Case Lube Recipe

In the past when loading rifle, I used the RCBS case lube and a lube pad, and it worked well. In retrospect, maybe not totally great, because I do remember getting one or two rifle cases stuck in the sizing die after I thought I had applied lube.

Anyway, that method of applying lube, and that type of lube, was not a viable option when I started having to size hundreds of .223 brass. Lubing each case one at a time was a bad thought.

Being an RCBS and Lyman product user, I decided to buy the Lyman case lube spray. Commencing sizing, Within a few minutes I had my first stuck .223 case. Thinking there was a problem with my applicataion of lube, I re-lubed all the brass again, using more spray than before. The results were not different. My reloading press was not impressed with the lube, and treated me as if I had done a shoddy job of case lubing.

Being a Hornady fan, I bought the One-Shot, in spite of reading internet posts of it being less than satisfactory. The One-Shot worked very well. Applied properly, I had no problem resizing hundreds of .223 brass. When I was done, I realised I had used about half the can. That was for just one reloading session. Considering that the product is imported, and not cheap, I felt that I had to try find a better alternative with respect to price and availability. I didn't want to have to end up rolling two hundred brass on a lube pad because the One-Shot was out of stock.

Almighty Google answered my prayer for a case lube, by serving me with pages of a home-made recipe. In all the posts using this combination of ingredients, there were no negatives, and some even claiming that commercial case lube is just a variation of this very simple recipe. Here, I'm using the same recipe, just showing exactly how to do it easily.

What you need

The key ingredients are anhydrous lanolin, and isopropanol or 99% isopropyl alchohol. The lanolin is available from chemical supply companies, and the isopropanol is commonly used as a cleaner on electronics, hence is available also at electronic supplies.

Basic kitchen equipment can be temporarily appropriated, and because everything cleans up perfectly with soap and hot water, you can replace them without domestic management knowing A: that you took them in the first place and B: what you did with them.

The bottle on the left is one liter of isopropanol, the two spray bottles are 500ml capacity, used to apply insecticide to plants and available practically everywhere. You need one large jam-type jar, a medium pot, a baking measure that can fit into the jar entirely, and a kettle full of hot water. The tub on the right has one kilo of anhydrous lanolin. It looks and feels like normal automotive grease, without the smell.

Make sure the jar can accomodate around nine times the volume of the measuring spoon, and stay very far away from your stove and your cigarettes / cigar / pipe / other while you do this.

Put the empty jar in the pot, and add a bit of water from the kettle into the pot, not the jar, just to start warming things up. A depth of one centimeter / half an inch, is enough. If you put the water in the jar instead of the pot, stop right there, pack up and go home.

Fill one measuring spoon full of lanolin, and put the entire spoon inside the jar. You'll understand why if you ever try to get lanolin off a measuring spoon. Add some alchohol to the jar, about half way and close it. Slowly add more hot water to the pot, until it's near the level of the alchohol in the jar. It's important to do this slowly, because hot water plus cold glass equals big mess. The spoon is still in the jar, by the way.

In a few minutes, you'll see the lanolin melting, and settling to the bottom, with the alchohol above it. Mix it up now, and top up the alchohol to about 8 times the volume of the lanolin, so if you used a quarter cup of lanolin, add 2 cups of alchohol. Close the jar tightly, and add more hot water to the pot. In a few more minutes, you can shake it all up, mixing everything thoroughly, and you can now remove the spoon that will have just a tiny bit of lanolin stuck to it.

Close the jar tightly, and put it somewhere it can sit for a few hours.

How it looks

After the jar settles, there is going to be what looks like white powder at the bottom. I don't know what it is - in my first test I left it in the spray bottle and after application it just left little white dots on the brass, and everything sized just fine. In this run, I decided to exclude it from the final spray for the sake of aesthetics.

Trying to pour the liquid into the spray bottle without raising the sediment proved practically impossible. I used a length of thin tubing left over from the fish tank air-pump to syphon the clear amber liquid from the jar into a spray bottle. Using 1 liter of alchohol, I filled the one 500ml spray bottle, and it looks like around 300ml of liquid still in the jar.

And that's it.

The sizing test with rifle brass went very well, it seems the press is very happy with the lube, and is doing the same work with less force applied. The rifle is happy with the ammo, and did not complain of powder or primer contamination. The spray dries on the case in a few minutes, so you don't have to wipe them down after.

It is rumored that a famous case wax is made almost entirely from lanolin, and some famous brands of case lube spray are a variation on this recipe - some in aerosol format.