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Case Sizing Lubricants

Spray Lube
The spray-on case lubes are probably the best thing to happen to reloading in years. You can make your own spray case sizing lube in bulk by mixing liquid lanolin and 99% isopropyl alcohol. (While you can (kind of) use 91% isopropyl alcohol, its higher water content causes the lanolin to settle out and it must be shaken frequently during use. The more common 70% isopropyl “rubbing alcohol” will not work at all as its water content is much to high.)

Liquid lanolin, which is a refined lanolin oil with the solid fats removed (the reason why solid anhydrous lanolin doesn’t work well in this application) is available from health food stores and sources specializing in ingredients for cosmetics. You want to get pure liquid lanolin without additives. Online sources include VitaGlo (http://www.vitaglo.com/7730.html) and Select Oils (http://www.selectoils.com/item–Lanolin-Liquid–SO-LanolinLiquid.html).

I just recently discovered that my local Safeway store carries 99 percent isopropyl in their drug/cosmetic isle for $0.99 for a 16 ounce bottle. Ninety-nine percent isopropyl alcohol is also available from many large paint stores (used for some finishes), some electronics stores (it’s used for cleaning electronics) or local industrial chemical suppliers.

A solution of 1 part liquid lanolin and 4 to 5 parts parts 99 percent isopropyl alcohol (4 oz of liquid lanolin to16 – 20 oz of isopropyl) works well. When mixing you may find that the lanolin mixes better if you warm both the alcohol and lanolin in a bath of warm water to about 105 – 110 degrees F before mixing. DO NOT WARM EITHER OF THEM OVER AN OPEN FLAME! Once the solutions are warm, pour together, mix thoroughly, allow the mix to cool (mix occasionally as it cools) and store in an air tight container to prevent water from being absorbed by the isopropyl.

For a spray bottle you can use an old commercial spray lube bottle or an old pump hair spray bottle that has been thoroughly cleaned. To apply the lube, spread the cases in a single layer on a clean surface like an oven tray (those disposable aluminum oven liner trays are great and prevent the wrath of your chef when it is discovered that the cookie trays were used) and lightly and evenly spray the cases. Allow the cases to sit for a couple of minutes, roll the cases around and lightly spray again. Wait until the alcohol has evaporated (about 5 minutes) and start sizing. Properly lubed cases will have a slightly greasy feel to them without feeling slimy.

Another neat idea for spraying the cases is to put them in a plastic bag, spray, and then mix the cases, dump out on some newspaper, and let dry. Less messy than putting the cases on an oven tray and less likely to get you in trouble with the head chef.

Thanks to Steve Dzupin for this tip.

One of the advantages of using sprayed on lanolin as a case lube is that, in the quantities used, any residual lube has no effect on powder or primers.

Solid “Wipe On” Lubes
You can also use plain anhydrous lanolin straight from the can (but not as conveniently) for sizing by putting a little bit on your fingers (just lightly rub your fingers across the lanolin) and then rubbing the cases. “Mink Oil,” a refined lanolin leather preservative also works well as a case lube.

Many large drug stores have bulk anhydrous lanolin or they will order it for you, or you can order in it 4, 8, or 16 ounce containers, from Majestic Mountain Sage, 881 West 700 North Ste 107, Logan, Utah 84321, Phone: 435-755-0863, or online at: http://www.thesage.com/catalog/FixedOil.html#Lanolin, and from Select Oils at http://www.selectoils.com/item–Lanolin–SO-Lanolin.html.

Many people have reported that they have used a little bit of STP oil treatment on their fingers or commercial water based silicone cable pulling lube as a sizing lube.

If you are still using pads to roll your cases on for resizing you can simply use regular undyed dishwashing liquid. Reports are that it works as some commercial liquid case lubes. Simply put a very small amount on your pad and rub it in with your fingers. Roll your cases across the pad and resize.