Best way to clean brass?


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TheReeves
March 6, 2008, 09:31 PM
What is the best way to clean brass when you don't have a tumbler (that is what cleans it, right?) Picked up a bunch of my brass at the range today for a friend, don't really want to give it to him dirty. Are there ways to clean it? I know nothing about reloading...

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farmmer dan
March 6, 2008, 10:41 PM
My buddy uses a cheap rock tumbler from a hobby shop and corn cob bedding from a pet store. It works better than ever ,but it won't tumble a lot of brass

sniper5
March 6, 2008, 10:48 PM
Take a look at iosso case cleaner. I think their site is iosso.com, but a search in google should pull it up. As I recall you get a lot of milage out of a tub, I think it works like carb cleaner except it won't eat the casings or your hands.

Virginian
March 7, 2008, 04:08 AM
Don't sweat it. If he is a reloader he will have a tumbler, and nothing else works nearly as well.

KeithB
March 7, 2008, 08:17 AM
MidwayUSA has a nice Frankfort Arsenal tumbler on sale for $35.00

http://www.midwayusa.com/ebrowse.exe/browse?TabID=1&Categoryid=19906&categorystring=9315***731***695***8940***

shc1
March 7, 2008, 08:27 AM
I have a pre-cleaner for just that.
Itís a high tech gadget called a cat litter scoop. Put a hand full in and shake.
If you have a cat and/or litter box, donít get the two scoops confused.
(donít ask) :uhoh:

Dirtypacman
March 7, 2008, 09:42 AM
Too much time is a wasted on cleaning the brass yourself - suck it up and get yourself a tumbler. Dump it and forget it works well.

cdrt
March 7, 2008, 09:51 AM
Check out this thread:
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=338396

Post #11 has a liquid formula using white vinegar that's been around forever.

JDGray
March 7, 2008, 12:02 PM
I've washed brass in the sink before, and was supprised how clean it was after shaking the water out of it, in a towel.:)

TheReeves
March 7, 2008, 12:12 PM
Thanks for all the advice. As much as I'd like to buy a tumbler (I'll start reloading one of these days), it is not a viable option right now.

cdrt - I might try the solution, or I might just throw it in the sink with water like JDGray says. I didn't know soaking brass or getting it wet was ok to do. I only need it clean enough to handle, the friend who gets it will tumble it I'm sure.

Smokey Joe
March 7, 2008, 12:16 PM
The Reeves--Do I understand that you're just giving the brass to a reloader friend?? If so, don't worry abt whether it is dirty or not. He'll thank you for the brass regardless, and feel grateful.

He'll clean it himself--probably has a tumbler for this--or, if it's just too dirty he'll sell it for scrap (price is up recently) and use the proceeds to buy some new, clean brass.

BTW, why aren't YOU thinking of reloading the stuff? Having a good supply of reloadable brass has propelled many and many a shooter into the reloading end of the game. You can make better ammo than you can buy, cheaper.

TheReeves
March 7, 2008, 01:40 PM
I've thought about keeping it because I've always wanted to reload. Kinda why I want to clean it, to see the outcome, and clean brass would be easier to keep around. I want to get into reloading, but I can't anytime soon, so I'll pick up some books and start getting educated in the meantime.

ma96782
March 7, 2008, 01:50 PM
I use a liquid brass cleaner (Birchwood Casey # 33845 CCI). That way I don't have to buy a tumbler or vibrator, mess with media or the noise and dust. Then, spend time, picking the stuck media out of primer pockets and flash holes. And, not to mention, that I save electricity. Follow the instructions on the package. After the cases are cleaned and dry, itís on to the next step.

Aloha, Mark

zxcvbob
March 7, 2008, 02:24 PM
Itís a high tech gadget called a cat litter scoop. Put a hand full in and shake.
If you have a cat and/or litter box, donít get the two scoops confused.
(donít ask)

And keep the lid on your tumbler when it's not in use. (you don't wanna know)

Deavis
March 7, 2008, 07:21 PM
Liquid cleaning is fine but not for serious reloading. Go clean 5k worth of cases a pop that way and then tell me you don't want a tumbler.

Then, spend time, picking the stuck media out of primer pockets and flash holes.

Tumble and then deprime. Not the other way around. Even if you don't who cares? Run it through the sizing die again and anything in the flash hole will come out, I guarantee it. If you are trying to tumble of sizing lube, switch to One-Shot and save yourself the time.

For people who don't have the money to buy a tumbler. The amount of time you waste with cleaning brass in a dishwasher or sink could be spent working to make that money.

Grizzly Adams
March 7, 2008, 09:01 PM
I had one shooter tell me once that he tied his in the foot of his wife's panty hose and put it in the clothes washer.

Don't know how long he stayed married or lived!

Hazzard
March 7, 2008, 11:05 PM
I've used...

Coffee pot cleaner (strong citric acid solution)
Viniger (strong acetic acid solution)
Lime-away (strong whatever solution)

The lime-away works best for me. Just use a couple of squirts in a sink full of water and let them soak. It removes corrosion and will let you see where zinc has been leeched out of the brass by acids in the soil at the range. you will see red spots or streaks in the brass that are pure copper. It's also good at removing range dirt.

ArchAngelCD
March 8, 2008, 03:26 AM
TheReeves,
The others have already said, just wipe it off and give it to your friend. He will tumble it and thank you for the gift. I know I wouldn't care how dirty Brass was if someone gave it to me for free.

If you really want to clean it up a bit because it's extremely dirty just fill your kitchen sink with hot soapy water, give it a good shaking in the water with your hand and then strain out the water. Let it sit on paper towels to dry and give it to him. That will be good enough to remove the bulk of the dirt from a range.

dagger dog
March 8, 2008, 12:39 PM
I wish I had a buddy that would scrounge brass for me. If he ain't happy with just the brass, give it to me I'll take it dirty!

TheReeves
March 8, 2008, 12:52 PM
Hah, the more I think about it, the more I think about just stockpiling it for when I'm ready to start reloading.

Clark
March 8, 2008, 12:52 PM
I have cleaned with steel wool.
I have cleaned with a vibrator and corn cob media.
I have cleaned with a vibrator and walnut media.
I have cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner.
I have cleaned the inside of the necks with a spinning bore brush covered with steel wool.

Nothing works.
The inside of the necks still do not get polished.

I have a friend who cleans with a vibrator and Comet cleanser powder mixed with the media. He gets away from the house and wears and gas mask to separate.

I have just given up.
I run them a few hours in the walnut media with the liquid cleaner that they sell with the media.
They look clean, but the inside of the necks is still powdery.

Whytknyt
March 8, 2008, 03:35 PM
I'll follow up on what ma96782 said. I use the Birchwood Casey cleaner when the cases are really dirty. Then I run them for a hour in the tumbler after they are dry. They are clean after the BC cleaner treatment, just shiny after the tumbler.

The other option (disclaimer: I am a married man ans would never suggest doing this if you want to stay married. Hence I have never done it, but.....) is to use your wife's KitchenAid mixer. Fill the stainless bowl with corncob with a little polish, add 100-200 cases, depending on size, use the hollow mixer paddle for agressive, or the dough hook for less agressive, and set it on medium speed for about two hours. Works great (according to a buddy who is now divorced!).

I have a bunch of really dirty 44Mag brass soaking in the BC cleaner right now.

Whytknyt

Seafarer12
March 8, 2008, 11:05 PM
All you guys that clean brass in the sink, dryer, mixer, etc. Have you ever thougt about lead residue that could be left from the cases after you clean your brass in the sink, dryer, mixer, etc.

buzzcut
March 8, 2008, 11:38 PM
Lead is my main concern. I don't like the idea of airborne lead dust from tumbling and sifting. I plan to wash in a dedicated bucket, and air dry on dedicated baking sheets.

ArchAngelCD
March 8, 2008, 11:43 PM
TheReeves,
I'm curious, what caliber Brass did you pick up?

TheReeves
March 9, 2008, 01:53 AM
I picked up .38, .32ACP, 9mm, and .45ACP.

TheReeves
March 10, 2008, 05:47 PM
I had one shooter tell me once that he tied his in the foot of his wife's panty hose and put it in the clothes washer.

Don't know how long he stayed married or lived!

Well, I got bored last night and ran this idea by my wife. She okay'd it and I tried it out with a small amount of laundry detergent and a bit of vinegar. Turned out perfect, some of the brass isn't as clean inside (ala .38 special), but it worked excellent for what I needed. It's clean enough that I decided to start stockpiling it until I'm ready to reload. Thanks for all the suggestions!

jmorris
March 17, 2008, 10:03 AM
Iím not extremely particular about having my brass looking like a mirror; however, if it hits our black land soil and gets wet once it does get discolored quite a bit. After reading about the vinegar solution I decided to give it a try. I have a bucket of brass that is heavily tarnished (too far gone for even me) that I keep for recycling. I used a handful for this test.

I used the solution of :
1 pint water
1 cup vinegar
1 table spoon salt
1 tea spoon detergent

After shaking for 10 minutes I rinsed them off in the sink.

The solution did clean almost all of the tarnish of the brass, in the process, it turned many a pretty pink color (not sure if thatís any better than black). Iíd say it works, sort of, but with the time spent you could chunk them into the recycle bucket and pick up 10 times the amount from the range.

Wibb
March 17, 2008, 04:32 PM
If you have a steady supply of brass at your range you should reload it yourself. You can save yourself a good deal of money and enjoy the art of reloading. :D

TheReeves
March 17, 2008, 11:54 PM
To those who have suggested me keeping the brass and reloading myself - The friend who reloads is trying to get me set up and help me understand the process, so I'll be keeping the brass until I am ready to go. I look forward to getting into it!

Sport45
March 23, 2008, 11:56 PM
I picked up .38, .32ACP, 9mm, and .45ACP.


If you clean these using solid media in a tumbler or vibratory cleaner you will need to do some sorting. The .38 and 9mm can be cleaned together, but the others should be done seperately. Otherwise you'll wind up with small cases stuck inside large ones. (The .32acp could be completely hidden inside a .45acp.)

zxcvbob
March 24, 2008, 12:05 AM
I used the solution of :
1 pint water
1 cup vinegar
1 table spoon salt
1 tea spoon detergent


Try it without the salt. It won't work as fast, but it will be a lot easier on your brass. Salt + vinegar --> hydrochloric acid, which is not good for brass. (might as well use water with detergent and a tiny amount of muriatic acid and a lot shorter soak.)

johnmerry
April 1, 2008, 02:55 PM
What is the best way to clean brass

I have my kids clean my brass. Free allowance my ass

Eb1
April 1, 2008, 03:20 PM
Do you let them eat lead paint as well?

Rustynuts
April 1, 2008, 08:38 PM
I wash my brass inside an old plastic kitty litter container. Plenty big enough to do the job. Nothing else is going in there either. I use a little soap and a little washing soda. Swish around and let it soak an hour or so. Not too long or it will tarnish. Then rinse a few times and hit it with some vinegar in the water. The vinegar will brighten it back up from the soda washing. Then rinse again good. The vinegar wash only takes a few seconds, it almost changes before your eyes! Then I dry an hour or so in a 170 or so oven. You don't want the oven too hot or it can anneal the brass (soften). They come out clean enough to reload then. I still tumble though.

CBS220
April 1, 2008, 08:41 PM
Try it without the salt. It won't work as fast, but it will be a lot easier on your brass. Salt + vinegar --> hydrochloric acid, which is not good for brass. (might as well use water with detergent and a tiny amount of muriatic acid and a lot shorter soak.)

Muriatic acid and hydrochloric acid are the same thing, bud.

zxcvbob
April 1, 2008, 10:33 PM
Muriatic acid and hydrochloric acid are the same thing, bud.

I know that. What's your point?

ilbob
April 1, 2008, 11:33 PM
I had one shooter tell me once that he tied his in the foot of his wife's panty hose and put it in the clothes washer.
many years ago i would put a handful in a dirty sock, tie the end off and run through the laundry. Came out clean, if not polished. I am not convinced that bright shiny brass shoots any better than clean but unshiny brass.

Shell Shucker
April 1, 2008, 11:39 PM
A tumbler is $40-50 bucks. Buy one and be done with it! The other methods are not worth the hassle.

deerjackie
April 2, 2008, 10:01 PM
get some crushed cob pul in a 2 liter coke bottle tighten lid and put in clothes dryer on toss with other clothes for a cushion,what i did b4 i got a tumbler. cob can be bought at pet store

tiger rag
April 2, 2008, 10:08 PM
TheRevees,
How did you like your trip to Baton Rouge?

TheReeves
April 2, 2008, 10:17 PM
Dear tiger_rag,

It was lovely.

Signed,
The guy who threw stuff

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