An excellent patch lube for black powder can be made with 1 part anhydrous lanolin or saddle soap, 2 parts “rust inhibiting water soluble oil,”* and 1 part Murphy’s Oil Soap. Shake well and apply to patches before loading. Cleaning is much easier when using this lube.
*Arco Emulsiplex or NAPA Soluble Cutting and Gring Oil (765-1525), Trimsol, Lyondell Satisol, or Tooltex cutting fluid can be used.
Thanks to George Stantis for this tip.
Many black powder shooters swear by Simple Green™ and of all things Windex™ “glass cleaner with vinegar.”
If you will be using Ed’s Red mostly for black powder and old chlorate primed military ammo, there is a modification to ER that may be of interest. Substitute a “fire retardant hydraulic fluid concentrate,” or “rust inhibiting water soluble oil” suited for water hydraulics for four fluid oz. of the ATF in a gallon mix of ER. The resulting mix will form a stable emulsion when mixed in a 50-50 ratio with distilled water (NOT tap water). The resulting mix is very similar to “Moose Milk”, though it may actually be better. To do this, mix the ER as usual, substituting the water soluble oil for 1/8 of the ATF in the mix, or 4 oz. if you are adding a quart of ATF to mix a gallon of ER. Once the ER is mixed, heat the distilled water just short of the boiling point, steaming with bubbles just beginning to form, and pour this SLOWLY into the Ed’s Red while stirring. It should form a pink, soapy looking liquid like Pepto Bismol. Arco Emulsiplex or Trimsol, Lyondell Satisol, or Tooltex cutting fluid concentrate, or other water soluble cutting oils are suitable, as long as they DO NOT contain any chlorine or sulfur. That’s also why you should use distilled water instead of tap water.
Another black powder cleaner that is being used by Civil War re-enactors is composed of 1 part rubbing alcohol (70% or 91%) 1 part hydrogen peroxide (typical 3 percent drugstore kind), and 1 part Murphy’s Oil Soap or a generic equivalent. It cuts Black Powder (even caked on residue that has been left from one event to the next) very quickly. Because of the alcohol, it does tend to eliminate most of the oil it comes into contact with, so be sure to lightly oil everything unless you are going to be firing immediately.