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Cleaning Brass Using Citric Acid

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by 2@low8, Mar 13, 2013.

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  1. 2@low8

    2@low8 Member

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    I saw this method of case cleaning in the NRA "Handloading" book and I thought I would give it a try.

    I bought some anhydrous citric acid and I want to use the handbook’s suggestion of soaking the cases in a 5% solution for 5 to 10 minutes.

    What is the ratio by volume of the anhydrous acid to the water to achieve the 5% solution? Thanks…..Frankie
     
  2. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    1 to 19.
     
  3. fguffey

    fguffey Member

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    In the old days acid was used, instructions included two factors, time and percentage and one more factor, rinsing. The other factor included instructions for rinsing in boiling water. Time spent rinsing was another factor, in the old days they though using an acid to clean cases was...though on the case.

    I use ground-up corm media and nothing, if I want to cut down on tumbling by 4 days for the worst of cases I use vinegar, straight 5% for a maximum of 15 minutes for the life of the case and I rinse in water twice, I could stir to reduce soaking time, I have been reloading and cleaning cases long enough to know cleaning in vinegar has a disadvantage, no, I know my cases cleaned with vinegar have a problem, my cases, no one else has a problem, it comes down to my cases only.

    F. Guffey
     
  4. James2

    James2 Member

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    Try a quart of hot water, two tablespoons of citric acid. Dump in the brass.
    They turn bright very quickly. Rinse and dry.
    Citric acid can be found in many grocery stores or canning supply stores. It is often used in home canning of tomatoes.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  5. 2@low8

    2@low8 Member

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    buck460XVR - I was aware that 5% is 1/20, but I wasn’t sure that this simple ratio would net an actual 5% acid solution after the anhydrous citric dissolved in the water.

    Do you have actual experience netting this result? How did you check it? Can a battery acid tester be used to verify the result?
     
  6. James2

    James2 Member

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    The actual density is not critical. The acid attacks the oxidixed layer, it will not hurt nor attack the brass.
     
  7. 2@low8

    2@low8 Member

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    fguffey - The article did state to rinse thoroughly and if I’m reading it right it also suggests a final rinse in soapy water.
     
  8. 2@low8

    2@low8 Member

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    Okay, I'll give it a try..... thanks!
     
  9. fguffey

    fguffey Member

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    Today, 04:17 PM #5
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    Posts: 38 buck460XVR - I was aware that 5% is 1/20, but I wasn’t sure that this simple ratio would net an actual 5% acid solution after the anhydrous citric dissolved in the water.

    Do you have actual experience netting this result? How did you check it? Can a battery acid tester be used to verify the result?
    __________________
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    Skeet Shooter's Prayer... Please Lord let me smoke 1 and chip 24

    Not that simple, first it is necessary to know the acid content of your citric acid, vinegar can be diluted by adding water, add a quart of water to a quart of vinegar to get 2 1/2% acid content. Specific gravity, not that easy, adding an acid to the solution increases the ability of the solution to float the specific gravity tester, same for salt water when measuring salt content of water.

    F. Guffey
     
  10. fguffey

    fguffey Member

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    Forgive, meaning your boat (battery tester specific gravity tester) will not float in the low acid content, it will sink, it is too heavy.

    F. Guffey
     
  11. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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  12. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    I use 3 Tbs /qt when I mix my solution up. I also used a backing soda neutralizing solution then a final rinse.
     
  13. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Member

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    I use this solution in whatever strength I choose to clean dies and other rusted tools. It works well, and w/o damaging the metal. :)
     
  14. 2@low8

    2@low8 Member

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    buck460XVR - Thanks for the link… more than you would ever want to know!

    It seems that the consensus is that it would be difficult if not almost impossible to do any harm, I’ll start with a weak solution and work my way up to an efficient one with the specific anhydrous citric acid that I already have. I have some honey do’s and priority projects of my own that come first then I’ll give it a shot.

    Thank all of you on getting me right on this question…..Frankie
     
  15. david_r

    david_r Member

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    A 5% solution of citric acid would be made as W/V, not V/V.

    For a quart (946 mL) you would need 47 grams of citric acid. Short version is it would take nearly 2 Tablespoons of citric acid per quart of solution to make a 5% solution.

    Which is WAY MORE citric acid than you need to clean your brass rather quickly. I would start at a 1/4 teaspoon per gallon and go up from there. If you get a pink hue to your brass after drying it, you're using too much citric acid for too long.
     
  16. fguffey

    fguffey Member

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    Back to the big inning.

    Yesterday, 05:22 PM #7
    2@low8
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    Posts: 41 fguffey - The article did state to rinse thoroughly and if I’m reading it right it also suggests a final rinse in soapy water.
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    Final rinse in soapy water? I do not know their agenda, my agenda, I prefer getting rid of the residual effect of anything, such as acid and or soap, I want nothing between the case and chamber but smoothness, anything that exist has weight and takes up space, if it has weight and takes up space it is ‘matter’, if it has weight and takes up space it matters to me, again, I want nothing between the case and chamber but air. not a lot of air just a small amount. Back to the beginning, in the old days the cleaning solution required rinsing in boiling water twice. Logic? Deductive reasoning? The method was used by the government and the shooting public, I do not have to clean cases without rinsing to know there has to be a problem created when acid is used to clean cases, again, it only happens to my cases. And? There had to be a reason they required rinsing in boiling water twice was required, and they had a minimum of time set for each boiling, and the rinse was not be be used when rinsing the next batch.

    There is only so much information available, I have to decide just how much of that information I am going to disregard, my part in cleaning cases that were cheap because of condition, of all the reloaders that had an opportunity to purchases dirty cases made it easy for me, again 1,400 cases for $14.00. Once fired, choice, use vinegar for 15 minutes or tumble for days or spin. Cleaning in vinegar for 15 minutes and tumble for a maximum of 2 hours. I have used the cases for years and everything.

    Residue, I tumble after cleaning the worst of cases.

    If there was a curiosity among reloaders one would ask, “Where did the ideal of using an acid to clean cases come from”

    F. Guffey
     
  17. 2@low8

    2@low8 Member

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    Don’t shoot the messenger.

    I was referencing an excerpt from the article “Cleaning Cartridge Cases” by the NRA Technical Staff in “Handloading” that was published in 1981 (ISBN 0-935998-34-9). The portion on chemical cleaning including sulfuric acid dip - military arsenal method, vinegar and salt solution and citric acid begins in the second from last paragraph in the first column on page 78.

    The soapy water rinse was stated by the Staff as, “Do not worry about leaving a soapy film on the brass; it helps in resizing later.” The Staff didn’t see a problem with a little lubricant along with the air on the outside of the cases. :D

    The article mentions that they made an inquiry of the Frankford Arsenal (U.S. Gov’t.) and they remarked that the vinegar and salt method and the citric acid gave satisfactory results.

    I believe you are correct. Thanks for the memory jog. Over thirty years ago I did a college biochemical research project based on the concepts of Lewis acids and bases and it’s beginning to come back… ugh! :D

    The responses have been interesting in that others experiences often sheds light on the methods normally considered “right” and gives us some insights into what we do. I appreciate this kind of discourse and that is what makes this place the high road. Thanks again…..Frankie

    !!! NOTE - Admonition from the article: “In mixing always pour the acid into the water, never the water into the acid as then the heat developed on mixing might throw the acid out of the vessel.”
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2013
  18. James2

    James2 Member

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    A lot of fuss about nothing important.

    A lot of fuss about nothing important.

    I have only been reloading for 50+ years and the most cleaning I did for many years was wipe them off with a rag if they had mud on them. That oxidation may make them look dark, but you know what? It does in no way affect the way they work. Nice clean bright shiny brass is for the shooter's eyes, and doesn't do a thing for performance. If it turns your crank, go for it. (end of grumble)

    I prefer the tumbler.
     
  19. 2@low8

    2@low8 Member

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    Your opinion is noted and disregarded. I don't believe anyone wants to be slighted for pursuing their endeavors. Maybe you could start a minimalist case cleaning thread where your opinion might be appreciated. If time spent at the loading bench is the criteria for expertise then my mere 45+ years leaves me in your shadow. :rolleyes:

    I consider myself a craftsman and a professional appearance is important to me. If you think that is nit-picky then you should watch me build experimental aircraft. “Measure twice, think about it, repeat - saw once” is my creed.

    The utilitarian side of me figured that putting dirty cases into my small Harbor Freight concrete mixer and tumbling them for few minutes in citric acid would be a time saver by cutting down the vibratory tumbler time and increase the media life as well. The $20 cost of a 50# bag of anhydrous citric acid from a closing supply shop is inconsequential in the scheme of things.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2013
    Phlier likes this.
  20. fguffey

    fguffey Member

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    Yesterday, 01:41 PM #17
    2@low8
    Member


    Join Date: January 23, 2013
    Posts: 47 Don’t shoot the messenger.

    I was referencing an excerpt from the article “Cleaning Cartridge Cases” by the NRA Technical Staff in “Handloading” that was published in 1981 (ISBN 0-935998-34-9). The portion on chemical cleaning including sulfuric acid dip - military arsenal method, vinegar and salt solution and citric acid begins in the second from last paragraph in the first column on page 78.


    Quote:
    fguffey - “Final rinse in soapy water?”

    The soapy water rinse was stated by the Staff as, “Do not worry about leaving a soapy film on the brass; it helps in resizing later.” The Staff didn’t see a problem with a little lubricant along with the air on the outside of the cases.


    Quote:
    fguffey - If there was a curiosity among reloaders one would ask, “Where did the ideal of using an acid to clean cases come from”

    The article mentions that they made an inquiry of the Frankford Arsenal (U.S. Gov’t.) and they remarked that the vinegar and salt method and the citric acid gave satisfactory results.


    Quote:
    david_r -"A 5% solution of citric acid would be made as W/V, not V/V.

    I believe you are correct. Thanks for the memory jog. Over thirty years ago I did a college biochemical research project based on the concepts of Lewis acids and bases and it’s beginning to come back… ugh!

    The responses have been interesting in that others experiences often sheds light on the methods normally considered “right” and gives us some insights into what we do. I appreciate this kind of discourse and that is what makes this place the high road. Thanks again…..Frankie



    .


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    Last edited by 2@low8; Yesterday at 01:47 PM.



    Again, final rinse in soapy water, it makes sense to everyone but me, I do not use a detergent, if I did I would use it for the first rinse, and I have never used salt in the vinegar, if the cases came out any better than when I use straight vinegar, I could not stand it. Then there is the part they left out, cases cleaned in the old fashion way will never be mistaken for cases leaned any other way/method.

    F. Guffey
     
  21. James2

    James2 Member

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    OK, My apologies. I made myself a note and hung it on the computer screen:

    BE POSITIVE OR SHUT UP!
     
  22. fguffey

    fguffey Member

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    Yesterday, 09:34 PM #19
    2@low8
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    Posts: 47 Quote:
    James2 - “A lot of fuss about nothing important.”

    Your opinion is noted and disregarded. I don't believe anyone wants to be slighted for pursuing their endeavors. Maybe you could start a minimalist case cleaning thread where your opinion might be appreciated. If time spent at the loading bench is the criteria for expertise then my mere 45+ years leaves me in your shadow.

    I consider myself a craftsman and a professional appearance is important to me. If you think that is nit-picky then you should watch me build experimental aircraft. “Measure twice, think about it, repeat - saw once” is my creed.

    The utilitarian side of me figured that putting dirty cases into my small Harbor Freight concrete mixer and tumbling them for few minutes in citric acid would be a time saver by cutting down the vibratory tumbler time and increase the media life as well. The $20 cost of a 50# bag of anhydrous citric acid from a closing supply shop is inconsequential in the scheme of things.
    __________________
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    Skeet Shooter's Prayer... Please Lord let me smoke 1 and chip 24

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Last edited by 2@low8; Yesterday at 09:42 PM.



    2@low8, James2 is not without support, R. Lee wrote a book about modern reloading, in the ‘A whole lot to do about nothing’ he agreed with James2, R. Lee likened cleaning cases to vanity, when I want to show off I spin my cases.

    “There is only so much information available, I have to decide just how much of that information I am going to disregard”,

    F. Guffey
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013
  23. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    When it comes to reloading, with experience, we all get to the point of knowing what we like and what works for us. We also realize in the world of reloading, that what works for us, does not always work for others. Whether it's powder choices, bullets or boolits, shiny brass or dull..... we all have a preference that may be different than others. Don't make any of it it wrong, just different. What we all do have in common tho, is the joy of rollin' our own and puttin' them downrange.
     
  24. fguffey

    fguffey Member

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    Today, 10:37 AM #23
    buck460XVR
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    Posts: 2,692 Quote:
    Originally Posted by fguffey

    “There is only so much information available, I have to decide just how much of that information I am going to disregard”,

    F. Guffey

    ”we all have a preference that may be different than others. Don't make any of it it wrong”



    I agree, apply “Don't make any of it it wrong” to 2@low8 ‘s response to James2.

    Back to Richard Lee’s book on modern reloading then apply “There is only so much information available, I have to decide just how much of that information I am going to disregard”, I use ground up corm media and nothing when tumbling.

    Back to 2@low8 and his research, 2@low8 while you have the book out and open to page ? give us some time factors when soaking and percentages of acid in the solution.

    F. Guffey
     
  25. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Member

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    For those that insist on rinsing away the soap deposit, what do you do to remove the water deposits? Water is not a free-rinsing agent. For that you need to use acetone, or a similar evaporative.

    That said, in sarcasm, this thread has dropped beneath what this forum stands for. Please get a life and move on to something constructive.
     
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