Ultrasonic Cleaning Tips for Brass?

OzzyO20

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Ordered a RCBS Ultrasonic cleaner today, and the RCBS case cleaner concentration. I watched some YouTube videos, and holy misinformation Batman! I heard everything from 'don't heat the water cause heated water damages brass' to 'just throw your brass in the oven when your done for an hour.'

I would like to hear form some guys on here what your methods are. Temp settings, length of cleaning, drying methods (case dryer recommendations even), flushing methods, etc.

I was between SS tumbler and ultrasonic, but the ultrasonic ability to change solution and clean AR BCG's, pistol slides and barrels, etc. seemed more useful across the board. I'll still use my dry media tumbler for a quick case lube removal (imperial case wax) after sizing, and to put a little shine back in the cases. I also ordered a carbide expander ball for my Redding FL S-type bushing die since I'm going to have completely clean necks after the old carbon is gone. I figured this would be a little smoother since the old carbon acted as a lube itself.

Thanks everyone.
 

Sniper266

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I am very interested in this as well as i to have be beat up by the misinformation gorilla. I use a hornady sonic cleaner and I tried the whole dawn dish soap and lemi shine crap. It kinda worked but not really. Hornady case cleaner is the best stuff ive found so far. Its almost like it was made to clean brass or something! As for drying brass ive tried the oven set to its lowest temp at 175 for an hour, but i find this usually tarnishes the brass. Since then, ive resorted to leaving my wet brass to dry in the california sun for a day.
I would love to hear what others have found that works!
 

DDRH65CM

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using an ultrasonic cleaner, you should use the correct solution for whatever it is you're cleaning. The Hornady and RCBS solution should work fine as it is made for brass. I was using Isopropyl, but didn't clean as good as Dawn dish soap. I'm sure the solution works better than Dawn. What ever the solution you use, if it breaks down metals, make sure to rinse thoroughly (acidic solutions).

If your sonic cleaner has a "De-Gas" mode, use it when you initially add water to the tank. It'll "de-gas" the liquid so the sonic waves will work better at cleaning. Air bubbles dampen this affect (effect?)

I usually clean small batches of brass inside a beaker placed inside the tank. This will keep my tank clean. The Distilled water/Dawn solution gets reused a few times before i replace.

Also, be careful putting any metals with coatings (not from my experience but from what i've read). It could take off the finish. I used mine to clean my sunglass frame (polymer frame). it worked great!!! then i tried cleaning some old damaged lenses...bad idea, it took off the coating LOL.

I've read some folks use CLR, be careful with that, make sure you use only a little with a lot of water. and rinse it all off. Distilled water is cheap at your local supermarket. Tap water may leave residue if you dry to quickly in an oven. I just bought a separate food dehydrator for this.

Heat - i use between 25C-45C. The ultrasonic cleaner while active will also create heat and temperature will rise. I'll set @ 30C and it'll go up to 40C. Brass gets annealed around 450C-500C (roughly 900F??), so NO, it will not damage your brass.

I'm using a small 3/4 gallon commercial Elmasonic P30H.
 

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JayB

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I use laundry detergent (Tide) with a little bit of citric acid in ultrasonic cleaner for 15 minutes, no heat, tap water only. Afterwards, I rinse in water first then dip in 70% isopropyl alcohol to remove all trace of water. After draining the brass is air dried on a towel. It should only take a minute for it to dry. The brass is fairly clean at this point, including primer pockets. I then deprime with a decapping die, followed by tumbling in stainless steel media using laundry detergent only for half hour to one hour. Rinse in water then dip in 90% isopropyl alcohol. Once drained brass instantly dry. Brass looks shiny at this point and completely clean, inside and out.
 
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cooter64

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I have used both the small hornady ultrasonic cleaner and the harbor freight lyman knockoff (or visa versa) The hf one works great, hthe eats up nice. I even would preheat the water to 120, the unit will take it up to 140. I used distilled water and hornady's sonic solution. My problem is it works to well. Yea ultra clean cases are pretty, but the necks get squeaky clean and it mad my es and sd's double if not more. I may use them after a 1/2 dozen firings or so, but not after every firing. Some carbon in the neck has been helpful. I mostly just tumble in corn cob now.
 

Decoy

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I deprime and trim first, I use a solution that is good for brass. I use heat and I stir them around every once in a while.

Rinse with cold water and let them dry. I personally tumble them for about 20 minutes after they have dried to remove any water stains.
 

TripleBull

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I agree with Decoy - deprime first. I've used a few concentrates and they work fine. After that, I use distilled water, then a quick clean with isopropanol (but not running alcohol). Then they air dry quickly.
 

Yondering

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I'd be curious why the OP thinks drying brass in the oven is misinformation.

Personally I tried the ultrasonic cleaning and gave up on it for brass, just because it took a long time to do anything more than small batches. To get brass really clean and shiny now, I soak in a citric acid bath, dry in the oven, then dry tumble for a while. All of that still takes less time than going through small batches in my ultrasonic cleaner, although it's still handy for other things.
 

OzzyO20

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I'd be curious why the OP thinks drying brass in the oven is misinformation.

Personally I tried the ultrasonic cleaning and gave up on it for brass, just because it took a long time to do anything more than small batches. To get brass really clean and shiny now, I soak in a citric acid bath, dry in the oven, then dry tumble for a while. All of that still takes less time than going through small batches in my ultrasonic cleaner, although it's still handy for other things.
Because in doing research I found people claiming hot water wasn’t even safe, let alone oven temps. I didn’t say I believed anything more than another, hence why I’m on here asking for advise and tips.

The capacity does make me wonder a bit, but I think I can do 150 cases of 6.5 creed at a time in this if I read right. More or less what my dry tumbler holds.

What temp and how long did you dry in the oven?
 

spife7980

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So long as you don’t get it over 450 degrees no material change is going to happen. Now if you have the oven set for 200 but have them set right on the burner where it’s gets much hotter then you can have issues.

408B6C11-C6A4-481E-95ED-0E6C96BFA5AC.jpeg
 
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Fig

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If hot water hurts them how about putting them in a hot chamber and the firing them! That must destroy brass if hot water hurts. My annealer must vaporize brass.

I sonic clean a lot of gun parts, but I shoot enough that I would need a $5000 sonic tub to clean brass with it.
Besides, 30 minutes in a pin tumbler with a dash of Dawn and Lemishine gets them cleaner than hours in a sonic bath...
 
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OzzyO20

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If hot water hurts them how about putting them in a hot chamber and the firing them! That must destroy brass if hot water hurts. My annealer must vaporize brass.

I sonic clean a lot of gun parts, but I shoot enough that I would need a $5000 sonic tub to clean brass with it.
Besides, 30 minutes in a pin tumbler with a dash of Dawn and Lemishine gets them cleaner than hours in a sonic bath...
That's my point, there is a ton of misinformation. I realize how dumb the hot water claim was just so were all on the same page lol. I was using those two very different statements to illustrate just how bad the information varies.
 

Yondering

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So long as you don’t get it over 450 degrees no material change is going to happen. Now if you have the oven set for 200 but have them set right on the burner where it’s gets much hotter then you can have issues.

View attachment 6928444
Yes exactly. Good chart.

I dry in the oven at 200* for however long it takes. 223 brass takes a lot longer than something like 45 Auto, and i don't really time it, but generally a few hours? At that temp, you could leave it there for a week with no effect to the metal properties.
 

gigamortis

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I deprime first and use a Hornady Magnum Ultrasonic cleaner with the Hornady solution and a hint of Lemishine. Rinse in tap water after cleaning, skake excess water out, then anneal necks and shoulders. The heat from annealing finishes drying the cases.
 
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MTRecon

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For drying I simply lay them on a towel all on the side of the case and let them air dry. 24/48 hours max to dry...in the winter with the furnace going they dry fast. Since I use large lots of brass I'm working on other batches while these are drying.

If the cases aren't decapped they dry completely in about 5 days but I don't usually use this method anymore.