Tumbling Brass & LEAD


September 23, 2003, 09:18 PM
I'm not new to firearms but I am new to reloading so I need help understanding something.

I tumble clean my brass with crushed walnut as many do. So far I've put about a 1000 casings or so thru the media without changing it and only replenishing the cleaner once with a teaspoon full of Frankford Arsenal (Midway) cleaner.

Now here's my question:

I've read on a number of different forums that guys change it after 10 uses, wear masks, etc, ect in order to avoid breathing in lead contaminated dust from the media.

BUT - where does the lead come from? There's no lead in smokeless powder, none in primers and none in brass. That leaves the bullet. Any shavings would be vaporized and blown right out of the case when firing. If some lead gets vaporized off the base of the bullet it too gets blown out of the case.

So where the heck is the lead coming from that these guys are concerned about?

People not wanting to die from overexposure to LEAD want to know. :)

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September 23, 2003, 09:57 PM
Lead styphanate. (spelling ?)

Also any fine particulate in the lungs is evil.


Futo Inu
September 24, 2003, 04:02 PM
Yeah, primers have lead, unless you're reloading once-fire Winchester WinClean brass, or other lead-free.

Paul "Fitz" Jones
September 25, 2003, 01:20 PM
I use a supply of walnut or apricot pit hull media I obtained in Los Angeles as a commercial reloader and in a particular diameter that is the most effective from my experiments in a cement mixer.

Purchased really dirty GI 45acp brass gets tumbled first in corn cobs with a couple tablespoons of paint thinner to get the worst soft powder residue and lead styphnate off I tumble in my hard media until any fingerprint oxidation on the brass comes off and the brass suits me like new.

To keep my hard media going I place a reinforced window screen over a trash can and agitate the media to have the crud and smaller worn down media fall out.

I then either sell the brass or load it and after loading tumble for a short time in corn cobs with a bit of kerosene stirred into the media. The ammo then looks as new and will stay that way for decades in storage without oxidation of the lead bulletsor staining of the brass color casings.

I sold a lot of it to survivalists in 50 caliber ammo cans.

Safety I used hand lotion on my hands before the invention of cheap latex gloves and poured the media carefully to not raise any breathable dust with my small tumblers.

I covered the mouth of my cement mixer with a plastic trash bag and wore long sleeves, an apron and dust mask when using the cement mixer.
I have gone in with Los Angeles PD in a 3 million round brass purchase from New York PD and cleaned it that way also.

I have had lead poisoning a number of times before I learned prevention and treatment procedures and have written a lot of information about it in the archives of my Star Reloaders Group web site readable by anyone.


Check my profile and click on it there. At the top of the web page is a search function and enter lead poisoning and follow the thread entries. I also started the thread on the bullseye list and much of what I said is in their archives also. There are varying opinions but Doctors should be concerned with any lead level and especially when it reaches 10 on up.

I was surprised to learn that 22auto shooters that do not reload or cast bullets get lead poisoning from shooting in indoor ranges or home basements. I will write up all my research in November when on vacation with a new laptop computer. Paul

September 25, 2003, 02:00 PM
How about a link to your site, Paul? I'm sure many of us would like to see what you've got.

Matt Dillon
September 25, 2003, 04:21 PM
My wife gives me all her old clothes drying fabric softener sheets, and I tear them into little pieces, then place them in my tumbler. They start out white, but end up dark gray, and I hope that they are absorbing the lead and other dirt that comes out of my cartridges.

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