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Rubbing alcohol to remove blackpowder corrosive salts

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by matt35750, Aug 2, 2013.

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  1. matt35750

    matt35750 Member

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    My understanding is it is the potassium chloride salts in black powder that corrode metal. I made up some concentrated salt solutions and poured them on glass and let it dry so the salt crystallized. I then wiped it down with a rag with rubbing alcohol ( 70% isopropyl alcohol) and it got it nice and clean. Rubbing alcohol has the same consistency as water it is not oily like hoppes, or other petroleum based cleaners are. Can you use straight rubbing alcohol to clean black powder guns? It seems a lot easier and less messy than soap and water, and it evaporates in about a minute with no residue, then you could oil it and put it away.
     
  2. matt35750

    matt35750 Member

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    anyone?
     
  3. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Member

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    Hot water and dish soap in a trough made from plastic rain gutter material is simple and cheap. Why solve a problem that doesn't exist?
     
  4. Curator

    Curator Member

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    Hi Mat35750,

    There are many more chemicals in black powder fouling than Potassium chloride (which is very minimal with real black powder but very likely with Pyrodex) Nitric and Sulfuric acids to name two, plus Potassium carbonate. All of these are water-soluble. Isopropyl alcohol is at least 25% water so it may work fine. In my experience with both Isopropyl and denatured alcohol, they worked best as a bore wipe when mixed about 50/50 with plain H20 or better yet Hydrogen peroxide. None of these provided any rust protection however. Some "Moose-milk" formulas include Murphy's Oil soap or Balistol as a rust preventative, and both seem to work in this capacity. I personally favor the Balistol mix living in Florida, the land of high humidity and flash rusting.
     
  5. matt35750

    matt35750 Member

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    My point is rubbing alcohol has the same consistency as water but also evaporates fast and is a fairly strong solvent. Due to it's solvent properties wouldn't it remove the other crude associated with black powder as well?
     
  6. AethelstanAegen

    AethelstanAegen Member

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    Potentially. For me, I've found plain old hot water to be the best remedy. It does a darn good job of starting the cleaning process, dries quickly, and also deals with any corrosive elements. It's hard to improve on simple and reliable hot H20.
     
  7. Doak

    Doak Member

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    I think the nitrites, left behind after burning BP, combine w/water vapor in the air, to form weak nitrous acid. It disolves steel slower than stronger nitric acid, but is still corrosive enuff to do immediate damage in the presence of water.

    If that's not bad enuff, sulfur dioxide, also produced from burned BP, combines w/water, in the presence of nitrites, to form sulfuric acid, which is a strong acid.

    70% Rubbing Alcohol is 30% water. It's the water that dilutes the acids so they can be wiped away. Isopropyl alcohol is insoluable in salt solutions.

    As far as I know, there are no chlorides in BP or it's burned residues.

    So, knowing all this, it's prolly better to use pure water w/a little water-soluable oil in it, as a preliminary BP solvent. Dry the bore quickly, & follow up w/your favorite oil. Oil keeps the water vapor off the steel, like a barrier.

    If ya don't have BP solvent available out in the field, oil is the best thing to coat the bore, lock, & all metal parts. It keeps the water out. No water, no acid formation.

    Boiling hot soapy (bar soap, like Ivory) water, for over 300 yrs, has been the best solvent for a full cleaning at home. Hot steel dries quicker & hot steel takes oil into mating surfaces better, like breach plugs, sight dovetails, tennon dovetails, touch holes, nipple threads, etc.

    Bar soap water is mildly alkaline & stops acid action, but must be dried quickly and immediately followed w/oil.

    Kindest Regards,
    Doak
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  8. Fingers McGee

    Fingers McGee Member

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    It has been reported in books about the Civil War that pistols were cleaned by the enlisted using lye soap water after the clothes were washed, and that Officers used whiskey to clean their pistols.

    Ref: How the Colt Navy .36 Revolver was gunsmithed and fired during the Civil War by D.L.Rhea copyright 1985.
     
  9. Busyhands94

    Busyhands94 Member

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    I use whiskey head to clean my smokeless shotguns, it melts away any residue in there. That's got a high concentration of alcohol and some other nasty stuff like acetone and such from what I've been told. For BP I generally use hot soap and water, it's more plentiful and works great. :) Don't get me wrong, head works fine for cleaning BP arms. I just prefer my water and soap because that's what I've always used.
     
  10. matt35750

    matt35750 Member

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    Soap and water requires a complete disassembley when cleaning black powder revolvers, it messy and time consuming, requires rinsing, and careful drying. If a rubbing alcohol wipe down was enough that would be of great benefit. Also black powder as well as pydodex and 777 form potassium chloride which is the primary corrosive element according to my research.
     
  11. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    I think water is cheaper than rubbing alcohol. I think I can buy a gallon of bottled water cheaper than a small bottle of rubbing alcohol.
     
  12. vagunmonkey

    vagunmonkey Member

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    FWIW I have been using a mix of rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and Murphy's oil soap (mix 2/2/1) for the last 5 years and have seen no corrosion (and it drys quickly). I easily shoot 200-300 rounds per month using the mix followed by a dry patch, and either ballistol or wd40 at the end of a session.

    I do a complete disassembly and use hot soapy water about every 3 months just to be sure I don't develop a "cake" at the breech in my long guns, and to do a complete cleaning for the internals of the revolver.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2013
  13. Pete D.

    Pete D. Member

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    Alcohol

    I use denatured alcohol as a bore wipe between shots while at the range. For cleaning, I use Moose milk made up of water, Murphy's Oil Soap, and Ballistol.
    I expect that the water content of rubbing alcohol along with its solvent properties would make it an effective cleaner. I shall have to try.
    I wonder about a mix of 70% rubbing alcohol, Murphy's, Ballistol....another Moose Milk formula.
    Pete
     
  14. matt35750

    matt35750 Member

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    I am not talking about using rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and Murphy's oil soap. I am saying just use rubbing alcohol.
     
  15. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

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    I have use ammonia followed by hot water with good results.
     
  16. NCWanderer

    NCWanderer Member

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    Matt, you may be onto something. I'll have to give it a try on one of my revolvers to see for myself.
     
  17. Snaggletooth

    Snaggletooth Member

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    Anybody try Windex? I use it to disable the residue and rinse with real hot water. Windex and a tooth brush really clean up the nipples and sockets. After removing the nipples I use a cotton swab soaked in windex to clean the threads in the cylinder then rinse.
     
  18. Noz

    Noz Member

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    Every possible combination of liquid ingredients have been used to clean black powder firearms including the owners urine.
    All work to some degree but the active ingredient in most of the better ones is water.
     
  19. alsaqr

    alsaqr Member

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    Yes. Windex with vinegar.

    Many of the CASS guys and other BP shooters clean their guns using Windex with vinegar, now called Windex Multi-Surface. Started cleaning my BP centerfire guns with Windex with vinegar about 20 years ago. Mike Venturino, blackpowder shooting editor recommended it. When i got back into muzzleloading i used it to clean those guns too.

    The slightly acidic Windex with vinegar destroys the BP crud which is mostly base material. You can sometimes see it fizz. It works equally well with BP substitutes. i would not use it for BH 209.

    Before leaving the range i run a patch saturated with Windex with vinegar in the bore. By the time i'm home the crud is softened. Then dry patches are used. If needed the bore is again swabbed with a saturated patch followed by dry patches and an oily patch.

    Windex with vinegar makes inline breechplug cleanup a snap. Takes all of about two minutes to spray it the plug, hit the plug with a toothbrush and rinse.
     
  20. sltm1

    sltm1 Member

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    +1 on the Windex...but why do you add vinegar when Windex alone works so well?
     
  21. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    One variety of Windex contains vinegar from the factory as others contain ammonia.
    Either way it is a detergent in water, just what is needed for black.
     
  22. matt35750

    matt35750 Member

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    I once left some stainless steel soak in vinegar for a couple hours and it rusted it , I dont think I would use it on my gun.
     
  23. sltm1

    sltm1 Member

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    Thanx Jim
     
  24. Busyhands94

    Busyhands94 Member

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    I've used vinegar to strip the blue from steel gun parts. A half hour soak did a good job in taking the factory blue off a Pietta Remington cylinder and frame. I wouldn't want to jack up my stuff and use the stuff for cleaning.

    However yesterday I fired my .22 caliber single shot cap and ball derringer. When I was done, I used moonshine likker' heads on a Hoppes nylon brush. That high-power solvent cleaned the bore with one pass using the nylon brush and three patches, the third one was oiled and came out practically spotless. :D
     
  25. alsaqr

    alsaqr Member

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    Last edited: Aug 4, 2013
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