Washing Brass - Tarnished?


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Rustynuts
January 26, 2008, 06:41 PM
I washed my second load of brass in some baking soda, washing soda, few drops of dishwashing soap. First batch I swished around, soaked a few hours and rinsed/dried. This time I left it in the soup overnite. Most of the brass was black! I used the citric acid/vinegar trick and they all perked up to brass again.

Any way to prevent this, or just don't soak so long? Does the tarnish, then acid wash do any harm to the brass?

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rcmodel
January 26, 2008, 07:10 PM
Get a tumbler.

Washing brass is a big pain in the azz, and it doesn't do that great a job.

Tarnishing & turning black is a sign zinc is being leached out of the brass alloy, and / or other chemical reactions are taking place.

Harmful?
Well, it sure can't be doing it any good!

http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j219/rcmodel/KTOG/1224.gif
rcmodel

jfh
January 26, 2008, 07:23 PM
rcmodel has it right.

Along with the tumbler, get a media and separator package--check out the FA product line.

Jim H.

Rustynuts
January 26, 2008, 08:08 PM
I've been washing AND then tumbling. I read the wash first helps to keep airborne lead minimized during tumbling.

scrat
January 26, 2008, 09:43 PM
washing helps you just have to be carefull as what was previously mentioned. vineger works good. but leaving in to long will have harmfull effects on the brass as the black will come again as the vineger does eat away some of the brass and makes it easier for the zinc to leach through the brass

RustyFN
January 26, 2008, 10:26 PM
I've been washing AND then tumbling. I read the wash first helps to keep airborne lead minimized during tumbling.
Sounds like a lot of extra work to me. I tumble without washing and have had the lead levels in my blood tested and it is normal. Just make sure you wash your hands before you eat, drink or smoke.
Rusty

lonniemike
January 26, 2008, 11:29 PM
Why would one worry about lead in the air from tumbling brass? Brass is copper and zinc with traces of other things(any metals inhaled would not be good for you). I'd think any primer(lead) residue would have to be vanishingly small.
perhaps someone has better info for me. TIA

Mr.Revolverguy
January 27, 2008, 12:36 AM
Washing is a pain. What do you guys think about using this brass. I have some 40S&W brass once fired in a 5 gallon bucket (full) with a sealed top on it. It is actually a bucket made to tight seal because it is an old marine aquarium salt bucket. But the brass has been sitting in my garage for about 18 months now and it is tarnished. I used vinager, salt and just a dab of dawn to rinse. I then let some dry and tumbled in my tumbler and you talk about new brass wow I was impressed, but what a pain at least to me. I have shot some of the brass and had no problems. I was wondering if I should continue to wash and use or just recycle it, worried about safety here. I know it is once fired brass as it was picked up by me from the LE range the day of qualifications.

I have seen many discussions about tarnished brass if safe or not.

zxcvbob
January 27, 2008, 01:33 AM
The only time I ever wash my brass is if I've been shooting blackpowder in it.

Normal tarnished brass polishes up just fine in the tumbler without pickling it first. Your brass isn't green and pitted is it?

eliphalet
January 27, 2008, 01:59 AM
I use a Thumblers Tumbler, using 1/8 to 1/4 cup of an industrial cleaner (simple green or the like) to keep the suds down with about that much lemon juice concentrate in a Qt or two of water. Deprimed brass will look great in a hour or so. No more media dust, residue on the brass, or primer pockets to clean.

Mr.Revolverguy
January 27, 2008, 10:01 AM
The only time I ever wash my brass is if I've been shooting blackpowder in it.

Normal tarnished brass polishes up just fine in the tumbler without pickling it first. Your brass isn't green and pitted is it?

This is what the brass looks like now after sitting in my garage for over a year. I was mainly shooting 45acp and 38/357. The brass is tarnished as you can see but it is not pitted. I use a dental pick to feel the inside of my brass to check for cracks and other abnormalities. When I ran my dental pick over the outside of these cases just to see what it feels like it is still very smooth just badly tarnished. Tumbling with 50/50 corncob and walnut does not get rid of the tarnish even using dillons rapid polisher in the media. Media is brand new. But dump them in some vinegar, salt, and dawn soap and it cleans right up. Let it dry then tumble and you would sware it is new brass.

http://www.digitalrage.org/pictures/CaseTarnish.jpg

38 Super Auto
January 27, 2008, 12:03 PM
Why would one worry about lead in the air from tumbling brass? Brass is copper and zinc with traces of other things(any metals inhaled would not be good for you). I'd think any primer(lead) residue would have to be vanishingly small.

The information I have picked up over the years indicates there is significant lead residue on your fired cases from the spent lead styphnate primer.

I believe it's advisable to use a dust mask when you are handling large amounts of cases or loading tumbler, or seperating media. YMMV, but I'd rather be careful.

I think you'll minimize dust issues by tumbling with your lid secured. Also, throw a few used dryer sheets in with the media. They soak up the fine black particulate and keep the dust down in my operation, and they're free.

Rustynuts
January 27, 2008, 05:41 PM
Not to mention any lead from non-FMJ or TMJ bullets. Lead WILL get vaporized by the charge during firing and I'm sure some sticks back to the brass. I only use TMJ/plated bullets, so if it was only my brass I wouldn't be as worried, but I've been scrounging range brass, so who knows what was shot!

I just read here or other forum from one guy who got lead poisoning and was testing to see where it came from. His reloading area testes fine. It was only when he tested the tumbler did he find significant lead contamination. Other readings say that lead does not penetrate the skin easily, so I'd rather deal with it in liquid form, than breathing in the dust. I'm sure I'll get lazy at some point and just stop washing, but for now I'd rather stay safe. Plus my kids go in the garage where I run the tumbler.


It's not that hard to wash. A few swishes, quick soak, and then an hour in the oven on LOW (150-170) and they're good to go. You could probably just reload at that point, but I go ahead and tumble. More for the final polish than anything. If you don't screw up and leave them in overnite like I did, you should get the tarnishing.

Paul "Fitz" Jones
January 27, 2008, 09:04 PM
A long ago customer who is now a Judge made Desert Eagle brass, tumble washed it in Tide soap, dried it in a workshop oven and they looked just fine.

MarshallDodge
January 27, 2008, 09:16 PM
If I shoot outdoors I usually wash brass because it sometimes picks up dirt, mud, etc. I make my own using a recipe of soap, lemon juice, vinegar, and water and let the brass sit in it for about 30 minutes while agitating it about every 10 mins. by hand. Then I rinse with water and lay on some cardboard to let it dry overnight.

After that I run it through the tumbler with corn cob and brass polish. This makes the cases nice and slick for the dies. Of course I lube if I'm reloading rifle cases.

Here is a good article on cleaning brass using a liquid cleaner:
http://www.surplusrifle.com/shooting2005/liquidcasecleaner/pdf/liquidcasecleaner.pdf

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