Reloading your own ammo not only provides the shooter with the ability to fine tune a specific load to the shooters needs, but it also is a great way to provide a cost saving alternative to your shooting budget. There are several important steps during the reloading process that must be followed in order to produce safe and high quality rounds. One of these critical steps is making sure the reloader uses the proper type and amount of case lubrication.
Off the shelf case lubricants come in a variety of types and brands, but there is a DIY method that can save you some of your hard earned money and in my opinion, is some of the best case lubricant I have used in my 15 year history of reloading. The beauty of this case lube is it easy to make, long lasting, very effective, and consists of two easy to obtain ingredients to produce: Liquid Lanolin and Isopropyl alcohol.
I must preface this by saying this is not my recipe as I have seen it floating around on the internet over the years, but I have been using my own variation and method for the past six years and it has proven to be a great alternative to some of the name brand case lubes for only a fraction of the price.
As with anything in the reloading world, you need to exercise caution when working with these components. Do not prepare, mix, or use near or around an open flame – Isopropyl alcohol is extremely flammable. With the cautionary disclaimer out of the way, let’s get started!
Below is a list of the items you will need to create your own DIY Case Lube:
- Liquid Lanolin – available at your local pharmacy or online at Amazon (~$9 / 4oz bottle)
- 99% Isopropyl alcohol – available at your local pharmacy or online at Amazon (~$6 / 16oz bottle)
- 24oz Plastic spray bottle with measurement markings – available at Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon, grocery store, etc. (~$2 / bottle)
- A small bowl or cup
- Warm water
Once you have the above items gathered, it’s time to start on the creation process (3 easy steps).
Take the small bowl or cup and fill it with warm tap water. You will use this to warm up the bottle of liquid lanolin. Place the unopened bottle of liquid lanolin into the cup and allow it to sit there for several minutes to raise the temperature of the oil in the bottle. By warming up the oil, it allows for easier mixing of the oil and alcohol.
Once the oil is warmed up, take the isopropyl alcohol and pour 12oz into the plastic spray bottle. Next, pour 1oz of liquid lanolin into your spray bottle. This is where the graduated measurement markings on the side of the spray bottle come in handy and help you achieve an accurate mixture. I’ve found the perfect mixture for me is a 12:1 ratio of alcohol to oil respectively. If you would like a thicker mixture, then use a little less alcohol (8:1 or 10:1), if you would like a thinner mixture, then get closer to the 14:1 or 16:1 ratio. I wouldn’t go any thinner than 16:1.
Place the top on the spray bottle and start swirling the bottle to allow the oil and alcohol to mix. Once mixed, your DIY case lube is ready for use.
The process I use for lubing my cases involves a 1 gallon zip lock bag. I first spray the inside of the bag with 2 fine misting sprays from your DIY case lube spray bottle. For rifle brass, I take 2 to 3 handfuls of brass and place them in the bag and give the brass inside the bag one fine mist spray. I then take 1 to 2 more handfuls and place those in the bag. This should fill your zip lock bag ¼ to ½ full. It’s important not to overfill the bag with brass. Seal the top of the bag, squeeze out the remaining air, and begin moving and rotating the bag to allow the brass inside to spin and move around inside. This helps distribute the case lube to all the brass inside. Do this for 20-30 seconds to allow for proper lubrication. For pistol brass, I do the same process except I give the empty bag 2-3 misting sprays of case lube and then fill the bag to the ¼ to ½ level. Mix the same way.
For rifle, I process my lubed rifle brass (deprime, size, and trim) and then wet tumble with stainless steel media to remove the lubrication. For lubed pistol brass, I process and load (deprime, size, prime, charge, seat the bullet, and crimp). After the pistol rounds are reloaded, I tumble my loaded pistol rounds in a vibratory tumbler with ground english walnut shells for 20-30 minutes to remove the case lube. After this, your cases will come out free of case lube and are ready to be sent downrange where you can recover your brass and start the process all over again.
Also check out this video from Ultimate Reloader