Citric acid bath for pistol brass - question!

JWFilips

Well-Known Member
I seldom use citric acid wash for my rifle brass: I shoot it a lot and keep it tidy with a stint in the old Franklin vibrator with walnut hulls when it looks dingy ( sorry I like shiny brass). Citric acid wash is only used when I pick range brass or if someone gives me some old brass.
Of course range pick pistol brass is more plentyful...so I usually clean it in the wash first then dry and walnut hull it. ( I'm not a SS pin guy)

Recently I came into 300 pieces of range pick 32 acp ( I would like to start shooting my WWI and WW2 vintage 32 autos again & did not want to worry about loosing too much brass
Anyway; I deprimed these cases in a Lee universal de-prime die ( they were old and dark with some grit so I did not want to use my size die)
I threw them in the vibrator for 2 hours then Into my normal hot Citric acid bath ( 3 tablespoons pure Citric acid powder and a squirt of Dawn Dish wash liquid to 1 quart boiling water....the all were bright and shinny in about a minute but I stirred them around for 4 min poured off the bath and rinsed in cold water ( I normally rinse off in hot water but I did this outside this time.) Once I Poured off the rinse water and they hit the air they took on a darker color. OK I have seen this before.
So I dried them completely and put them back in the Franklin & walnut hulls for 8 hours...... However they came out not shiny like my rifle brass!
Is this because They have so much less mass? Maybe 24 hours may have been better?
When I think about it I never Cleaned and Vibrated this small of a size brass....... Could this possibly be the reason?
Any thoughts?
 

Ian

Notorious member
1 teaspoon per gallon and no detergent (if brass isn't greasy) and just warm water should do it. Too concentrated can make brass dark, even black. Rinse with rainwater or distilled water for best results.
 

popper

Well-Known Member
I use a tad of lemishine for my brass - it softens our calcium rich water. It is a mild acid and heated will be more active. Just be aware of pink spots on the brass - not good - some metal leached out. Range PU is often really 'dark' anyway. Saw a guy shooting 06 several yrs back, brass was DARK brown/black. Probably just wiped it down, added primer/powder/jacketed bullet & back to shoot. IIRC he, his rifle and brass looked like WWI vintage.
 

shuz

Member
I use Lemi-shine I get at Wally World for my brass. It gets all brass nice and clean and with a dull shine. I often forgo using my tumbler to polish the brass unless I really want shiny brass, which is almost never thesr days. Clean brass is the objective for me not necessarily shiny!
 

JonB

Halcyon member
when I have bags of range brass to wash and remove tarnish.

First I use hot tap water (in a bucket) and a squirt of Dawn dish soap for initial cleaning, sometimes I am picking them up in the Minnesota mud.
Then,
I use a dedicated crockpot for citric acid bath. I do use 3 tablespoons of pure citric acid powder per gallon of tap water, lots more than Ian mentions. I get the Crockpot HOT, near boiling. I use a netting bag, and put the first batch of brass in the crockpot, for like one minute ...I watch it close. Then I rinse in cold tap water a few times, different water, different buckets. Then I dry them on a towel on a picnic table (summer time) or livingroom floor in front of wood stove (winter time). Usually after a couple batches, I need to leave the brass in the hot solution longer. Then once the solution quits working, it turns blue/green. I was told you could put prepared steel in the solution for a "plating" type of finish...I did that with some Harbor Freight adjustable pliers that had NO finish on the steel...What I ended up with is more of a blue-black type finish like on a gun...It has kept those cheap pliers from rusting, so it's all good, even though I was expecting them to look copper plated, LOL :)

After the brass got the Hot bath and drying...Generally, I don't tumble them. They are clean and passivated. They are not shiney, they have a dull finish. I was told the "passivated" finish deters future tarnishing, and I can say that is exactly what I've experienced...in fact, I have never seen them get tarnished.
 

trapper9260

Member
Frist I tumbler them in grounded walnut shelI and then size and deprime and I just use the Citric acid with the hot water and then in cold water and let dry then I put in the tumbler with grounded corn cobs and then they come out shiny ,I will see about use the Dawn in the mix see how that gose. I will see about what you do JonB on not take the dull finish off. since you got them not to tarnished .
 

Rally

NC Minnesota
I do about the same as JonB with the Lemi Shine, but then tumble all my brass to a bright shine. I like pretty brass. I use the Nu Finish and mineral spirits in my walnut media.
My range pick ups have usually been stepped on and full of sand/ dirt, because I pick most of it up in gravel pits two-three weeks before deer season, left by guys sighting in their rifles before season. Any of this type brass gets hot water dish soap bath first. I have enough brass that if it's tarnished too bad it goes in the recycle bucket.
 

Mitty38

Well-Known Member
Never used Citric Acid. Of course I do not tumble anything either. With my limited space it is just more stuff to try and store, and deal with
I have a formula I made up to wash my range brass and bring backs that works out well. Think it is along the same lines though.
I have a garden bucket I use.
I use vinegar, salt, borax and hot water. Squirt of dawn, let it soak for abought an hour. If I am not going to be using it right away I might throw in a squirt of some kind of liquid wax. Throw some old "ben shot and recovered" bb's in the mix. Then swirl and shake. Pour some of the crap out, add some water. repeat till the water runs clear, then dump on an old window screen to dry. When it is done I pick the brass up and use the screen to funnel the bb,s back into their can for the next time. They come out pretty shinny.
If any black is left inside of any of them I clean it out with a q tip, wend I am inspecting each case.
Works well for my pocket book, cleans up every thing nice, Cuts down on storage cause everything I use gets repurposed.
May have to check out the citric acid it may be cheaper then all the vinegar and salt I have been using.
 
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waco

Springfield, Oregon
Never used Citric Acid. Of course I do not tumble anything either. With my limited space it is just more stuff to try and store, and deal with
I have a formula I made up to wash my range brass and bring backs that works out well. Think it is along the same lines though.
I have a garden bucket I use.
I use vinegar, salt, borax and hot water. Squirt of dawn, let it soak for abought an hour. If I am not going to be using it right away I might throw in a squirt of some kind of liquid wax. Throw some old "ben shot and recovered" bb's in the mix. Then swirl and shake. Pour some of the crap out, add some water. repeat till the water runs clear, then dump on an old window screen to dry. When it is done I pick the brass up and use the screen to funnel the bb,s back into their can for the next time. They come out pretty shinny.
If any black is left inside of any of them I clean it out with a q tip, wend I am inspecting each case.
Works well for my pocket book, cleans up every thing nice, Cuts down on storage cause everything I use gets repurposed.
May have to check out the citric acid it may be cheaper then all the vinegar and salt I have been using.
 

Mitty38

Well-Known Member
^^^Ye, that probably would be at least a little less expensive in the long run, and I could use it for canning to.
 

waco

Springfield, Oregon
A 12-oz container of Lemi-Shine is like four bucks at the 'mart.
And it would last for a year or more if used properly. I buy in bulk because I also use it for cleaning rocks before different lapidary procedures.