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Alcohol as degreaser

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by YZ, Feb 21, 2013.

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  1. paintballdude902

    paintballdude902 Member

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    hurlburt.......
     
  2. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    Alcohol will work great and will not damage gun metals at all.

    No worries about alcohol and water: alcohol is a great way to remove moisture from things, as it carries away the moisture when it evaporates.

    Alcohol is a great grease-cutting solvent.

    However, don't assume alcohol fumes are "safe" to inhale. They are not, especially isopropyl alcohol or denatured alcohol. In fact, ethyl alcohol fumes are not safe, either, even though this is the alcohol that's in alcoholic drinks. Always be sure to have adequate ventilation when using alcohol (or any other solvent) as a cleaning agent.

    Alcohol can be even more damaging to skin than other solvents used for cleaning guns, however. This is because alcohol not only cuts through and disolves grease, it absorbs water as well. This is extremely damaging to skin. So be sure to wear proper protective gloves when using it, like the blue "nitrile" gloves.
     
  3. brickeyee

    brickeyee Member

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    It is less effective tan other solvents on longer chain lubricants.
     
  4. twice barrel

    twice barrel Member

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    Denatured Alcohol is basically everclear that has been poisoned so you won't drink it. Its a great cleaner/degreaser. Rubbing alcohol has more water in it depending upon the % of the blend. These are both great for quick cleaning between shots with blackpowder.

    And just like blackpowder weapons you can clean modern firearms with hot soapy water if you wish. Follow that with swabbing down with denatured alcohol to possibly remove even more firing residue and assist in quicker drying. And as usual, lubricate and oil for smooth operation and corrosion prevention.

    But nowadays since I no longer fool with black powder its hard to beat kerosene & atf for an everyday gun cleaner. :D
     
  5. YZ

    YZ member

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    Switching to alcohol... Now the ultrasonic question

    This discussion is worth a seminar. Exceeded all my expectations. Thanks to all who contributed their knowledge. From now on, alcohol it is. I am going to put Gun Scrubber on hold.

    This should complete my transition to odorless, least toxic cleasning. I have ditched stronger solvents in favor of lead cloth. The heavy variety almost like oilskin in texture, such as Kleen Bore. (Not on blued finishes)

    Been to Keesler also in a different capacity altogether...

    Someone mentioned ultrasound. When I started using it for barrels and other steel, it worked great. (Still not a sparkling miracle from the gun magazines, but ready for a quick wipeout) Recently I noticed it no longer works! The Lyman tub runs as usual, makes all the right sounds, but doesn't seem to clean any more than a simple soak. Anyone seen their ultrasonics petering out like that? Again, the cleaner powers up, blinks and buzzes, all for naught.
     
  6. CZguy

    CZguy Member

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    I use a Harbor Freight stainless steel model that has run really well for about six years.
     
  7. BWB

    BWB Member

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    Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol is mostly water. Denatured alcohol us a volatile solvent that will evaporate (cool) so rapidly in humid conditions that it will leave a metal surface wet with condensation. More importantlly, it is at best an indifferent degreaser. If it is petroleum you are talking about, common paint thinner (mineral spirits) is as effective and reasonably safe a degreaser as is commonly available.
     
  8. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    I do exactly the same thing and it has worked very well for years. I also have the habit of swabbing down the charge holes (or chamber) and breech face of any handgun that might be used for SD purposes. I know the chances of lube killing a primer aren't very high, but I prefer to minimize them just the same.

    Even the cheapest bottle of rubbing alcohol is 70% isopropanol, so it's mostly alcohol. I prefer to buy the 91% stuff for scope mounting, but the cheaper mix will work OK for most purposes.
     
  9. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    This can be said for some of the non-alcohol solvents, as well. Most expecially aerosol solvents.

    I don't really consider this a factor because the thing that immediately follows cleaning is oiling/lubricating.


    There are solvents which are better suited for cleaning guns, because they are also designed to remove other residue as well. To that end, I would personally prefer to use them, slightly more expensive thouth they may be. However, the point is that alcohol can safely be used as a solvent without fear of damage to the metals of firearms.

    Alcohol has an affinity to both oils and water...meaning it will act as a solvent to both. And alcohol will act as a drying agent, removing moisture as it evaporate.

    :)
     
  10. xfyrfiter

    xfyrfiter Member

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    the two best degreasers I have ever used were etoh and acetone, xylene is good also but very toxic, need lots of ventilation and nitrile gloves.
     
  11. OilyPablo

    OilyPablo Member

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    Acetone should not be near any plastic gun parts.

    99% IPA is sometimes a surprising degreaser and while basic organic chemistry is all well and good, it does work on long chain lubricants . For one of my non gun related companies we lubricate a freewheel we sell with a proprietary synthetic gear oil with tackifier (a lubricant we developed). Sure some nasty solvents will clean the stuff up, but not that much better (if better at all!) than IPA. IPA is inexpensive, easy to use and won't kill you with a mere wiff of the fumes.

    As stated I have used it for certain gun jobs over the years with zero problems.
     
  12. jgh4445

    jgh4445 Member

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    I use alcohol pads to wipe the grease and oil off of the finish before I apply wax.
     
  13. brickeyee

    brickeyee Member

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    70% and 90% isopropyl are rather common at every drug store.

    Pretty far from "mostly water."

    If you can find isopropyl 'dry gas' it is pretty close to 100%.

    Avoid methyl.

    You can absorb enough through your skin (let alone breathing vapors) to cause problems.

    Methyl is metabolized to formalin in the body and proceeds to attack your retina.
     
  14. blaisenguns

    blaisenguns Member

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    Everclear works great :D
     
  15. orionengnr

    orionengnr Member

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    Come on now, we have all been told for decades that alcohol and firearms don't mix! :)
     
  16. CZguy

    CZguy Member

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    Apparently not all of us were taught that. :scrutiny:
     
  17. YZ

    YZ member

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    Update

    Started using alcohol instead of gunscrubber. It washes off the grease just fine, dries quicker, leaves no stains, has almost no smell (so I can take my time with it), is cheaper than canned brake cleaner. Of course it helps if you don't let your guns foul up badly, but I clean often anyway.

    The military has never popularized alcohol for cleaning. It would be self destructive to issue to the troops in large quantities.
     
  18. paintballdude902

    paintballdude902 Member

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    good to hear. id still like to see how it works in an ultrasonic cleaner. i used to use simple green and water, worked reasonably well.

    HEY....... general order 1 says i can have it as long as i can buy it at AAFES ;)
     
  19. brickeyee

    brickeyee Member

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    Try some MEK
     
  20. YZ

    YZ member

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    I keep reading here and there that Simple Green is bad for aluminum. Is that an urban legend? I did see alloy parts getting a peeled look in a Beretta 92 INOX and in a 10/22 receiver.
     
  21. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    I used the general purpose Simple Green undiluted to clean the aluminum condensors and evaporators on a fleet of 75 transport refrigeration units for the entire length of the lease which was 10 years. Never once did I see any sign of harm to the very thin aluminum cooling fins.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2013
  22. OilyPablo

    OilyPablo Member

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    Regular Simple Green is not caustic and will not attack aluminum. I believe and I could be wrong - there are some stronger "Simple Green" variants on the market.

    For sure caustic products like Castrol Purple cleaner will readily attack aluminum. Find out if the product is caustic (contains NaOH, or KOH and pH over ~10). No good for Al.
     
  23. YZ

    YZ member

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    Excellent, thank you!
     
  24. bill3424

    bill3424 Member

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    Rubbing alcohol has always worked for me. I've always been very strict about to lube it after the alcohol as dried up. Wear a mask and gloves.
     
  25. YZ

    YZ member

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    Why mask?
     
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