Ed's Red Notes

08/30/2005 Addendum:

I no longer use Ed's Red. I found it was just too smelly, messy and the "dunk and soak" approach tended to move dirt deep inside the mechanism rather than fully removing it.

In mid-2005 I started using a brief soak in Simple Green (yes, it is water-based!) with vigorous brushing, a rinse in extremely hot running water immediately followed by wiping away most of the water, a 30 minute bake in either the oven (175 degrees) or outside on the patio in the summer Phoenix AZ sun, a light spray of Rem Oil and wipe as dry as possible, a conventional cleaning of the barrel (Hoppes #9 or whatever, brush and cotton swabs and, on the 1911, a careful use of a dental pick to clean the shoulder inside the barrel where the 45 ACP cartridges index [sit]) and then TW-25B lubricant (grease) any place metal bears on metal (look for the wear marks). When finished, the guns are almost completely dry.

In the Phoenix AZ dry climate in which I live and shoot, this approach seems to work well. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

Note: Ed Harris is the "Ed" in Ed's Red; that's not me.

I mixed my first batch of Ed's Red, a home-mixed gun cleaning solution, in March 2005. It has become my primary (but not my only) gun cleaning solution. The recipe, mixing and use directions as well as the very important safety precautions are available in many places on the web and I won't repeat them here. For details, please use your favorite search engine.

My goal is simply to provide a record of everything I needed, starting from scratch, to assemble a complete cleaning "solution."


These notes are a record of the sources, costs, fabrications and procedures I used and followed. Nothing more. This is not a recommendation nor a set of procedures you should follow. It's just what I did. Use of these notes (and Ed's Red) is at your own risk.

I hereby disclaim all responsibility for any use of these notes (or Ed's Red).

Planning, Shopping and Overall Use Sequence

I use the "soak" method of cleaning. This is not a universal practice, however because others have reported they prefer a more frugal approach, and they report good results as well.

Regardless, here's what I did to figure out the size of the soak container and other items.

  1. Disassemble the guns that will be placed in the overnight soak and determine the minimum interior dimensions required. (For my Smith & Wesson Model 41, a minimum diagonal measurement of 10.75" was needed for the 7" barrel because of the associated tang.)
  2. Estimate the volume of Ed's Red that will be needed to cover the soaking parts in the container. (I mixed a full gallon of Ed's Red and found that to be adequate for my needs.)
  3. Purchase that container, possibly an ammunition can at a "Surplus" store and clean it. (See below for the container I purchased.)
  4. Go to WalMart and use the WALMART SHOPPING LIST herein.
  5. Determine where to acquire the remaining parts and materials, and do so.
  6. Fabricate any parts as needed.
  7. Figure out a safe location to mix the batch of Ed's Red, where to store it while parts are soaking, where to do the final wiping and cleaning, where to store the mixing, used and storage containers, and where to put the other related parts.
  8. Figure out where to locate the fire extinguisher for emergency access.
  9. Shoot, clean, etc.

Primary Ingredients

Makes slightly more than one (1) gallon of Ed's Red.

Lanolin Notes

Quoting Ed Harris's notes: "The lanolin is optional. The cleaner works quite well without it. Incorporating the lanolin makes the cleaner easier on the hands, and provides better residual lubrication and corrosion protection if you use the cleaner as a protectant for long term storage."

I omitted Lanolin from my initial batch because I couldn't locate any locally but then later added it to the previously mixed solution without problem.

Someone (on the Internet) had suggested using "Dax Lanolin Hair Dress" but, in the ingredients list for the jar I found in a beauty products store, "Lanolin" is #3 in the list, neither the sole nor even the primary ingredient. Nor does the label specify if the Lanolin is hydrous or anhydrous. "Dax Lanolin Hair Dress" is, therefore, not an appropriate source of Lanolin for Ed's Red.

Walgreens lists "Lanolin, Hydrous" as a special order item but, according to Ed Harris, "hydrous Lanolin" won't have the desired effect. Walgreens is also, therefore, "out" as a source of the Lanolin.

(Finally,) on a tip from another Ed's Red user, I purchased a 16 oz. tub of Anhydrous Lanolin on the Internet from http://www.fromnaturewithlove.com/ for $8.50 (and paid almost the same again for shipping!). This appears to be the "right stuff." See notes below on how to liquify the Lanolin prior to adding it to the mix.


Walmart Shopping List

Most of the ingredients and parts can be found at WalMart. Although I bought some of these at Home Depot, my next batch will be sourced almost completely at WalMart.

Here's the shopping list for WalMart, ordered by department.

Other Parts and Ingredients

(Probably not available at WalMart)

Mixing Note

  1. Mix the ATF, mineral spirits and kerosene first.
  2. Draw off a few ounces into a separate ("gun oil") bottle for later use as an "Ed's Red Compatible Oil".
  3. Add the Acetone to the mix.
  4. Securely close the container to prevent evaporation (of the Acetone).
  5. Prepare the Lanolin. CAUTION: I microwaved the plastic 16 oz. tub of anhydrous Lanolin into a [hot!] liquid state. I did this in 30 second steps, checking after each increment. In my microwave, complete liquification took a total of three (3) minutes but I STRONGLY advise against attempting the melt in a single whack. Your microwave is almost certain to behave differently. Note also that, as it warmed, the volume increased slightly and, when fully liquified, the container was absolutely full and required a very careful carry to avoid spillage.
  6. Once liquified, carefully pour the [hot!] Lanolin into the mix and stir. It is incorporated immediately and remains in a liquid state with the other ingredients.
  7. Again, securely close the container to prevent evaporation (of the Acetone).


  1. I field-strip my pistols and prescrub selected areas (chamber and breech) using a small amount of previously drawn-off Ed's Red and the nylon brush, and then I set each piece in the metal screen basket.
  2. Moving outside, I then put on the latex gloves and safety glasses (primarily because of the Acetone), carefully open the ammunition can containing one gallon of Ed's Red (relieving any pressure therein) and, using the coat hanger wire handle, I angle the basket of parts slightly so the cleaner flows into the barrel and immerse everything. I close the can tightly and place it in a outside-of-the-house locked room for the night.
  3. The next morning, and again working outside, I put on the latex gloves and safety glasses and then carefully open the ammunition can (again relieving any pressure). I lift the basket of parts and, after letting them drip for a moment, rotate the basket 90 degrees and set it atop the open ammunition can to drip for a few more seconds. (The Acetone evaporates quickly from the open can so I try to minimize the "drip time" and close the soak container as soon as possible.)
  4. While the parts are dripping, I lay out a previously-used-for-this-purpose rag and then start removing each of the parts from the basket and laying them on the rag (to drain some more). When empty, I put the basket back in and close the ammunition can (to minimize evaporation of the Acetone).
  5. I lay out a new, clean and dry (second) rag and, using a third rag (also clean and dry), thoroughly wipe each part and transfer it to the second rag.
  6. I move inside and take off the latex gloves at this point on the assumption that any remaining Acetone has evaporated, or is in low enough concentration to no longer be a hazard. (My wife pointed out that Acetone is the #1 ingredient in her finger nail polish remover and, therefore, anyone using it comes into occasional contact with Acetone so perhaps my removing the latex gloves at this point is, indeed, Ok.)
  7. Use the nylon bristle brush again (dampened in Ed's Red) at this point if needed.
  8. Use the compressed air over a large trash container (but far enough back so the blown-off liquid doesn't come back into your face) to blow-off -- or Q-tips to sop-up -- as much liquid as possible in every nook and cranny of all parts. (Beware of "blowing away" small parts into inaccessible corners.)
  9. "Jag" the barrel with several dry cotton patches inspecting them for "more crud". Continue until the patches are as clean coming out as going in.
  10. Reassemble and test the functioning of the pistol (using snap caps).
    Note: Recommendations vary at this point on whether or not to lubricate the bearing surfaces. For my Model 41, I'm following the "no more oil" approach of simply relying on the Ed's Red that remains on the gun at this point to provide all needed lubrication and protection. For my 1911, however, I oil it according to Ed Masaki's recommendations. (Search the internet for "Ed Masaki 1911 Oiling Tips".)



The red dot in the safety dimple on my Model 41 target pistol has disappeared. I'm guessing that, over several uses, it was dissolved. Using a single bristle from a paint brush, I now replace it with an appropriate shade of fingernail polish on an as-needed basis.

And for that reason, I do not immerse nor otherwise treat other painted areas (such as sights with paint dots) with Ed's Red.

This publication is © Copyright 2005 by Ed Skinner
All Rights Reserved
Revised: 14 August 2007
Email: ed@flat5.net
Web: http://www.flat5.net/