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  #1  
Old 06-08-2019, 9:40 AM
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Question Deactivating primers

Hey guys...

So one of my projects this summer is going to be building a propane forge for various projects.
One of which, is to melt down my scrap brass into ingots. No big deal.

However, I've got almost a full bucket of primers that have been decapped, and I'm positive there's some live ones mixed in there. Since I'd rather not have them go POP and A) scare the crap out of me, or B) ruin an expensive crucible.. are there any suggestions for making sure they are all dead before melting them down?

Given the quantity, I figured I'd dump them a few pounds at a time into my wet tumbler and let it go for an hour with no pins... to try and wash away any of the chemical... but I don't know if that would work. Is the goes-bang powder even water soluble?

Any ideas that don't involve manually inspecting them and tossing out the live ones would be helpful... there's just way too many for that.
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Last edited by Jason_2111; 06-08-2019 at 9:41 AM.. Reason: dang autocorrect
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Old 06-08-2019, 10:45 AM
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If you search this forum I believe there is a discussion that might solve your problem. IIRC you can temporarily render them inert by soaking in water, but once they dry out they become active again.

I'm really curious to know why you want to spend a bunch of money to turn scrap brass into ingots, unless of course it's a hobby type project.
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Old 06-08-2019, 2:39 PM
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Primer compound is shipped to the primer manufactors in water to make more stable during transport.
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Old 06-08-2019, 4:03 PM
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Quote:
are there any suggestions for making sure they are all dead before melting them down?
Sure, just pre cook them in a pot with a lid on it. Easily procured from thrift shop for couple of bucks.

Cooking them off won't likely result in a pop. More likely a fizz. But WTF, I'm not doing anything right now. I'll give it a try and report back.
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Old 06-08-2019, 4:24 PM
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Originally Posted by pacrat View Post
Sure, just pre cook them in a pot with a lid on it. Easily procured from thrift shop for couple of bucks.

Cooking them off won't likely result in a pop. More likely a fizz. But WTF, I'm not doing anything right now. I'll give it a try and report back.
This probably the best idea. Cook them off a few at a time in a covered pot.
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Old 06-08-2019, 4:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacrat View Post
Sure, just pre cook them in a pot with a lid on it. Easily procured from thrift shop for couple of bucks.

Cooking them off won't likely will definitely, result in a pop. More likely a fizz. But WTF, I'm not doing anything right now. I'll give it a try and report back.

OK RESULTS ARE IN

4 CCI LRP in stainless steel pan with lid, on stove.

After a few minutes, high flame on stove. I will add that lid is thin. To thin as it turns out.

4 loud bangs, [comparable to 22 short in pistol] first of which blew lid off when the anvil hit it. Quickly put lid back on before other three ignited. And held it in place. After the fourth bang. Removed from heat and observed results. NOT GOOD for thin lid. It will survive but has 4 distinctive anvil dings approx .010" deep.

Would have worked fine IF I hadn't got lazy, and used original idea of Cast Iron pot/lid. I'm certain the heavy cast lid would have stayed put, and not been dinged either.

A "COOKED OFF" in a pan primer is a lot louder, than a primer fired in a rifle/pistol while seated in a case.
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Old 06-08-2019, 4:54 PM
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Reloading manuals warn about oils used to lubricate cases before sizing contaminating primers. But soaking the primers in oil might have unintended consequences for what you have planned.
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Old 06-09-2019, 8:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackEllis View Post
If you search this forum I believe there is a discussion that might solve your problem. IIRC you can temporarily render them inert by soaking in water, but once they dry out they become active again.

I'm really curious to know why you want to spend a bunch of money to turn scrap brass into ingots, unless of course it's a hobby type project.
The forge is for other projects... but the melting down of my scrap brass is to eventually recycle it all.
I have lots of scrap brass... mostly berdan primed garbage, fudged up casings that aren't reloadable, and chopped tops from making 300-BLK, etc. In addition, a big bucket of those spent primers. I've been filling it for years and years, and I know it's brass plus schmutz. I also know there's probably at least hundred or so live primers mixed all in there somewhere.

I haven't as of yet found a recycler that will take yellow brass casings as they are. There was one place where I used to live, but nothing near where I am now. However, anyone would take ingots.

Plus, I might use the ingots later on in casting other hobby projects, hence having the forge and a good crucible.
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The inevitable explosion gets closer and closer, coming in little steps, but closer every day.
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Old 06-09-2019, 8:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacrat View Post
OK RESULTS ARE IN

4 CCI LRP in stainless steel pan with lid, on stove.

After a few minutes, high flame on stove. I will add that lid is thin. To thin as it turns out.

4 loud bangs, [comparable to 22 short in pistol] first of which blew lid off when the anvil hit it. Quickly put lid back on before other three ignited. And held it in place. After the fourth bang. Removed from heat and observed results. NOT GOOD for thin lid. It will survive but has 4 distinctive anvil dings approx .010" deep.

Would have worked fine IF I hadn't got lazy, and used original idea of Cast Iron pot/lid. I'm certain the heavy cast lid would have stayed put, and not been dinged either.

A "COOKED OFF" in a pan primer is a lot louder, than a primer fired in a rifle/pistol while seated in a case.
Thanks for the experiment! I should have mentioned I've seen them go off when cooked off like this before.

I'm currently processing about 1,000 lbs of range scrap from an indoor range. When I first started smelting it all down into bars, (after a quick pick-through to get rid of the plastic wad bits, brass bits, and so far a couple of live rounds that got all swept up together), I did manage to find a live primer that had fallen out of something somehow the hard way. It blasted bits of hot lead everywhere. Thankfully, I was in full protective gear. I look through it very carefully now before doing a batch.

I know if I just throw these primers in a cruicble, there will be ones that pop off and cause a mess or broken crucible. Dang things aren't cheap, so I'd like to keep that from happening.

I guess rather than trying to "de-activate" the explosive compound, I'm hoping to try and wash it all away with the wet tumble... just getting it wet, then having it dry out and detonate in the crucible isn't an option.

I'll do some experiments as well... I'll soak/agitate/rinse a few dozen in a bottle, then try cook them to see if the compound all goes away. The data point of "safe when wet" tells me it is water soluble... which is good news.
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The inevitable explosion gets closer and closer, coming in little steps, but closer every day.
I say: "Let's do it and get it over with."
* This post made while on the toilet. Please wash hands after reading.
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  #10  
Old 06-16-2019, 8:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason_2111 View Post

I'm currently processing about 1,000 lbs of range scrap from an indoor range. When I first started smelting it all down into bars, (after a quick pick-through to get rid of the plastic wad bits, brass bits, and so far a couple of live rounds that got all swept up together), I did manage to find a live primer that had fallen out of something somehow the hard way. It blasted bits of hot lead everywhere. Thankfully, I was in full protective gear. I look through it very carefully now before doing a batch.
There was a pretty impressive photo on Castboolits of a smelting op that got a live round in with their range scrap.

Luckily they were also wearing full protection.

Dropping fishing & diving weights into an already melted pot is another good way to test your protective gear.
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Old 06-17-2019, 6:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishslayer View Post
There was a pretty impressive photo on Castboolits of a smelting op that got a live round in with their range scrap.

Luckily they were also wearing full protection.

Dropping fishing & diving weights into an already melted pot is another good way to test your protective gear.
Yes it is!! We Must've reached the 25' point on the side of the shed when I put that in there!! 😆
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Old 06-18-2019, 1:33 PM
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Just throw them in the trash. Too much of a headache to deal with the apparent deactivation of primers.
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Old 06-25-2019, 4:47 PM
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got a large bbq outside?
just get the coals good and white. dump in a load of the used primers for about 2 min. ---use a dedicated cast iron dutch oven---.
then dump the hot mass into a tin bucket of water.
repeat till all gone.
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Old 06-25-2019, 4:52 PM
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Just throw them in the trash. Too much of a headache to deal with the apparent deactivation of primers.
I agree.
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Old 06-26-2019, 6:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacrat View Post
Cooking them off won't likely result in a pop. More likely a fizz.
I would not count on that. Primer compound is a shock sensitive explosive, not a flammable solid like smokeless powder. It has one ignition characteristic, and that is to explode.

I've deactivated a few primers by hitting them with a propane torch; luckily I had covered them with a charcoal chimney first. I never did find the anvils, despite them being in a relatively enclosed space.
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Old 06-26-2019, 7:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Jason_2111 View Post
Thanks for the experiment! I should have mentioned I've seen them go off when cooked off like this before.

I'm currently processing about 1,000 lbs of range scrap from an indoor range. When I first started smelting it all down into bars, (after a quick pick-through to get rid of the plastic wad bits, brass bits, and so far a couple of live rounds that got all swept up together), I did manage to find a live primer that had fallen out of something somehow the hard way. It blasted bits of hot lead everywhere. Thankfully, I was in full protective gear. I look through it very carefully now before doing a batch.

I know if I just throw these primers in a cruicble, there will be ones that pop off and cause a mess or broken crucible. Dang things aren't cheap, so I'd like to keep that from happening.

I guess rather than trying to "de-activate" the explosive compound, I'm hoping to try and wash it all away with the wet tumble... just getting it wet, then having it dry out and detonate in the crucible isn't an option.

I'll do some experiments as well... I'll soak/agitate/rinse a few dozen in a bottle, then try cook them to see if the compound all goes away. The data point of "safe when wet" tells me it is water soluble... which is good news.
Not water soluble.
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Old 06-26-2019, 9:36 AM
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Surprising that scrap metal places won't take it, the berdan brass cases anyway. In SoCal, there are enough places to choose from that someone will buy it, especially if there is a sizable quantity.
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Old 06-26-2019, 9:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacrat View Post
OK RESULTS ARE IN

4 CCI LRP in stainless steel pan with lid, on stove.

After a few minutes, high flame on stove. I will add that lid is thin. To thin as it turns out.

4 loud bangs, [comparable to 22 short in pistol] first of which blew lid off when the anvil hit it. Quickly put lid back on before other three ignited. And held it in place. After the fourth bang. Removed from heat and observed results. NOT GOOD for thin lid. It will survive but has 4 distinctive anvil dings approx .010" deep.

Would have worked fine IF I hadn't got lazy, and used original idea of Cast Iron pot/lid. I'm certain the heavy cast lid would have stayed put, and not been dinged either.

A "COOKED OFF" in a pan primer is a lot louder, than a primer fired in a rifle/pistol while seated in a case.
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Old 06-26-2019, 11:28 AM
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new project

https://www.harborfreight.com/2-lb-h...mer-61873.html

wd40 and other oils generally kill the primer... I don't know how the compound will burn when heated to the level to melt brass.

I saw some australian reloaders using water to hydraulically remove the primer

Fill the case with water
hold a rod the diameter of the case in the case mouth, whack with a hammer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FskNx4UBZvc



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYGeamJI4jQ

this is a way to do it in your press
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQNDgjcgofY
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Old 07-01-2019, 7:28 AM
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Lead styphnate is soluble in ammonia, but I don't know what concentration.

Cheapest way I can think of is a bed of coals in a good wood fire, add primers a handful at a time, waiting for the pops. Let sit overnight, sift with window screen.

Last edited by God Bless America; 07-01-2019 at 7:36 AM..
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Old 07-01-2019, 8:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacrat View Post
OK RESULTS ARE IN

4 CCI LRP in stainless steel pan with lid, on stove.

After a few minutes, high flame on stove. I will add that lid is thin. To thin as it turns out.

4 loud bangs, [comparable to 22 short in pistol] first of which blew lid off when the anvil hit it. Quickly put lid back on before other three ignited. And held it in place. After the fourth bang. Removed from heat and observed results. NOT GOOD for thin lid. It will survive but has 4 distinctive anvil dings approx .010" deep.

Would have worked fine IF I hadn't got lazy, and used original idea of Cast Iron pot/lid. I'm certain the heavy cast lid would have stayed put, and not been dinged either.

A "COOKED OFF" in a pan primer is a lot louder, than a primer fired in a rifle/pistol while seated in a case.
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Old 07-11-2019, 1:56 AM
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I soak in cold water with a couple water changes.

I also pour out the water one by one before doing anything with it.

So far it has worked for me.

re: your not just making the primer wet; your trying to rinse away the compound.

Last edited by sl0re10; 07-11-2019 at 2:08 AM..
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Old 07-11-2019, 2:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacrat View Post
OK RESULTS ARE IN

4 CCI LRP in stainless steel pan with lid, on stove.

After a few minutes, high flame on stove. I will add that lid is thin. To thin as it turns out.

4 loud bangs, [comparable to 22 short in pistol] first of which blew lid off when the anvil hit it. Quickly put lid back on before other three ignited. And held it in place. After the fourth bang. Removed from heat and observed results. NOT GOOD for thin lid. It will survive but has 4 distinctive anvil dings approx .010" deep.

Would have worked fine IF I hadn't got lazy, and used original idea of Cast Iron pot/lid. I'm certain the heavy cast lid would have stayed put, and not been dinged either.

A "COOKED OFF" in a pan primer is a lot louder, than a primer fired in a rifle/pistol while seated in a case.
Do not use this pan for cooking again without a proper cleaning if this isn't a garage/industrial pan you expect to be contaminated.

Those primers are likely leaded. Primers are the primary cause of lead exposure in the shooting sports (not the projectiles). It's more atomized, easy to make airborne, and otherwise ingest.

Use the commercial product Hygenall Lead Off, or a mix of water and citric acid (higher the ratio the better/faster it works, but no need to go crazy).


I haven't tried it personally, but I expect that an ultrasonic cleaner can effectively deactivate primers, especially if you mix a bit of citric acid in the bath (works wonders for helping clean the brass too - same idea behind lemi-shine in the bath). The acid should cause chelation with the lead, inactivating it and the ultrasonic will cause the solution to work into the flash hole/primer pocket, and may mechanically deactivate the primer as well. You get clean brass and deactivated primers all in one.

Last edited by Fizz; 07-11-2019 at 2:31 AM..
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  #24  
Old 07-12-2019, 6:23 PM
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I don't think primer cups/anvils are even uniquely brass.
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Old 07-12-2019, 7:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JagerDog View Post
I don't think primer cups/anvils are even uniquely brass.

Some are now white brass others are "brassy" brass, early primer cups were copper. No biggy to smelt with brass, since brass is an alloy of copper. To the best of my knowledge all anvils are brass.

Shotshell primers are encased in a steel housing that is brass, or copper plated.
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