a few other things and finally got hooked on lemi-shine and a dash of Dawn. That little tub only holds from 20-40 pieces of brass, but only takes about 10-15 minutes to fully do it's job on de-primed brass ... I can be doing other stuff while those small batches are cleaning. I almost always de-prime brass either the same day, or day after a range trip and run the old u-s cleaner shortly thereafter. Since I've had to limit my shooting to 20-80 rounds per range trip in the last several years, that old 36 year old (small) ultrasonic tub can handle my small needs. Actually, I'm not sure when ultrasonic wash was finally accepted for cleaning cartridge brass and had absolutely no outside prodding to try it. I had an old lifelong reloader buddy that told me I could clean brass by soaking it in a coffee can with vinegar water good enough to at least knock off the "big chunks". I thought I made a great discovery by digging out my old retired (since 1992) ultra-sonic cleaner and trying it with cartridge brass. Since mine is showing signs of aging, I think it's about time to break down and buy a newer, somewhat larger, tub ... but I ain't planning to cheap out by buying what appear to be "less than quality".

    I am a fan of ultra-sonic wash of cartridge brass though. Don't care squat about "shiny" .... I like clean!


    jd

  10. #870
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Logan, Ut.
    Posts
    376
    Quote Originally Posted by Big Boomer View Post
    New wrinkle on an old theme. Have the electric DC motor from a treadmill and the front part of the treadmill frame where the DC motor is mounted. Did not change anything where the motor is mounted. Tossed everything else from the treadmill, controls, etc. Made a tumbling drum from 6" PVC with a stop on one end and a step-down to about 4" on the other end. Found a rubber cap for the step-down and use a large hose clamp that is screw tightened. Bought 5 lbs of stainless steel pins for the drum from a vendor on the site here. Of course, you have to have the proper PVC glue for the end cap and the step-down. Whole thing is about 18" long or so. Put two pieces of aluminum baffle to jar the brass around inside the drum. That thing will hold 30 lbs or more of brass. Takes just a half-teaspoon or so of citric acid and a few drops of dish detergent. I use hot water and place the drum on the remnants of the treadmill with the back roller moved to within 6" of the front roller (Used some old pieces of 2"X4" for the framing). Since the motor is DC, I use a heavy duty old Sears battery charger set on high jump-charge and in about one hour or so it will have all the brass clean as a pin, including primer pocket, inside and out. Yes, you have to de-prime every piece of brass before putting it in the drum but it is worth it to have brass that looks like new. Easiest thing I've found so far. Big Boomer

    gotta have pictures or it never happened
    Good Judgment comes from Experience, Experience comes from Bad Judgment !

  11. #871
    Boolit Master



    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    1,079
    Quote Originally Posted by p7m13 View Post
    remark about pure ammonia :

    **** I made : the ammonia will attack the copper and gradually the brass turns into copper: the color changes, the elasticity of the case also !
    Brass is made of copper and zinc. The ammonia is probably attacking the zinc on the surface leaving only copper showing. I little bit of ammonia with a detergent for a few minutes, won’t damage brass cases to the extent you are talking about.

    It works great to quickly clean brass. I’ve been using it for a long time, followed by a water rinse, then citric acid and a rinse with a little bit of baking soda to neutralize.

  12. #872
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Posts
    895
    Quote Originally Posted by whisler View Post
    I citric acid/dawn cleaned some 45 ACP brass and decided to tumble it in corncob media to make it "shiny". Then I had to clean the media out of many of the flash holes. "Shiny" isn't worth that much hassle. From now on I'll settle for just clean.
    If you substitute wash and wax car wash mix for the dawn, the wax gives you a nice shine.

  13. #873
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Central CA for the time being!
    Posts
    200
    The wash n wax will also leave thin coat of wax behind, it prevents tarnish thatb you get shortly after using dawn, and makes sizing cases easier.

    As to the corn cob sticking in the flash holes...what grit size are you using? I have 20/40 and it's is small enough to prevent any clogging of the flash holes.
    Last edited by 2011redrider; 05-26-2019 at 06:00 PM.

  14. #874
    Boolit Master



    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    1,079
    I always thought that detergents were “Basic” and would work against “Acids”, each reducing the positive quality of the other. Therefore, I always washed my brass in a detergent, rinsed it and then put it in citric acid.

    It seems like a lot of people are mixing the citric acid with the detergent. Is my logic sound, or am I wasting a lot of time doing it in two steps?

  15. #875
    Boolit Buddy

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Northern Kentucky
    Posts
    491
    Detergents, depending on type, may be mildly basic but they are so mild and used in so low a concentration in this instance that they could not neutralize the citric acid to any appreciable extent.
    God Bless, Whisler

  16. #876
    Boolit Mold kjohn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    SE Saskatchewan
    Posts
    16
    My goodness! I just read through 875 posts. I only ever cleaned brass with a little Thumbler's Tumbler, then a Frankford Arsenal vibrator in later years. Then...I caught the citric acid bug on here. Bought a small bag at the Bulk Barn (ridiculous price), and now I'm off to the races. My wife donated a wee crock pot that never got used. I just used the standard mix of a teaspoon or so in a quart of water. Tried both hot and cold, but will settle on warm. Works like a charm. My wife also donated a rack made for hanging thread spools on. After rinsing the brass in clean water, I wipe them on the outside with a blue paper shop towel and stick them on the little rack to dry. I mounted the rack on the wall above my oil-filled electric heater in my playhouse (shop) office, so they are dry the next day. After they dry, I give them a run in the FA vibrator.

    Great thread. Thanks to all who have contributed.
    I hope there is a gun range in heaven, otherwise I'm going to hell!

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check