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133 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What can be used to make a batck of Ed's Red.  Acentone will eat the plastic, and I can't find anything metallic to store it in.  Also, everything I look at in glass has a cap lined with some kind of plastic coating.  Anybody have any suggestions as to what and where to get it.  Thanks in advance.

God bless,

Beartooth Regular
1,177 Posts
If you have a paint store near you or a Home Depot, you could get one of the metal screw top cans similiar to the paint thinner cans. Also some old IMR powder cans are good or any old paint thinner or acetone can.

I would imagine one of those small plastic gasoline cans like for a chainsaw (1 1/4 Gal size) would be good also. The plastic should resist the acetone.




133 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Contender, thanks, but I already tried Home Depot.  The only thing they had was pint or quart sized empty paint cans.  The only problem was that they had some kind of coating (probably plastic), which I felt would contaminate the Ed's Red.  I guess if I don't get any other options, I could try a plastic gas can, put some pure Acetone in it and see what happens.  Thanks for such  a quick response.  It's funny, but the goofy container is really holding me up...

God bless,

287 Posts
I keep mine in a 1-1/2 gallon plastic gas can. The acetone doesn't affect it in the least. It's been used for this for two years now, so I believe it's safe enough.

39 Posts
I've had pure acetone in a poly milk jug for at least 5 years now and it's still as good as the day I transferred it to the jug, except it's almost empty from being used. Any similar container should also work. The milk jug is flimsy, but any other thicker poly jug should work fine.

The ATF Qt. bottles should work fine as should any other rinsed out oil container.

My Ed's Red is sitting in a poly milk jug (I didn't use acetone- turpentine instead) and it's fine.

65 Posts
Hello to all.

Forgive my ignorance, but what's the skinny on this Ed's Red stuff?  I've been reading about it here on the forum.  Does it work better than commercial cleaners or is it just cheaper?  I don't know anything about chemicals, so the ingredients don't tip me off.


39 Posts
It's homemade powder solvent, won't do anything for coppering. The only way I know to do this is to post the article.

From The Cast Bullet Journal, No. 140, July - August 1999

Dangerously Close to the Beltway
"Ed's Red" -- Revisited

By C.E. "Ed" Harris

Since I mixed my first "Ed's Red" (ER) bore cleaner five years ago, hundreds of users have told me that they find it as effective as commercial products.
This cleaner has an action similar to military rifle bore cleaner, such as Mil-C-372B. It is highly effective for removing plastic fouling from shotgun bores,
caked carbon in semi-automatic rifles or pistols, or leading in revolvers. "ER" is not a "decoppering" solution for fast removal of heavy jacket fouling, but
because is more effective in removal of caked carbon and primer residues than most other cleaners, so metal fouling is reduced when "ER" is used.

Claude Copper and I researched the subject rather thoroughly and determined there was no technical reason why an effective firearm bore cleaner couldn't
be mixed using common hardware store ingredients. The resulting cleaner is safe, effective, inexpensive, provides good corrosion protection and adequate
residual lubrication. Routine oiling after cleaning is unnecessary except for storage exceeding 1 year, or in harsh environments, such as salt air exposure.

The formula is adapted from Hatcher's "Frankford Arsenal Cleaner No. 18", but substitutes equivalent modern materials. Hatcher's recipe called for equal
parts of acetone, turpentine, Pratt's Astral Oil land sperm oil, and (optionally) 200 grams of anhydrous lanolin per liter of cleaner.

Some discussion of the ingredients in "ER" is helpful to understand the properties of the cleaner and how it works. Pratts Astral Oil was nothing more than
acid free, deodorized kerosene. Today you would ask for "K-1" kerosene of the type sold for use in indoor space heaters.

An inexpensive, effective substitute for sperm oil is Dexron II automatic transmission fluid. Prior to 1950 most ATFs were sperm oil based. During WWII,
sperm oil was mostly unavailable, so highly refined, dewaxed hydrofinished petroleum oils were developed, which had excellent themal stability. When
antioxidants were added to prevent gumming, these worked well in precision instruments.

With the high demand for automatic transmission autos after WWII, sperm oil was no longer practical to produce ATFs in the needed quantities needed,
so the wartime expedients were mass produced. ATFs have been continually improved over the years. The additives contained in Dexron include
detergents or other surfactants which are highly suitable for inclusion in an all-purpose cleaner, lubricant and preservative.

Hatcher's Frankford Arsenal No. 18 used gum spirits of turpentine, but turpentine is both expensive and also highly flammable, so I chose not to use it.
Much safer and more inexpensive are "aliphatic mineral spirits", which are an open-chain organic solvent, rather than the closed-chain, benzene ring
structure, common to "aromatics", such as naptha or "lighter fluid". Sometimes called "safety solvent", aliphatic mineral spirits are used for thinning oil based
paint, as automotive parts cleaner and is commonly sold under the names "odorless mineral spirits", "Stoddard Solvent", or "Varsol".

Acetone is included to provide an aggressive, fast-acting solvent for caked smokeless powder residues. Because acetone readily evaporates and the fumes
are harmful in high concentrations, it is recommended that it be left out if the cleaner will be used indoors, in soak tanks or in enclosed spaces lacking
forced air ventilation. Containers should be kept tightly closed when not in use. "ER" is still effective without acetone, but not as "fast-acting".

"Ed's Red" does not chemically dissolve copper fouling in rifle bores, but it does a better job of removing carbon and primer residue than most other
cleaners. Many users have told me that frequent and exclusive use of "ER" reduces copper deposits, because it removes the old impacted powder fouling
left behind by other cleaners. This reduces the abrasion and adhesion of jacket metal to the bore, leaving a cleaner surface condition, which reduces
subsequent fouling. Experience indicates that "ER" will actually remove metal fouling in bores if it is left to "soak" for a few days so the surfactants will do
the job, when followed by a repeat cleaning. You simply have to patient.

Addition of lanolin to "ER" is optional, because the cleaner works perfectly well and gives adequate corrosion protection and lubrication without it.
Inclusion of lanolin makes the cleaner easier on the hands, increases its lubricity and film strength and improves corrosion protection if firearms, tools or
equipment will be routinely exposed to salt air, water spray, or corrosive urban atmospheres.

I recommend the lanolin be included if you intend to use the cleaner as a protectant for long-term storage or for a "flush" after water cleaning of black
powder firearms or those fired with military chlorate primers. This is because lanolin has a great affinity for water and readily emulsifies so that the bore can
be wiped of residual moisture, leaving a protective film. If you inspect your guns and wipe them down twice yearly, you can leave out the lanolin and save
about &#3610 per gallon.

At current retail prices, you can buy all the ingredients to mix "ER", without the lanolin, for about &#3612 per gallon. I urge you to mix some yourself. I am
confident it will work as well for you as it does for me and hundreds of users who got the "recipe" on the Fidonet Firearms Echo.

CONTENTS: Ed's Red Bore Cleaner

1 part - Dexron ATF, GM Spec. D-20265 or later.

1 part - Kerosene - deodorized, K1

1 part - Aliphatic Mineral Spirits CAS #64741-49-9, or substitute "Stoddard Solvent", CAS #8052-41-3, or equivalent.

1 part - Acetone, CAS #67-64-1.

(Optional 1 lb. of Lanolin, Anydrous, USP per gallon, or OK to substitute Lanolin, Modified, Topical Lubricant, from the drug store.)


Mix outdoors, in good ventilation. Use a clean 1 gallon metal, chemical resistant, heavy gage PET or PVC plastic container. NFPA approved plastic
gasoline storage containers are OK. Do NOT use HDPE, which is permeable, because the acetone will slowly evaporate. Acetone in "ER" will attack
HDPE over time, causing the container to collapse, making a heck of a mess!

Add the ATF first. Use the empty ATF container to measure the other components, so that it is thoroughly rinsed. If you incorporate the lanolin into the
mixture, melt this carefully in a double boiler, taking precautions against fire. Pour the melted lanolin into a larger container, rinsing the lanolin container with
the bore cleaner mix, and stirring until it is all dissolved. I recommend diverting up to 4 ozs. per quart of the 50-50 ATF/kerosene mix to use as
"ER-compatible" gun oil. This can be done without impairing the effectiveness of the remaining mix.

Label and safety warnings follow:

                                                     CAUTION: FLAMMABLE MIXTURE

Contents: petroleum distillates, surfactants, organometallic antioxidants and acetone.

  1.Flammable mixture, keep away from heat, sparks or flame.

  2.FIRST AID: If swallowed, DO NOT induce vomiting, call physician immediately. In case of eye contact, immediately flush thoroughly with water and call a physician. For skin contact, wash thoroughly.

  3.Use with adequate ventilation. Avoid breathing vapors or spray mist. It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. Reports have associated repeated and prolonged occupational overexposure to solvents with permanent brain damage and nervous system damage. If using in closed armory vaults lacking forced air ventilation, wear respiratory protection meeting NIOSH TC23C or equivalent.
    Keep container tightly closed when not in use.


  1.Open the firearm action and ensure the bore is clear. Cleaning is most effective when done while the barrel is still warm from firing. Saturate a cotton
    patch with bore cleaner, wrap or impale on jag and push it through the bore from breech to muzzle. The patch should be a snug fit. Let the first
    patch fall off and do not pull it back into the bore.

  2.Wet a second patch, and similarly start it into the bore from the breech, this time scrubbing from the throat area forward in 4-5" strokes and
    gradually advancing until the patch emerges out the muzzle. Waiting approximately 1 minute to let the bore cleaner to soak will improve its action.

  3.For pitted, heavily carbon-fouled service rifles, leaded revolvers or neglected bores a bronze brush wet with bore cleaner many be used to remove
    stubborn deposits. This is unnecessary for smooth, target-grade barrels in routine use.

  4.Use a final wet patch pushed straight through the bore to flush out loosened residue dissolved by Ed's Red. Let the patch fall off the jag without
    pulling it back through the bore. If you are finished firing, leaving the bore wet will protect it from rust for 1 year under average atmospheric

  5.If lanolin is incorporated into the mixture, it will protect the firearm from rust for up to two years, even in a humid environment. (For longer storage
    use Lee Liquid Alox or Cosmolene). "ER" will readily remove hardened Alox or Cosmolene.

  6.Wipe spilled Ed's Red from exterior surfaces before storing the gun. While Ed's Red is harmless to blue and nickel finishes, the acetone it contains is
    harmful to most wood finishes.

  7.Before firing again, push two dry patches through the bore and dry the chamber, using a patch wrapped around a suitably sized brush or jag. First
    shot point of impact usually will not be disturbed by Ed's Red if the bore is cleaned as described.

  8.I have determined to my satisfaction that when Ed's Red is used exclusively and thoroughly, that hot water cleaning is unnecessary after use of
    Pyrodex or military chlorate primers. However, if bores are not wiped between shots and are heavily caked from black powder fouling, hot water
    cleaning is recommended first to break up heavy fouling deposits. Water cleaning should be followed by a flush with Ed's Red to prevent
    after-rusting which could result from residual moisture. It is ALWAYS a good practice to clean TWICE, TWO DAYS APART whenever using
    chlorate primed ammunition, just to make sure you get all the corrosive residue out.

This "Recipe" has been placed in the public domain, and may be freely distributed provided that it is done so in its entirety with all current revisions,
instructions and safety warnings included herein, and that proper attribution is given to the author.

Beartooth Regular
1,177 Posts

Thanks for posting the recipe!

Also found it interesting about coating the barrel with Lee Liquid "Alox" Bullet Lube for long term storage.

Good idea, as this is really internal cavity automobile rustproofing chemical.


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