How to clean up corroded brass


March 23, 2007, 10:47 PM
I have been buying a lot of cleaned brass so I have not had to tumble any of my cases yet, but now I am getting to a point where I need to move some of these cases out of storage.

The problem I have is some cases that are really corroded. I think I picked them up in the rain, and then stored them while they were still wet. So the questions is should I just run them in my corn cob media. I thought about dumping a couple scoops of sand in there it seems like that would really clean them quick. Has anyone ever tried that?

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March 23, 2007, 11:03 PM
Walnut for the really stained brass and some brass polish.

March 23, 2007, 11:05 PM
agree then depending on how coroded. just do some individual inspections

March 24, 2007, 01:30 AM
It depends on how corroded the brass is. Water can cause enough corrosion that the brass can be weakened to the point of having holes in it.

Look at it closely and see if it's just discolored, or has some really severe corroded spots on it. If it's just discolored, you can tumble it clean. For this, I like the Lyman Turbo Polish and corn cobs. The Turbo Polish is a dark green in color and takes the discoloration off fairly well.

On the other hand, if the brass is severely corroded, then it's best to scrap it out. You can usually tell how bad it is by looking at the surface of the brass. If it's etched deeply, then it's unsafe to reload.

I live where it rains lots, and I've seen some brass get etched deeply in a couple of weeks, if left in the water in an aluminum container. I buy all the brass from the local Rod & Gun Club and they collect it in aluminum boxes. If they don't empty them out regularly, and let the brass dry, it's not reloadable after a short time.

Hope this helps.


March 24, 2007, 07:34 AM
I took a look at my cases and they are not as bad as I thought. They are mostly discolored not etched at all.

Matt Dillon
March 24, 2007, 08:48 AM
I wouldn't add sand to the mix - I would hate to shoot pieces of sand through my guns!:banghead:

March 24, 2007, 09:32 AM
I use Brasso and a rag to clean spots by hand, then tumble them.

The Bushmaster
March 24, 2007, 09:51 AM
If you are desperate to get them back to shiny again...

1 pint water
1 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon dishwashing or laundry detergent
1 tablespoon salt
Mix in a large bowl or tupper ware and add the brass. Agitate once every few minutes and after 15 to 20 minutes drain and rinse with clean water and oven dry at 150 degrees F or less on a cookie sheet.
Any bad corrosion will show up as a pink spot. After they are dry. Tumble them as you would any other brass. Waa-Laa...Clean and shiny:)

March 25, 2007, 09:58 PM
I don't mean to hijack this thread from the OP, but I had a question that fits nicely into this discussion, so I did not want to create a whole new post.

So is it safe to say that simple discoloration (sorta greenish brown) is not an issue? I am a reloading Noob, and am wondering what exactly surface etching looks like.

I know what etching is :o , but if someone has a picture of some corroded brass that is borederline unsafe to reload, please post a pic!

March 25, 2007, 10:08 PM
a lot of times the corrosion i surface. one thing we left out. when you go to tumble the brass. do not use that much media. you want to let them bounce around and vibrate hard. you will have to resize them all. as for the corrosion once you have cleaned them i would take an ice pick and poke around the areas that you think are week if the pick does not go through then use them. just dont try to really poke a hole through them or you will be ruining them.

March 25, 2007, 10:43 PM
If the surface of the brass has been etched to the point that it's no longer smooth, then it's unsafe to use. The corrosion that has gone deeper than the surface will weaken the brass to the point that you don't want to risk your firearm or bodily parts over something that was designed to be disposable in the first place.

When you consider how thin the brass is in the first place, especially in pistol brass, any amount of weakening, or taking away of the material that forms the gas seal, makes it unsafe. The brass becomes a pressure vessel upon firing, so you don't want it to rupture and release that pressure in your direction, or any direction other than down the bore.

Discoloration alone won't harm brass, unless it's been subjected to ammonia or other chemicals that attack brass. We're really not talking about discoloration or slight staining. What we're discussing is corrosion that has weakened the brass. You can tell the difference in most cases by just looking at the brass. If it looks like it has cancer, then it's unsafe to reload.

Hope this helps.


March 26, 2007, 03:37 PM
I live where it rains lots

I think Fred qualifies for understatement of the year award :neener:

Be honest Fred.....have you ever seen the sun?

50 Shooter
March 26, 2007, 04:02 PM
Another thing about brass is if it turns a pinkish/red color, this is dezincification and the brass should be tossed as it's been weakened. How weak is unknown but your safety isn't worth a couple cents.

March 26, 2007, 04:20 PM
Do NOT use Brasso on brass cases. It contains ammonia, and ammonia weakens brass.


March 26, 2007, 04:34 PM
SSN Vet,

The sun is out everyday here. It's right up there, above the clouds. At least rain takes care of itself once it hits the ground. I've never once had to shovel rain........ Didn't I see your boat go by my house one day?


No offense, but any brass that's corroded enough to have to pick at with an ice pick is way too far gone to worry about. Brass is plentiful, but digits and eyeballs aren't. And they don't grow back. I'd just scrap that brass and look for more.

Hope this helps.


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