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  1. #1
    The Gunsmithing Moderator blacksmithden's Avatar
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    Citric acid for cleaning brass

    I read back a ways, and it seems like a few guys have been using the stuff with great results. I ordered a 5lb bag off amazon for $20. I just filled my Frankford Arsenal drum tumbler half full of water, added 2 table spoons of citric acid, and dumped in about 100 44 mag brass. Most of it isn't that tarnished, but there's a few range pickups in there that have some fairly deep looking stains on them. How long should I leave this thing rolling around ?
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Rory McCanuck's Avatar
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    2 minutes.
    You need maybe half a teaspoon-full
    Don't blame me, I didn't vote for that clown. Oct 20, '15

  3. #3
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    Like Rory says a little goes along ways.
    My basic recipe that seems to work based on my brass volume and water(very soft water) is 5x red beer pong cups of brass, 5ml of citric acid,10ml Palmolive dish soap.
    Then top of with hot water.

    I use a Coleman 1 gallon jug as the 'barrel' for tumbling( my diy tumbler holds two 'barrels' allowing two seperate calibers to be done at once or a lot of one caliber.


    Before and after range pick up

    Tumbler2.jpg


    Tumbler3.jpg

  4. #4
    The Gunsmithing Moderator blacksmithden's Avatar
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    Oh crap. Ok...way too much acid for way too long. I let it run for an hour. I'll go fish them out now.
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  5. #5
    The Gunsmithing Moderator blacksmithden's Avatar
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    Im going to back up a bit here. These took a 3 hour ride in the tumbler with crushed walnut. They came out with some tarnish on them and the bottoms of most of the cases were still very dark with burnt powder and whatever was left from the range. A 1 hour ride with warm water and citric acid took away ALL of the tarnish on the brass, but theres still grung in the bottoms of some of the cases. When I drained the water, it looked like Id scooped it out of a swamp. I think I'll try running it tomorrow with some clean water and a little dishwasher soap to try and get out the last of the stuff in the bottoms. If necessary, I can throw my stainless steel pins in there. I dont really like using them though as they seem to scratch up the brass. I know the micro scratches wont hurt anything. Its purely an astetics thing. Thanks for the replies guys.

    20200113_212611.jpg

    20200113_212659.jpg
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Camo tung's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacksmithden View Post
    Im going to back up a bit here. These took a 3 hour ride in the tumbler with crushed walnut. They came out with some tarnish on them and the bottoms of most of the cases were still very dark with burnt powder and whatever was left from the range. A 1 hour ride with warm water and citric acid took away ALL of the tarnish on the brass, but theres still grung in the bottoms of some of the cases. When I drained the water, it looked like Id scooped it out of a swamp. I think I'll try running it tomorrow with some clean water and a little dishwasher soap to try and get out the last of the stuff in the bottoms. If necessary, I can throw my stainless steel pins in there. I dont really like using them though as they seem to scratch up the brass. I know the micro scratches wont hurt anything. Its purely an astetics thing. Thanks for the replies guys.

    20200113_212611.jpg

    20200113_212659.jpg
    That's impressive.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Uncle Leo's Avatar
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    I run the FA tumbler full or not at all.

    Warm water. A little squirt of Dawn dish soap. A sprinkle of citric acid. Common measurement is "enough to fill a 9mm case".

    Lemishine at CT or WM is citric acid. Cheap and easy.

    90 minute cycle works well.

    Unless the load is extraordinairliy dirty i don't use the pins as they are a pita.

  8. The Following User Liked This Post By Uncle Leo

    blacksmithden (01-14-2020)

  9. #8
    Senior Member Grimlock's Avatar
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    The pins are only for cleaning the inside, which you don't really need. Too much acid and your brass will turn pink.

    Also, I pick out the nickel ones and run them without citric acid. They go kind of black from it.

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    Rory McCanuck (01-14-2020)

  11. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacksmithden View Post
    Im going to back up a bit here. These took a 3 hour ride in the tumbler with crushed walnut. They came out with some tarnish on them and the bottoms of most of the cases were still very dark with burnt powder and whatever was left from the range.

    A 1 hour ride with warm water and citric acid took away ALL of the tarnish on the brass, but theres still grung in the bottoms of some of the cases. When I drained the water, it looked like Id scooped it out of a swamp. I think I'll try running it tomorrow with some clean water and a little dishwasher soap to try and get out the last of the stuff in the bottoms.

    If necessary, I can throw my stainless steel pins in there. I dont really like using them though as they seem to scratch up the brass. I know the micro scratches wont hurt anything. Its purely an astetics thing. Thanks for the replies guys.
    You should be much more concerned about what extended contact with acid might do to the brass than you should about a few micro scratches. From the reading I did, acid leaches out components of the brass alloy, which weakens it. A few scratches is considerably less significant than the case blowing up in your face.

  12. #10
    Super Moderator Rory McCanuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacksmithden View Post
    Im going to back up a bit here. These took a 3 hour ride in the tumbler with crushed walnut. They came out with some tarnish on them and the bottoms of most of the cases were still very dark with burnt powder and whatever was left from the range. A 1 hour ride with warm water and citric acid took away ALL of the tarnish on the brass, but theres still grung in the bottoms of some of the cases. When I drained the water, it looked like Id scooped it out of a swamp. I think I'll try running it tomorrow with some clean water and a little dishwasher soap to try and get out the last of the stuff in the bottoms. If necessary, I can throw my stainless steel pins in there. I dont really like using them though as they seem to scratch up the brass. I know the micro scratches wont hurt anything. Its purely an astetics thing. Thanks for the replies guys.
    I have found that a 1/2 hour cycle gets the worst off, but then the water should be changed or you're just depositing that yuck back onto the brass.
    If you punch out the primers first and use pins, it'll clean out the primer pockets too.
    I think it'll do a much better job cleaning out the innards too, as the water will be able to flow through rather than trying to push into a deadpool.
    I'm using copper pins, and I don't have a copper magnet, so I use the Frankford Arsenal salad spinner media separator. Does a really good job and I only have to empty pins out of a handfull of cases.
    Between one of those and a big magnet your stainless pins shouldn't be too much of a pain.
    Don't blame me, I didn't vote for that clown. Oct 20, '15

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