Index Home About Blog
From: (Ed Harris)
Subject: Ed's Red, Revised

Mix Your Own "Ed's Red" Bore Cleaner... It Really Works!

By Ed Harris         Rev. 12-27-94

Three years ago I mixed my first "Ed's Red" and I still think
the "recipe" is a great idea.  If you have never tried it, or
maybe lost the recipe, I urge you save this and mix your own.
My followers on the FIREARMS Echo think it's the best thing since
smokeless powder!  Therefore, I'll summarize the story again
for the passing parade that didn't get it the first time...

I originally did this because I used a lot of rifle bore cleaner
and was deterred by the high price of commercial products.  I
knew there was no technical reason why you could not mix an
effective bore cleaner using common hardware store ingredients
which would be inexpensive, effective, and provide reasonable
corrosion protection and adequate lubrication.

The "recipe" is based on proven principles and incorporates two
polar and two nonpolar ingredients.  It is adapted from a formula
in Hatcher's Notebook, Frankford Arsenal Cleaner No.18, but
substituting equivalent modern materials.  I had the help of an
organic chemist in doing this and we knew there would be no
"surprises"  The original Hatcher recipe called for equal parts
of acetone, turpentine, Pratts Astral Oil and sperm oil, and
optionally 200 grams of lanolin added per liter.

Pratts Astral oil was nothing more than acid free, deodorized
kerosene.  We use K-1 kerosene of the type normally sold for
indoor space heaters.   An inexpensive, effective substitute for
sperm oil is Dexron (II, IIe or III) automatic transmission
fluid.  Prior to about 1950 that most ATF's were sperm oil based,
but during WWII a synthetic was developed for use in precision
instruments.  With the great demand for automatic transmission
autos after WWII, sperm oil was no longer practical to produce
ATF in the quantity demanded, so the synthetic material became
the basis for the Dexron fluids we know today.  The additives in
ATFs which include organometallic antioxidants and surfactants,
make it highly suitable for our intended purpose.

Hatcher's original formula used gum spirits of turpentine, but
turpentine is expensive and highly flammable.  Cheaper and safer is
aliphatic mineral spirits, which is a petroleum based "safety solvent"
used for thinning oil based paints and as automotive parts cleaner.
It is commonly sold under the names "odorless mineral spirits,"
"Stoddard Solvent" or "Varsol".

There isn't anything in Ed's Red which will chemically remove
copper fouling, but it does a better job on carbon residue than
anything out there.  Several users have told me, that with
exclusive use of "ER" does reduce the buildup of copper fouling,
because it removes old impacted fouling which is left by other
cleaners, reducing the adhesion of abraded metal to the surface,
and leaving a cleaner surface which reduces subsequent fouling.
It appears that "ER" will actually remove metal fouling it if you
let it "soak" so the surfactants will do the job, though you may
have to be patient.

The lanolin is optional.  The cleaner works quite well without
it.  Incorporating the lanolin makes the cleaner easier on the
hands, and provides better residual lubrication and corrosion protection if
you use the cleaner as a protectant for long term storage.  If you want
to minimize cost, you can leave the lanolin out and save about $8
per gallon.  Mix some yourself.  I know it will work as well for you
as it does for me.

CONTENTS:     Ed's Red Bore Cleaner

1 part Dexron II, IIe or III ATF, GM Spec. D-20265 or later.
1 part Kerosene - deodorized, K1
1 part Aliphatic Mineral Spirits, Fed. Spec. TT-T-2981F, CAS #64741-49-9,
 or substitute "Stoddard Solvent", CAS #8052-41-3, or equivalent,
 (aka "Varsol")
1 part Acetone, CAS #67-64-1.

(Optional up to 1 lb. of Lanolin, Anhydrous, USP per gallon,
OK to substitute Lanolin, Modified, Topical Lubricant, from the drug store)


Mix outdoors, in good ventilation.  Use a clean 1 gallon metal,
chemical-resistant, heavy gage PET or PVC plastic container.
NFPA approved plastic gasoline storage containers are also OK.
Do NOT use HDPE, which is breathable because the acetone will
evaporate.  The acetone in ER will attack HDPE in about 6 months,
making a heck of a mess!

Add the ATF first.  Use the empty container to measure the other
components, so that it is thoroughly rinsed.  If you incorporate
the lanolin into the mixture, melt this carefully in a double
boiler, taking precautions against fire.  Pour the melted lanolin
it into a larger container, rinsing the lanolin container with
the bore cleaner mix, and stirring until it is all dissolved.

I recommend diverting a small quantity, up to 4 ozs. per quart of
the 50-50 ATF/kerosene mix for use as an "ER-compatible" gun oil.
This can be done without impairing the effectiveness of the mix.

                     INSTRUCTIONS FOR USING
                     Ed's Red Bore Cleaner:

1.   Open the firearm action and ensure the bore is clear.
     Cleaning is most effective when done while the barrel is
     still warm to the touch from firing.  Saturate a cotton
     patch with bore cleaner, wrap or impale on jag and push it
     through the bore from breech to muzzle. The patch should be
     a snug fit.  Let the first patch fall off and do not pull it
     back into the bore.

2.   Wet a second patch, and similarly start it into the bore
     from the breech, this time scrubbing from the throat area
     forward in 4-5" strokes and gradually advancing until the
     patch emerges out the muzzle. Waiting approximately 1 minute
     to let the bore cleaner soak will improve its action.

3.   For pitted, heavily carbon-fouled "rattle battle" guns,
     leaded revolvers or neglected bores a bronze brush wet with
     bore cleaner may be used to remove stubborn deposits.  This
     is unnecessary for smooth, target-grade barrels in routine

4.   Use a final wet patch pushed straight through the bore to
     flush out loosened residue dissolved by Ed's Red.  Let the
     patch fall off the jag without pulling it back into the
     bore.  If you are finished firing, leaving the bore wet will
     protect it from rust for up to 30 days.   If the lanolin is
     incorporated into the mixture, it will protect the firearm
     from rust for up to two years.  For longer term storage I
     recommend use of Lee Liquid Alox as a Cosmolene substitute.
     "ER" will readily remove hardened Alox or Cosmolene.

5.   Wipe spilled Ed's Red from exterior surfaces before storing
     the gun. While Ed's Red is harmless to blue and nickel
     finishes, the acetone it contains is harmful to most wood

6.   Before firing again, push two dry patches through the bore
     and dry the chamber, using a patch wrapped around a suitably
     sized brush or jag.  First shot point of impact usually will
     not be disturbed by Ed's Red if the bore is cleaned as

7.   I have determined to my satisfaction that when Ed's Red is
     used exclusively and thoroughly, that hot water cleaning is
     unnecessary after use of Pyrodex or military chlorate
     primers.  However, if bores are not wiped between shots and
     shots and are heavily caked from black powder fouling, hot
     water cleaning is recommended first to break up heavy
     fouling deposits.  Water cleaning should be followed by a
     thorough flush with  Ed's Red to prevent after-rusting which
     could result from residual moisture.  It is ALWAYS  good practice
     to clean TWICE, TWO DAYS APART whenever using chlorate primed
     ammunition, just to make sure you get all the residue out.


                        RIFLE BORE CLEANER
                       HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED.

                   KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN

1.   Flammable mixture.  Keep away from heat, sparks or flame.

2.   FIRST AID, If swallowed DO NOT induce vomiting, call
     physician immediately.  In case of eye contact immediately
     flush thoroughly with water and call a physician.  For skin
     contact wash thoroughly.

3.   Use with adequate ventilation.  Avoid breathing vapors or
     spray mist.  It is a violation of Federal law to use this
     product in a manner inconsistent with its labelling. Reports
     have associated repeated and prolonged occupational
     overexposure to solvents with permanent brain and nervous
     system damage.  If using in closed armory vaults lacking
     forced air ventilation wear respiratory protection meeting
     NIOSH TC23C or equivalent.  Keep container tightly closed
     when not in use.

This "Recipe" is placed in the public domain, and may be freely
distributed provided that it is done so in its entirely with all
instructions and safety warnings included herein, and that proper
attribution is given to the author.

In Home Mix We Trust, Regards, Ed

From: (Ole-Hjalmar Kristensen TF.DT/DELAB)
Subject: Re: Ed's Red, Revised
Organization: Norwegian Telecom Research

In article <396cs8$>, (Ed Harris) writes:

<stuff deleted>

|> CONTENTS:     Ed's Red Bore Cleaner
|> 1 part Dexron II or IIe ATF, GM Spec. D-20265 or later.
|> 1 part Kerosene - deodorized, K1
|> 1 part Aliphatic Mineral Spirits, or Stoddard Solvent,
|>   aka "Varsol" CAS #64741-49-9
|> 1 part Acetone, CAS #67-64-1.
|> Optional up to 1 lb. of Lanolin, Anhydrous, USP per gallon,
|>   (Lanolin, Modified, Topical Lubricant, from the drug store)

I have tried this mix, and it seems to work as advertised. However, not knowing
the specification of Stoddard Solvent or "Varsol", I substituted aromatics-free
White Spirit. Now, Kerosene is also Aliphatic Mineral Spirit, although with a
higher boiling point range. Why use both?
A last question: It is said that the recipe includes two polar and two
nonpolar ingredients. As far as I know, Aliphatic Mineral Spirits are
nonpolar. Acetone is definitely polar, but does this mean that Dexron
II is also polar?

Btw, as described in Hatcher's Notebook, the Lanolin is an essential
part of the mix, as it combines with water. This indicates that it is
polar. Perhaps this is the second polar ingredient? Hatcher is also a
bit unclear on the subject of mineral spirits, as he writes: Mineral
Spirits (turpentine), which is not quite right.

Ole-Hj. Kristensen

Index Home About Blog