This is a discussion on Homemade ultrasonic case cleaner solution within the Ammunition forums, part of the M14 M1A Forum category; I bought one of the new Hornady ultra-sonic case cleaners and was a bit surprised they don't include a bit of cleaner solution concentrate! Oh ...
I bought one of the new Hornady ultra-sonic case cleaners and was a bit surprised they don't include a bit of cleaner solution concentrate! Oh well. So now I want to make my own. Frugality is it's own reward, right?
Surely there must be a homemade solution that would work safely on brass cartridges?
I've seen a lot of ultra-sonic cleaner solutions on line, mostly for jewelry cleaning, including using a bit of powdered toilet bowl cleaner in your distilled water, with a touch of dishwashing detergent in it. As well, there's some using alcohol (no, not your favorite Bourbon, rather: the methanol, not ethanol version Rubbing alcohol.!), and/or vinegar (it's just a mild acid). Also, ammonia in the water.
So! Any experimentally oriented souls out there who have found "The Final [cleaning] Solution"?
I'm happy to try anything out on some older cases.
I got my Hornady Sonic Cleaner used in a package trade deal, the guy gave me a recipe using vinegar, distilled water, and citric acid. He also gave me a trial size of the Hornady brand solution concentrate.
I also found a few by doing a google search, some worked, some didn't. I used a lemon and salt stuff that softened the cases so bad I threw them into the recycle bin.
After trying both, I stick with the pro-made stuff. It got the cases cleaner, especially around the bottom of the case corners.
Do a search on bing or google, there a quite a few.
BTW I don't even use it for cleaning cases anymore, only pistol parts and trigger groups and BCGs using the Hornady parts cleaner solution. It cuts the cleaning time on an AR-15 in half.
I have Hornady's Magnum ultrasonic cleaner and I've tried several home brews and Hornady's cleaner; Hornady's stuff worked better. It reminds me of Palmolive dish cleaner but it's a bit thinner and I think that they add something else to make it work well with cartridge brass. I do add a quarter cup of ammonia, not because it helps cleaning (it doesn't) but because it helps make the brass a bit shinier. I've noticed that the cleaner starts to loose it's effectiveness after about 200 .308 cases but I increase the cleaning time to make up for it. I normally change out my cleaner after about 300 - 400 cases.
I have the Hornady LnL Sonic Cleaner. Tried their solution, and found it marginal and expensive. I use a Tablespoon of Lemishine and a squirt of Dawn. I rinse under the tap, and put to dry in the AZ Sunshine. Then I polish in the tumbler with corncob and Nufinish. The best investment I've made in case care.
Whatever you choose to do, I suggest this:
1- At least a small amount of soap HAS to be included or the ultrasonic technique will not work well at all. That's why the "dish-washing soap" is included in the above "recipe"....... More soap is not necessarily better but NO soap is not a good idea.
2- May I strongly suggest using only DI water for any cleaning solutions? If your local water has mineral content in it THAT can result in unsightly case stains that are basically impossible to get off of them.
I cleaned several thousand 30-06 cases for a friend and used his brass to experiment with. At one point I compared the home brew that I felt was best against the Hornady cleaner.
The cleaner/shinier brass was the result of using the Hornady cleaner and ammonia. Both cases were cleaned in the ultrasonic cleaner for about 45 min at 90 degrees F (the Magnum cleaner has a temperature control, it's not very accurate but it works). Then they were rinsed in acetone (it displaces water and allows the cases to dry in about 5 min instead of several hours). And finally they were both tumbled in crushed walnut for about 30 min. Total cleaning time is about an hour and a half per load of 50 cases (using .308, if you stack the cases carefully and fill the cleaner to the top with fluid, if you drop the cases in the cleaning basket randomly then you will normally get about 40 or so cases in the basket at a time). Since you can run both the ultrasonic cleaner and the tumbler at the same time, at best, I can run about 100 cases in an hour and a half. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I change the cleaning fluid after about 300 cases for best effect. I could run more through before changing the fluid but the cleaning time will be become longer before I get the same results.
The short case is a .308 case that I added for comparison against the 30-06 cases. I wanted to see if the smaller inside volume would clean any better. Over all the inside of the .308s seem to end up cleaner than the 30-06 but that might be because most of the .308 used commercial powder and were built by me while the 30-06 cases were military surplus and used a different assembly processes and powder. The case on the left is a once fired 30-06, then two 30-06 cases that were cleaned with the two ultrasonic solutions (case #2 Hornady, #3 home brew), and finally a .308 case cleaned with the Hornady cleaner.
Not in the ultrasonic cleaners, and I don't think it would work well even if you were to come up with a good process. I've tried a lot of concoctions over the years, including polishing pastes and I think that baking soda would present the same problem with residue as a paste does. Pastes become problematic when they get in to the primer pocket, it's hard to remove and that's a critical area, you don't want any contaminate around the primer.
The process I outlined in the previous post is the fastest, easiest, and cheapest process that I've found so far.
You should never use ammonia to clean your brass, it will make your brass hard some how. it has something to do with the copper in brass, most copper solvents for cleaning barrels contain ammonia.
You are referring to the process of leaching out the zinc, the trick is to watch for a pink color to the brass. I use about 1/4 cup of ammonia to about 7 cups of cleaning fluid, the brass comes out just fine. I don't have any problems with premature brass failures.
I should correct myself, I believe that you are referring to the process of leaching out the zinc, than again, I may be wrong. Your post made me do some research about the ammonia issue and I've found some interesting papers. I knew the story of how ammonia gases were found to be responsible for ammunition rupturing in India many years ago but I've never read any specifics about the mechanism of how that worked. After reading several papers I feel the need to point out several things.
First, the amount of ammonia has a lot to do with the problem, but yes, ammonia will cause cracking.
Second, it seems that ammonia gas has more effect than liquid ammonia.
Third, the copper will normally turn a dark color, not pink, before it will crack.
Fourth, the brass will begin to crack at points where there is damage to the brass, dents, cuts, etc.
Fifth, annealing will reduce the chances of the ammonia cracking the brass.
So I will say that I am probably getting away with not causing short term damage to my brass because I use small amounts of liquid ammonia. I can also say that, so far, my brass has survived several reloadings ( at least three times up to this point) without any cracking. I normally check my brass for thinning and I throw away the cases that show signs of it. So far I've only had to toss out brass due to thinning and I've never had to throw any out because of cracking. I guess time will tell but I suspect that even if cracks were to appear, it would be well beyond the time when thinning would require that toss the cases.
Last edited by RAMMAC; December 6th, 2012 at 03:19 AM.