Ultra Sonic Cleaners

This is a discussion on Ultra Sonic Cleaners within the Polls forums, part of the Smith & Wesson MP Forum category; Well i came across these a while back and after a lot of reading around i still cant determine if they are safe to use ...


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View Poll Results: Do you use Ultra Sonic Cleaner for your weapon maintanence ?
Yes i use it regularly with no issues 14 16.47%
No i do not trust this type of cleaning 71 83.53%
Voters: 85. You may not vote on this poll

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Old November 26th, 2012, 12:26 AM   #1
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Ultra Sonic Cleaners

Well i came across these a while back and after a lot of reading around i still cant determine if they are safe to use or not.

So people claim that they are safe but take the same amount of time and effort as traditional cleaning.

Others claim that they can damage you pistol after prolong use.

What is your experience with these ?

EDIT:
Here is an example: http://www.hornady.com/store/Lock-N-...d-Accessories/

Last edited by Chief; November 26th, 2012 at 12:29 AM.
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Old November 29th, 2012, 03:10 AM   #2
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I use a Hornady Magnum Sonic Cleaner for cleaning my guns. Sometime they are fully stripped and, once in a while, the will only be field stripped, but revolvers will have the cylinder and yoke/crane removed. I rinse them in hot water, blow them dry with compressed air and lube them.

I haven't had any problems with the finish.

Definately a convenience because while one gun is cleaning, I can strip another.
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Old November 29th, 2012, 02:09 PM   #3
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I believe they are routinely used for firearms maintenance--they are certainly sold commercially for that purpose. I don't believe there's anything about the technology that could possibly harm a pistol--I think that claim is not only unfounded but a bit ridiculous. Given the technology is used for jewelry, watches and precision tools including medical equipment, I think the key points are 1) the right chemistry in the tank, and 2) ensuring you've removed residual water (either by drying or by displacement/dilution with lubricants). As for time and effort, I'd say 1/2 the time and virtually no effort whatsoever. But, the actual cleaning time itself is not hands-on, you can be doing something else like looking for the gun oil.

With the right cleaning product, there is no amount of tumbling/vibratory cleaning that can come remotely close to ultrasonic for cleaning brass. I use a product called Citranox (produced by a company called Alconox) Amazon.com: Alconox Detergent Acidic Cleaner Citranox 1 Gallon: Home Improvement . It's a concentrated product added at low dosage to the tank of water--it will polish once-fired brass to a sparkling luster in about 8 minutes, and the brass looks like it just came from the factory.

However, I've dropped my gun into this soup, I believe after cleaning brass, and it has left a micro thin copper deposit on some of the stainless parts--barrel and the pins. While this doesn't bother me at all, it would certainly bother a lot of folks who are fussy about such things (and who don't care for pink guns). It rubs off with little trouble, but I think it was caused not by the product itself but the fact my tank was contaminated with residue from cleaning a few thousand cases. A fresh mix might have been in order. Of course for melonized stainless, I don't see there'd be any issue.

In any case, I recently sent my natural finish ss slide out to Mag-na-port and wanted it all tidy for them...dropped the whole thing in the tank for about 3 minutes and presto--absolutely spotless and no copper deposits because I used a fresh non-contaminated mix. I then went on to use that same mix to clean just under a 1,000 40SW cases (see below).

When I do clean my gun in the ultrasonic tank I just pull the slide off--everything goes into the tank assembled. I swish the frame around a few times and in a few minutes it's ready for a good shower of Ballistol, which is water soluble. Dry it off and I have a gun that's cleaner than it would be unless I completely disassembled the entire thing--which I just don't do. As mentioned above, compressed air for water blowout is a natural way to go and just can't be beat--in my climate at least, everything will be bone dry in seconds. I don't take anything else off the gun, not even the grips. Bottom of the tank is covered with sludge, inside of gun is spotless.

I would say highly recommended. I believe it is the ONLY way to get case interiors and primer pockets actually clean--I know my tumbler won't ever get them clean--and the only way to get dirt out of coil springs, etc. without spending precious time doing it.

It's somewhat common for folks to buy the one at Harbor Freight for $75 http://tinyurl.com/2dxgfnu the one that's identical to that sold by one of the major reloading outfits, and of course there are a dozen YouTube videos of folks using them with all the attendant inane commentary one comes to expect from utube.

Finally, I've tried many mixtures for brass cleaning I've seen recommended by others. These include lemon juice, Dawn, Tide, vinegar, ammonia and so on. I've even tried trisodium phosphate and dishwasher detergent in various concentrations. None of the mixtures I've tried did a thing--and I'm talking absolutely jack squat. Nada. Citranox was like a miracle--although products from Lyman, Hornady and others may work just as well.


Last edited by Bongo Boy; November 29th, 2012 at 06:07 PM.
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Old November 30th, 2012, 02:48 AM   #4
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Well first off thank you for the extended post.

From my extensive online research and cross checking info i have found that most people prefer to completely strip the gun 2-3 times per year and drop everything in the sonic cleaner.

I have been advised against field striping and dropping everything including the polymer frame in the bath. There are two main arguments behind this:
1) It might affect the polymer in the long run (Aluminum for sure)
2) The vibration in the tank will eventually create stress on moving parts and wear them faster. (Don't know what to believe to be honest)

I use the M-PRO 7 line of products and their cleaner product is suitable (As they claim) for sonic baths since the product is not water based hence there is no fear of rust accumulating from drops remaining in the weapon, however almost everyone i have talked to suggest a complete dry out either with compressed air or OIL bath.

Still a bit confused any other input is welcome...
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Old December 2nd, 2012, 08:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
I have been advised against field striping and dropping everything including the polymer frame in the bath. There are two main arguments behind this:
1) It might affect the polymer in the long run (Aluminum for sure)

That would depend on what's in the bath. Basing a decision on what 'might' happen seems kind of hocus-pocus to me. Use a bath you know is safe for polymer--there's no reason to be more or less careful in selection of your cleaning product. If you can select products safe for polymer and conventional cleaning, you can do the same for ultrasonic cleaning. Just let's not equate ultrasonic cleaning with any particular cleaning agent.

2) The vibration in the tank will eventually create stress on moving parts and wear them faster.

That one is just absurd. The whole idea behind ultrasonic and its many decades of use for delicate parts is to avoid damaging the parts through physical contact, and to prevent wear by ensuring surfaces that cannot easily be reached by other methods can be cleaned. You're simply agitating the bath in a way that requires no gross motion of the liquid, but rather relies on extremely small amplitude motion--so that the agitation occurs where flow of the liquid cannot (hard to reach, impossible to reach, small clearance regions).

The basis of the technology has nothing to do with what's in the bath other than the ability of the liquid itself to transfer the motion throughout the bath. I don't really care what personal preferences are, but I think folks make decisions based on conjured-up notions and superstition. There's plenty of information on the technology, what it's used for and why, and plenty of choices in cleaning agents.

It's really surprising how folks will avoid proven technology, but jump right on new untested products in a heartbeat. These decisions are being made on feelings, guesses, legends and intuition and not much fact.

Last edited by Bongo Boy; December 2nd, 2012 at 08:17 PM.
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Old December 2nd, 2012, 11:16 AM   #6
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Have you tried Citranox on brass without the ultrasonic agitation and if so what were the results?
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Old December 2nd, 2012, 08:09 PM   #7
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No, but I've used way too much Citranox. Rather than polishing the brass to the high-luster brass color in the photo above, it left the brass a deep gold color (even after repeated rinsing), and the brass continued to deepen in color for about 3 days. Still lovely to behold, but not useful.

That's a great question--I'll have to try it. I think the ultrasonic action is just unbeatable for those primer pockets and case interiors, and I expect just soaking the brass or even hand agitation won't get it done. But I'm up for an experiment to find out. Will post results as soon as I can. I should mention that the harbor freight (chinese) ultrasonic tank has a heater that I use (Citranox recommends heat and higher concentrations if needed for real problem cleaning), and that heater gets the bath really hot...I'm guessing about 160-170F. I think that's a big factor.

Another aspect I've grown to really appreciate, for cleaning brass again, is the total absence of ANY residue on the brass--specifically, no rouge. I can load 1,000 rds (and just did--last night and this evening) and there's nothing on my fingers except the oxide from handling the bullets. And, there's no rouge getting into my dies. This is now way off-topic...my apology.

Last edited by Bongo Boy; December 2nd, 2012 at 09:06 PM.
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Old December 8th, 2012, 10:37 PM   #8
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I thought ultrasonic cleaners were great until an engineer friend of mine showed me what happens to a piece of tin foil left in one for an hour.
You can see light through it when held up to a light!

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Old December 9th, 2012, 10:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notnunnya View Post
I thought ultrasonic cleaners were great until an engineer friend of mine showed me what happens to a piece of tin foil left in one for an hour.
You can see light through it when held up to a light!
Good things don't happen to foil in a vibratory cleaner or a tumbler either so what does this prove?
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Old December 9th, 2012, 10:53 AM   #10
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When ultrasonic cleaners are tested, aluminum is used. There are measurements taken to determine the depth of cut that is made by the bubbles.

The agitating bubbles can be very agressive and will cause wear if the items in the tank are cleaned for too long of a period. A little bit of time would have no ill effects are hard parts. I would never drop any polymer parts in one. Brass would be fine as it is a dense alloy.

I recall a co-worker dropping an old completely dismantled Holley carburator in one. He let it soak for an extended time in the tank due to it being really nasty. I mean like hours long. It came out with an extra hole (small but there) and a port or two that was slightly damaged. All from bubbles in trapped areas it seemed. I don't think the carb ever ran right after that.

While ultrasonic cleaners are good, use caution as to how much soak time you use on various metals.
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Old December 9th, 2012, 12:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notnunnya View Post
I thought ultrasonic cleaners were great until an engineer friend of mine...
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjcarter2 View Post
I recall a co-worker dropping an old completely dismantled Holley carburator in one...
Sounds almost like an agitating dip tank to me, and that's not what we're talking about here. No one is suggesting you put methelyne chloride, cresylic acid, or any other highly caustic compounds into the tank with your pistol parts (not even Chem-Dip), because those can certainly harm parts after extended exposure, especially aluminium parts (not that your American made M&P pistols are made of aluminium).

Citranox, on the other hand, is about 5% Cirtic Acid from oranges/lemons and other fruit (like strong lemonade, but Please... don't drink it) and 5% Glycolic Acid from sugar cane (women use 2% Glycolic Acid as a skin treatment). Citranox has a hazardous materials rating of 1,0,0 (minor irritant) in it's concentrated form.

Last edited by KRWeiss; December 9th, 2012 at 01:03 PM.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 02:04 AM   #12
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It seems to me that it all boils down to:

1) What cleaning agent you are using and if its damaging
2) How long you leave it in this process
3) How often you use this type of cleaning

The most logical thing i have heard so far is use it periodically with a safe cleaning agent.

So here comes another million dollar question:
Has anyone used it with M7PRO gun cleaner or M7PRO GUN OIL LPX ? Any input in general would be welcomed !

They claim that for light cleaning to use 9 parts water 1 part cleaner and then a full 10 minute bath in their oil solution to displace water. Assuming the cleaner is 2-2.5lt in capacity, It seems to me that alot of product is used for just one cleaning.

Or is it just me ?
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Old December 10th, 2012, 07:32 AM   #13
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I don't have an ultrasonic cleaner and don't intend to get one however; Having used ultrasonic cleaning in industry for 40 plus years I know they do an excellent job when used correctly. I would soak the dissassembled gun parts in simple green for 20 minutes then place them in a water filled ultrasonic for perhaps 2 minutes to rinse the soap and crud off. Followed by a final rinse in fresh water.

Closed pockets such as where the sear spring and plunger reside will not clean up properly unless dissassembled. It's also much easier to assure any rinse water is removed
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Old December 13th, 2012, 09:05 PM   #14
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I have not used that particular product in the ultrasonic cleaner, however that's the typical mix ratio cited by all other products I've seen so far--about 1:9 to 1:11. You will likely find that this isn't a one-time use deal, however.

Another product you might look in to is SharperTek 1220-G at about $40 per gallon. These prices are typical (Citranox is about $40/gal as well), but mixed it's about $1.50 to $2.00 per tank.

L&R Ultrasonics products are also in that price range, possibly a bit more, but I have only found one reseller and their web site was useless. L&R manufactures the weapons cleaning units used by about 18-20 police and sheriff's departments across Colorado (and hundreds more across the country), and they make it easy to see their MSDSs for all of their products if you want to see most of what they contain. I believe it's the L&R product that specifically states it's safe for aluminum and magnesium--although personally I feel an aluminum alloy handgun isn't really worth the time it takes to clean it.

I've used M7Pro for conventional cleaning and wasn't impressed, especially with the difficulty in rinsing it off. Do they actually recommend it as an ultrasonic solution? I couldn't find any reference to that.

Last edited by Bongo Boy; December 13th, 2012 at 09:22 PM.
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Old December 15th, 2012, 12:25 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bongo Boy View Post
I have not used that particular product in the ultrasonic cleaner, however that's the typical mix ratio cited by all other products I've seen so far--about 1:9 to 1:11. You will likely find that this isn't a one-time use deal, however.

Another product you might look in to is SharperTek 1220-G at about $40 per gallon. These prices are typical (Citranox is about $40/gal as well), but mixed it's about $1.50 to $2.00 per tank.

L&R Ultrasonics products are also in that price range, possibly a bit more, but I have only found one reseller and their web site was useless. L&R manufactures the weapons cleaning units used by about 18-20 police and sheriff's departments across Colorado (and hundreds more across the country), and they make it easy to see their MSDSs for all of their products if you want to see most of what they contain. I believe it's the L&R product that specifically states it's safe for aluminum and magnesium--although personally I feel an aluminum alloy handgun isn't really worth the time it takes to clean it.

I've used M7Pro for conventional cleaning and wasn't impressed, especially with the difficulty in rinsing it off. Do they actually recommend it as an ultrasonic solution? I couldn't find any reference to that.
Is the cleaner water-based? Can it be used in an ultrasonic tank and be diluted with water? - MPro7

Ultrasonic Cleaning Instructions - MPro7
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