Vinager as a Bluing Remover?!?!

hermiemhermiem Member Posts: 261 ✭✭✭
edited March 2016 in Ask the Experts
I just wanted to ask if any of you restorers out there have ever heard of removing bluing with regular white vinegar? I'm aware that vinegar is some type of weak acid. I was on another forum reading some threads on the blue removing and came across this one. There was a mixed reaction from respondents on the post. Any constructive feedback would be appreciated as always!

You are my final "go to guys" - I'm pestering some other forums with my questions. But the ones I really want a definitive answer on I come to GunBroker.


  • charliemeyer007charliemeyer007 Member Posts: 7,348 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    My dad had a bottle of watchmakers rust remover made by L&R. It would take the bluing off with no damage to the metal. It worked chemically to remove rust and change it back to metal.

    I buffed 100's of rifles, pistols and shotguns over the years. It's a real skill not to drag out a hole or radius a square edge. Draw filing an octagon barrel can be fun.

    I have used vinegar (acetic acid) with table salt to clean really corroded brass cases. They can turn pink if you leave them in to long (I think the zinc is selectively leached leaving the red copper).
  • b0400879b0400879 Member Posts: 256 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Acetic acid is systematically named ethanoic acid (CH3CO2H or C2H4O2). When undiluted, it is sometimes called glacial acetic acid.

    Common food-grade white vinegar is roughly 3-9% acetic acid by volume, & may remove some inferior blue finishes well (such as the cheap "dip" blue that is frequently found upon some Russian-captured/reworked WW2 German weapons), but believe it's no match for a traditional/proper hot rust bluing process.
  • tsr1965tsr1965 Member Posts: 8,682
    edited November -1
    The bluing process, itself consist of using caustic/alkaline salt solutions. The reverse of which would be acidic treatments. A higher concentration of acid solution, that is a fairly less hydrogenated acid, like citric acid, or 50N acetic acid, with some temperature, might work ok.
  • beantownshootahbeantownshootah Member Posts: 13,137
    edited November -1
    Standard table vinegar is acetic acid, 5% in water.

    Its a relatively weak acid. I've never tried it, but I'm sure this would remove ordinary gun bluing, albeit pretty slowly. Maybe that's OK. . .depends what you're trying to do.

    I think you'd have to be pretty careful with a "kerplunk" into vinegar, because it might etch the metal where NOT blued, too. IE, you might want to block off any areas NOT blued, and/or check it frequently. But if its some non-critical part, or something really beat up that you're going to polish anyway, shouldn't be an issue.

    This guy seemed to do an OK job with vinegar:


    In any case, a more practical blue removing solution is available pretty cheaply. EG:


    Ordinary naval jelly/rust remover will take bluing off pretty fast, if you wanted to use that.
  • 11b6r11b6r Member Posts: 16,725
    edited November -1
    Save yourself some grief. Hit the hardware store for some Naval Jelly. It contains phosphoric acid, will strip bluing in no time. Bluing is a controlled form of rust, and Naval Jelly removes rust.
  • Bill DeShivsBill DeShivs Member Posts: 1,271 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Naval Jelly also etches metal.

    There are several good options for removing bluing. Warm vinegar works much faster than cold.
  • drobsdrobs Member Posts: 21,872 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Check out Birchwood Casey Blue & Rust Remover
  • XXCrossXXCross Member Posts: 1,306 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Here's a tip,
    If you can find a store that deals in auto painting supplies, ask them for a bottle of rust remover. That applied with "0000" steel wool
    will do a very good job of removing bluing. (called "metal-prep")
  • perry shooterperry shooter Member Posts: 17,390
    edited November -1
    Naval Jelly will leave a grey finish that looks like a CINDER BLOCK [V][:(!][:(]everyone that see's it will will start calling you BUBBA.
  • asphalt cowboyasphalt cowboy Member Posts: 8,560 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1

    That's one I recommend to the home DIY'ers.
    Doesn't work as fast as the solutions that are caustic/toxic, but it doesn't have the storage and disposal requirements/hazards.
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