Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Non-chlorinated brake cleaner

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Dogguy, Dec 26, 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Dogguy

    Dogguy Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Messages:
    466
    Back in the last century, I used brake cleaner on all my handguns, rifles, shotguns, etc., as a step in routine cleaning. When I bought my first Glock in 1990, I switched to using "polymer safe" aerosols like Gun Scrubber. That was because brake cleaner was notorious for turning some plastics into a gooey mess and the Glock is, well, plastic.

    So now we're in the 21st Century. These days plastics and polymers are used for many different parts even in what most people consider all-metal guns.

    I still use the "polymer safe" aerosols like Gun Scrubber but I see "non-chlorinated" brake cleaner for sale. It's a lot cheaper than the sprays sold for firearms cleaning. Is this new brake cleaning stuff "polymer safe"? Or should I just stick to the more expensive cleaners I've been using?
     
  2. Drail

    Drail Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    5,275
    My suggestion would be that you give up using aerosal cleaners. A 4 oz. bottle of CLP and some Q tips and an M16 brush are all you really need and allow you to put the solvent only where you need it. Brake cleaner also removes ALL of the oil from ALL of the gun which needs to be replaced and is very hard on your skin and lungs too. A small air compressor helps get the fouling out of the action and will blow your lube into places you can't reach without complete disassembly. Brake cleaner is for "brakes".
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  3. 45_auto

    45_auto Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,132
    Location:
    Southern Louisiana
    I keep brake cleaner around the mill and lathe for cleaning off small machined parts. I pick up a few cans of whatever is cheapest when I'm in the auto parts store. I just grab whichever can is closest when I want to spray down a gun. I've used about every kind known to man (chlorinated, non-chlorinated, etc) on my Glocks with no effect at all on the plastic.

    Just as a a side note, Valvoline brake cleaner WILL take the varnish off a Moisin/Nagant stock like you would not believe, but none of the other brands had any effect at all on it! ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  4. Racinbob

    Racinbob Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    693
    Location:
    Central Florida
    I use the non-clorinated all the time. It's safe for my polymers and very effective on the others. Sure, it strips all the oil out but I want that. There's some crud in that oil after extended firing. I'll relube. Watch for sales like 2 for one at the auto parts places. I haven't bought 'gun scrubber' for quite a while.
     
  5. jimk0512

    jimk0512 Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    63
    Location:
    New Mexico
    The non-chlorinated brake cleaner from my local auto parts store made the black grips on my Ruger 22/45 fade. I wiped the grips with CLP to restore the black color. Maybe it was just their store brand of brake cleaner, as I've had other people tell me that shouldn't happen.
     
  6. camsdaddy

    camsdaddy Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    684
    Location:
    Georgia
    I had the same issue with my P345. When I sprayed it it turned a light grey. I've never had an issue otherwise
     
  7. wally

    wally Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2004
    Messages:
    12,127
    Location:
    Houston, Tx
    I believe when the brake cleaner leaves behind a whitish, or light gray residue, its the PTFE (Teflon) from your high tech gun lube being left behind. Likely why wiping it down with CLP "removes" it.

    There are still some plastics in use that can't stand up to it -- The black plastic used on CZ grips is one that softens if left in contact with it, some of the "finishes" used on WSAR wood also comes off with it -- not necessarily a bad thing :)


    Test an inconspicuous area first.
     
  8. Smokey Joe

    Smokey Joe Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2003
    Messages:
    2,617
    Brake cleaner, Gun Scrubber...

    Dog Guy--Best Advice So Far:
    Any solvent might harm any plastic or any finish. It's just good sense to try it first in for example the bbl channel where it won't ugly up the firearm in question.

    As to Gun Scrubber/Brake cleaner: I understand that Birchwood Casey Gun Scrubber IS non-chlorinated brake cleaner, just packaged more expensively for those who have more coin in their pockets and won't do their homework.

    I have tried experimentally, using one then the other. The Gun Scrubber acts exactly like N/C brake cleaner when sprayed on dirty oily gun parts. That is to say that both are very good cleaners, and both completely de-lube the parts in question, which then require re-lubing with new, clean lube, which IMHO is not a bad thing. Only difference is, that Gun Scrubber costs a bunch more.

    Lacking compressed air, a spray can of this type stuff is a good substitute.

    What I don't understand is the difference, if any, between chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaner. Both are bad to breathe; use 'em outdoors or with very good ventilation. Mebbe someone with auto shop experience could chime in with this.
     
  9. Dogguy

    Dogguy Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Messages:
    466
    If the current Gun Scrubber brand cleaner really is just the same formula as non-chlorinated brake cleaner, it's good-to-go for gun cleaning in my experience. All Gun Scrubber is now "polymer safe" per Birchwood Casey.

    As I posted originally, I've used the poly safe stuff since the late 1980s on everything and it never harmed any plastics or finishes. Prior to that, standard brake cleaner melted parts of the synthetic rubber grips on a couple of my knives and took the finish off the stocks of a pistol.

    I'll give the non-chlorinated brake cleaner a shot on various pieces of plastic and rubber to see how they react before spraying down any guns. Just about all my guns have plastic somewhere inside.
     
  10. C5rider

    C5rider Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Messages:
    501
    Location:
    'Tween swamp and sun!
    What is the difference between Brake Cleaner and Carb/Choke Cleaner? I tried to look for the ingredients but couldn't find it on the label. Must be tucked into all that fine print somewhere.
     
  11. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Messages:
    7,354
    I've used non-chlorinated brake cleaner on my duty Glock and AR for years. It has never hurt them. As pointed out something happens and they turn grey right after being rinsed. I think it is something the cleaner leaves behind, because a little oil brings back the black.
     
  12. IndispensableDestiny

    IndispensableDestiny Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2009
    Messages:
    84
    Location:
    Hazzard Precinct, Harford County, MD
    Non-Chlorinated CRC brand "Brakleen" is acetone, heptane, methanol, and toluene. The chlorinated stuff is mostly tetrachloroethylene (PERC or perchloroethylene) but may have some trichloroethylene (TCE) in it too.

    Each component can mess with some polymers. I try to keep the cleaner away from any polymers, unless absolutely sure (which usually happens by accident)
     
  13. Smokey Joe

    Smokey Joe Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2003
    Messages:
    2,617
    Chemistry 101...

    I KNEW someone would come through with the difference between chlorinated and non, brake cleaners.

    Now, Indispensable Destiny--or anybody else--what is the difference in terms of (1) effects on oil, grease, & dirt in a gun, and (2) toxicity to humans, between the two types?

    When I was first considering using this stuff for firearm cleaning, I was carefully advised to avoid the chlorinated cleaner, but not why. I supposed that the chlorinated is more toxic, which may or may not be the case.

    And no one has commented on carb cleaner as opposed to brake cleaner, as yet. I was advised to not use carb cleaner on a firearm, too, but similarly, not why it's bad.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
  14. GTS Dean

    GTS Dean Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    100
    Location:
    Texas
    TCE is classed as a potential carcinogen. For decades, it was used widely in the paving industry to dissolve asphalt binder from hotmix samples to calculate binder content percentage, and prepare the rock/sand for gradation analysis. It was very good at what it did, but required a ventilator fan during indoor use.
     
  15. PabloJ

    PabloJ Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    Messages:
    4,998
    I would stick with solvents from established manufacturers designed for the job you're trying to accomplish. I'm fond of Bore Tech which I suspect is among the most expensive products out there.
     
  16. Yellow Box

    Yellow Box Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Messages:
    17
    sprays are good for flushing out gas tubes
    I try not to get it anywhere I dont want stains, and ive used the green cans non chlorinated

    gun scrubber brand sprays are just way to expensive, im sure its the same stuff just smells different
     
  17. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    13,232
    Location:
    Richmond, Virginia
    Gunscrubber isn't all that expensive if you only use it to hose the mess off the gun after you use the bore brush, bore cleaner, toothbrush, etc. I just find it easier and faster to rinse with gunscrubber than to use patches and rags to sop up the mess.

    John
     
  18. BigN

    BigN Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2010
    Messages:
    758
    Location:
    Adirondack Mountains, Waaay Upstate New York
    I've been using the brake cleaner for a long time. It works well and it hasn't seemed to bother any other parts, although I'm careful not to get it anywhere except inside the barrel/cylinder. It does smell bad though and will give you a headache unless you take fresh air breaks. Not sure that's all that great in itself.
     
  19. TXSWFAN

    TXSWFAN Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    139
    Location:
    TX
    I've been using the non-chlorinated generic brake cleaner for years on my subguns. The cans have great pressure and really blast the chemical against the metal. I'll let the parts soak and then scrub with brushes and rags. It takes everything off the metal except the finish. Then I can lube it as I please. Never had an issue.
     
  20. vaherder

    vaherder Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2010
    Messages:
    313
    Brake Cleaner

    Back about 30 years ago Brakleen used to having a warning which said can/will cause damage to your central nervous system. After reading that I just stopped using it a hand cleaner and was very careful not to inhale.

    Intake or carb cleaner have more dangerous levels of the chemicals used to remove carbon etc then brake cleaner. Purpose of brake cleaner is to remove oil and grease from the rotor. Back in high school had two friends who changed the brake pads on a Mustang II. After realizing they put the pads in backwards days later and driving with the pads in the correct ay they called me. I had done race car prep and pit crew work for a friend of my dad.

    I test drive the car and put the car up on the lift. Take front wheels off and notice all the finger prints on the rotors. Pull pads and noticed they had spots of what looked like grease or oil on them. Sent one of them to auto parts store and opened a cold beer and changed the oil, tranny fluid, diff fluid and radiator fluid why we waited. I gave specific instructions on what I needed pads and rotors and 3 cans of Ford HD brake fluid. Replaced the rotors and demonstrated what Brake Kleen was for, put in new pads and bled brakes the old fashioned way. Took a test drive and bedded in pads. Friends were amazed at the difference. They were lucky they didn't rear end someone.

    A month later the other friend called he was changing the clutch on his MG Spridget. He never heard of aligning the clutch. Morons.
     
  21. chrt396

    chrt396 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    418
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    I switched over to Brake Kleen cleaner..green can..just two months ago. I was using so much Gun Scrubber..that I was told to buy stock in the company. The brake cleaner is much less expensive.
    Every once in a while..I will clean my Dillon press with Gun Scrubber to remove fingerprints or primer dust from the base of the press and the primer feed area. It gets a little grungy..and I like a clean machine. I have never had a problem with Gun Scrubber accomplishing this job. I used Brake Kleen on it the other day (non-chlorinated)..and it softened the blue paint on the press. As I was wiping it down, I felt the tackyness grab the rag.
    It has not seemed to affect the grips on my Les Baer..as far as i can tell...but I'm a heck of a lot more careful!!
    I have heard that Walmart sells their own brand, which is different chemical composition than Brake Kleen. If anyone can chime in on that..I'd appreciate it.
     
  22. 19&41

    19&41 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Messages:
    291
    Location:
    Georgia
    I always try any new spray solvent on 2 or 3 different types of plastic before using it. I try it on styrene (styrofoam), my old plastic housing electric drill, and an old portable radio housing that will disintegrate under certain types of solvent. I apply it with a cloth, and look for any ill effects such as oxidation of the plastic, dissolving, or fragmenting.
     
  23. Deltaboy

    Deltaboy Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2008
    Messages:
    6,262
    Location:
    Texas
    I use it and you got to be carefull with it. Bottom Line. IMO GS is over priced.
     
  24. o Unforgiven o

    o Unforgiven o Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2010
    Messages:
    598
    Location:
    Central FL
  25. IndispensableDestiny

    IndispensableDestiny Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2009
    Messages:
    84
    Location:
    Hazzard Precinct, Harford County, MD
    Smokey Joe, the chlorinated solvents will always work better on grease and oils. They also all pose toxic hazards to the user. Fortunately, the effects on the CNS are short lived and reversible. Other effects such as cancer take more exposure. PERC is used for dry cleaning.

    The non-chlorinated version works because it contains toluene and acetone. Toluene is not good for you. Acetone is under scrutiny, but years ago labs used it like water to clean glassware. Women used it to clean off fingernail polish.

    The white you see on plastics is the result of plasticizers being dissolved away. Much like leaving it out in the sun all summer. CLP replaces the plasticizers on the surface, but temporarily.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page