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  #1  
Old 12-22-2010, 08:26 PM
TACC1 TACC1 is offline
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Default MERCURY ?

Has anyone ever heard of using mercury to remove lead
from the bore of a firearm? Can't remember where I saw the
article, but supposedly the lead floats off the bore, and is
then skimmed off.
Just wondering, as I've got a few ounces of the stuff, and
will need to get rid of it eventually.
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Old 12-22-2010, 08:38 PM
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Yes, mercury was FORMERLY recommended as a lead removal material. The mercury amalgamates with the barrel bore and chamber lead residues, allowing it to be easily brushed out. Even the NRA Technical Advisor column used to recommend it.

However, it is no longer considered a good thing to do. The mercury is easily splattered and total cleanup is almost impossible. Any heat (such as from bullet casting creates mercury vapor, and of course ingesting it is highly not advised. And of course, mercury vapor or contamination in any living quarters or around children is not something a health-conscious person would want.

Given a choice, you CAN carefully use it to clean a leaded bore, but OUTDOORS, and with full control of the mercury. You will need a box or container, bronze bore brushes, and plastic bags or jars to contain the used brushes. The mercury will also cling to copper alloys like the brushes.
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Old 12-22-2010, 08:43 PM
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Default Horrible Idea...

Mercury is nasty stuff, don't even open the jar. You're liable to have a hazmat team at your house if the authorities discover you have several ounces on premises. I would call the local fire dept and ask about safe disposal. I wouldn't call from home.
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:15 PM
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A good friend of my dad's once had a severely leaded Marlin 39A and had tried everything he could find to clean it to no avail. My dad used to shoot NRA Bullseye when he was on the sheriff's pistol team and the team armorer used mercury on their guns to get them spotless.

Dad still had a bottle of it and had his friend bring the Marlin out for my dad to look at. He capped one end of the barrel with a cork and then with a small funnel poured some mercury into the barrel and then sloshed it back and forth for about 15 minutes and then poured the mercury back into the bottle, ran a wet patch with Hoppes #9 on it and the followed it with a series of dry patches.

The barrel looked like a highly polished brand new barrel and once again the Marlin shot like it used to or even better.
Not recommended anymore however. But it was HIGHLY effective. Mercury and lead are a chemical reaction to each other.

Randy
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:22 PM
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I watched my Dad use mercury de-lead his 19 back in the late 60's. Came out real clean. Then he found out about the Lewis lead remover. I do have his 19, and Lewis lead remover. Wish I had the several oz. of mercury he had. Don't know what he ever did with it. I would use your stash but wear some disposable gloves when handling the stuff. Observe proper degloving techniques. You will be fine.... BTW my Dad died of diabetes related illness at the ripe old age of 90.
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:29 PM
msinc msinc is offline
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It's funny how some guys talk about mercury like you just run down to Wal-Mart and git ya a jug or two to clean barrels!!! I always say that fairy dust works much better...and you probably got a better chance of finding that. Point is, if it aint to be had then why even worry about it. It would make more sense to call a realtor about buying a mansion then going and getting one lotto ticket. Or, like Steve Martin once said "Here's how to have 2 million dollars and not pay any taxes...simple, first get 2 million dollars....."

Last edited by msinc; 12-22-2010 at 09:33 PM.
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Old 12-22-2010, 10:13 PM
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Like a lot of old time remedies, it works. Obtaining mercury isn't difficult.

Many activities that were once commonplace are now considered life threatening. Weigh the advantages, learn about the dangers, and make a decision.
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Old 12-23-2010, 01:47 AM
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Mercury works even as well on copper fouling. I have used it to clean a high power rifle barrel that had never been barrel cleaned in about 2000 rounds. After cleaning the powder and primer residue out using conventional methods, I resorted to using mercury in a plugged, vertical barrel for about 4 hours. That barrel came out like factory new clean. ........ Big Cholla
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Old 12-23-2010, 05:00 AM
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Well, I sure got a response from that query! Sounds like that
jar will have to find its way to someplace that deals with Hazmat.
Maybe mail in a map of the location.
I remember there used to be little puzzle games with a drop
of mercury that you had to get into a hole to make points with.
Times have changed......TACC1
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Old 12-23-2010, 07:09 AM
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Okay mercury is dangerous if ingested of heated and inhaled but how many of us played with it when the family thermometer broke?
No doubt the idea for the T-2000 Terminator came from someone who used to make little balls of mercury into one big one.
And if you rubbed it into a penny, the penny looked like a dime!
Why ain't I dead or at least brain-damaged? Oh wait - never mind ...
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Old 12-23-2010, 07:26 AM
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Now a days get some wipe out foaming bore cleaner. Spray it in and let sit over night...magic
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Old 12-23-2010, 09:28 AM
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Even if you dismiss the potential health risks, the financial liability seems too great. Don’t use it as a bore cleaner, find a safe and responsible way to dispose of it.

A 10# sealed jar of mercury was found in the crawlspace of a local home being renovated earlier this month. It was all over the news. It happened in Troy Michigan and the homeowners contacted the local PD and FD, who called in the EPA. The EPA declared the home uninhabitable until cleanup was completed. $$$$$. An EPA spokesman stated that the entire house could have been history, had the homeowners opened the jar. Ten pounds sounds like a lot, but that’s only an estimated 20 tablespoons. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding the news reports on the web, if you‘re so inclined. They may be overreacting, but it doesn’t sound like anything I’d want to get involved in.

These are the EPA specifications for mercury cleanup and disposal.
Quote:
Originally Posted by EPA spills
Spills of More than Two Tablespoons (One Pound)
Any time one pound or more of mercury is released to the environment, it is mandatory to call the National Response Center. The NRC hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call (800) 424-8802. Note that because mercury is heavy, only two tablespoons of mercury weigh about one pound.
Storing, Transporting and Disposing of Mercury
What to Do if You Have Mercury in Your Home
Many people have containers of elemental mercury in their homes left over from science projects or other sources. If you have elemental mercury in your home, you need to exercise extreme caution with it and package it to prevent any leaks or spills. See the next two sections of this page to find how to package, transport and dispose of mercury.
Packaging Mercury for Storage and Transportation
All mercury-containing products or containers of mercury should be placed inside a larger container with a tight fitting lid.
Kitty litter or oil-absorbent matter should be placed around the product to protect it from breaking or sudden shocks.
Clearly label storage container as "Mercury - DO NOT OPEN."
If you must wait for a hazardous waste collection day, store products safely in their original containers with the labels intact, and keep them out of reach of children and pets.
Transport container to a household hazardous collection center in a cardboard box. Secure them so that they do not tip over. This will minimize shifting or sliding during sudden stops or turns.
Transport containers in the back of a pick-up truck or in a car trunk. If you must transport in the passenger compartment, make sure there is adequate ventilation.
http://www.epa.gov/hg/spills/
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Old 12-23-2010, 09:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blujax01 View Post
Okay mercury is dangerous if ingested of heated and inhaled but how many of us played with it when the family thermometer broke?
No doubt the idea for the T-2000 Terminator came from someone who used to make little balls of mercury into one big one.
And if you rubbed it into a penny, the penny looked like a dime!
Why ain't I dead or at least brain-damaged? Oh wait - never mind ...
I did all those things as a kid. Even pushed it around in 7th grade science class as I recall. I'm happy to report I'm still alive AND lead free :-)
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Old 12-23-2010, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s&wchad View Post
Even if you dismiss the potential health risks, the financial liability seems too great. Don’t use it as a bore cleaner, find a safe and responsible way to dispose of it.

A 10# sealed jar of mercury was found in the crawlspace of a local home being renovated earlier this month. It was all over the news. It happened in Troy Michigan and the homeowners contacted the local PD and FD, who called in the EPA. The EPA declared the home uninhabitable until cleanup was completed. $$$$$. An EPA spokesman stated that the entire house could have been history, had the homeowners opened the jar. Ten pounds sounds like a lot, but that’s only an estimated 20 tablespoons. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding the news reports on the web, if you‘re so inclined. They may be overreacting, but it doesn’t sound like anything I’d want to get involved in.

These are the EPA specifications for mercury cleanup and disposal.

http://www.epa.gov/hg/spills/
Pretty ridiculous, just shows how out of control the EPA has become
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Old 12-23-2010, 11:04 AM
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Pretty ridiculous, just shows how out of control the EPA has become
True for sure. I played with it as a young teenager. Amalgamated a nice gold ring I had. I forget what I cleaned it off with - probably the steel wool we cleaned pots with. Aside from causing excessive termination of sentences with prepositions, I have considerable evidence that it did not cause brain damage. Or anything else. I dropped some on the floor, and I remember chasing the small globules all over the place getting them to conglomerate.

I certainly wouldn't recommend playing with mercury now, but it's probably safer than playing with the EPA.
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Old 12-23-2010, 11:51 AM
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The EPA is out to ban lead as well. Call them up and tell them you spilled some molten lead, they will send the same team as for mercury spills. Plus they will declare your building (where lead was spilled) as uninhabitable.

A good start to getting this country back on track is to de-fund ALL government 3 letter originations. Then declare them a hazard to the republic and arrest anyone who tries to reestablish them.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:11 PM
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Default Get rid of it NOW

My dad used to work in refrigeration/air-conditioning. For years he saved every ounce of mercury he could salvage from old switches etc. When he passed away (early, from cancer), I had a vial of about one pint that must have weighed ten pounds. I took it to the city's hazardous waste day at the local land fill. I had it sealed in the original glass container and inside of an army ammo can for good measure. When the Haz-Mat guys saw the amount of what I had I thought they would die. Guys in white suits took it away for "special handling". Anything that deserves "special" treatment on Haz-Mat day is something an amateur does not want to play around with. Who knows how many days/weeks/months people have taken off of their lives by handling this stuff? Buy an effective de-leading mixture made specifically for bore cleaning. And call the local Haz-mat (not from your home; you may get a bigger response than you had anticipated) to get rid of the mercury. 'Nuff said.
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Old 12-23-2010, 01:19 PM
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I had a vial of about one pint that must have weighed ten pounds. I took it to the city's hazardous waste day at the local land fill. I had it sealed in the original glass container and inside of an army ammo can for good measure. When the Haz-Mat guys saw the amount of what I had I thought they would die. Guys in white suits took it away for "special handling". Anything that deserves "special" treatment on Haz-Mat day is something an amateur does not want to play around with.
It was so dangerous they didn't even have you wash your hands after dropping it off. Does that tell you something? Too many EPA regs are simply nuts.
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Old 12-23-2010, 02:20 PM
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But it's perfectly safe in Mr. Gore's government-mandated lightbulbs.

It's an element. Not all elements are good for you. Don't put it on cuts. Don't inhale the fumes of vaporized mercury. Don't vaporize it.

Peter Kropotkin said that dust was merely matter in the wrong place (he couldn't get his wife to agree to that). In college chemistry I triply distilled lots of the stuff. Put it in one-pint squeeze bottles. Also used to convert cinnabar to mercury, and back again, all in the same test tube, to entertain new students.

To steal a phrase from Kipling, don't play with unloaded guns; don't cook the frozen dynamite. Just use common sense.
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Old 12-23-2010, 02:46 PM
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All this is so amusing.

Elemental mercury isn't all that dangerous, its the salts that are.

And I played with a bunch of it in my teen years. Just think how smart I'd be today if the stuff hadn't retarded me!! I went for a long time with mercury smeared silver coins.

Back during my rocks and mineral days, one of Dad's hobbies was working on jewelry. He'd occasionally resize a ring for someone or have a small amount of gold filings on his workbench. All the "fines" went into a jar. Same with our experiments on gold panning. We often would get some color (not enough to make us rich.) All went into the same jar. Then dad just poured our stockpile of liquid mercury into the jar. It went out in the yard for a cookout kind of thing. No food involved, just a nice hot charcoal fire and a still made from some copper tubing (where we got it I haven't a clue. The still part didn't work all that well, the mercury tended to condense on the inside and only a small part was recoverable. Guess my childhood home is now a brownfield. Anyway, what we got out was a fair amount of "paydirt", all still coated with a crust of some mercuric compound. Dad sold it to someone.

A few years ago my buddy Doug asked if I wanted any mercury. I said no, because by then it was being treated like nuclear waste. He had a flask ( I think that's some kind of measure, like 76# or something.) He got it out of some measuring instrument from the distant past.

I've still got some in the basement. Its in 2 or 3 thermostat switches. Chances are you've got some too if you've got an older house. Take the cover off your thermostat. Look to see if you've got a glass vial with wires running from it, like a light bulb that doesn't light up.

Back to cleaning guns.... Its a good way to remove lead. We've all agreed on that. The problem is first recovering the remaining liquid part.

Then you've got to figure out how to brush the amalgam that appears to be a dry, crust material. Its easy to brush out. If you use a stainless brush, it won't even cling to it. But the dust will be everywhere. If you decide to try the trick, do it outside, away from the house. Wear a mask. Then don't tell anyone what you've been up to. Oh, dispose of the clothes. All just on the outside chance the EPA is right (there might be a first time.)

Now can we discuss the DDT Dad used to keep in the garage?
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Old 12-23-2010, 02:51 PM
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My mercury story. In the mid 50s a small, rural grocery/hardware store purchased an entire case of advertising thermometers. I want to say about 2500 in the case. These were not the small, cheap one you see now but were at least 12 inches high and 6 inches wide with a thermometer scale you could see from 100 feet. As I remember the case looked like a sofa came in it.

Anyway, the store owner died and his family decided to liquidate the contents. My dad purchased the box of thermometers for $2. My friends and I soon discovered the contents and, having heard you could make a new dime out of an old one, we filled a pint jar with mercury.

We poured it on everything we could think of to see what would happen. We played with that stuff until the jar was empty. There has to be traces of mercury all over our part of rural Indiana. We never got sick and all of us are still alive today. That was over 50 years ago. I still remember dropping it on a hard surface and watching it break into hundreds of small balls which rolled to who-knows-where.
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Old 12-23-2010, 03:14 PM
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re; handling mercury....do NOT get it in a cut. When my chemistry prof was in school (many many years ago) one of his classmates was barefoot in the lab, stepped on some broken glass and got mercury in his foot. Result? Amputation!
Broken skin and mercury does not mix.
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Old 12-23-2010, 06:08 PM
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Nicky & Dicky , got it right..........it works, use common sense, don;t eat the stuff and of course, as you can tell from the above.....
don't tell anybody..................

Merry Christmas
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Old 12-23-2010, 07:01 PM
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don't mess with Hg. joke as you wish, but I assure yu... Dispose of it right away properly or US EPA will react without any sense of humor and beyond what yu may think is reasonable; for sure for sure!!!! Hg is nasty stuff and considered as the mostest toxic substance!!! The cleanup cost will be way beyond any joke yu may have concerning Hg.
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Old 12-23-2010, 08:17 PM
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I've been doing rust bluing for around 45 years now. The solutions sold to do the work back when were the classic rust blue recipes. Nearly all contained a mercury compound,,,,bi-chloride of mercury.
Even the over-the-counter BirchWood Casey 'Barrel Brown' used by muzzle loader builders & hobbyists in the 60's and 70's had mercury bichloride in it. That's why it worked so well. Very corrosive stuff.

When the EPA regs cracked down on the chemical, it was gradually elliminated from the commercially made solutions sold for the work.
Reformulations & new substitutes have taken over and do just as fine a job w/o the hazzard.

Then just a few years ago Brownells advertised that they were once again selling 'Herters Original Belgian Blue'.
This was one of the better rust blue solutions from back in the day. I used it back in the 60's. The original did have merc in it. I wondered if this remake did also.

I bought the small bottle. I gave it the shop test for mercury.
Heat up a piece of polished brass (or copper) and swipe some of the solution over it. If mercury is present, it'll precipitate or plate itself onto the brass. Indeed it did,,plus it had the very distinct smell of the old merc solutions.

I never used it again since that simple test. I doubt it could be any other element other than merc in it. I don't need any more exposure to that stuff. I'm surprised it's marketed at all.
I use a ferric chloride solution most of the time now and a slow rust procedure.
Don't be reckless with mercury or any chemicle. You or someone else could needlessly end up with severe health problems.
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Old 12-24-2010, 09:27 AM
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Now can we discuss the DDT Dad used to keep in the garage?
Yes. Hg may be a joke as long as you don't do stupid stuff with it, but banning DDT is not funny at all. Malaria is making a comeback these days. Like I said, the EPA is lot more dangerous than mercury.
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Old 12-24-2010, 04:09 PM
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This reminds me of people telling me not to eat salt pork, sausage, ham hocks, butter, biscuits, eggs, chocolate, cigars, liquor and other wonderful things that make life wonderful.

I don't know if I have any around the house right now...I need to get some I think. We used the last DDT about 20 years ago.
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:52 AM
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Calorimeters, (old ones) used to measure the BTU rating of natural gas used quarts of mercury. My Dad was head of measurement for Northern Natural Gas, and we always had a quart bottle of the stuff at the house. We played with it all the time. I would not do that now.
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Old 12-28-2010, 09:36 AM
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Mercury is quite toxic. A quick search on the internet will give you the whole scoop. Using precautions will minimize the dangers of exposure to small amounts of the stuff. I am a career fire captain and have hazmat certification- I will stick to the Lewis Lead Remover.
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Old 12-28-2010, 02:02 PM
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I used to play with mercury as a kid too. Of course looking back, I'm amazed I survived a lot of very stupid things that I did. That is not an exaggeration. The mercury was the least of it. I'm sure most of us have these stories. Apparently, God really does look over adolescent boys.

I know for a fact the EPA takes it very seriously now. Some kids found some mercury in an old factory building a few years ago in the city I was working for. The city literally pulled up the sidewalks around the place.

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Old 12-28-2010, 11:42 PM
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Default Lead Removal

I was shown how well Hydrogen peroxide removes leading by an old local gunsmith.
I do not think it poses any health risks and it sure works well for me .
I use an earplug to plug one end of the barrel, then I pour hydrogen peroxide in and wait about half an hour. I then use a copper bore brush, I have had big lengths of lead come out of a 45 Colt revolver barrel.
it seems to loosen the bond between the lead and the barrel very well.
Does anyone know if there are any barrel hazards to this method ?
It sure seems to work well.
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