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Old 07-09-2018, 07:26 PM
johngalt johngalt is offline
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Default less health-hazardous brass cleaning method?

I've been reloading for a little over 10 years now, and cleaning the brass is probably my least favorite chore in the process. I have been using dry corn cob media in a Lyman Turbo 1200 vibrator.

I do it outside, but it is still an extremely dirty chore. I take precautions, such as immediately throw all the clothes I was wearing in washer and take a shower, but I am concerned that the media and dust is still contaminating everything. I don't much want to handle dirty media any more.

I'm wondering if there is a wet method that is less messy, especially if it would mean no more separating the brass from the media. I guess the downside would be waiting for the brass to dry.
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Old 07-09-2018, 07:44 PM
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Many use a citric acid solution, but it doesn't get the brass really shiny like tumbling. A product called Lemi-Shine is sold in supermarkets for use in dishwashers, and it is nothing but citric acid with an anti-caking agent added. About a heaping tablespoon in a gallon of water will do it. Some feel a squirt of liquid dishwashing detergent like Dawn helps the solution. Soaking time is not critical. I usually let cases soak overnight.
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Old 07-09-2018, 07:56 PM
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Many use a citric acid solution, but it doesn't get the brass really shiny like tumbling. A product called Lemi-Shine is sold in supermarkets for use in dishwashers, and it is nothing but citric acid with an anti-caking agent added. About a heaping tablespoon in a gallon of water will do it. Some feel a squirt of liquid dishwashing detergent like Dawn helps the solution. Soaking time is not critical. I usually let cases soak overnight.
Do you just let the brass soak in a bucket? Do you rinse it after the soak?

I don't care if the brass isn't shiny, I just want to be able to handle it without contaminating everything and not scratch up the dies.
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Old 07-09-2018, 08:18 PM
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You're greatly overestimating the problem. Throwing your clothes in the wash? The hell are you doing, emptying the tumbler out over your head?

*If you're pouring the whole thing out, don't. Get a kitty-litter scooper, a deep one, to get the brass out of the tumbler. You can either shake them out one at a time by hand, or use a media separator (worth it).



*Cut down the dust by adding 2-4 tablespoons of mineral spirits to the media. While you're at it, a dab of Nu Finish shines up brass really nice.

*De-dust your media a little bit by running some used dryer sheets in them.

*Get some powder-free nitrile gloves for reloading. Handy for gun-cleaning, too. Gets you out of a lot of hand-washing.

Last edited by Wise_A; 07-09-2018 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 07-09-2018, 08:22 PM
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Tumbling brass won't hurt you. PERIOD.
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Old 07-09-2018, 08:32 PM
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Barkeepers friend in a bucket of water.Swish em around awhile and let it sit for an hour.Rinse them off a couple of times and dry in the sun.If you want more shine,tumble for a bit in clean media
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Old 07-09-2018, 08:44 PM
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I bought a tumbler from Harbor Freight. It's small, but works great. It gets my brass really clean. I can tumble roughly 100 cases of .45 a.c.p. or 200 rounds of 9mm. using stainless steal media. I put in my dirty cases, the stainless steal media, a pinch of Lemi Shine and a few drops of Dawn dish soap and fill it with water. Seal it and tumble it for around 4 hours. When finished, I separate the cases from the media and put the cases on a towel out on my porch overnight. 100% dust free.
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Old 07-09-2018, 08:47 PM
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What Arjay said: Rinse first then tumble. Don't drink the rinse water.
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Old 07-09-2018, 08:51 PM
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I won't use a tumbler due to the dust produced. Instead I use the warm water, lemon juice, salt, and dish soap method. The lead stays contained in the solution and goes down the drain.
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Old 07-09-2018, 08:58 PM
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With all the unhealthy things I've done by choice or had to do to make a living over the years (was a Nuclear Power Operator for years, just like Homer Simpson), the last thing I'm worried about is reloading hazards!
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Old 07-09-2018, 09:17 PM
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Default Tumbling

If you're only dry tumbling add a cap full of Nu-Finish. That will stop the dusting. I universal de-cap then wet tumble with stainless media, dawn, and lemon shine , size, trim then dry tumble with Nu-Finish.
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Old 07-09-2018, 10:49 PM
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I think you're being overly concerned also. I use pet cage walnut media and scoop the cases out with my hands. I keep my hands away from my face and wash them afterwards.
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Old 07-09-2018, 11:00 PM
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I just use hot water and a little soap. Any carbon or tarnish that remains acts as a lubricant. I've purchased once fired brass that was tumbled until it was shiny and much harder to size using the old steel sizing dies I prefer.
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Old 07-10-2018, 02:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johngalt View Post
Do you just let the brass soak in a bucket? Do you rinse it after the soak?

I don't care if the brass isn't shiny, I just want to be able to handle it without contaminating everything and not scratch up the dies.
I let the cases sit overnight then pour off the citric acid solution. You don't need to pour the solution down the drain as it can be re-used for a long time. I store mine in 3L soda pop bottles. I do rinse the cases under a faucet, I use a Spaghetti strainer to do that. Then spread the cases out over a towel to dry.
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Old 07-10-2018, 05:22 AM
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I also use the Stainless Steel pins and a drum tumbler. There is a little Lem a shine and dish soap in the hot water. I let tumble for 1 to 2 hours, separate and rinse with hot water to help speed drying. If you de-cap first (I size at that time also) it cleaned the primer pocket to like new! If you use standard dies and need to lube cases, it cleaned off the lube also.

I had a couple of hundred cases (mostly 45-70 and all brass 12 gauge) that were stained black from Black Powder loads dumped in water after firing, Some had been black like this for 20 years. It only took 3 or 4 hours to give them a like new appearance!

All the liquid goes down the toilet with a flush, and that mess is gone. Rinse the pins after every few batches or when doing black powder cases every batch and they last for as long as you don't lose them!

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Old 07-10-2018, 06:04 AM
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Not to light off another anxiety for you (the OP), but you probably absorb more airborne lead in a single indoor range session than you do in a year's worth of reloading.

And whatever you do, don't take up bullet casting!

Which is not at all to make light of a very serious problem. Lead exposure can be deadly.

Alas, we now live in a world inundated with anxious worry. Everything is a threat. And there's a compulsion to protect ourselves - or have the government do it for us - from anything that might hurt you.

Empirical evidence would suggest that with a bit of common sense, shooting and reloading - and tumbling brass - is perfectly safe. You can bring your tumbler back inside.

The bad news is you're going to die. The good news is that it isn't going to be because of your shooting hobby.
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Old 07-10-2018, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Wise_A View Post
You're greatly overestimating the problem. Throwing your clothes in the wash? The hell are you doing, emptying the tumbler out over your head?

*If you're pouring the whole thing out, don't. Get a kitty-litter scooper, a deep one, to get the brass out of the tumbler. You can either shake them out one at a time by hand, or use a media separator (worth it).



*Cut down the dust by adding 2-4 tablespoons of mineral spirits to the media. While you're at it, a dab of Nu Finish shines up brass really nice.

*De-dust your media a little bit by running some used dryer sheets in them.

*Get some powder-free nitrile gloves for reloading. Handy for gun-cleaning, too. Gets you out of a lot of hand-washing.
I agree with HALF of what is suggested, but not the other half. I do pour the entire media into a very large dedicated salad bowl (yes turn the tumbler upside down).

Then I use a spaghetti strainer (litter strainer is fine), to separate the brass from the media. I actually put the brass back into the tumbler without the media and run it for 15-30sec. This further knocks out +99% of remaining media in brass. After that, I remove the brass and clean out the boxer hole.

Why do I pour ALL of the media out of the tumbler?
When I return the media to the tumbler, I carefully pour it back into the tumbler. NOTE - this leaves a thin film of spent powder at the bottom of the salad bowl that I can remove with a paper towel. IMO, this actually "partially" cleans the media, extending the media's life.
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Old 07-10-2018, 06:49 AM
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What exactly is the concern here? Is it lead? If you shoot plated bullets, the only residue you could get into the air is burnt powder and burnt primer residue. Are either all that bad for you?
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:27 AM
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What exactly is the concern here? Is it lead? If you shoot plated bullets, the only residue you could get into the air is burnt powder and burnt primer residue. Are either all that bad for you?
Actually most primers used in reloading contain lead styphnate. I would first advise the OP to get his lead blood level checked as a base line. I then would use latex or similar gloves during the tumbling operation. When pouring out tumbling media, he might want to use a 3M mask with the appropriate filter. I also use DeLead hand cleaning products. My lead levels have been very low. Of course there is the issue of having lead dust in your reloading area. There are HEPA vacuum cleaners that can help there.
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:42 AM
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I use a 50 / 50 mix of Nu-Finish car wax & odorless mineral spirits
( about a 1/3 of a shot glass) with crushed walnut hulls. Don't notice any dust. Plus the vibrator cleaning is gone in the garage.

For a sorter I have a 5 gallon & a 2 gallon plastic bucket. The 2 gal. has a bunch of holes drilled in the bottom just a bit smaller than the dia. of a 9mm case.

I reload and shoot quite a bit, mostly outdoors. Last time my lead levels were checked I was still good..

Last edited by old&slow; 07-10-2018 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:53 AM
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I use citric acid in warm water with drop or two of dawn. I then rinse them and put them on an old cookie sheet to dry. Buy the citric acid at wally world in the food canning section.

Works for me.

Have a blessed day,

Leon
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by JagmanFL View Post
I bought a tumbler from Harbor Freight. It's small, but works great. It gets my brass really clean. I can tumble roughly 100 cases of .45 a.c.p. or 200 rounds of 9mm. using stainless steal media. I put in my dirty cases, the stainless steal media, a pinch of Lemi Shine and a few drops of Dawn dish soap and fill it with water. Seal it and tumble it for around 4 hours. When finished, I separate the cases from the media and put the cases on a towel out on my porch overnight. 100% dust free.
I just got that same one after my Dillon blew a motor. With the 20% coupon, it was less than 43 bucks. So far, after about 5 batches of mixed shells, it seems to be well built. I wash my brass in a solution of simple green and hot water, then rinse them well and dry them on a cookie sheet in the oven set at 150. Then tumble them in walnut media with a cap of nu-finish poured in. I deprime after tumbling, since I have a Lee classic turret press.
I donít see dust as an issue, but I think tumbling after washing keeps more stuff out of the air.
How often do you change media? And how often do you add the nu-finish? Iíve been running about 8 batches (maybe 500-600 shells) before dumping and refilling media. And I just add a capful in the beginning.
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Old 07-10-2018, 09:09 AM
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Interesting to see the elaborate methods folks have come up with. I zip dirty brass in to a mesh bag designed to hold "ladies' delicates" , throw it in to the washer and run it through a cycle.

They don't come out shiny, but they come out clean.
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Old 07-10-2018, 09:25 AM
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I have the same setup as the op except I do use a tumbler type separator from RCBS after tumbling. NuFinish car polish and used dryer sheets keep the dust down. Also changing the media more often helps. Never felt the need to wash my clothes after tumbling brass.
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Old 07-10-2018, 09:30 AM
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Most of the op's problems come from their selection in tumbling media. Corn cob media itself is dusty and it does little to absorb the dust that comes from tumbling cases.

Save your old drier sheets and add them (2 pieces) to your tumbler when doing a batch of brass. They will come out black from collecting the dust & will keep your media clean longer.

Myself, I use this product as media when I use a traditional tumbler to clean my brass.
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Arm-Hamme...73&wpa_bucket=

I'm actually tumbling 400 38spl cases in it right now. It does an excellent job of cleaning cases and their is no dust with this product.

As others have already stated critic acid & dish soap works. Wet tumbling with and without pins also works.

I like to use the product above and dry tumble or wet tumble with or without pins. Either way, there's no dust.
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Old 07-10-2018, 09:41 AM
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I have the same setup as the op except I do use a tumbler type separator from RCBS after tumbling. NuFinish car polish and used dryer sheets keep the dust down. Also changing the media more often helps. Never felt the need to wash my clothes after tumbling brass.
I do have a RCBS separator, with the inner slotted basket. I pour it into the basket, close the lid, crank the handle. It does a pretty good job of separating the media.

The problem is pouring from the tumbler to the separator, then the separator back into the tumbler, and digging the brass out of the basket. I keep my brass in ziplock bags. Some always spills, dust gets in the air and all over me and the clothes. Then it gets tracked inside and can contaminate the kitchen. The brass, even if supposedly clean, is still covered with a thin film of dust.

I have had a blood test, my lead levels are normal. I don't consider it to be silly to take precautions to avoid preventable chronic conditions. I also don't shoot indoors.
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:40 AM
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You need to wear a bio-hazard suit with respirator.

Honestly, if you're worried about the used corn cob material you should not be shooting any gun, let alone reloading.
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:48 AM
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You need to wear a bio-hazard suit with respirator.

Honestly, if you're worried about the used corn cob material you should not be shooting any gun, let alone reloading.
I wonder if the threads I see posted all of the time complaining about their many preventable, chronic diseases wish they weren't so flippant about their health in the past.
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:58 AM
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I actually put the brass back into the tumbler without the media and run it for 15-30sec. This further knocks out +99% of remaining media in brass. After that, I remove the brass and clean out the boxer hole.
Now why didn't I think of that?
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:58 AM
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I appreciate the suggestions. I'll try soaking my brass in the citric acid solution, and see how that goes.
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Old 07-10-2018, 11:00 AM
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It's not lead in the tumbling residue that is harmful - instead, it's the mess left over from the spent primers...something "styphenate".
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Old 07-10-2018, 12:28 PM
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A Citric Acid comment. I usually buy it 10 pounds at a time off eBay, much cheaper that way. Of course I use only a minuscule amount of that for case cleaning. My wife uses most of it in her dishwasher - it prevents mineral scum on dishes and glassware, and that is what Lemi-Shine is sold for at about triple the price of bulk Citric Acid. 10 pounds of Citric Acid will last a couple of years, and I am about ready to buy another 10 pounds as I am down to about a half-pound.
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Old 07-10-2018, 12:44 PM
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No offence intended, but I'm thinking this is a "joke" thread, that the OP is pulling our leg. Tumble outside then immediately change clothes? (Sheldon Cooper ain't that paranoid). I don't know any reloaders that are this frightened of some dust exposure once or twice per month (if it was several times per day, maybe). The amount of lead in the dust is infinitesimal, too little to be considered. But there are several methods mentioned above to stay "safe" when tumbling brass .

There are many household chores that are more "toxic/dangerous" than tumbling brass, and stay away from bullet casting. Most city air is more dangerous than tumbling dust and in rural areas do the farms spray toxic materials (or any chemicals) from airplanes?

If the OP is offended by my observation, I apologize.

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Old 07-10-2018, 02:04 PM
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If you are worried about the dust, then look into the Frankford Arsenal wet tumbler system. Mine came with 5 lbs of stainless steel pins. Deprime your cases first with a depriming die, then chunk the cases in the tumbler, add pins, about a teaspoon of Lemishine and a little shot of Dawn and tumble about an hour. I use my Dillon case separator to separate brass from pins and also rinse them with clean water at that time, then put them on an aluminum tray and place in the oven at around 200-210 degree and dry them for about 30-45 minutes. They will come out nice and clean and shiny, but the cleaning process strips every bit of oil and such off the cases so you might need to give them a little lube when resizing. You can also resize and deprime before wet tumbling, but I don't like to run dirty brass through my dies.

With that said, I use the wet tumbling process much less than using my Turbo 1200. I just use nitrile gloves when handling the cases and media and if you are really worried, wear a respirator.
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Old 07-10-2018, 02:21 PM
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I have to agree, it has to be the media he is using if he is tumbling outside and there is so much dust in the air he has to change clothes and take a shower. I tumble in the reloading shed and there is no sign of dust. The used dryer sheets do come out black but that is what they are put in there for.
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Old 07-10-2018, 02:32 PM
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100% of all shooters and reloaders DIE . Oh!! The rest of the population also dies, must be a natural part of life -- even in California.

This topic isn't even worth well directed sarcasm. Fresh air, cold beer, and sex all cause cancer.
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Old 07-10-2018, 02:42 PM
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...then put them on an aluminum tray and place in the oven at around 200-210 degree and dry them for about 30-45 minutes...
The drying is the main reason I hadn't tried wet methods in the past. I don't want to contaminate my oven though...

I've heard of people putting their brass in one of those mesh bags the grapefruit come in and using the dish washer. I'm not going to do that either!
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Old 07-10-2018, 02:44 PM
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100% of all shooters and reloaders DIE . Oh!! The rest of the population also dies, must be a natural part of life -- even in California.

This topic isn't even worth well directed sarcasm. Fresh air, cold beer, and sex all cause cancer.
But apparently worth a condescending comment.
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Old 07-10-2018, 02:46 PM
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Quote:
johngalt asked:
...less health-hazardous brass cleaning method?
What health-hazard are you concerned about?

If it is lead, then please understand that I have been reloading (and processing the brass to do so) for 40 years. I have dry tumbled with walnut shells, wet tumbled with metal pins, soaked in weak acid solutions, as well as both dry and/or wet tumbled in mica, ball bearings, and rice. Regardless of the method, I have never taken any specific precautions to mitigate exposure to the tumbling media or any contaminants that might be in it, including lead.

Also, for the last 30 years, I have lived within sight of what was once one of the largest lead smelters in Texas. Because I live so close to a source of lead "contamination", I am regularly tested for lead both in my blood and in my hair.

Even with all that lead exposure, the lab tests continue to come back showing no detectable levels of lead. Based on my experience, you should choose a method for tumbling that produces the results you find pleasing with a level of effort that you find acceptable without worrying about exposure to lead or other toxins.
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Old 07-10-2018, 02:57 PM
johngalt johngalt is offline
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What health-hazard are you concerned about?
I'm less concerned with the immediate exposure while handling the media, it is more about the contaminated dust getting on me, then getting it inside, in the kitchen, on the dishes, etc., and then ingesting it over the long term.

For example, I load lead bullets and have no concerns about handling them. I know that lead has to be ingested to be harmful, handling lead bullets is no danger.

The lead styphnate from the primers gets in the dust, then the air, and can be ingested. I've been doing this for 10 years with no ill effects, but I am tired of the mess and am looking for a better method. If it helps alleviate potential health risks, all the better.
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Old 07-10-2018, 02:58 PM
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With all the unhealthy things I've done by choice or had to do to make a living over the years (was a Nuclear Power Operator for years, just like Homer Simpson), the last thing I'm worried about is reloading hazards!
I worked in the asbestos removal industry when is first bloomed. Thirty years since and still alive.. "hack, hack, hack" oops, excuse me while I spit up some blood..

Reloading, I just wash my hands before making a hamburger.
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Old 07-10-2018, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johngalt View Post
The drying is the main reason I hadn't tried wet methods in the past. I don't want to contaminate my oven though...

I've heard of people putting their brass in one of those mesh bags the grapefruit come in and using the dish washer. I'm not going to do that either!
I don't understand your reservations. You have just washed and acid treated the cases, plus rinsed the wash water off. Any lead particles that are loose have been washed away and you are drying at a low enough temperature as to not release any lead compounds that might be left. I have no reservations at all about drying them like this after doing a wet cleaning cycle. I do not use that aluminum tray for anything else though.

Also you can air dry them too, especially in the hot summertime. Put them out on a tray in direct sunshine and they will be dry in a few hours.
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Old 07-10-2018, 03:36 PM
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@ Max.

If you're wondering where your post is. It's in Czech powder thread.
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johngalt View Post
The drying is the main reason I hadn't tried wet methods in the past. I don't want to contaminate my oven though...

I've heard of people putting their brass in one of those mesh bags the grapefruit come in and using the dish washer. I'm not going to do that either!
What could possibly be on brass that has been wet tumbled that could contaminate an oven?
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:43 PM
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What could possibly be on brass that has been wet tumbled that could contaminate an oven?
What's so hard to understand that I don't want to put items that had been contaminated with lead styphnate, and still might not be perfectly clean after being washed, in the same oven I cook my food?

I asked a simple question for tips on wet cleaning method, and got some good responses from a few. From the rest, I get nothing but scorn heaped on me for actually placing some value on my health.

What's really absurd is I keep responding to this drivel, and that you think I need to justify myself to you.

I don't. I'm done here.
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Old 07-11-2018, 09:02 AM
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I can understand the OP concerns. I for one have done more than enough stupid stuff in my younger years ( and older ones too) ,that I figure that I'm lucky to still be around. And figure it will probably catch up with me sooner or later.

Over the years I have read a lot ,, learned a lot , and had some really smart friends that I listened to a lot. So maybe I'm not doing as many stupid things,, and improved my odds a bit.

I started out cleaning brass with walnut hulls with jeweler rouge and would get Lots of red dust. Then I tried the wet tumble method, Never liked drying the brass. A total pain..
Now I use the walnut hulls with the Nu-finish & mineral spirits, as mentioned in an earlier post.. I also have used and do use dryer sheets. Don't notice any dust.

Recently my son-in-law who is new to reloading asked about the variance of .005 in his OAL.. I guess I must have looked at him like he was stupid,, which he picked up on.. Made me feel bad,, he had an honest question and concern.. And I should have addressed it that way from the start. At 66 years old I'm still learning too...
That's my 2 cents for the day...

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Old 07-11-2018, 10:15 AM
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Also, don't eat store bought apples! They were grown using pesticides and dyed red to make them look yummy. 8-)
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Old 07-11-2018, 11:48 AM
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I thought I posted yesterday. Pitch your media once a year of more often if dirty. Media is cheap.
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Old 07-11-2018, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johngalt View Post
What's so hard to understand that I don't want to put items that had been contaminated with lead styphnate, and still might not be perfectly clean after being washed, in the same oven I cook my food?

I asked a simple question for tips on wet cleaning method, and got some good responses from a few. From the rest, I get nothing but scorn heaped on me for actually placing some value on my health.

What's really absurd is I keep responding to this drivel, and that you think I need to justify myself to you.

I don't. I'm done here.
Not asking for justification, just asking for clarification on some off the wall "precautions" (fears). You can and will do anything you want as far as cleaning your brass and I don't really care. But, one downside to posting such extreme measures for any reloading process is that new reloaders may read these and give them some credence; believe they are actually necessary, sane methods (just look at the new reloaders that actually believe glossy, pristine brass is an absolute necessity). Fear of a clean piece of brass in an oven is really out there and nonsense to 99.9% of the readers.

I didn't mean to attack you or your methods, just wanted to know why anyone would go to such extremes to keep "safe"...

BTW; has your wife ever cleaned the oven with an over the counter oven cleaner? Lots of very toxic chemicals in there...
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Old 07-11-2018, 02:17 PM
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Well, I understand where the OP is coming from. I use a basic tumbler filled with pet store liter and corn cob media as well for a finer polish. Also use some polish and all of that. Tried the dryer sheets and they fill up so quickly it doesn't seem like it makes much difference aside from what each sheet can hold. I do put a paper towel over my tumbler that catches some dust coming out the top.

I dump mine into a short 2 1/2 gallon bucket with a screen I had made that sits about half way down in the bucket. I pull the brass out and double check for stuck media.

When I do all of this pouring back and forth I always wear a mask. I have no idea what all is in the dust but it is dust none the less. It plugs up my nose and I can just feel it up there. Breathing any dust unnecessarily is not worth it. I would never tumble inside by the way.
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