Home-Made Bullet Lube
In my last article, I wrote about the age-old process of pan-lubing cast bullets to improve accuracy, and reduce barrel leading. Many folks who pan-lube opt to purchase their lubricants– and there’s nothing wrong with that. Many companies like Lyman, RCBS, White Label and Dragon Lubes produce excellent quality products that do a fantastic job; however, for those looking to shave a few more cents per round off their production, or who simply don’t have access to commercial products, making your own is quick and easy.
The first thing you need to know is bullet lube is nothing special. Despite what you may have heard about super-secret formulas and expensive or difficult to source ingredients, the fact is that’s just not the case. The NRA’s most popular formula consists of just a couple everyday ingredients you can mix up in the kitchen, and even older black powder formulas like those employed in the Civil War can still be made today.
So what’s in bullet lube? That certainly depends on which formula you decide to follow; in this article we’ll be taking a look at a very popular modern recipe. To mix up your first batch of home-made cast bullet lubricant, you’ll need the following:
- White Petroleum Jelly
- STP Oil Additive
- Crayon (Optional)
- Crock Pot
Sourcing these ingredients is incredibly simple, as most of us already have them on hand. White petroleum jelly is essentially generic Vaseline and can be found at any grocery store or pharmacy. Beeswax is a bit trickier, but the good news is Paraffin can be substituted if necessary, either part or in full. If you do opt to use Paraffin, be aware it’s a bit smokier than Beeswax, though still quite manageable. Old candles are a great source of either wax, alternatively both can be purchased at grocery stores in the canning isle, or at candle-making/craft stores, too. If you don’t have any STP Oil Additive in the garage, it’s readily available at any auto parts retailer for a couple of bucks.
Once you have everything ready to go, set your cooking pot to high to get things warmed up. I strongly recommend a crock pot for the variable temperature control, and the fact that there’s no exposed flame or heating elements (which can cause waxes to flashover/ignite). Whatever you decide to use, be aware that you’ll be exposing it to lead so you won’t be cooking with it anymore!
With the crock pot heating up, begin by adding one part white petroleum jelly. Follow this with two parts beeswax (or alternative) and begin stirring. Next, mix in one capfull of STP oil additive to help thicken things up. Finally, you can throw in a crayon or two for color if you like; while certainly not mandatory, this can be useful if you have different lube recipes (a softer one for pistol bullets, a harder one for rifle rounds, etc).
Continue mixing the lube until everything is completely dissolved and liquefied to roughly the same consistency as soup. At this stage, the bullet lube is ready for pouring; either into your pan (if pan-lubing) or into the mould/form of your choice if you’re making lube sticks for a Star, RCBS or Lyman lubrisizer.
Once the bullet lube has begun to set, allow it some time to cool. How long is usually dependent on ambient air temperature, but I usually aim for at least half an hour. Since the only organic component in this recipe is Beeswax (which lasts nearly forever) excess lubricant will keep indefinitely, without the need to refrigerate. Surplus blocks/sticks can be wrapped in wax paper, tinfoil or just tossed into a ziplock bag to keep the dust out, and used as needed.
Tactical Advantage TV is focused on delivering short, to-the-point content on a host of subjects related to firearms, casting, reloading, optics and accessories. In addition to theoretical discussion, I will be performing a number of practical demonstrations on processes and products, including my own designs.