Cleaning fired brass


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30mag
June 6, 2010, 12:19 PM
I have maybe four or five hundred rounds of once-fired brass (fired by me) saved because I knew I wanted to get into reloading. Well, the time has come to get into it. I understand most everything, with the exception of cleaning brass.
How thorough does the brass need to be cleaned?
A couple of sites say that they should just be wiped down. A book I have (Basic Handloading copyright date: 1978) says you should boil the brass in a 'kettle on a range' with detergent.
So, advice please. How do you clean your brass?

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bds
June 6, 2010, 12:35 PM
A book I have (Basic Handloading copyright date: 1978) says you should boil the brass in a 'kettle on a range' with detergent.
Boiling spent cases? Wow ... I am glad we got more "modern" alternatives to boiling. :D

BTW, welcome to the wonderful world of reloading!

As you may read in various threads/posts, there are two camps for case prep: Clean vs polish.

Some reloaders don't care how "shiny" their cases are as long as they are "clean" from fouling from firing (black soot). Some reloaders absolutely must have shiny cases and "polish" them until they have mirror like finish on them.

I am in the "clean" camp, but also like some polish on the case to make sizing easier (Since I use carbide dies without case lube, leftover polish on the brass case acts like case lube).

How fast also depends on how dirty your cases are. My indoor range brass is usually very clean once-fired. I can get spent cases clean with some shine by tumbling them in walnut media for about 20-30 minutes. I usually run several hundred 9/40/45 cases in walnut media with case polish (I used Dillon/MidwayUSA polish and recently switched to NuFinish). If I want even shinier cases, I run them for 1-2 hours.

I have used both walnut and corn cob media. I find that walnut does a better job of cleaning and corn does better polishing. Some reloaders mix walnut and corn. I also tried uncooked rice as cleaning media and it works quite well. I noticed rice does a better job of cleaning after a few batches as it gets dirtier and "rougher".

You can clean your brass in liquid solution, rinse and dry your cases afterwards too - I am sure someone will post the recipe.

DIM
June 6, 2010, 12:39 PM
you can polish you brass with tumblers, but recently new trend started with Ultrasonic Case Cleaners such one by Hornady http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=992327
reason tumblers only good for outside and not sufficient on the inside of the brass and Ultrasonic can get stuff from inside... They been around for a while mostly used to clean jewelry, I guess brass is no better ;-)

Maj Dad
June 6, 2010, 12:42 PM
All you need to do, versus want, is clean the grit/dirt/firing residue off the case to allow you to resize it without scratching it & your dies. Wash it, in the dishwasher or washing machine or in a wash tub, wipe it with a rag, spray it with brake cleaner, tumble it - you get the idea. The Great Tumbling Discussion and Debate rages on here (most recently http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=526537 ) and every other forum - do a little seaching using the Search functon and there must be hundreds of threads :eek: Personally, I tumble cases when I get back from shooting, usually with walnut, but also treated 20/40 grit corncob from Drillspot/Grainger for that shiny finish that makes them luxurious, and soft to the touch... :rolleyes: All the gory details are in the thread I linked to, and many others. It is truly a moveable feast... :D

loadedround
June 6, 2010, 01:32 PM
First of all is is not necessary to clean tarnished brass. Most reloaders clean dirty brass simply to prevent scratching our sizing dies and we all like "purty" brass. The most common method is in a tumbler with either treated walnut hulls or ground corn cobs, and tumbling is also used to remove sizing lube. Another safe and convienent way is to put your dirty cases in a mesh bag and toss into the dishwasher with your dirty dishes. Works great especially if the wife doesn't catch you. You will have to dry them throughly before reloading however, water will accumulate in the flash holes.

Walkalong
June 6, 2010, 02:02 PM
I cleaned my brass by hand until I got a tumbler. I will never be without one now.

jonnyc
June 6, 2010, 02:53 PM
I shake mine in a couple of plastic bins. That's it.

qajaq59
June 6, 2010, 04:44 PM
I just toss 'em in the tumbler when I come back from the range for a couple of hours. Mine need not shine. I just don't want grit getting into my dies. And tumblers are cheap to buy, and even cheaper to build. All you need is something that either goes round and round or vibrates.

tggdeer
June 6, 2010, 05:19 PM
I put mine in a cabelas tumbler for hour or two, a little nufinish car wax, pretty shiny. Does not matter how shiny, you just do not want to size any brass with dirt on them. Might put a rough spot on your die.

Publius1688
June 6, 2010, 05:31 PM
Here's my two centavos:
When I get home from the range, I sort everything into plastic boxes, by caliber. Then deprime.
Then I soak and wash them, using my hands as agitators, in the plastic tubs. I use dishwashing liquid- just a little bit. Then I let them soak for about an hour in a mixture of water & white vinegar (just enough to cover the cases). After that, rinse with cool water and lay out to dry overnight.
Or----you could buy a tumbler. Whatever works for you!

Joe_556
June 6, 2010, 06:45 PM
Lizard litter from petco works great! Add a little nu-finish if
you want shiney brass.

For my precision bolt gun I go the extra step of cleaning the
necks with steel wool first.

Some deprime before some after. I'm a before guy.

jcwit
June 6, 2010, 07:33 PM
Here's my two centavos:
When I get home from the range, I sort everything into plastic boxes, by caliber. Then deprime.
Then I soak and wash them, using my hands as agitators, in the plastic tubs. I use dishwashing liquid- just a little bit. Then I let them soak for about an hour in a mixture of water & white vinegar (just enough to cover the cases). After that, rinse with cool water and lay out to dry overnight.
Or----you could buy a tumbler. Whatever works for you!

Not a good idea to use your hands as an agitator in that liquid. Its loaded with lead, even worse if you're using hot/very warm water. Primer residue is a major way to get lead into to the body.

Handling lead bullets usually is no problem as long as one washes up afterward.

Arkansas Paul
June 6, 2010, 11:14 PM
Lizard litter from petco works great!


Yes it does. That's all we use anymore. Spray in a little liquid auto wax, turn the tumbler on, go to bed. Turn the tumbler off in the morning and viola, you have clean brass. I clean before I deprime by the way, but that part's up to you.

jcwit
June 7, 2010, 12:46 AM
That's all we use anymore.

Just who is "we". I use ground corn cob 20/40 grit from Graingers Ind. Supply.

sig220mw
June 7, 2010, 04:16 AM
A lot of different opinions on cleaning and polishing brass. I clean mine first in a tumbler then I polish in the tumbler. This way with the brass clean and shiny it is much easier to see any defects in the brass before I resize and trim. Also clean brass doesn't scratch or dirty up dies.

Drail
June 7, 2010, 07:55 AM
Placing anything with lead compounds in your dishwasher is a Very Bad Idea if you also use it for your dishes and silverware. Please don't do this.

tango2echo
June 7, 2010, 10:37 AM
I use corn cob kitty litter or lizard litter with a few drops of Nu-Finish in the vibratory tumbler. Throw in a dryer sheet torn in half to keep the dust down. In 4-6 hours I have very shiny new looking brass. After about 6 loads of cases I change the media.

t2e

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