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Home made gun cleaner question

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by ottogrendel, Jul 11, 2008.

  1. ottogrendel

    ottogrendel New Member

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    All,

    I am trying to make my own gun cleaner. I have the basic solution (the usual petroleum distillates: mineral spirits, kerosene, MEK, etc.) but want to add a bit of 10% ammonia to give it a copper removing ability. The problem is that of course the ammonia will not dissolve in the petroleum distillates. I tried water soluble cutting oil as an emulsifier. It will either dissolve in the distillates or in the ammonia but not both. In other words, it is not really acting as an emulsifier. Isopropyl alcohol helps a bit but the end result is still a mixture and not a solution. Does anyone have any advice on how to get the ammonia to dissolve in the petroleum distillates? Is this possible? Will Ethyl alcohol work better as an emulsifier, and if so, where can I get some?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Tom609

    Tom609 Member

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  3. FW

    FW Member

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    The first problem is the "ammonia" you are using is actually a very small percentage of ammonia (NH3) dissolved in a solution that is mostly water. Mixing 10% water with a petroleum product isn't going to happen very easily.
    Alcohol will not do anything for this. Alcohol would mix with the ammonia-water solution and if the alcohol is nearly pure, it would mix with a petrolium product, but just a small amount of water present will cause the alcohol to separate from the petroleum product. This is one problem alcohol-gasoline mixures many are not aware of.

    Most household ammonia solutions don't have a very high percentage of ammonia in them. If you can find a commerical cleaning supply source, "janitorial strength" ammonia is much more potent. This will not make any difference in trying to mix it with something oil based. It is not fun to breath thsi stuff. Maybe this by itself could do something to copper fouling, but might also harm the metal.

    While it doesn't do anything for copper fouling, the Ed's Red recipe works very well and is cheap. It might have been Hatcher's notebook or some other very old publication I read that had recipes for a bunch of gun cleaning solvents. But this was written at a time there were less commerical gun cleaners available and the ingredients in the recipes were more easily obtained. Perhaps you could preclean with the Ed's Red and then more sparingly use commerical copper solvents for copper fouling.
     
  4. ottogrendel

    ottogrendel New Member

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    Thanks K96771 and FW! I am aware of Hatcher's and Ed's Red. I also know the main ingredients for most of the commercial brands available. These are the sources from which I started. I do use industrial grade ammonia and have very good solutions for a general cleaner and a separate copper remover but was hoping to combine the two (my low-toxicity version with citrus oil and no petroleum distillates permits dissolving ammonia but not the high-test version). The trick has got to be to find the right emulsifier. Murphy's Oil Soap can act as a surfactant, but maybe there's something better...?

    Thanks!
     
  5. strat81

    strat81 Senior Member

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    If you don't have a chemistry degree, don't mix chemicals. And from the looks of it, you don't have a chemistry degree.

    Ever mix bleach and ammonia? The fumes can kill you.
     
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Health & Environmental issues aside, it is highly unlikely you can concoct anything that will work nearly as well as commercial products developed & tested for gun care.

    From an economic standpoint, the cost of store-bought cleaning solvent is about 1/100 of one percent of the cost of any shooting sport I can think of.

    Why waste your time reinventing the wheel?
    When your new wheel is going to have several bumps on it anyway.

    rcmodel
     
  7. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Senior Member

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    +1
     
  8. ottogrendel

    ottogrendel New Member

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    strat81, rcmodel, buck460xvr,

    So do you guys know the answer to getting an emulsion of ammonia in petroleum distillates or not?
     
  9. JoeG52

    JoeG52 Member

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  10. ottogrendel

    ottogrendel New Member

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    Thanks, JoeG52! A lot of good info there. His attitude is what I am after here. Why give the folks who own Break Free $10/can for putting a different label on break cleaner (tetrachloroethylene)? Plus, by making your own you can avoid undesirable components like Teflon and silicone and decrease hazardous effects by limiting the addition of benzene derivatives like xylene.
     
  11. strat81

    strat81 Senior Member

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    We don't want you hurting yourself or others if you mix two chemicals that should not be mixed.
     
  12. TexasSkyhawk

    TexasSkyhawk Internet SEAL

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    Boy, you're gonna make a lot of friends here. . .

    Jeff
     
  13. Werewolf

    Werewolf Senior Member

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    MEK WILL KILL YOU!

    MEK is really nasty stuff. It is very hard on one's lungs and central nervous system and the levels of it required to mess you up are not that high. It's very volatile, breathing it is very bad and since it is volatile the user may not be the only one who ends up breathing it.

    Get an MSDS for any chemical you plan on using in your home brew - most are available on the internet. MEK MSDS

    Mixing your own gun cleaner is fine if one knows what they're doing. If one doesn't the mix could be a recipe for disaster.

    One's life is not worth the possibility of severe health issues short or long term just to save a few bucks.
     
  14. Brian Dale

    Brian Dale Senior Member

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    Liquid dishwashing soap in large quantites would probably do it, but then you'd have the problem of soapy residue.

    I don't like working with MEK, by the way. It's very light and volatile, and it's therefore very "splashy." I once got a tiny droplet on my upper lip. MEK de-fats the skin, damages the tissue and exposes the skin to secondary infection. For several weeks, I thought that I might be permanently disfigured.

    I'm not coming up with a good way to do what you propose: make a cleaner that will remove both petroleum-soluble compounds and copper residue in one step. I use nonpolar solvents as one step and copper cleaner as another.

    And I used to be a working chemist.
     
  15. ottogrendel

    ottogrendel New Member

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    What do we all think store-bought gun cleaners are made of? Two of the most common solvents in gun cleaning solutions are xylene and amyl acetate, both of which have the same NFPA health code as MEK. MEK, butoxyethanol, acetone, trichloroethylene, and a whole range of aromatic hydrocarbons and other nasty stuff are in all the gun care products we use. And typically, the more "aggressive" the cleaner the more likely we are to encounter these ingredients. Aerosol gun cleaners are particularly harmful. Some relief can be had by switching to turpenes, but unless we are cleaning with something like citrus oil, rubbing alcohol and food grade mineral oil, we are all ingesting these chemicals every time we clean our guns. We can either pay some company for these products or we can make them ourselves for a fraction of the cost. It's not a question of toxicity, it's a question of price.

    Thanks for the link, Werewolf. I have MSDS sheets on everything I use. For anyone else who is interested in making their own, this info is the place to start.
     
  16. ottogrendel

    ottogrendel New Member

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    Brian Dale,

    Many, many thanks!

    I only use MEK in very small amounts and have been thinking of leaving it out entirely once I get a better citrus-based/Goo Gone type of formula worked out.

    I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to get a good emulsion. Currently I do the same thing as you: a step for each. A fairly decent emulsion works by first mixing the ammonia with water soluble cutting oil, but it ultimately isn't very stable. It's good enough if you don't mind shaking it up every time you use it, though.

    Thanks again for your helpful comments.
     
  17. strat81

    strat81 Senior Member

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    Not all store bought gun cleaners contain toxic chemicals. Some of the newer products even work better than the old ones. In my experience M-Pro7 Gun Cleaner removes carbon that Hoppes #9 and Breakfree CLP can't touch. Other non-toxic cleaners and lubes include Slip2000 and Militec-1.

    Not all copper solvents contain ammonia. Breakfree Bore Cleaning Foam is an excellent copper remover and doesn't asphyxiate the user with ammonia fumes.

    Good luck with your bore cleaner.
     
  18. ottogrendel

    ottogrendel New Member

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    Brian Dale,

    Thanks again. I got to thinking about your comment about the dish soap and tried a few more batches until I now have a stable emulsion. The trick was in getting the right proportions of the oil-based phase and the water-based phase with plenty of water soluble oil in each. Also, I left out the MEK and the Xylene and substituted pure, non-toxic orange oil instead. This last batch has been sitting for 24 hours, has not separated one bit, and does a great job dissolving copper. Thanks!
     
  19. brickeyee

    brickeyee Senior Member

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    You can add ammonia radicals without actually adding NH3.
    There are any number of compounds available depending on what else is in the mix.
     
  20. Brian Dale

    Brian Dale Senior Member

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    ottogrendel, that's good news, and I'm also glad that you've found a way to omit the MEK. Be sure to keep a close eye on the metal surfaces; it's hard to know whether there might be traces of something hygroscopic left behind. Moisture is a sneaky opponent and rust never sleeps.

    Again, thanks for posting this!
     
  21. Tony Sopranno

    Tony Sopranno New Member

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    Just clean the barrel with some Ed's Red mix; then run Barnes (Copper Remover) on a few patches, until they stop coming out blue looking. Then a few more wet patch's of Ed's Red and you're good to go. :banghead:

    You can leave the barrel wet with Ed's Red or send a dry patch through it, either is okay. I leave mine wet cause Ed's Red is a great lube as well as a solvent. If you dry-patch the Ed's Red out then follow it with some Rem Oil on a wet patch.

    The two best lubes out there are Rem Oil and Ed's Red - IMO.

    Try putting both on a common steel nail and leaving it under water overnight. Then do the same with any other lube made.

    If Ed's Red offends your nostrils, use Hoppe's #9 solvent instead. It's cheap and smells better, doubles as a Saturday night going out cologne. It works about as well as Ed's Red. All the other stuff out there is aimed and bagging gunnies out of their pocket change.

    If you use Ed's Red or Hoppes #9 often and liberally you won't need to use a brush (nylon or bronze) in the riffling.
     
  22. rsilvers

    rsilvers Member

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    Do not use Acetone, MEK, or MTBE on many rubbers and plastics.
    It can destroy even the small rubber bumper in an AR15 extractor spring.
     
  23. jcwit

    jcwit Senior Member

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    Just did a search regarding MEK, doesn't look that dangerous to me.

    Butanone AKA "MEK" is the same stuff. Or so they claim. I very much doubt its all that deadly as I used it as a wipe down solvent daily for approx 4/5 years approx 15 years ago with no ill effects. Maybe I'm the lucky one!
     
  24. dogdollar

    dogdollar New Member

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    Just exactly how clean are you trying to get your gun?

    I use Hoppe's #9 and Kroil, mixed 50/50, and it does a great job, especially if you can give the kroil some time to loosen up all of the crud. After I have cleaned my guns with this stuff (patches coming out clean), they're clean enough, in my book. Going after that "mirror" clean bore is a waste of time, in my book, and not necessarily good for the barrel, either.
    But, to each his own.
    DD
     
  25. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Senior Member

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    Watch cleaning solution:
    (from http://www.ehow.com/how_5941541_make-clock-movement-cleaning-solution.html#ixzz0ygITrqZs)
    • 4 ounces oleic acid
    • 8 ounces acetone
    • 12 ounces ammonium hydroxide solution, 26 degree Baume
    • 1 gallon water
    Leave out the water and it should make a decent copper remover for gun barrels. You can probably use stearic acid instead of oleic; it's easier to find. Basically, you're making an ammonium soap with excess ammonium hydroxide, plus acetone. 26° ammonia is about 3 times stronger than the janitor's strength ammonia they sell at Ace Hardware, so you could use that instead (adjust the recipe accordingly) and let it supply the water.

    Or how about just using Brasso to remove copper fouling, then follow-up with a few oily patches?
     

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