Baked Brass Alaska, or Arizona, or Albania?

After cleaning, Photo Mar 21, 4 31 54 PMI wash my brass to get rid of any dust or residue then set it out in the sun to dry before reloading. In Arizona, that doesn’t take long but what about when the weather is bad or for those who live where “outside” isn’t an option?

Some have suggested using the family oven but others have objected it may shorten the lifetime of the brass.

I asked the experts:

… for brass that will be shot, cleaned and reloaded many times, after cleaning and rinsing it with water to remove any final dust/residue, does it shorten the lifetime of the brass to stick it in the oven to dry at some low (200F) temperature?
Your comments, as a manufacturer of ammunition brass, would be most appreciated.

Now I’m sure that, with the shortage of reloading components right now, the recipients of these emails are all working 24/7 to catch up on the backlog so I wasn’t surprised that several couldn’t take the time to answer.

But three did, two of whom I will classify in the “expert” category. Here’s what they said.

CrossFire Ammunition was the first to reply.

We do not manufacture brass.

That said and done, we DO send all our brass to Cleve Black Oxide to turn it black. At our request, they will put it in  their ovens to dry it before we take it back…….no ill effects as far as we can tell.  150 – 200 degrees is not very significant as far as we can tell.

Next, the Chief Ballistician and Process Manager for Starline wrote back.

Sticking your brass in the oven at 200° will not cause any harm to your brass. Heat won’t start affecting the brass until over 450° (actually more like 475°).

And, the next day, Remington responded.

The melting and annealing temperature of brass is between 1700 and 1800 degrees depending on the exact alloy compound. Drying the brass at just about the boiling point should not effect the cases. They reach a much higher temperature at the point of ignition than this. They will only be exposed to this heat for a very short time since the water will evaporate quickly anyway.

Probably half of my brass is Starline and a good portion of what’s left is Remington. As manufacturers, they make top-quality products. I think that makes them experts. And from what I’ve seen and read, Crossfire seems to be right up there, too.

They say it’s OK.

So from now on, when the weather is not conducive to drying outdoors, I’ll turn the oven on to 200 degrees, cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and pour on the brass.

Baked brass, anyone?

Addendum: I’ve switched from dry vibratory cleaning (that needed a rinse afterwards to remove dust) to wet tumbling with stainless steel media (complete package from StainlessTumblingMedia.com). As the experts above report and I can confirm from my own experience with well-used and many-times-reloaded 45 ACP brass, there are no detrimental effects from the oven treatment at these low temperatures.

Addendum 09/03/2015: Here’s a useful quote – “Changes start to occur in brass grain structure at 480 degrees fahrenheit. To properly anneal brass, the temperature needs to be at 650 degrees F. for several minutes–BUT this will transfer too-much heat to the lower case in that time. So we need more heat for a shorter time. We need to raise the neck temp to about 750 degrees F. only for a few seconds to anneal.” See http://www.annealingmachines.com/how-to-anneal.html
This would seem to indicate that 250 fahrenheit would be a safe temperature for drying. It’s above the boiling point so the drying should be quick, but more than 200 degrees below the point at which “changes start to occur in brass grain structure”.

5 thoughts on “Baked Brass Alaska, or Arizona, or Albania?

  1. I dry my brass in a toaster oven I put it on broil on hi & dry for ten min, just to make sure the primer pocket dries.

    • Hmmm, I think the brass is gonna get pretty hot. High on my toaster oven is 400 degrees. Broil could be hotter. I’m not sure what to look for in over-heating but you might be getting there. Be careful.

  2. I think it would be safer if you will not use your ovens for drying your brass. You use that to cook your food and if you will use that to dry your brass, there’s a tendency that the residues’ components like the gun powder will mix into the air inside the oven and it might get hazardous for your food.

    • I put the wet brass outside for a couple of hours and manually stir them once or twice. “Rainy days” and “need to dry brass” rarely coincide in Phoenix Arizona.
      Another reloader, again here in Phoenix, puts his on the garage floor under his car overnight in a large tray. He says he began this practice while living in Detroit and, because his garage there was “slightly heated” all winter, he always had dry brass by morning.
      I agree with Boyd about the fumes but have read several reloaders who, nonetheless, follow this “in the oven” practice. I suppose if the brass were “wet stainless steel cleaned”, this would be less of a consideration.
      Still …

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