Dust on brass after cleaning


May 2, 2011, 08:17 PM
I just got finished cleaning my first round of brass. I did it out in the garage, but will likely move it completely outside after reading a bit about the potential harm the dust can do.

I noticed that the brass had a light coating of dust on it after cleaning. Presumably, this dust has the same potentially dangerous qualities as the dust created while tumbling. What, if any, procedures exist to clean the dust off the brass? I'd prefer not to have to wipe each individual one, and even then I can't wipe the inside of the case. I thought about a quick dunk in some water, but I'm worried about re-tarnishing the brass I just cleaned, and I'm not even sure that would sufficiently get the dust off.

Any suggestions? Do any of you do anything to the brass after tumbling?


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May 2, 2011, 08:20 PM
Walnut does get dusty. I put a couple capfulls of NU-FINISH car polish in to aid polishing the brass and will stop the dusting.

May 2, 2011, 08:47 PM
When I start with new walnut media, I run the tumbler outside to air out in the wind. When I do not see dust, I trickle two capfuls of NuFinish and tumble for another 5-10 minutes (or until I don't see any clumps).

After doing this, I do not see or get dust on the cases. I will recharge the media with another capful of NuFinish every 3-5 batches.

May 2, 2011, 08:54 PM
I received a great tip somw years ago and it works. Throw a sheet or two of your wife's anti static strips that she uses in her dryer into your tumbler and it run. The anti static strips will collect all that fine dust. Just hrow them away( the sheets, not your cases) when finished. It works for Me! :)

May 2, 2011, 09:08 PM
I don't think those dryer strips work nearly as well as they say on the internets.

Just get a bath towel, and dump the dusty brass on the bath towel.
Rub it around on the towel for a minute, and call it good.
Shake out the bath towel (outdoors), and its ready to be re-used like 15 million times.

I like to run the tumbler outdoors, so the dust can escape without coating everything in the vicinity. Helps to run the tumbler empty for a few minutes with the lid off to let a lot of the dust blow away.

May 2, 2011, 09:34 PM
Great tips. Does the nu-finish work equally well with corn cob media? I'm using corn cob media from Lyman's... i believe it's the pre-treated stuff. I didn't notice much dust while tumbling ... mostly just on the cases after tumbling.

Which brings up another, related question. Is walnut media preferred?

May 2, 2011, 09:56 PM
Hello the camp! t-g, both media work well, ime; cc gives you a higher shine, but ws works fast, and is the real deal for bp hulls. WS is especially nifty if you've learned of lizard litter--fine ws at Petco or PetSmart, ~$20 for 25#. As for dust, it usually stays with media--I use a Dillon separator. I change the media when it takes longer than a couple hrs to do a batch. Your mileage may vary; hope this helps. mm

May 2, 2011, 09:56 PM
Walnut is very hard and does a great job cleaning black fouling and dirt off cases. I use old walnut media to pre-tumble really dirty cases before I tumble them in newer walnut media.

I use corn cob to put an extra shine on my cases as it does a better job of polishing the brass.

I don't need really "blind your eyes" shiny cases, just clean. I usually tumble range brass in walnut/NuFinish for about 20-30 minutes to clean with a nice shine and 1+ hour in corn cob with polish for gleaming shine to impress my friends/relatives when they shoot with me at the range.

May 3, 2011, 04:09 AM
I use walnut media, and buy it as a pet bedding (marketed for reptiles or birds or something) from the local pet store. Much cheaper than buying the same stuff from a reloading company.

I have dust issues as well, and usually just wipe off the cases. I've heard the Nu Finish trick works, but I've never tried it myself.

May 3, 2011, 06:15 AM
Weelll , I added polishes & tried the sheet thing it all works somewhat then eventually you have to change the media!!

I use plain pet store walnut & corncob 50/50 , it lasts for a long time , cleans & polishes fine !!

The dust I remove by pouring em out on a towel & bunching em up & rattling em around a bit , rifle I`ve usually handled enuff to remove the dust prior to sizing .

Everyone is different & like to do things "there way" but if ya try adding anything to your media use it sparingly , as not to "overload" your media.

May 3, 2011, 02:45 PM
Use corn cob media, the dusting is why I quit using walnut.

Sky King
May 3, 2011, 03:54 PM
I use walnut to clean the brass and then change it out to corncob to polish to a nice shine and it removes the dust too.

March 8, 2013, 06:41 PM
Out of curiosity, as I am running my first brass in a vibrating brass cleaner... What about the dust inside the case? Must that be cleaned out?

March 8, 2013, 07:01 PM
Cut up a few used dryer sheets and throw them in with the brass, then add a capful or two of mineral spirits. The mineral spirits helps loosen any carbon on the brass, keeps dust down, and the dryer sheets trap a lot of the dirt and gunk from the brass.

NuFinish added will polish the brass also. Don't put too much in, and let it tumble about 10 minutes before adding the brass or you'll end up with clumps of media and polish inside a few cases. If you put too much polish in, the media will become covered with polish and it won't really polish at all.

The best place to get cob is drillspot.com. They will deliver to your front door a 40 pound bag for $35. Use the 20/40 grit to avoid stuffing it in the flash holes.

March 8, 2013, 08:39 PM
Someone asked about the cleaning rusty dies (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=586563) thread how I keep my tumbler bowl clean. If you start your new vibratory tumbler with NuFinish treated media, your bowl surface will get coated with NuFinish and minimize dirt/dust sticking to it. I gues you could simply apply NuFinish to the bowl surface before putting media. ;)

If you want to treat your old bowl with NuFinish, clean the surface really well and dry it then use new media and treat it with NuFinish. :D

March 8, 2013, 08:48 PM

I have been tumbling brass for about 40 years now and the dussssssssssstttttttttttt.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa mmmmmmooooooooooo mmmentttttttttt.

I had to go wipe the drool off my chin & keyboard.
Now I'm back and am perfectly fine again.

The dust out of a tumbler is not nearly the health hazard as the Big Mac's + Super-Size fries & drink you had for lunch and dinner tonight, yesterday, and the day before.

Or the bullets you handled while reloading them in the cleaned cases

It's just dust.

You get more lead ingestion while sucking your thumb or licking your lips while shooting or reloading.


March 8, 2013, 08:53 PM
You may very well be correct rc, but by the same token I wouldn't make a practice of breathing it.

March 8, 2013, 08:54 PM
Well, who wants to live forever? ;)

rc, some of us have OCD and OSHA/CDC paranoia ... :uhoh:

Kinda like working crazy to eliminate that occasional rare flyer you see on your target. :cuss:

I know I know, there's no cure ... it's a sickness ... I admit it. :D


"My name is <your name here> and I am a reloader ..." :o

March 8, 2013, 09:00 PM
I don't make it a practice of breathing gasoline fumes while fueling the truck, or the Hickory smoke out of my BBQ grill smoke-stack either.

Just saying.

If you got enough dust in your tumbler media to cause health concerns, or worry about it?

You need a big Shop-Vac with a HEPA filter running close at hand when you take the lid off!

Or a dollar ninety-eight dust mask.

As for myself?
I have a lot of things wrong with me at 68 years, 11 months old.

But breathing tumbler dust for half my life isn't one of them.


March 8, 2013, 09:03 PM

There are thousands of brands of car wax, why is it that NU-FINISH always gets top billing among hand loaders?

March 8, 2013, 09:12 PM
Do any of you do anything to the brass after tumbling?
Yeah, I usually prime, charge and stick a bullet on top.

March 8, 2013, 09:19 PM
There are thousands of brands of car wax, why is it that NU-FINISH always gets top billing among hand loaders?
I used to use Dillon, MidwayUSA/FA and other brand brass polish before I switched to NuFinish. Before I switched, I tested various liquid car wax/polish (Turtle wax, Mothers, Meguiar's, Zymol, etc.) including Carnauba based liquid wax.

What I found was that with some car polish/wax, I got dark shiny cases! :eek:

Yes, some car cleaner/polish does work well but NuFinish just seems to work consistently well in removing the tarnish/dirt/grime. The residual polymer coating on the brass prevents tarnish and seems to help with resizing effort and prevent case sticking in the die. If you have rust issues with your dies, residual NuFinish on the surface will prevent surface rust for 6-12 months for me. And no, I do not work for NuFinish or have any affiliation - just a happy life-long customer.

This from NuFinish's webpage - http://www.nufinish.com/car-care/car-wax-vs-car-polish
Nu Finish Car Polish does not contain any wax.

It is actually a blend of advanced polymers that creates a superior protective layer to your car’s finish while adding a deep gloss. Nu Finish uses zinc cross-linking technology that bonds to your car’s paint, giving it a full year’s worth of protection in just one application. A surface treated with Nu Finish will continue to bead water even after 52 automatic car washes.

March 8, 2013, 10:33 PM
just rinse them off with some cheap laqure thinner after sizing and triming , good to go .

March 8, 2013, 10:37 PM
The Lacquer thinner is known to be more dangerous to your health then the tumbler dust.

Like I said before.

Or suck it up in a Shop-Vac.

The tumbler dust may eventually kill you, or not?
But you will be dead from natural causes, or an accident before it does.


March 8, 2013, 10:51 PM
Two words: Ultrasonic Cleaning! No dust, lead residue goes down the drain, cheap to start and maintain, clean shinny cases inside and out, no media getting stuck or clogging flash holes and primer pockets.


March 8, 2013, 10:57 PM
Use corn cob media, the dusting is why I quit using walnut.

Same here

March 8, 2013, 11:03 PM
1. Wash your media. Removes most of the dust. Put it in a bag, add water, then sqeeze it out. Set it out to dry. When you tumble, it will clean the bowl, even.
2. Wet tumble. Rinse off your brass in water. Takes away a lot of the dust on the cases. Shake the excess. Tumble wet. It'll be dry in 30 min - by the time the cases are done, anyway.

All the other methods are mediocre. Just try it and see. My finger tips don't even get black anymore when I'm done loading.

Edit: sorry, I have never used walnut. The above is for corncob.

March 8, 2013, 11:07 PM
YES, to answer your question about eventually replacing the walnut media, I just changed mine after 5 years of use. Threw it in the trash can in the garage, dumped some more into the tumbler, added some Nu Funish wax, plugged it in, the suckers workin' like it always has. I don't stand over it while its mixing, , if its dusty, it'll quit eventually, have a lot of other things to get ready when reloading.

March 9, 2013, 12:31 AM
The lead content of the dust probably would never affect an old goat like me, but if I had kiddos around it would need a different viewpoint. Lead's most damaging effects are developmental.

I used to put a big fan next to my tumblers as they ran outside to try and draw some of the dust out of the media. I tried everything mentioned here and still ended up with brass that would get a white shop towel black as you wiped them off, or your hands if you didn't.

I fixed all that when I went to stainless steel media in a Thumbler's Tumbler. Cleanest brass you'll ever see, especially on the inside.

March 9, 2013, 12:35 AM
Dryer sheets work just fine, not to mention the amount of handling to get to a loaded round will have sufficiently removed the dust. If after loading you feel there is still excessive dust that would cause case pressure variations whilst firing place your ammo in boxes and hit it real quick with an air compressor or a can of compressed air.

March 9, 2013, 08:00 AM
I agree with rcmodel. The dust is not dangerous unless inhaled in large quantities. It's only dust. Insignificant lead or other nasties. I tumble outside and leave the cover off. Media lasts longer and no buildup on the brass. Actually I've stopped using dry media and have gone to wet tumbling with stainless steel pellets. The worst black and tarnished brass left on the range for years sparkles like gold. If you Google "ar15 bling brass" (without quotes) you will see what I mean. No dust. Just clean bright brass inside and out.

345 DeSoto
March 9, 2013, 08:22 AM
What BDSban RCMODEL said...

March 9, 2013, 08:50 AM
The dust is purposely created to help addict reloaders. Breathe deeply, my friend.

March 9, 2013, 08:52 AM
Dust, what dust.

i guess my dust threshold is pretty high. I used to work at a tissue paper mill where they would blow down the production areas once a week to remove the accumulated dust on the building steel. Gives new meaning to "white out" conditions.

I run my tumblers with the lids on. I use a rotary media separator that is enclosed. When I transfer the media between the two, there is virtually no dust cloud. I wash my hands after handling cases removed from the tumbling media.

I agree with remodel.

March 9, 2013, 09:04 AM
Tumbler Dust?

I love the smell of tumbler dust in the morning.

Smells like...


March 9, 2013, 10:17 AM
Do any of you do anything to the brass after tumbling?

I slosh mine around in a bucket of warm water with a scoop of Oxy-clean. Then I let 'em air-dry for a week or so before I load.

March 9, 2013, 11:02 AM
I slosh mine around in a bucket of warm water with a scoop of Oxy-clean.

Forgot to add: then rinse thoroughly.

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