Home made gun cleaner question


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ottogrendel
July 11, 2008, 10:38 PM
All,

I am trying to make my own gun cleaner. I have the basic solution (the usual petroleum distillates: mineral spirits, kerosene, MEK, etc.) but want to add a bit of 10% ammonia to give it a copper removing ability. The problem is that of course the ammonia will not dissolve in the petroleum distillates. I tried water soluble cutting oil as an emulsifier. It will either dissolve in the distillates or in the ammonia but not both. In other words, it is not really acting as an emulsifier. Isopropyl alcohol helps a bit but the end result is still a mixture and not a solution. Does anyone have any advice on how to get the ammonia to dissolve in the petroleum distillates? Is this possible? Will Ethyl alcohol work better as an emulsifier, and if so, where can I get some?

Thanks in advance!

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Tom609
July 11, 2008, 11:06 PM
Check out "Ed's Red." It's a very common homemade brew.

http://www.surplusrifle.com/reviews/edred/index.asp

FW
July 12, 2008, 12:59 AM
The first problem is the "ammonia" you are using is actually a very small percentage of ammonia (NH3) dissolved in a solution that is mostly water. Mixing 10% water with a petroleum product isn't going to happen very easily.
Alcohol will not do anything for this. Alcohol would mix with the ammonia-water solution and if the alcohol is nearly pure, it would mix with a petrolium product, but just a small amount of water present will cause the alcohol to separate from the petroleum product. This is one problem alcohol-gasoline mixures many are not aware of.

Most household ammonia solutions don't have a very high percentage of ammonia in them. If you can find a commerical cleaning supply source, "janitorial strength" ammonia is much more potent. This will not make any difference in trying to mix it with something oil based. It is not fun to breath thsi stuff. Maybe this by itself could do something to copper fouling, but might also harm the metal.

While it doesn't do anything for copper fouling, the Ed's Red recipe works very well and is cheap. It might have been Hatcher's notebook or some other very old publication I read that had recipes for a bunch of gun cleaning solvents. But this was written at a time there were less commerical gun cleaners available and the ingredients in the recipes were more easily obtained. Perhaps you could preclean with the Ed's Red and then more sparingly use commerical copper solvents for copper fouling.

ottogrendel
July 12, 2008, 01:45 AM
Thanks K96771 and FW! I am aware of Hatcher's and Ed's Red. I also know the main ingredients for most of the commercial brands available. These are the sources from which I started. I do use industrial grade ammonia and have very good solutions for a general cleaner and a separate copper remover but was hoping to combine the two (my low-toxicity version with citrus oil and no petroleum distillates permits dissolving ammonia but not the high-test version). The trick has got to be to find the right emulsifier. Murphy's Oil Soap can act as a surfactant, but maybe there's something better...?

Thanks!

strat81
July 12, 2008, 03:03 PM
If you don't have a chemistry degree, don't mix chemicals. And from the looks of it, you don't have a chemistry degree.

Ever mix bleach and ammonia? The fumes can kill you.

rcmodel
July 12, 2008, 04:02 PM
Health & Environmental issues aside, it is highly unlikely you can concoct anything that will work nearly as well as commercial products developed & tested for gun care.

From an economic standpoint, the cost of store-bought cleaning solvent is about 1/100 of one percent of the cost of any shooting sport I can think of.

Why waste your time reinventing the wheel?
When your new wheel is going to have several bumps on it anyway.

rcmodel

buck460XVR
July 12, 2008, 04:07 PM
Health & Environmental issues aside, it is highly unlikely you can concoct anything that will work nearly as well as commercial products developed & tested for gun care.

From an economic standpoint, the cost of store-bought cleaning solvent is about 1/100 of one percent of the cost of any shooting sport I can think of.

Why waste your time reinventing the wheel?
When your new wheel is going to have several bumps on it anyway.

rcmodel

+1

ottogrendel
July 12, 2008, 07:10 PM
strat81, rcmodel, buck460xvr,

So do you guys know the answer to getting an emulsion of ammonia in petroleum distillates or not?

JoeG52
July 12, 2008, 07:22 PM
Here is some good reading on home made cleaners...
http://www.frfrogspad.com/homemade.htm

ottogrendel
July 12, 2008, 07:40 PM
Thanks, JoeG52! A lot of good info there. His attitude is what I am after here. Why give the folks who own Break Free $10/can for putting a different label on break cleaner (tetrachloroethylene)? Plus, by making your own you can avoid undesirable components like Teflon and silicone and decrease hazardous effects by limiting the addition of benzene derivatives like xylene.

strat81
July 14, 2008, 01:13 PM
We don't want you hurting yourself or others if you mix two chemicals that should not be mixed.

TexasSkyhawk
July 14, 2008, 01:26 PM
strat81, rcmodel, buck460xvr,

So do you guys know the answer to getting an emulsion of ammonia in petroleum distillates or not?

Boy, you're gonna make a lot of friends here. . .

Jeff

Werewolf
July 14, 2008, 06:35 PM
I am trying to make my own gun cleaner. I have the basic solution (the usual petroleum distillates: mineral spirits, kerosene, MEK, etc.)


MEK WILL KILL YOU!

MEK is really nasty stuff. It is very hard on one's lungs and central nervous system and the levels of it required to mess you up are not that high. It's very volatile, breathing it is very bad and since it is volatile the user may not be the only one who ends up breathing it.

Get an MSDS for any chemical you plan on using in your home brew - most are available on the internet. MEK MSDS (http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/m4628.htm)

Mixing your own gun cleaner is fine if one knows what they're doing. If one doesn't the mix could be a recipe for disaster.

One's life is not worth the possibility of severe health issues short or long term just to save a few bucks.

Brian Dale
July 14, 2008, 08:55 PM
So do you guys know the answer to getting an emulsion of ammonia in petroleum distillates or not?Liquid dishwashing soap in large quantites would probably do it, but then you'd have the problem of soapy residue.

I don't like working with MEK, by the way. It's very light and volatile, and it's therefore very "splashy." I once got a tiny droplet on my upper lip. MEK de-fats the skin, damages the tissue and exposes the skin to secondary infection. For several weeks, I thought that I might be permanently disfigured.

I'm not coming up with a good way to do what you propose: make a cleaner that will remove both petroleum-soluble compounds and copper residue in one step. I use nonpolar solvents as one step and copper cleaner as another.

And I used to be a working chemist.

ottogrendel
July 14, 2008, 09:04 PM
What do we all think store-bought gun cleaners are made of? Two of the most common solvents in gun cleaning solutions are xylene and amyl acetate, both of which have the same NFPA health code as MEK. MEK, butoxyethanol, acetone, trichloroethylene, and a whole range of aromatic hydrocarbons and other nasty stuff are in all the gun care products we use. And typically, the more "aggressive" the cleaner the more likely we are to encounter these ingredients. Aerosol gun cleaners are particularly harmful. Some relief can be had by switching to turpenes, but unless we are cleaning with something like citrus oil, rubbing alcohol and food grade mineral oil, we are all ingesting these chemicals every time we clean our guns. We can either pay some company for these products or we can make them ourselves for a fraction of the cost. It's not a question of toxicity, it's a question of price.

Thanks for the link, Werewolf. I have MSDS sheets on everything I use. For anyone else who is interested in making their own, this info is the place to start.

ottogrendel
July 14, 2008, 09:14 PM
Brian Dale,

Many, many thanks!

I only use MEK in very small amounts and have been thinking of leaving it out entirely once I get a better citrus-based/Goo Gone type of formula worked out.

I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to get a good emulsion. Currently I do the same thing as you: a step for each. A fairly decent emulsion works by first mixing the ammonia with water soluble cutting oil, but it ultimately isn't very stable. It's good enough if you don't mind shaking it up every time you use it, though.

Thanks again for your helpful comments.

strat81
July 14, 2008, 10:35 PM
What do we all think store-bought gun cleaners are made of? Two of the most common solvents in gun cleaning solutions are xylene and amyl acetate, both of which have the same NFPA health code as MEK.

Not all store bought gun cleaners contain toxic chemicals. Some of the newer products even work better than the old ones. In my experience M-Pro7 Gun Cleaner removes carbon that Hoppes #9 and Breakfree CLP can't touch. Other non-toxic cleaners and lubes include Slip2000 and Militec-1.

Not all copper solvents contain ammonia. Breakfree Bore Cleaning Foam is an excellent copper remover and doesn't asphyxiate the user with ammonia fumes.

Good luck with your bore cleaner.

ottogrendel
July 16, 2008, 04:38 PM
Brian Dale,

Thanks again. I got to thinking about your comment about the dish soap and tried a few more batches until I now have a stable emulsion. The trick was in getting the right proportions of the oil-based phase and the water-based phase with plenty of water soluble oil in each. Also, I left out the MEK and the Xylene and substituted pure, non-toxic orange oil instead. This last batch has been sitting for 24 hours, has not separated one bit, and does a great job dissolving copper. Thanks!

brickeyee
July 16, 2008, 05:03 PM
You can add ammonia radicals without actually adding NH3.
There are any number of compounds available depending on what else is in the mix.

Brian Dale
July 16, 2008, 05:10 PM
ottogrendel, that's good news, and I'm also glad that you've found a way to omit the MEK. Be sure to keep a close eye on the metal surfaces; it's hard to know whether there might be traces of something hygroscopic left behind. Moisture is a sneaky opponent and rust never sleeps.

Again, thanks for posting this!

Tony Sopranno
September 22, 2008, 03:40 PM
Just clean the barrel with some Ed's Red mix; then run Barnes (Copper Remover) on a few patches, until they stop coming out blue looking. Then a few more wet patch's of Ed's Red and you're good to go. :banghead:

You can leave the barrel wet with Ed's Red or send a dry patch through it, either is okay. I leave mine wet cause Ed's Red is a great lube as well as a solvent. If you dry-patch the Ed's Red out then follow it with some Rem Oil on a wet patch.

The two best lubes out there are Rem Oil and Ed's Red - IMO.

Try putting both on a common steel nail and leaving it under water overnight. Then do the same with any other lube made.

If Ed's Red offends your nostrils, use Hoppe's #9 solvent instead. It's cheap and smells better, doubles as a Saturday night going out cologne. It works about as well as Ed's Red. All the other stuff out there is aimed and bagging gunnies out of their pocket change.

If you use Ed's Red or Hoppes #9 often and liberally you won't need to use a brush (nylon or bronze) in the riffling.

rsilvers
September 5, 2010, 01:44 PM
Do not use Acetone, MEK, or MTBE on many rubbers and plastics.
It can destroy even the small rubber bumper in an AR15 extractor spring.

jcwit
September 5, 2010, 02:10 PM
Just did a search regarding MEK, doesn't look that dangerous to me.

Health effects
Butanone is an irritant, but serious health effects in animals have been seen only at very high levels. When inhaled, these effects included birth defects.[3]

Butanone is listed as a Table II precursor under the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.[4]

On December 19, 2005, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency removed butanone from the list of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). After technical review and consideration of public comments, EPA concluded that potential exposures to butanone emitted from industrial processes may not reasonably be anticipated to cause human health or environmental problems. Emissions of butanone will continue to be regulated as a volatile organic compound because of its contribution to the formation of tropospheric (ground-level) ozone.



Butanone AKA "MEK" is the same stuff. Or so they claim. I very much doubt its all that deadly as I used it as a wipe down solvent daily for approx 4/5 years approx 15 years ago with no ill effects. Maybe I'm the lucky one!

dogdollar
September 5, 2010, 03:23 PM
Just exactly how clean are you trying to get your gun?

I use Hoppe's #9 and Kroil, mixed 50/50, and it does a great job, especially if you can give the kroil some time to loosen up all of the crud. After I have cleaned my guns with this stuff (patches coming out clean), they're clean enough, in my book. Going after that "mirror" clean bore is a waste of time, in my book, and not necessarily good for the barrel, either.
But, to each his own.
DD

zxcvbob
September 5, 2010, 03:39 PM
Watch cleaning solution:
(from http://www.ehow.com/how_5941541_make-clock-movement-cleaning-solution.html#ixzz0ygITrqZs)

4 ounces oleic acid
8 ounces acetone
12 ounces ammonium hydroxide solution, 26 degree Baume
1 gallon water

Leave out the water and it should make a decent copper remover for gun barrels. You can probably use stearic acid instead of oleic; it's easier to find. Basically, you're making an ammonium soap with excess ammonium hydroxide, plus acetone. 26 ammonia is about 3 times stronger than the janitor's strength ammonia they sell at Ace Hardware, so you could use that instead (adjust the recipe accordingly) and let it supply the water.

Or how about just using Brasso to remove copper fouling, then follow-up with a few oily patches?

hso
September 5, 2010, 05:22 PM
Just did a search regarding MEK, doesn't look that dangerous to me.


jcwit,

You need the health, not environmental, information to understand the hazards of MEK. Those you can find at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts29.html and on MSDSs for the chemical. MEK's biggest problem in mixtures of chemicals is to increase the inhaled damage of the other chemicals.

Deltaboy
September 5, 2010, 07:35 PM
Use ed's red!

jcwit
September 5, 2010, 07:51 PM
hso, I did, If you note the title of that portion of the artical I posted it's entitled "Health Effects". MEK is present in many paints and solvents, even in cigeratte smoke, ect., ect. I did read the link about MEK that you posted and. Overall it tests as a much less deadly chemical compound than Lead which is an element which we're all exposed to as shooters.

Actually it seams to be one of the many chemicals one needs to use with care but not to be overlay afraid of which is the case with loads of chemicals we use from the gas and oils in our garages to the chemicals under our kitchen sinks.

For an on topic note, I'd just use one of the many copper or lead removing chemicals available on the market rather than try to mix up my own, other than the tried and true Ed's Red. And I still advocate the use of Mobil I as a lube and rust protectant for firearms used regularly, thats not for a long term storage tho.

zxcvbob
September 5, 2010, 07:51 PM
I just use Automatic Transmission Fluid and a bronze brush, then a dry patch or two. (boiling water rinse, a brushing, and a patch first if I've been shooting corrosive ammo or black powder cartridges.)

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