Make Your Own Case Lube
Over the years, I’ve used quite a bit of spray lube for case sizing, most of the time Hornady One-Shot for pistol, and Dillon DCL for rifle. As my supply of Dillon DCL dwindled, I started looking at other options. Dillon DCL has worked well, but leaves a sticky residue that’s hard to wipe (or tumble) off the cases. Then I talked with the 6.5 guys who swore by (not at) their home brew lanolin case lube (a formula they found online if memory serves).
Per the 65guys instructions, I ordered the same components and spray bottles, and these worked out great:
- Swan Isopropyl Alcohol, 99%, Pint, 16 OZ (2-pack)
- Home Health Liquid Lanolin, 4 Ounce
- Chemical Guys ACC_121.16HD-3PK Chemical Resistant Heavy Duty Bottle and Sprayer (16 oz) (Pack of 3)
As shown in the video, I found the following process to work well:
- Draw a line marked “alcohol” 4″ up from the bottom of the spray bottle.
- Draw a line marked “lanolin” .4″ up from the alcohol line.
- Fill the bottle with 99% isopropyl alcohol up to the alcohol line.
- Pour lanolin into the bottle until the fluid level is at the lanolin line.
- Gently shake/tip to mix until there’s no lanolin at the bottom of the bottle.
That’s it! Your case lube is ready to use! Just put some brass in a bin, spray, re-arrange, spray again, then wait 5 minutes for a quick flash-dry. Hope you find this useful!
Anyone else out there using homemade lanolin case lube? Please share your experiences!
54 thoughts on “D.I.Y. Case Lube”
my dad used lard
I’ve used this formula after seeing it from YouTube, “Bootleg Lube”. Works AMAZING and it goes a long way!
did anyone ever try synthetic motor oil on their lube case pad, ,just a thought ??
Yes I used synthetic motor oil On my brass before deperimed works good to 5w20. But the thinner the oil the better . Application – I put the cases inside a Ziploc bag then pour one or two caps of moral oil Flatten all the air out the bag then Ziploc shut then gently massage the oil Over the brass amount of oil depends on size of bag and size of caliber case being used …but tumbling brass after is a big must! Just in case if you get oil inside the neck of the brass..
I use the lanolin and Red Bottle of Heet at an 8:1 ratio. Works great for me on all bottle neck cases. Just don’t let it get inside the case body.
If you are going to use heet, MAKE SURE ITS ISO-HEAT!!
Heet =99% methanol. That stuff is toxic.
iso-heet = 99% isopropanol. that stuff won’t kill you.
Your are supposed to put this stuff on cases not eat it – I don’t think methanol is poisonous to cases. And Isopropyl appears to be every bit as toxic as methanol . I don’t know the comparative solvent abilities methanol vs iso. In fact methyl may evaporate faster and I wonder if that would make it more desireable to use in this application? It would put more fumes in the air more quickly. I found this source:
Of course it doesn’t hurt cases. Methonol is toxic, Isopropanol isn’t. Rubbing alcohol is isopropanol thus non toxic. continued exposure to methonal is bad news. Thats why you should make sure the bottle says ISO-HEET and not HEET.
HEET is 99% methonal.
My point is Isopropanol is also toxic. From looking further I learn it is just not AS toxic as Methanol. Isopropyl can be applied to skin with less harm but still, excess exposure – fumes, ingestion will kill a person – just not as quick as Methyl and folks should be aware of that. But with a modicum of care I bet one could use regular HEET in this case lube application with little fear. Now if one has little kids around, safe storage should be the rule for both substances. Note on the Iditarod Dog Race, the mushers use HEET in the stoves they use to cook food for dogs – I believe because there are less restrictions on flying the fuel around than gasoline or other stove fuels and its cheap. I
From the MSDS for Methanol:
“Potential Acute Health Effects:
Hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation. Slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (permeator). Severe over-exposure can result in death.”
From the MSDS for Propanol:
“Potential Acute Health Effects:
Very hazardous in case of eye contact (irritant). Hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant, permeator), of ingestion, of
inhalation. Inflammation of the eye is characterized by redness, watering, and itching.”
Six of one, half a dozen…
wel the best thing for me out of this discussion on alcohols is that I realized I can use alcohol to speed up the removal of case lube from my cases. For bottle necked cartridges I use Hormady Unique lube in the little tubs. I am still working on my first tub after 22+ years. I have always rubbed the lube off with paper towel. That is fine for 20 cases here n there. But lately I have been loading and shooting many more cases – 100 to 300 rounds at a time – and rubbing each case is a chore. I hate to use some sort of wash method as I don’t want to go thru the hassle of drying them for a few days. Today I am working on about 150 .223 cases. From this discussion I decided to dampen the paper towel w some rubbing alcohol – the lube comes off much more quickly and easily and my fingers aren’t getting sore. Still, if I keep feeding this AR, I probably need to go to a wash/rinse or some faster easier way to remove the lube. I sure like that Hornady product tho – works really well and very easy to apply.
if you put a line up four inches from the bottom and then four inches from that line it would take 8 inches but the bottle shown looks like only an inch or so for the lanolin which is right ?
The lanolin line is .4″ (4/10″) above the alcohol line. You missed the decimal.
Well, i use the hornady one shot on 223/556. I first punch the primer out. Then i clean the brass with the stainless steel pin cleaner. The pin cleaner also cleans the primer pockets. I let the brass dry by using a fan.
After the brass is dry i use the One Shot for lube and resize the case. I then check for length and trim if needed and dress the mouth of the case if trimmed. Hornady says you can leave the One Shot on the brass if you want to. I do not. I give the brass a bath in a product called IOSSO case cleaner. I use it over and over quite a number of times. This removes the One Shot.
Dry the brass again. The last step is to polish the brass to keep it from going dull. I use a polish that i put in the Walnut tumbler. I end up with super super bright brass. Some will say this process is a waste of time and over kill. But in my mind this super brite brass is the cleanest you can get and when we shoot it i know none of the grit, powder residue and dirt is being slammed against the chambers of my guns.
Also that is why i clean the brass first before i resize, as to not press the dirt, grit powder residue into the sidewalls of my dies.
Wow! $10+ for a pint of 99% alcohol! I use the “red” container of Heat (it’s used for water in your fuel) found at any auto parts store for less then $3 a pint. It works great
dan: Right on! I worked with an old guy that told me to use lard. Works as good as anything on the gun store shelves. I still use it. Also, works good for drilling metal, etc.
OJ: Good comment. Lard is like the WD40 of the olden days. Works for damn near everything, plus you can cook with it.
Too hard to get off of several hundred 45’s or 9mm’s. Use titanium sizing dies and no lube. (Hornady)
The ratio is 10:1 based on your instructions. Now, wasn’t that simpler? Thanks for the recipe.
Have you tried wet tumbling this type of lube off? I’m curious if your brass came out nice and shiny or dark.
Nothing wrong with Mink Oil. Inexpensive and easy to find.
Yep, honestly lanolin is easier to handle than pad and tube or aerosol can methods. Cases stay lubed until sized even after a week and a spray and shake inside a plastic jar can do 100+ cases at once. My gosh, check the price of a spray can against a single drug store purchase that’ll mix up to do 2000 cases or more…you won’t do back. And I have baby soft hands by the end of the session.
i have been using these ‘ingredients’/formula for about 3 years now and it works perfect and lasts forever! i would highly recommend this to any reloader.
A good old timer by the name of sunny told me vegetable oil works best and he was right, one squirt from a spray bottle will lube about 1000 223 cases. Just spray and mix the brass well by hand it will feel like it’s just about dry and that is how you want it, too much oil and you dent the cases. I have used canola oil, corn oil, and am now using olive oil and they all work fine.
4″ and .4″? On a container with an indented, concave bottom? Does nobody use liquid measure any more?
I guess precision is only for the other aspects of loading.
Cook a steak, save the tallow drippings and fat (which you can microwave to extract the tallow), stir with lots of hot water to dissolve away all the salts, chill the pot, spoon off the hard tallow, let dry, re-melt, and pour into a jar. Rub a little on the hands, and roll lots of cases against the palms, all at once. Tallow is a great, virtually free case lube, and it does not need refrigeration. Don’t overheat it without water, or it will yellow. Don’t heat it with only a little water under it, or with stray drops of water, or any boiling may be explosive.
I think a friend of mine used STP but I guess that isn’t exactly cheap.
IN YOUR PROCESS, I WOULD HAVE PUT THE LANOLIN IN THE BOTTLE FIRST. THE ALCOHOL BEING PUT IN SECOND WOULD CLEAN OUT THE FUNNEL AND START THE MIXING.
Having reloaded for over thirty years I have used several different types of case lube. From the pad from RCBS, to the tub of lube from Hornady. I like the spray from RCBS. However I am rethinking about buying anymore since I know I can make it for a lot less money.
I’ve used the lanolin / alcohol blend for almost 20 years. Nothing better and it’s cheap! I still have 2 of the original 4 bottles of lanolin I ordered then. A little goes a long way!
Time is money, to me it is A no brainer to just buy the spray from Hornady!!
I like the sound of the mix, but how do you clean it off?
Question for theauthor, have you wet tumbled brass that has the home brewed lube on it? My experiance with lanolin based lubes and wet tumbling is that there is a reaction and it comes out dark.
How do you get 100% coverage of your cases? does the solution migrate to cover entire case. what happens when it gets into primer pocket?
I have a metal box in which to keep my “gun rags” tightly sealed for fire safety, I keep T-shirt material and tall white terry-inside tube socks in it, over time the T-shirt material has been lightly moistened with pink synthetic ATF, thick silicone spray, petroleum jelly, cleaned up excess DIY bullet lube containing beeswax, paraffin, some STP. The tube socks are only incidentally treated, but if they seem too light of lube, I’ll stretch one over my hand, terry side out, sock-puppet style, scrub it down with the oily rags, or leave one stuffed with the rags and twist and abuse them to spread the lube. After the tumbler, brass goes in the tube socks 150 or so at a time, gets scrubbed around, poured end to end repeatedly, then directly to the progressive loader. Nothing more needed. I’ve reloaded 45 steel cases many times, at first thinking to leave them at ranges that forbid picking up brass, but realistically, mostly just because I’m contrary, works fine.
Amazing! I spent the last month researching same. I tied 10% lanolin. It worked, but it was hard to remove. You’d do better with PEG-75 lanolin. It’s modified so it is water soluble.
For paste lube: 50% wax toilet bowl ring and vegetable oil, plus a teaspoon of coconut oil for every two ounces of the above. Works great! But, mink oil, Harley leather treatment, Bag
Balm and just about any oil or wax works too. Use thin film coats to avoid shoulder denting.
99% Alcohol fjchemical (on e-bay)
Also for wet tumbling brass go to Kramer Industries Inc. Kramco 1030 (Use 10z per gallon of water.) http://www.kramerindustriesonline.com/LQD.html
I meant to say 1 oz. per gallon of water with the Kramco 1030, NOT 10 oz.!
I’ve been using Iso Heet injector cleaner from the auto parts store instead of alky. Works great. Know that I need to have the Lanolin warm to help it dissolve. Works great.
Nothing beats Imperial Sizing Die Wax. Biggest mistake people
make is using to much. One little can will last a LONG time.
I doesn’t contaminate primers either. I have used it for years
without any problems at all. I live in northern Minnesota and have no connection of any kind with the folks at Imperial Wax.
It is simply great stuff. Remember to run a brush thru the neck of the case before you resize and life will be good.
I’ve used that, as well as many of the other things mentioned in this post. They’re gathering dust now.
I’ve used ISDW, as well as many of the other things mentioned in this post. They’re gathering dust now. See replies below.
Been using this for several months now. To be sure I get all the lube off the cases, I toss them into the Sonic cleaner with water, a pinch of Lemi Shine(to brighten cases and make them easier to find on the range) and a splash of Simple Green. Works Great.
Hi this sounds good but does this have any affect on the gun powder ?
Best lube of all is Coconut Oil (Butter)!! No mixing, non-toxic, cleans cases, and wipes off easily. Just apply to cases with fingers, rolling the cases between fingers as you put them into the shell holder.
I am surprised no one else has discovered this clean, cheap, readily-available “case lube”. Try it, and you will throw everything else out!
I used to use RCBS case lube in a lube die and occasionally had stuck cases. I recently mixed my own lanolin mix and can honestly tell you that I have been wasting my time and money all of these years. The difference is night and day. The lanolin mixture required about 50% less effort and no hint of stuck cases. The only down side is cleaning afterwards. I tumble the cases in corn cob media after sizing then tumble them again in stainless steel media. The first time I used the lube, I didn’t tumble them in the corn cob and it left a huge mess in my stainless tumbler. My stainless steel pins, the inside of my tumbler, and the brass cases were covered in a sticky mess. So a recap: Lanolin is a great lube but the cases must be tumbled in dry media to remove the lanolin (at least that is the case for me).
I like Imperial Die Wax.
There is more than one path to the Tao, grasshopper.
Good article. Used to use STP. Don’t know if they even make it any longer.
I make my own Ed’s Red cleaning solvent. Also has lanolin as an optional ingredient. Check it out online. Make friends with the gal at Walgreen’s and they’ll order it in for you.
Smile. This, Too, Shall Pass.
Interesting fact: if you read the label on Dillon Case Lube, it says that DCL is “Isopropyl Alchohol and Lanolin” which is too sticky, so you make your own, which is Isopropyl Alchohol and Lanolin.
Hutter, I have no problem with the lanolin mixture being to sticky? After putting the cases in the wet tumble with the media, dawn soap and lemishine there is no stickness to them; clean as a whistle.
I use the same ingredients at a ratio of 20:1 (A:L). I put a few drops in a zip-seal baggie, about 50 cases, and shake. Size immediately or wait till it’s dry, same result. If there is a lot of lube left on the cases, you’re using too much. Put sized cases in a medium-sized bag made from a terry-cloth hand towel and rub off the excess lube. Load ’em up.
Unlike petroleum based lubes, this one is actually good for your skin.
If your cases are sticky, you’re using too much lanolin.
If you use lower ratio alcohol, (90%, 70%, etc. [not the ratio to lanolin]) it will still work, but you’ll need to use more per part of lanolin and the water in it will settle out, so you’ll need to shake it before use.
This stuff works really great. If you buy 91% isopropyl alcohol by mistake (like I did) It will still work. You just have to shake the bottle first. It won’t separate if you use 99% like you are supposed to.