How to wash tumbler media


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GLOOB
November 20, 2012, 05:53 AM
I know. Tumbler media is cheap. But I'm cheaper.

I'm still pretty much using the same 2 jugs of tumbler media I have been since I started reloading, countless thousands of rounds later. I've lost some, here and there, to entropy, so I'm down to a jug+. But I still have more than 2 full tumbler's worth, and that's enough for my process.

I've also tried adding some washable cloth/leather strips to the media to catch the dust, but this has become a bit too much of a chore to keep up. My latest method is easier.

I put on some rubber gloves. Then I take my used media and put it in a plastic bag. Add a couple cups of water, just enough to get it all thoroughly wet, and mash the bag a bit. Then I squeeze out the excess water, add another cup or so, and repeat. I could use a lot more water, but then I'd have more "contaminated" water to process.

Then I put the media out in a baking dish in the sun. A day or so later, it's dry, and it appears to be cleaner than media that has been used only two or three times. And it seems to work just as good. No, it's not good as new, but if you needed it to be that good you'd have to throw out your media after each batch of brass, now wouldn't you? I put this relatively clean and dry media in my "on deck" jug, and I have my replacement tumbler-full ready to go.

I add a little Nufinish. And I tumble my brass wet, freshly drained from a prewash (I put the brass in my media separator, then lower the whole thing into a bucket, swish around, then lift and shake). My last tumbler full of brass, I ran for only one hour, and it was sparkly.

Just to be on the anal side, I take the dirty (and it's really dirty!) water and strain it through a coffee filter. After they're dry, I put the coffee filters in an empty powder jug along with my spent primers and lead dross. By the looks of it, the layer of dust that covers the filter looks like it's mostly spent polish and actual corn cob dust. I'm not really sure how much lead is in this filter or in the filtrate. Anyways, I let the rest of the water slowly collect/evaporate and keep using the same container to catch the next batch of dirty water.

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Centurian22
November 20, 2012, 05:59 AM
Wow, being cheap and partially OCD myself I must give credit where credit is due. I think this is far further than I would ever go, but if the process works for you congrats. Thanks for sharing.

GLOOB
November 20, 2012, 06:29 AM
One of the big kicks about reloading for me is the sustainability. I like to know I can reload potentially tens of thousands of rounds without necessarily having a storage shed full of media. :)

I might be a little OCD about the lead, but my AC vents air in from my back patio, about 20 feet from my tumbler. I much rather have any lead residue at the bottom of a jar of water than potentially being kicked around with the rest of the dust that is constantly building up out there. I make sure to turn off my AC before I blow out the dust with my air compressor. When I dump my tumbler into my media separator and I can see a cloud of dust and the bowl is colored black, I'm not too happy. Time for a cleaning.

thump_rrr
November 20, 2012, 08:20 AM
Wet tumbling with Stainless Steel media is far simpler and cleaner.
You wont wear out the stainless pins in 100 years.
If startup cost seems too high make your own tumbler out of a piece of PVC tube.
There are many threads on this out there already.

JT-AR-MG42
November 20, 2012, 09:33 AM
Note to self.
Politely decline that cup of coffee at Gloob's house!:)

Thanks for the washing tip on the media. I'm going to start saving my old, used media and try out your process next summer.

JT

jcwit
November 20, 2012, 09:34 AM
Man for the cost of $35.00 for a 40 lb bag of media at my door, I just toss it, with all the lead compounds that are in the dirty media and all the hassle connected with cleaning it, it sure isn't cost effective to me to clean it, and I'm about as cheap as they come. I like the word frugal better tho.

Certaindeaf
November 20, 2012, 10:34 AM
I don't tumble. Could you put the medium in like a nylon stocking type bag and then immerse/do a dance on it?
I like to reuse stuff too.

JohnM
November 20, 2012, 10:46 AM
There's a limit on what can or even should be reused.
Do you refilter and reuse your engine oil?
It can be done.

ku4hx
November 20, 2012, 10:55 AM
Every so often I'd mine the berm at my gun club to save a little over buying commercial bullet alloy. It was cheaper to mine than buy but after a time, and recovery from the now more oft sore back, I just buy the alloy and be done with it.

It all sounds a mite silly if you write it down: obtain the alloy, mix it in a fish fryer to get the desired proportions, pour a bunch of little lead alloy muffins, later melt the alloy in a furnace, carefully cast a few thousand, lube them, size them, re-lube them, store them lovingly, load when needed, then fire those cherished little pellets away like they were free and backed by some endless supply. All that work just to be able to fling those tiny missiles out the end of a barrel in 100th the time it took to make them.

Now days I try and limit my psychoses so I think I'll just ditch my dirty media. Which reminds me, I think I saw walnut reptile bedding on sale somewhere.

1KPerDay
November 20, 2012, 01:37 PM
Interesting, Gloob. Do you use standard vibratory tumblers? And you use wet/damp media? Is it walnut? Or is it basically a soggy corn muffin? :D

EDIT: I reread the post... the BRASS is wet when you dump it in the tumbler... but the media isn't. right?

Kingcreek
November 20, 2012, 01:52 PM
I "refresh" my media with a few strips of cloth doused with mineral spirits. Run them in the media for awhile and discard the strips and leave the tumbler open overnight. Cleans and refreshes the media without the mess of washing it.

rcmodel
November 20, 2012, 02:27 PM
It works a lot faster & better when it is new with fresh edges.

You probably are using more electricity tumbling longer then you would have too if you just bought a bag of Lizard Litter at the pet store & started over.

rc

Etkini
November 20, 2012, 02:44 PM
My media is fairly cheap.. I found some walnut lizard bedding at my local PetCo for $13/10qt. That'll last me close to a year - and I can stand to throw out $1-2 worth of media.

GLOOB
November 20, 2012, 02:48 PM
1KPerDay:
Yeah, the brass is wet. Also I forgot to mention that I also squirt a little mineral spirits in the tumbler each time. Along with a dash of Nufinish. I also live in dry, hot AZ. So this sopping wet brass method might not work where you live. But dampening the media just a little should make the cleaning process faster.

RC:
IMO new media is overrated. Between the Nufinish and the mineral spiritsa
and the damp brass, the media only needs to be cleaned of dust. Not sharp. In fact the last tumbler full of brand new Lyman media I used , I was excited. It had been sooo long since I used new media. And I was distinctly disappointed in the appearance of the brass after 2-3 hrs and decided to let it run overnight. It appears to me that the little tricks I have picked up (from the forum, largely) make so much difference in speed that the newness of the media is pretty low down on the list.

When you polish metal by hand, do you not rub the polish with a soft cloth that has no edges? In fact, the softer and more conforming the edges, the faster the job should go. The name of the game is surface area of contact.

One hour seems fast enough for me.

KingCreek: I will have to try that wIth old rags that are ready for the trash.

CertainDeaf: sounds good. Maybe I'll try that too. The only problem is all the touching of the dirty water, but I suppose nitrite gloves should do the job.

JT-AR, I hope u were kidding. I actually use old 2 quart plastic beverage bottles to hold the filter and funnel the water. It's the same setup I use to clean and reuse solvents. I probably first did this with the media water just to see how much dust came out. But I had enough empty bottles on hand to make a couple of extra filtering vessels, and since I started casting I have been putting my dross in a dedicated bottle already... so why not? Takes a minute to put the filters in to catch the 2-3 cups of dirty water I squeeze out of a tumbler full of used media. A few hours later, the water has drained through and there's a nice, satisfying layer of crud on the filter. Basically it's like if you work in a garage, you have those collection thingys with the funnel top where you dump the used oil. Same design, with a coffee filter in it instead of the mesh grid.

There's a limit on what can or even should be reused.
Do you refilter and reuse your engine oil?
It can be done.
That's a bad analogy. Unless you're breaking the law, all engine oil is recycled and reused! If my car engine wasn't at stake, and I had to replace my engine oil as often as my media, and I knew how to do it, then maybe I would try to recondition it, myself. As it is, my oil changes are so infrequent, I don't even do them, myself, anymore. Cuz without the right equipment, it's a dirty job. And without an equipped garage, it's a long job of carrying all the cardboard to lay down on, ramps, wrenches, collection tub, etc to your car and back. Cleaning media like this requires a pair of rubber gloves, a plastic bag, a bucket of water, a large glass tray, a nice comfortable chair, and about 5 minutes of time. All of that stuff is already on my back patio next to my tumbler. And those tools are there to stay; they're much more essential than 50 lb bags of media. Whenever I'm painting/cleaning/reconditioning things, I use all that stuff anyway.

SSN Vet
November 20, 2012, 05:14 PM
AGWAY is my friend....

I'm liking Walnut a lot better these days anyways...

and this is one reloading expense that I don't have to keep "on the books" as my wife will happily pick it up for me, knowing that she's saving $$

To each his own.

GLOOB
November 20, 2012, 05:24 PM
Yep. I hear that.

If I had someone to regularly pick up my media for me, it might make a difference (but honestly, this is so easy). As it is, I'd recycle my kitty litter if it was possible to remove the smell. :)

jcwit
November 20, 2012, 07:41 PM
this is one reloading expense that I don't have to keep "on the books" as my wife will happily pick it up for me, knowing that she's saving $$

Yep. I hear that.

If I had someone to regularly pick up my media for me, it might make a difference


DrillSpot delivers it to you freight free, right to your door, whats the difference. All this for 80 cents a lb.

Unless you're breaking the law, all engine oil is recycled and reused!

Not here in the free state of Indiana. In my 53 years of driving I still change my oil, 20 min. from start to finish. Not time consuming at all and I know its done right.

I do remember back in the 1940's my dad letting oil settle out for reuse, but this was prior to detergent oil.

GLOOB
November 20, 2012, 07:51 PM
Not here in the free state of Indiana.
Well, I hope you take your used oil to the nearest auto parts store or service station. It actually does get recycled.

In my 53 years of driving I still change my oil, 20 min. from start to finish. Not time consuming at all and I know its done right.
Again, different strokes for different folks. I used to change my oil and brake pads. And if I had a garage, I probably still would. It IS time consuming when you don't have a garage. Probably takes me a sweaty, dirty hour to change my oil when Jiffy Lube can do it in 10-15 minutes, and I've never managed to do it without spilling some oil on the ground and having to go at it with some detergent.

Having no garage, I finally stopped doing it and gave my ramps to a neighbor. I also don't drive a lot, so I only need an oil change once a year. :) Now replacing bent forks on a motorcycle, yeah. Bought a stand just to do it and still saved $500 dollars. :) And I still change my own oil on the motorcycle. Don't have to use ramps/jack stands and squirm around on the ground, in the dark, to do it. (Not to mention motorcycle mechanics charge more for the same thing and take forever!)

DrillSpot delivers it to you freight free, right to your door, whats the difference. All this for 80 cents a lb.
So how much do you spend a year on media, and how much do you shoot? Seems like my brand new media is filthy after only 4-5 full loads. If I can have dust-free media anytime I want for 5 minutes of relatively clean busy work, I likey. Clean bench, clean patio, clean tumbler, clean media. All goes hand in hand and gets the most use out of one pair of gloves. :)

JohnM
November 20, 2012, 08:01 PM
Well, I hope you take your used oil to the nearest auto parts store or service station. It actually does get recycled

Yeah right. Can you explain how it's recycled. In most places it's dumped into heavy duty drums and buried in the landfill with everything else.

GLOOB
November 20, 2012, 08:11 PM
Um, same way you get the oil in the first place. Like barrels of crude, they go through the refining process to fractionate out the various distillates. Where do you think they get gasoline, various grades of oil, kerosene, diesel, mineral spirits, lighter fluid, etc to begin with? It doesn't come out of the ground that way.

Edit: Even if our current demand for gasoline creates an overabundance of engine oil grade petro products, thereby making it financially burdensome to recycle used motor oil, is it still not better off sealed in a 55 gallon drum in a designated landfill rather than poured into the ground in various random locations? There are both the environmental concerns and also the possibility of salvaging said oil in the future if demand is ever high enough.

jcwit
November 20, 2012, 08:17 PM
Well, I hope you take your used oil to the nearest auto parts store or service station. It actually does get recycled.

Yes I do. Auto Zone is where I used to take it till I learned the repair shop that does the work I can not handle gets it from them for free for use in the oil heater in the winter. I now just give it directly to the auto shop. They burn it for heat, its not recycled.

So how much do you spend a year on media, and how much do you shoot? Seems like my brand new media is filthy after only 4-5 full loads. If I can have dust-free media anytime I want for 5 minutes of relatively clean busy work, I likey. Clean bench, clean patio, clean media. All goes hand in hand.


Spend on Media? Still using the bag I got over a year ago.

How much do I shoot? Yearly, 20 30 thousand rounds not counting .22 rimfire.

All my cases get tumbled before reloading. I never tumble to remove lube, don't like that grease in my media.

floydster
November 20, 2012, 08:39 PM
If I ever get to the point of thinking about washing the Media, I'll hang it up:)

GLOOB
November 20, 2012, 09:03 PM
Spend on Media? Still using the bag I got over a year ago.
And how much have you gone through, and how much did the bag cost?

I am still using primers I bought over a year ago, but that don't make 'em free. :) Heck, you might be able to save enough money to pay for one of your DIY oil changes! :)

They burn it for heat, its not recycled. Same difference. Reused, repurposed, w/e. The oil is fundamentally changed after it's used long enough, but it's still a slurry of mixed hydrocarbons and impurities, just like the stuff that comes out of the ground.

dragon813gt
November 20, 2012, 09:15 PM
Most used motor oil is burned in waste oil heaters around where I live. The companies that don't burn it sell it to a waste oil company which then sells it to the companies that burn it if their supply doesn't keep up with demand. A one million plus btu boiler goes through a lot of oil. Which is why we have to clean it monthly.

As far as cleaning media. I will just buy new. My round count depends on how dirty the brass is. I rotate the media and have an old batch for initial cleaning of dirty pick ups. And then a relatively clean batch for everything else. I might have gone through ten pounds this year with tens of thousands of cases cleaned. Just not worth it to clean it at $1 per pound at Harbor Freight. I'm also anal about the media and know I didn't need to throw most if it away.


Brought to you by TapaTalk.

GLOOB
November 20, 2012, 09:41 PM
I'm also anal about the media and know I didn't need to throw most if it away.
+1, here. I want my media to perform well, and my cases shiny, polished, and relatively dust-free. And I don't want to run my tumbler overnight. The convenience of having highly performing media and clean, shiny, polished cases, without having to rebuy/inventory/store media is kinda nice. I don't know if you got the memo, but my recycled media with Nufinish and mineral spirits works better and faster than unaltered, brand new Lyman polish treated media, anyway. So why buy new media along with the fresh batch of corn cob dust that comes with it?

I've read threads where a newb is wondering why his tumbler isn't getting the brass clean and shiny like he expected. Solution is add Nufinish and mineral spirits. Problem solved. It's not the sharpness of new media that cleans and polishes brass. It's the sharpness of the polishing particles in the Nufinish and the solvent properties of mineral spirits that turbo cleans and polishes brass! The only reason you have to throw away your used media is because it gets bogged down with dirt, powder residue, and the waxes/oils (or polymers) in the polish and case lube. These are quite simple to wash away.

Certaindeaf
November 20, 2012, 10:11 PM
I used to hate lugging my used motor oil to some place for re-use.
Now, around here, you just put it in a plastic milk or water jug and put it by the regular garbage for pickup. sweet

jcwit
November 20, 2012, 10:12 PM
And how much have you gone through, and how much did the bag cost?


Cost $20 bucks IIRC. Still have about half or little more left.

I only use liquid auto polish, any kind works, I never ever add any at every tumbler fill of cases. Once added its good for many tumblings.

It's the sharpness of the polishing particles in the Nufinish and the solvent properties of mineral spirits that turbo cleans and polishes brass!

Absolutly untrue, do as you wish, but if you do not believe me try it once without ANY polish of any kind. Just media alone. I have and it does work, may take longer but does work. Tumbling time is of no concern to me as it does its thing while I sleep or while I'm reloading, or while I'm at the range, or actually while I'm doing whatever.

the waxes/oils (or polymers) in the polish.

An indication ones using way to much polish. If in fact this is an issue switch to just an abrasive like rouge.

Same difference. Reused, repurposed, w/e. The oil is fundamentally changed after it's used long enough, but it's still a slurry of mixed hydrocarbons and impurities, just like the stuff that comes out of the ground.

OK, then I guess burning paper is recycling it? Burning wood is recycling trees. Gotcha!

GLOOB
November 20, 2012, 10:52 PM
Absolutly untrue, do as you wish, but if you do not believe me try it once without ANY polish of any kind. Just media alone. I have and it does work, may take longer but does work.
Of course it works. There's one or two sharp points on each piece of media that contact the case at any one time. Leave them in for 6 hrs, and you get sparkly clean brass.

Versus the dozens or hundreds of sharp particles in the polish on each piece of media that contact the brass. 1 hr, and the brass is sparkly. My media gets by just fine without that extra sharp point or two.

An indication ones using way to much polish. If in fact this is an issue switch to just an abrasive like rouge.
Even so, you will eventually get build up of powder residue. More and more will stick to your brass. And if you are one of those people that don't get any dust on your brass, show me a picture of your fingers after you load 100 rds. :)

OK, then I guess burning paper is recycling it? Burning wood is recycling trees. Gotcha!
Yes, if the paper was already used once, and you were going to burn it anyway. I'm not sure about the tree analogy, though.

Steve2md
November 20, 2012, 11:34 PM
Wow guys, really? This looks like it's getting ready to be one of these...

Hondo 60
November 21, 2012, 12:15 AM
Wow - Gloob - I think that's just a bit over the top.

But if you wanna, go for it.

Me? heck I bought a 40# bag of 20/40 corn cob from drillspot 2 years ago.
It's about 1/2 gone (and I reloaded & shot about 11,000 rds this year)

jcwit
November 21, 2012, 12:43 AM
This goes to the old adage of ripping out the seat of your $40.00 pants to pick up a nickle.

There comes a point when recovering whatever is no longer cost effective and way to labor intensive.

Obviously never worked in a position controlling production as far as labor and efficient productions of machinery and materials.

But if some folks are happy wasting time and materials at their own expense who am I to stop them, it only allows all the more new material for the rest of us.

We are in the win, win group.

GLOOB
November 21, 2012, 12:54 AM
? What's so labor intensive?

Takes less than 5 min to do this to a tumbler full (maybe 3 lbs) of media, and I haven't broken a sweat, yet. Then it's good to go for another half dozen or so tumbler's full before it no longer meets my standards. I really don't get where people are finding this labor intensive, time consuming, or gross. It's fast, I don't get out of my chair, and I don't touch anything but a plastic bag and a scoop. And once the media is wet, there's no dust to breathe or spread.

That's 12x3 = 36 pounds per hr, if you wanted to make it your full time job. At 80 cents per lb for Drillspot stuff, that's what? 28ish dollars an hr? Heck, if you scaled it up and used a bigger bag and drying tray, you could do 200 lbs an hour. If you didn't care about the lead and just washed it down the sink/bathtub (like I've read other people doing it) or hosed it down in your yard, I suppose it would go even faster and better.

No, I wouldn't want to make that my full time job, but neither would I want to make reloading my job. How much money do you save per hr of reloading? I don't save anywhere near as much as my job pays, else I'd start thinking about reloading for a living!

wasting time and materials
So what materials am I wasting, again? Oh, yeah, water. And a couple coffee filters... right...

Obviously never worked in a position controlling production as far as labor and efficient productions of machinery and materials.
Is this really necessary? If we all really took this statement seriously we'd be investing in top of the line automated equipment, hiring illegal immigrants to reload for us, and selling the excess ammo.
We are in the win, win group.
I'm very happy for you (all)! :) And I really do have a big smile on my face right now. As long as you're happy! :)

Cleftwynd
November 21, 2012, 01:39 AM
Why not just toss in about half of a used Bounce sheet saved from the clother dryer when tumbling! It collects all the dust and particles and keeps your media nice and clean. Just toss it in the trash when you sift out your brass, and toss in another half with the next batch!

GLOOB
November 21, 2012, 01:48 AM
Darn, I keep hearing about this, but I don't clean my own clothes. I pay someone to wash and fold and put away my laundry. This is easily the best $100 I spend every month. I'd wash media for an hour a week to pay for that! :)

jcwit
November 21, 2012, 02:04 AM
No, I wouldn't want to make that my full time job, but neither would I want to make reloading my job. How much money do you save per hr of reloading? I don't save anywhere near as much as my job pays, else I'd start thinking about reloading for a living!

Don't have a job, haven't had a job for 12 years, retired at the ripe old age of 57, retired from my wifes and my wholly owned business. My time is never taken into consequence at to what I save, retirement is good, all medical expenses are taken care of, house is paid for, all vehicles are paid for. Everything I own is paid for. Life is good.

Is this really necessary? If we all really took this statement seriously we'd be investing in top of the line automated equipment, hiring illegal immigrants to reload for us, and selling the excess ammo.

Prior to going into my own business with my wife, I handled production, she handled sales, I was a Production Foreman and Plant Superintend for a metal stamping company. We upgraded machinery and tripled production, never hired illegals but hired quality folks who wished to work for money earned, if an individual couldn't cut it the door was in the same place he/she walked in and went both ways. Did I work people hard, dam right, did I award and pay them for it, must have cause they backed me and more than accepted it.

So what materials am I wasting, again? Oh, yeah, water. And a couple coffee filters... right...

And polishing compound.

By reading all the other replies here you seem to be on the loosing end, but if you're happy fooling around washing media go for it.

Am I smiling, you bet I am, but not for the reasons you think.

jcwit
November 21, 2012, 02:11 AM
Darn, I keep hearing about this, but I don't clean my own clothes. I pay someone to wash and fold and put away my laundry. This is easily the best $100 I spend every month. I'd wash media for an hour a week to pay for that!

Unbelievable!

But to each his own!

GLOOB
November 21, 2012, 04:25 AM
Unbelievable!

But to each his own!
Well, I'm not married. I pay a nice retired lady to do this for me, cuz folding laundry is my idea of hell on earth. :) I was paying a cleaning company to pick it up and drop it off. But when she found out, she undercut them. AND she puts the clothes away for me. :)

Don't have a job, haven't had a job for 12 years, retired at the ripe old age of 57, retired from my wifes and my wholly owned business. My time is never taken into consequence at to what I save, retirement is good, all medical expenses are taken care of, house is paid for, all vehicles are paid for. Everything I own is paid for. Life is good.
A sincere and hearty congratulations, sir. You are definitely in the win-win group. I think I have a much better idea of where you're coming from, now. By all means, eat nothing but steak, drink nothing but wine, and use nothing but the finest virgin media if that so pleases you! You, sir, have earned it! :)

Since we're sharing, I own my own business, started from nothing, in a cottage industry that I created. And I have no guarantees for the future. But so far I'm doing just fine. How fine is between me and the IRS. But I will say I'm fairly certain I will be able to afford another bottle of Nufinish when this one runs out in 20 years. :) And if and when I retire, whether it be in a motel room or even a mansion plated in gold, I'm fairly certain I'll still be just as interested in reusing/recycling, tinkering/inventing, ripping out the seat of my pants picking up any interesting-looking nickel I see, and even eating the occasional bowl of Kraft macaroni and cheese with cut up hot dogs. :)

God bless, and please accept this message in peace and harmony with the understanding that I write it with the utmost sincerity and respect.

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