How to Sonically Clean Brass Shell Casings

How to Sonically Clean Brass Shell Casings

There are a variety of ways to clean brass shell casings for reloading and reuse, but in our opinion sonically cleaning them in a biodegradable ultrasonic cleaning solution is the best.  That’s because of its speed and thoroughness in removing powder residues, firing chamber residues, oxides and other contaminants on all interior and exterior surfaces of fired shell casings.

Rifle range owners, shooting range owners, shooting clubs and individual gun enthusiasts who reload spent ammunition can quickly chart how soon an ultrasonic cleaner will pay for itself compared to the cost of purchasing loaded shells.

Selecting an Ultrasonic Cleaner for Shell Casings

Ultrasonic cleaners such as the Elmasonic E Plus series are available from iUltrasonic in several sizes.  The individual hobbyist may select the .5 gallon capacity Elmasonic EP20H Ultrasonic Cleaner with separately purchased basket.  Clubs and ranges may choose the largest of the 8 cleaners in the E Plus Series.

The EH-EL series of ultrasonic cleaners are equipped with heaters, timers, and a sweep mode that provides uniform distribution of ultrasonic cavitation throughout the cleaning solution.  Units with a capacity of 1.5 gallons and more are equipped with a drain.

A recommended cleaning solution concentrate is biodegradable elma tec clean S1 especially formulated to remove oxide film, grease, oil, corrosion and polishing media from non-ferrous metals and for brightening brass and copper. Recommended dilution of elma tec clean S1 is to 1 to 5% with water at a cleaning temperature of 30? to 80?C.

A Typical Cleaning Cycle for Brass Shell Casings

Fill the tank half full of water, add the correct amount of  elma tec clean S1 and continue adding water to the tank fill line.  Put the lid on the tank and activate the ultrasound for approximately 10-15 minutes to degas the solution.  Degassing drives off trapped air that slows ultrasonic cleaning action and must be done each time a fresh cleaning solution is prepared.

For best cleaning results lay carefully inspected brass shell casings flat on the bottom of the cleaning basket to ensure the solution fills the casings.  Do not overload the basket.  This diminishes ultrasonic cleaning action and also causes shells to vibrate against each other.

When you are ready, turn on the ultrasound, set the temperature for 50?C and set the timer for 5 minutes. Place the basket into the solution, raising it and lowering it a few times to be sure the solution fills the shells.  Place the lid on the tank to reduce noise and evaporation.

Ultrasonic cleaning will automatically start when the set temperature is reached (it can also be manually activated).  The unit’s powerful 37 kHz ultrasonic frequency produces millions of minute bubbles that implode violently against interior and exterior shell surfaces to safely blast away contaminants.

At the end of the cycle remove the basket and place it on the inverted lid to drain.  Inspect the shells and if satisfied rinse them in fresh water to ensure thorough removal of residues from the inside surfaces and allow them to dry.  After a few cycles you’ll perfect your cleaning routine.  We believe you will find sonic cleaning brass shell casings far faster and more satisfactory compared to tumbling them in walnut and corncob media, using polishing media, or soaking in lemon juice.

Cleaning Solution Maintenance

After a time cleaning efficiency will drop off and must be replaced.  Drain the tank and dispose of the spent solution according to local regulations. Wash the tank with fresh water and allow it to drain and dry. Do not towel it dry.   Then prepare and degas a fresh batch.

Call the iUltrasonic cleaning professionals at 973 440-2191 for further information on cleaning brass shells or for information on ultrasonic rifle and gun cleaning.

More About the Author

Dr. Rachel Kohn has extensive experience in developing technology-based business opportunities. Prior to founding Tovatech, she successfully built international sales of novel analytical instrumentation for Smiths Detection as a Global Account Manager in the Life Sciences division. Dr. Kohn’s prior positions include Director of Business Development at Photon-X, a telecom component start-up, Project Manager at Cardinal Health, and Business Director at the Medical Device Concept Laboratory, a nonprofit research institution focused on development of biomaterials and implantable medical devices. In addition, Dr. Kohn held various positions at Hoechst Celanese Corporation, including Marketing Manager, Project Team Leader, Business Analyst, and Senior Research Scientist. She has authored 37 patents and publications based on laboratory research in diverse fields such as advanced drug delivery systems, polymer films and membranes, optical disks, and polysaccharides. Dr. Kohn has a B.A. in Chemistry from Barnard College and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from M.I.T.