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Using Brake Cleaner to clean guns can be dangerous.

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by stchman, Sep 22, 2010.

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  1. stchman

    stchman Member

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    Apparently there are real dangers by using brake cleaner to clean your firearms.

    I use it all the time as it does get the metal REAL clean.

    The problem is that when brake cleaner gets hot one of the by-products is PHOSGENE gas. This was one of the chemical weapons used in WWI trench warfare. In small doses the chemical can be deadly or worse can cause you to have horrible scarring in your nose and lungs while causing your pancreas to shut down.

    Good news is that phosgene gas needs chlorine in its makeup and NON-CHLORINATED brake cleaner is missing the chlorine needed.

    My advice is to buy only non-chlorinated brake cleaner. Fortunately a lot of gun people like me use the blue can of non-chlorinated brake cleaner gotten from Walmart. There is a red can of CRC that Walmart sells that I believe contains chlorine (CRC green can brake cleaner is non-chlorinated).

    Attached is an article of a guy that was almost killed by what I am talking about.

    http://www.brewracingframes.com/id75.htm
     
  2. 45Fan

    45Fan Member

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    Wow! I learned my something new today!! I guess that it would be a good idea to point out that brake parts cleaner is also flamible, and while unlikely, it is a good idea to let the gun cool off before hosing it down.
     
  3. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    It has to actually burn not just get hot to become phosgene gas. Just as refrigerant (flourocarbons)such as R12 had to burn to produce the gas. Even in the refrigeration industry,unless you were smoking or using a halide torch you were pretty safe.
     
  4. Hanzo581

    Hanzo581 Member

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    Just out of curiosity, what makes you guys use things that aren't intended for firearms to clean/lube them?

    Do they really perform that much better?
     
  5. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Member

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    Brake cleaner isn't so much brake-specific, as it is a commonly labeled general-purpose cleaner and degreaser.

    Guns very seldom actually need anything designed just for guns--mechanical cleaners and lubricants often work perfectly fine.

    Also, yes, brake cleaner works amazingly well at cleaning off buildup.
     
  6. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    MSDS lists incineration as an acceptable method of disposal.<http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/mediawebserver?mwsId=SSSSSuUn_zu8l00x4Y_9Px_BMv70k17zHvu9lxtD7SSSSSS--> .
     
  7. MrOldLude

    MrOldLude Member

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    While I'm not personally one of the guys that lubes his guns with motor oil, guns are for the most part, fairly simple and durable machines. Machines from simple materials. Steel, aluminum, wood, plastic.

    There's really no magic formula for solvents. If it won't hurt the materials, no big deal.
     
  8. Zach S

    Zach S Member

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    Brake cleaner and Gun Scrubber perform about the same IMO - but I can get three cans of CRC brakleen for the price of one can of gunscrubber.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2010
  9. Hanzo581

    Hanzo581 Member

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    Ah, I get the cost savings then, and if they work just as well if not better I get that.
     
  10. Steve H

    Steve H Member

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    Same reason I use it
     
  11. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

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    I never could get the mentality that says it must be labeled as for use on ????
    If someone labeled bear fat as a gun lube would it mean it was a good product?
    It seems we have or are losing all sence of judgement.
     
  12. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    Same here but also we have ONE supplier for Gunscrubber (WalMart) and a dozen auto parts stores.
     
  13. zoom6zoom

    zoom6zoom Member

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    If you check the MSDS on the products, you'll often find that they are the same thing... but the one sold in the gun shop has a different label and 500% markup.
     
  14. Hanzo581

    Hanzo581 Member

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    I am a computer geek that just so happens to love firearms. I use things that are labeled appropriately for fear that what I use may have an adverse affect on the item I am cleaning if I choose some other non specific cleaner.
     
  15. Texas Gun Person

    Texas Gun Person Member

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    The exact reason they tell you to never store pool chemicals and brake cleaner together.





    When we run rookie school at my fire deparment this is one of the mixtures we always show them. :)

    Just pouring brake cleaner into a pile of chlorine will cause it to ignite and put off some nice fumes.
     
  16. AirForceShooter

    AirForceShooter Member

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    NAPA is my friend
    Sally's Beauty Supply is my friend.
    CVS is my friend.

    I can't rmember the last time I bought gun cleaming stuff that was labeled "Gun".

    AFS
     
  17. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

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    I can understand that, I am kind of a gear head and look at a gun much like any other kind of machine.
    There are certainly some chemicals that will do harm but after years of dealing with metal, wood and plastic I have yet to hurt a gun by cleaning or lubing it with a variety of non specified compounds.
     
  18. stchman

    stchman Member

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    Gunscrubber, Break Free Powder Blast, etc. are just brake cleaner with the "gun" label and marked up quite a bit.

    Do you only use gun stain, gun varnish, or gun polyurethane when you re-finish a gun stock?

    Do you only use gun screwdrivers, gun punches, or gun pliers when taking a gun apart? Does Larry Potterfield use only gun files when he re-crowns a barrel?

    There is no magic gun cleaners, gun oils, gun tools, gun finishes, etc.

    All this being said, I still use Hoppe's #9 as a solvent as it is specifically formulated to clean burnt powder and other foulings. I am also going to assume that there is another solvent that will work as good or better than Hoppe's #9 at a lower price. I have just not found it.
     
  19. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

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    IMO, brake cleaner is an absolutely fantastic degreaser, which is what it's designed to do---make sure brake components are free of oil and grease that will prevent the pads/shoes and the disks/drums from wearing in properly. What it is not, IMO, is a great cleaner of carbon deposits and whatnot, and it is pretty much useless on copper fouling.

    In the rare event you need to degrease/de-oil something (such as when you're refinishing the metal, or removing the cosmoline or gum from an old milsurp when you first get it), sure, brake cleaner is a fine product to use. But for cleaning the fouling that results from shooting, it is IMO inferior to powder/copper solvents, particularly the newer generation of foaming solvents. Not to mention the fact that the fumes are awful, that it is fiercely efficient at drying out your skin, and that it is not always compatible with modern finishes or some plastics.

    I'm not being a gun-product snob---heck, I use Mobil 1 5W30 or 10W30 as my primary gun lube---but it just seems to me that using a degreaser to clean copper/carbon deposits is inferior to actually using a copper and carbon solvent.
     
  20. JellyJar

    JellyJar Member

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    Many years ago I had a friend that always used motor oil on his Colt DS. One day it froze solid and he had to soak it in kerosene to get the parts to work!

    By the way, would this brake cleaner hurt nickel plated guns?
     
  21. CHEVELLE427

    CHEVELLE427 Member

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    BEEN USING
    brake cleaner for some time now on my guns and even on my brakes :what:, also works good as a degrease before you paint your motor on you car if you ever rebuild the motor in your car :rolleyes:. works for cleaning oil pans, brackets , pulleys, kills wasp, dries the crap out of my hands also :uhoh:,
    burns a lot too when you spray it into the small holes in a Holley carb and it shoots out another hole pointing at your face :eek:.

    works great to clean the gas port out on a desert eagle, bend the red hose a little and stick it in the hole and blow all the crap out.
    also i use my air compressor to blow the gun dry and in the hard to reach places

    up side is it is cheep :)

    down side it will destroy some older plastic grips some guns have, like the ones on a 1964 browning nomad.:banghead:

    lucky for me i found a new set for $20. lesson learned from that :D.

    while we are on it i also use a mobil1 synthetic zero wt oil for the running parts on my guns, springs,slide,bolts,anything that moves,, just not for any rust protection, reg gun oil for that,;)
     
  22. jnyork

    jnyork Member

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  23. Hatterasguy

    Hatterasguy Member

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    No I don't use that crap its to strong, I use Mil Comm. I prefer a cleaner that won't get me high in the basement.

    I don't really care that it costs a bit more, my health is worth it. You can always go out and make more money, but when your liver shuts down from handling the chemicals that's harder to fix.
     
  24. Army

    Army Member

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    The reason you use firearms designed chemicals, is because they have been engineered for firearms and their protective finishes.

    The detergents and other chemicals to keep motor oil working in extreme conditions, is simply tortureous on bluing or phophate finish. Brake and carb cleaners remove ALL oils, including the oil in places you must fully disassemble in order to get the oil back on/in. Easy-Off will remove the finish from any AR-15 in about "right now", leaving a whiteish grey film, to bare metal areas.

    There's a reason Castrol doesn't advertise their oils for guns.
     
  25. Hanzo581

    Hanzo581 Member

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    See, I am not in to learning lessons by making mistakes, I prefer learning from others mistakes.
     
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