baking-brass

Baking Brass

In Blog by Rich8 Comments

In this article I thought I’d talk about a couple methods of drying brass off, some that I think are good, and some that I think are definitely bad. The most common method I hear for those that wet tumble their brass…is baking it in the oven. Then there’s also the fairly recent method, at least recent to me, of using a food dehydrator. I’m going to say this from the get go, there’s a lot of not good chemicals involved in firearms. I think putting your fired cases with carbon, and all kinds of other nasty stuff, anywhere near an appliance that you are going to use to prepare your food is a bad idea. Cancer is no fun, so let’s not expose ourselves to stuff that makes a fight with the big C any more likely than it already is. If you’re going to do any of what we discuss in the baking brass article, use old stuff you have no intention to use for food preparation, ok?

Baking Brass

I’ve heard for quite some time of people using their oven to dry wet cases that come out of a wet tumbler like the Thumler. If you’re unfamiliar with wet tumbling or stainless media you can read our article on the subject. Wet brass kinda sucks, it can easily take overnight, or longer with water sitting in the cases, to thoroughly dry them. If you have a match, or a trip to the range with your buddies looming, this can slow you down in how quickly you get your ammo loaded. For a long time people have been baking brass in the oven. One of your first questions might be, won’t that damage the brass? The short answer is, no! Brass is very conductive and basically unaffected by heat below 450F or so. So baking it in the oven for a half hour or an hour at 150F or 200F isn’t going to destroy your brass. There’s some excellent information on the properties of brass and temperatures that affect it in this article over at 6mmBR.com!

I firmly believe you want to keep food away from firearms and their accessories. So we obviously can’t all afford the price or space of a second oven, right? So how can you go about baking your brass without contaminating your kitchen? My suggestion would be an old toaster oven with a temperature control on it. You can easily fill a pan up with some wet brass and some have multiple racks and trays for additional baking space. They tend to be a lot cheaper and small enough that it fits on your reloading bench or on a shelf in the garage. That reminds me of another safety tip, keep anything that heats up and emits heat away from your powder! Sounds dumb, but I’ll bet somebody’s remodeled a room in their house that way at some point.

Alternative Method

The newer method I’ve seen for doing this is using a food dehydrator style oven. The same kind of deal you would use for making beef jerky! I’ll confess, I’m much better at reloading and precision shooting than I’ve ever been at making beef jerky. That said, we did buy a dehydrator a year or so ago. Gave it a couple tries, never really been that successful or got into making it ourselves. So this thing has been sitting around since. I’ve seen companies like Frankford Arsenal and Hornady using the same devices with their own branding for drying cases.

Hornady-case-dryer

Hornady’s Version

Frankford-case-dryer

Frankford Arsenal version

Having seen these used for this purpose, I figure, what the hell…why not? It’s an appliance we aren’t using and were thinking of discarding just to save room. What’s the harm, right? So I pulled this out of the cabinet under the counter and marched it up to the hobby room. I had just finished forming some 6x47L brass for my match rifle and had dumped it into the tumbler for cleaning and polishing. This was the perfect time to try out the new device for baking brass! One of the things I like about this is that I can easily fit 100 cases on each tray of the dehydrator. It’s designed to blow hot air down through the center, which hits the bottom and spreads out, then it rises through the vents on each tray. That’s how it dehydrates meat and food, but it’s also a great system for drying brass!

baking-brass-dehydrator

The fan on the lid blows the hot air down through the center, and it then spreads and rises up through the vented trays

Wrapping Up

I’m sure you’re wondering how it works. I’m pretty pleased thus far. I did the first batch at 160F or so, the highest setting, for about a half hour. The brass was hot to the touch and I couldn’t find any moisture. While trimming I noticed a little forming on the inside of the shaving guard of the trimmer, though. So I’m thinking the next batch I do, I’ll leave them in there for an hour to be sure all the moisture has evaporated from the cases. Like all things it takes a few tries before you have baking brass down to a science. I do, however, love the time savings. I was able to clean, dry, and trim the brass all in the same afternoon. Historically, I’ve let it dry for a few days before attempting anything after the wet tumbling. I think it’s definitely a worthwhile investment if you wet tumble, and don’t feel like it has to say Hornady on it to be effective, buy one that’s cheap with at least two or three trays! Have a comment or suggestion? Drop it in the comments below!

Owner and Proprietor of AccuracyTech, LLC. Rich is a Firearms Enthusiast, Precision Rifle Competitor, and Writer. He is committed to bringing readers quality reviews and articles related to the Precision Shooting Sports. If you have any questions for him, please use the contact form on the site.

Comments

  1. I’ve been drying my brass in the clothes dryer using the rack for drying sneakers. Spread them out on a towel, run the dryer about 30 min. check them several times and respread them when you check them. I’ve been told those racks come with new dryers although I had to buy one. The cost was less than $20.00.

      1. Lots of us use clothes dryers. I also use a sneaker rack, but I spread the brass out onto a dedicated, deep sided, SS baking pan. Or, if you don’t have a dryer rack, you can use a mesh sports bag and trap the neck of the bag in the dryer door so that it hangs inside without touching the rotating drum.

        Reloading has enough bulky stuff associated with it and the idea of storing a dedicated dehydrator makes no sense if you already own a clothes dryer.

        1. Author

          I think we probably all own a clothes dryer. The question is whether or not you’re willing to use it for this purpose.

          Keep power in mind as well. The bigger the appliance you use for this, the more energy required to heat up that brass!

          1. I would guess that it takes a few cents more power to run a clothes dryer than some other methods, but I can’t see any reason not to use one for any other reason. The brass that goes into my clothes dryer is spotlessly clean and thoroughly rinsed of any contaminants. Plus, I don’t lick the inside of my dryer anyway. As for energy costs, anyone involved in precision loading is automatically in the category of “Money means nothing to a man like me”, whether they admit it or not. 😉

  2. I use a dehydrator to dry my brass myself. And like you I definitely recommend not mixing what you use to make food with what you use for reloading. The nice thing is dehydrators can be had on the cheap from thrift stores too, and they are pretty much the same thing as the ones branded by reloading companies. It’s one area I’d definitely say go ahead and save some money in.

  3. I’m with Rich about not contaminating your home – especially the food side – with gun related chemicals. A thrift store dehydrator is a good way to go. I live in CO and the humidity is low here much of the time, so I’ve dried brass by putting it in a south facing window, but I doubt that’s as consistent as a dehydrator. Particularly if you live in a humid area, you also need to think about keeping your powder consistently dry. Modern pelletized gunpowder is not as hygroscopic as black powder, but especially towards the bottom of a bottle, it can pick up a few percent by weight and that will mess with how much powder you think you are loading.

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