Homebrew Case Lube: Sulfurized Canola Oil

One of the most frustrating parts of reloading is when the rim tears off a case, leaving the case stuck in the sizing die. When it happens, this problem is usually attributed to inadequate lubrication of the case. I have used a number of case lube products for sizing brass over the years, but recently I discovered that sulfurized canola oil (which can be prepared at home relatively easily) actually out-performs a lot of the commercial case lubes. Thus, for the benefit of any other handloaders who might be interested, I figured I would share my recipe here.

First, I weigh out 480 grains of elemental sulfur (which can be purchased online).

Then I combine the sulfur with one quart of canola oil (which I get at the local grocery store) in a cooking pot that I don’t plan to eat out of later. While keeping the mixture well-stirred, I heat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, preferably outdoors or in a well-ventilated area, because the sulfur does have a bit of a smell. By the time the mixture gets up to temperature, the color of the oil will have changed from light yellow to dark amber, sometimes even with a red or purplish tint. At that point, the sulfurization reaction is complete and the oil can be allowed to cool to room temperature.

Next I make a lubing pad by folding up a shop rag to give me a little over a quarter inch of thickness of cloth. I got my wife to sew some quilting stitches across the pad so it wouldn’t come unfolded later, and then I tacked its corners down to a scrap of plywood to serve as a base, but those steps are probably optional.

I moistened the pad first with a little WD40 to help the oil soak in more uniformly. Then I poured a couple tablespoons worth of sulfurized canola oil on the pad and let it sit for 24 hours to completely soak in.

Now I can just roll cases on the pad and then run them through the sizing die. I’m not sure exactly how many cases I can lube this way before I have to add more oil to the pad, but I would guess at least a few hundred, maybe as many as a few thousand. When I do re-oil the pad I would let the oil soak in for 24 hours just like before, because the sulfurized canola oil has a rather high viscosity.

For cleanup, I’ve just been rolling the sized cases on a dry shop rag; it takes only a very thin film of sulfurized canola oil to adequately lube the cases, and so this process is less messy than some other types of lube.

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