Using Brake Cleaner to clean guns can be dangerous.


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stchman
September 22, 2010, 03:22 PM
Apparently there are real dangers by using brake cleaner to clean your firearms.

I use it all the time as it does get the metal REAL clean.

The problem is that when brake cleaner gets hot one of the by-products is PHOSGENE gas. This was one of the chemical weapons used in WWI trench warfare. In small doses the chemical can be deadly or worse can cause you to have horrible scarring in your nose and lungs while causing your pancreas to shut down.

Good news is that phosgene gas needs chlorine in its makeup and NON-CHLORINATED brake cleaner is missing the chlorine needed.

My advice is to buy only non-chlorinated brake cleaner. Fortunately a lot of gun people like me use the blue can of non-chlorinated brake cleaner gotten from Walmart. There is a red can of CRC that Walmart sells that I believe contains chlorine (CRC green can brake cleaner is non-chlorinated).

Attached is an article of a guy that was almost killed by what I am talking about.

http://www.brewracingframes.com/id75.htm

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45Fan
September 22, 2010, 03:28 PM
Wow! I learned my something new today!! I guess that it would be a good idea to point out that brake parts cleaner is also flamible, and while unlikely, it is a good idea to let the gun cool off before hosing it down.

jimmyraythomason
September 22, 2010, 03:29 PM
It has to actually burn not just get hot to become phosgene gas. Just as refrigerant (flourocarbons)such as R12 had to burn to produce the gas. Even in the refrigeration industry,unless you were smoking or using a halide torch you were pretty safe.

Hanzo581
September 22, 2010, 03:32 PM
Just out of curiosity, what makes you guys use things that aren't intended for firearms to clean/lube them?

Do they really perform that much better?

Deus Machina
September 22, 2010, 03:40 PM
Just out of curiosity, what makes you guys use things that aren't intended for firearms to clean/lube them?

Do they really perform that much better?

Brake cleaner isn't so much brake-specific, as it is a commonly labeled general-purpose cleaner and degreaser.

Guns very seldom actually need anything designed just for guns--mechanical cleaners and lubricants often work perfectly fine.

Also, yes, brake cleaner works amazingly well at cleaning off buildup.

jimmyraythomason
September 22, 2010, 03:46 PM
MSDS lists incineration as an acceptable method of disposal.<http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/mediawebserver?mwsId=SSSSSuUn_zu8l00x4Y_9Px_BMv70k17zHvu9lxtD7SSSSSS--> .

MrOldLude
September 22, 2010, 03:56 PM
Just out of curiosity, what makes you guys use things that aren't intended for firearms to clean/lube them?

Do they really perform that much better?
While I'm not personally one of the guys that lubes his guns with motor oil, guns are for the most part, fairly simple and durable machines. Machines from simple materials. Steel, aluminum, wood, plastic.

There's really no magic formula for solvents. If it won't hurt the materials, no big deal.

Zach S
September 22, 2010, 03:57 PM
Just out of curiosity, what makes you guys use things that aren't intended for firearms to clean/lube them?

Do they really perform that much better?
Brake cleaner and Gun Scrubber perform about the same IMO - but I can get three cans of CRC brakleen for the price of one can of gunscrubber.

Hanzo581
September 22, 2010, 04:00 PM
Ah, I get the cost savings then, and if they work just as well if not better I get that.

Steve H
September 22, 2010, 04:01 PM
Brake cleaner and Gun Scrubber perofrm about the same IMO - but I can get three cans of CRC brakleen for the price of one can of gunscrubber.

Same reason I use it

X-Rap
September 22, 2010, 04:02 PM
I never could get the mentality that says it must be labeled as for use on ????
If someone labeled bear fat as a gun lube would it mean it was a good product?
It seems we have or are losing all sence of judgement.

jimmyraythomason
September 22, 2010, 04:13 PM
Brake cleaner and Gun Scrubber perofrm about the same IMO - but I can get three cans of CRC brakleen for the price of one can of gunscrubber. Same here but also we have ONE supplier for Gunscrubber (WalMart) and a dozen auto parts stores.

zoom6zoom
September 22, 2010, 04:18 PM
If you check the MSDS on the products, you'll often find that they are the same thing... but the one sold in the gun shop has a different label and 500% markup.

Hanzo581
September 22, 2010, 04:26 PM
I never could get the mentality that says it must be labeled as for use on ????
If someone labeled bear fat as a gun lube would it mean it was a good product?
It seems we have or are losing all sence of judgement.

I am a computer geek that just so happens to love firearms. I use things that are labeled appropriately for fear that what I use may have an adverse affect on the item I am cleaning if I choose some other non specific cleaner.

Texas Gun Person
September 22, 2010, 05:03 PM
The exact reason they tell you to never store pool chemicals and brake cleaner together.





When we run rookie school at my fire deparment this is one of the mixtures we always show them. :)

Just pouring brake cleaner into a pile of chlorine will cause it to ignite and put off some nice fumes.

AirForceShooter
September 22, 2010, 05:07 PM
NAPA is my friend
Sally's Beauty Supply is my friend.
CVS is my friend.

I can't rmember the last time I bought gun cleaming stuff that was labeled "Gun".

AFS

X-Rap
September 22, 2010, 05:23 PM
I am a computer geek that just so happens to love firearms. I use things that are labeled appropriately for fear that what I use may have an adverse affect on the item I am cleaning if I choose some other non specific cleaner.
__________________


I can understand that, I am kind of a gear head and look at a gun much like any other kind of machine.
There are certainly some chemicals that will do harm but after years of dealing with metal, wood and plastic I have yet to hurt a gun by cleaning or lubing it with a variety of non specified compounds.

stchman
September 22, 2010, 05:25 PM
Gunscrubber, Break Free Powder Blast, etc. are just brake cleaner with the "gun" label and marked up quite a bit.

Do you only use gun stain, gun varnish, or gun polyurethane when you re-finish a gun stock?

Do you only use gun screwdrivers, gun punches, or gun pliers when taking a gun apart? Does Larry Potterfield use only gun files when he re-crowns a barrel?

There is no magic gun cleaners, gun oils, gun tools, gun finishes, etc.

All this being said, I still use Hoppe's #9 as a solvent as it is specifically formulated to clean burnt powder and other foulings. I am also going to assume that there is another solvent that will work as good or better than Hoppe's #9 at a lower price. I have just not found it.

benEzra
September 22, 2010, 05:30 PM
IMO, brake cleaner is an absolutely fantastic degreaser, which is what it's designed to do---make sure brake components are free of oil and grease that will prevent the pads/shoes and the disks/drums from wearing in properly. What it is not, IMO, is a great cleaner of carbon deposits and whatnot, and it is pretty much useless on copper fouling.

In the rare event you need to degrease/de-oil something (such as when you're refinishing the metal, or removing the cosmoline or gum from an old milsurp when you first get it), sure, brake cleaner is a fine product to use. But for cleaning the fouling that results from shooting, it is IMO inferior to powder/copper solvents, particularly the newer generation of foaming solvents. Not to mention the fact that the fumes are awful, that it is fiercely efficient at drying out your skin, and that it is not always compatible with modern finishes or some plastics.

I'm not being a gun-product snob---heck, I use Mobil 1 5W30 or 10W30 as my primary gun lube---but it just seems to me that using a degreaser to clean copper/carbon deposits is inferior to actually using a copper and carbon solvent.

JellyJar
September 22, 2010, 05:31 PM
Many years ago I had a friend that always used motor oil on his Colt DS. One day it froze solid and he had to soak it in kerosene to get the parts to work!

By the way, would this brake cleaner hurt nickel plated guns?

CHEVELLE427
September 22, 2010, 05:49 PM
BEEN USING
brake cleaner for some time now on my guns and even on my brakes :what:, also works good as a degrease before you paint your motor on you car if you ever rebuild the motor in your car :rolleyes:. works for cleaning oil pans, brackets , pulleys, kills wasp, dries the crap out of my hands also :uhoh:,
burns a lot too when you spray it into the small holes in a Holley carb and it shoots out another hole pointing at your face :eek:.

works great to clean the gas port out on a desert eagle, bend the red hose a little and stick it in the hole and blow all the crap out.
also i use my air compressor to blow the gun dry and in the hard to reach places

up side is it is cheep :)

down side it will destroy some older plastic grips some guns have, like the ones on a 1964 browning nomad.:banghead:

lucky for me i found a new set for $20. lesson learned from that :D.

while we are on it i also use a mobil1 synthetic zero wt oil for the running parts on my guns, springs,slide,bolts,anything that moves,, just not for any rust protection, reg gun oil for that,;)

jnyork
September 22, 2010, 05:51 PM
[QUOTE][/QBrake cleaner and Gun Scrubber perofrm about the same IMO - but I can get three cans of CRC brakleen for the price of one can of gunscrubberUOTE]

Me too. FWIW, I DO use only gun screwdrivers (Brownells) when working on my guns.

STP makes great case lube, half a quart will last you all your life. Much cheaper than buying "real" case lube. :)

Hatterasguy
September 22, 2010, 05:53 PM
No I don't use that crap its to strong, I use Mil Comm. I prefer a cleaner that won't get me high in the basement.

I don't really care that it costs a bit more, my health is worth it. You can always go out and make more money, but when your liver shuts down from handling the chemicals that's harder to fix.

Army
September 22, 2010, 05:58 PM
The reason you use firearms designed chemicals, is because they have been engineered for firearms and their protective finishes.

The detergents and other chemicals to keep motor oil working in extreme conditions, is simply tortureous on bluing or phophate finish. Brake and carb cleaners remove ALL oils, including the oil in places you must fully disassemble in order to get the oil back on/in. Easy-Off will remove the finish from any AR-15 in about "right now", leaving a whiteish grey film, to bare metal areas.

There's a reason Castrol doesn't advertise their oils for guns.

Hanzo581
September 22, 2010, 05:59 PM
down side it will destroy some older plastic grips some guns have

See, I am not in to learning lessons by making mistakes, I prefer learning from others mistakes.

rick newland
September 22, 2010, 06:04 PM
This has not been mentioned. If you use brake cleaner be sure to completely oil your weapon afterwords. You do not want to surprised by seeing lots of little orange flakes covering your favorite firearm a few days down the road. Now, in my Army days break cleaner worked great on my m-60 after spending a couple of weeks in the damp German forest with several thousand rounds of blanks put through it.

Shadow 7D
September 22, 2010, 06:06 PM
The refrigerant also when mixed with diesel exhaust fumes makes a different type of gas, main point use the product in the manner labeled, ie. don't burn it, don't weld with it and don't use it on cherry'd hot metal.

A number of 'gun' products are nothing except relabeled mechanical/automotive products, with the obligatory 100% price increase.

Owen
September 22, 2010, 06:09 PM
By the way, would this brake cleaner hurt nickel plated guns?

not half as much as using a copper solvent like Hoppes, Sweet's, or Butch's.

jimmyraythomason
September 22, 2010, 06:21 PM
The refrigerant also when mixed with diesel exhaust fumes makes a different type of gas Under what possible circumstance would this ever occur?

CHEVELLE427
September 22, 2010, 06:25 PM
See, I am not in to learning lessons by making mistakes, I prefer learning from others mistakes.

me too
and and i don't even have a basement to get high in

i use my stuff outside over an ant hill, guess it kills 3 birds with 1 can

gun grime
ant's
and me.

i think you spray break free after your done with the brake clean it will get into all them spots that need oil. so far my AR has not complained=====yet======

FROGO207
September 22, 2010, 10:11 PM
Step 1
Take gun apart and remove plastic parts.
Step 2
Spray and/or soak METALLIC parts in carb cleaner (my solvent of choice) to get carbon deposits off.
Step 3
Spray cleaned parts with oil (PB Blaster my choice of oil), wipe down and assemble.**
Step 4
Lube all moving parts with synthetic oil or molly grease as needed.


** PB Blaster will attack some plastics so test on inconspicuous place first.

This method has worked well for years in my gun/reloading room to remove carbon deposits.

Z-Michigan
September 22, 2010, 10:56 PM
Eezox also contains a chlorinated solvent, btw, so it might have the same risk.

Chlorinated solvents are very effective and very nasty. You don't want to be exposed to them much. I use gun-specific products for all routine cleaning, mostly either Mirachem gun cleaner or Hoppes Elite (both products are similar in chemistry and effect, but Mirachem seems a little better). Gunzilla is supposed to even better but I haven't used it.

IMHO the only real place for brake cleaner is when you need BARE metal in order to paint or put on some metal treatment process (bluing, park, etc.). Otherwise I think it's wasted effort and use more ordinary gun cleaners.

mack
September 22, 2010, 11:17 PM
i like using brake cleaner on pistol barrels - usually I have stripped the barrel out of the gun and just use the brake cleaner to blow all the loose powder and carbon out - seems to work great and saves a lot of extra patches - then I use a powder/carbon solvent followed by a copper solvent and then lastly I relubricate all the metal and I'm done.

I do really like the foaming cleaners for rifle barrels - wish I could find it cheaper.

One thing I have changed since I started years ago - is that I allow the gun cleaners time to work - I find that the guns will end up just as clean if not cleaner and I will have expended much less time and elbow grease getting them clean.

nathan
September 22, 2010, 11:24 PM
Highly carcinogenic. The first time i ve used it many years ago, i didnt like it. Plain ole Hoppes Soln is fine as well as Ed s Red, cheap and easy to make. Always wear latex gloves to protect skin contact.

John Wayne
September 22, 2010, 11:36 PM
NAPA is my friend
Sally's Beauty Supply is my friend.
CVS is my friend.

Ok, you've got me on the last two. Care to elaborate?

GunLink
September 22, 2010, 11:37 PM
Thanks for the heads up. I have Brake Free CLP in my cleaning kit, but I don't use it all that much. I usually use #9 solvent for most of the cleaning and hoppes oil to lube and protect.

wally
September 22, 2010, 11:56 PM
Obviously all solvents should only be used outside or in a well ventilated area. I'm pretty sure chlorinated solvents have been off the shelves for the consumer market for a pretty long time, I know I have not seen chlorinated brake parts cleaner in a long time.

I'll wager, Sally Beauty Supply for Hydrogen Peroxide, I suspect quite handy for removing stains from stocks before refinishing. CVS 95% Isopropyl Alcohol, a great de-greaser and drying agent, prior to cold blue touch-ups.

I often use brake parts cleaner (cheap) from Walmart or O'Reilly's to flush the crud out of guns (especially .22LR pistols) followed by a quick relube instead of taking everything apart for a good cleaning, its basically the same stuff as Birchwood Casey "Gun Scrubber" at about 1/3rd the cost and saves a lot of time.

murraywc
September 23, 2010, 12:11 AM
I haven't tried brake cleaner but when I was in basic training our drill seargent gave up carb cleaner. It is the best cleaner I've ever seen. It gets rid of carbon really well and it doesn't hurt the gun at all because it is made for metal of a carburator. One thing i like is that you can get it in a dip if you ever need to clean small parts or clean an old bolt really well. It also evaporates very quickly. I also use WD40 as a cleaner and lube as well.

ljnowell
September 23, 2010, 12:19 AM
When we run rookie school at my fire deparment this is one of the mixtures we always show them.

Just pouring brake cleaner into a pile of chlorine will cause it to ignite and put off some nice fumes.

You are thinking of brake fluid, i think, not brake cleaner.

Sky
September 23, 2010, 12:30 AM
One of the guys did a test on many gun oils and Breakfree CLP. The test was conducted with nails. Only Breakfree CLP and one other kept the rust off the nails with a salt spray for two weeks!

Many of the designated gun oils lasted 2 to 5 five days. Breakfree CLP contains PTFE "Teflon" which even when the stuff dries it leaves a protective coating.

Friend never cleans the guns at his gun range. Just gives a couple of squirts of Breakfree clp and rents them right back out.

Tried to find that thread about the test but did not see it; but it is here somewhere!!

Finally found it

http://www.thegunzone.com/rust.html

evan price
September 23, 2010, 12:40 AM
Yep, non chlorinated brake cleaner works great to get the crud out. I lube my guns heavily so the carbon deposits are usually kept soft and saturated by the oil and grease. A spritz of CRC Braakleen and good as new. As was said, keep it away from most plastics and rubber grips though because it will ruin some polymers.
I use Mobil1 synthetic 0W20 motor oil to lube my guns and some silicone grease on slide rails. No problems yet, and I like to run my gins fairly wet.

NukemJim
September 23, 2010, 11:48 AM
Argon gas is used in MIG Welding. I've never seen it used in gun cleaning. The article at the link states that the phosgene gas can be produced in the presence of the Chlorineated cleaner, heat and argon gas.

Not sure how dangerous the cleaner is otherwise.

NukemJim

mbt2001
September 23, 2010, 01:05 PM
The doomers are going to start stockpiling break cleaner now... Terrorists too I guess. Maybe it would be best to send this article to DHS, so they can get some controls set up looking for oddballs buying this by the barrel full.

Texas Gun Person
September 23, 2010, 01:37 PM
You are thinking of brake fluid, i think, not brake cleaner.



You are right.

Shows how long it has been since we have had any rookies. :(

stchman
September 23, 2010, 08:03 PM
To John Wayne:

I know exactly what he means by Sally's Beauty Supply. I buy the little empty bottles there for like $1.50 to put Hoppe's #9 or other stuff in. The girls that work there look funny at me when I tell them I store my gun chemicals in them when they are used for hair dye.

Now CVS (Pharmacy I assume) I have no idea.

hso
September 23, 2010, 09:19 PM
The story is a warning about the consequences of not taking the time to understand the hazards of the chemicals and tools that you're using.

Because the specific conditions to produce phosgene through photochemical decomposition (heat + uv only likely to come from MIG or TIG welders to produce the hazardous incomplete combustion product) aren't going to take place outside of similar conditions it isn't directly applicable as a warning on the use of these products in normal firearms maintenance for most gunowners.

OTOH, it is a good warning for gunsmiths who just might use these products AND MIG or TIG weld on a weapon before the solvent volatilizes away AND it is a good warning for all of us to understand what we're using and how to use it safely.

don
September 24, 2010, 01:28 AM
nukemjim, argon gas is inert. It ain't gonna react with anything that I know of which is why it is used in welding- it will not combine with the metal being welded even at the extreme temperature of welding.

hso
September 24, 2010, 01:45 AM
don,

The point he's making is the same as mine that the conditions in the story are different than what we would experience. Gunsmiths might need to be cautious if they were using the stuff and MIG welding, but your typical gun owner just cleaning their guns won't have that problem to contend with.

Flobert
September 24, 2010, 03:34 AM
BraKleen is outstanding. And what kind of nurd would use it on a hot gun? Just use it and smile. If you have a Safety-Kleen station at your work, maybe use that. But for most of us, BraKleen is outstanding.

There's some brand, or was, called Earth-Safe, you can't get it to burn, in fact it puts out fires. I know this because I'm half a pyromaniac, and this boss I had was half a pyromaniac, and put us both together and ......

Zach S
September 24, 2010, 01:23 PM
Friend never cleans the guns at his gun range. Just gives a couple of squirts of Breakfree clp and rents them right back out.

I know someone in NC that does the same. I rarely clean mine. I have a Kimber (now my EDC) that I put 5000 rounds through before I cleaned it. It never failed to go bang.

Brakleen didnt work. I had to bead blast it. Thankfully its a stainless pistol.

To John Wayne:
Now CVS (Pharmacy I assume) I have no idea.
They have some real nice Q-tip looking things in the makeup isle. They hold up a lot better than a Q-tip though. One side is a bulb, the other is pointed. Freaking awesome.

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