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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  CAS TOPICS  |  The Darksider's Den (Moderators: Marshal Halloway, Major 2, Capt Quirk)  |  Topic: Petroleum Products and Black Powder 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Petroleum Products and Black Powder  (Read 19992 times)
Mako
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« on: December 12, 2011, 02:22:48 pm »


People have heard for so many years that petroleum products are bad with BP we simply repeat it not realizing there are differences in the products of base petroleum.  For instance most people donít realize that crude oil actually contains thousands of compounds.   But even with those thousands of compounds the hydrocarbons in crude can be divided into three main groups: paraffinic, naphthenic and aromatic.  To jump ahead, motor oil, machine oils and most modern firearms lubricants and greases are naphthenic and many modern lubricants also contain other aromatic compounds which make the lubricity better especially through different temperature ranges.

Crude oil after removing the lighter constituents and fuels like gasoline, diesel and kerosene is relatively high in paraffinics.  These are actually considered to be less desirable, the remaining oil is further refined to remove or separate most of them.  Mineral oil, paraffin and things like petroleum jelly are the byproducts of continued refining crude oil to get the more ďdesirableĒ (meaning worth more) naphthenic and aromatic based compounds.

Paraffinic oils are straight chain or simple branched aliphatic hydrocarbons.  One characteristic of these open chains is that they are capable of being emulsified without the addition of a secondary agent like a soap, etc.   Naphthenic or alicyclic oils have the characteristics of naphthenes, which are saturated hydrocarbons of which the molecules contain at least one closed ring of carbon atoms.  These closed rings make them extremely hydrophilic and you canít emulsify them without a secondary emulsifying agent.  In addition, paraffins are also saturated with respect to hydrogen, the rich hydrogen chains easily bond to oxygen if exposed to the heat of Black Powder ignition and form water and compounds incorporating water in the resulting residue.

The above paragraph in a nutshell is the difference between the petroleum oils and lubricants we warn people about and the ďgoodĒ petroleum (this includes coal oil based products)  like Ballistol, paraffin and the petrolatum based toilet bowl rings that people like Noz , Dick Dastardly and many others use.

 We all talk about soft fouling and moister fouling being created by certain types of powders (like Swiss) and some shooters will use blow tubes to pass moist air through a barrel to allow it to be infused and keep the fouling soft.  What we donít talk about is that naphthenic lubricants donít incorporate water or water based compounds because it has a closed ring.  The results are hard tarry deposits.  This is why when you submerge a gun part fouled in those hard tarry deposits it doesnít soften in water.

As weird as it sounds, the way to determine if you can or should use a lube in contact with burning Black Powder comes down to whether or not you can eat it, or I should say ingest it (not always a good idea, but it wonít poison you).  If the product has a medicinal use like paraffin, petroleum Jelly, mineral oil, etc.  You can probably use it with BP.  The reason is that it is going to be low in naphthenic compounds.  The body will react to naphthenic compounds and they will basically poison you.  If Mineral oil was poisonous many of us would be dead and our mothers would still be in prison.

Thatís enough for a start, Iíll talk about fatty acids next.  Thatís another key to what makes a superior BP lubricant.

Regards,
Mako
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« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2011, 09:00:01 pm »

I'm somehow hungry after reading this post.
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Mako
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« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2011, 09:19:07 pm »

We can all thank Noz for this treatise.   A while back he was looking at Soy grease as a replacement for Mutton Tallow or other organic oils/greases.  So I’ve been investigating why animal or plant based oils don’t have the problem with hard and tarry fouling that common naphthenic petroleum greases and oils do.  I want to point out this is still a work in progress so feel free to point out problems with it.

To make a decent Black powder lubricant for balls or bullets we need a lubricant, a stiffener and a residue “softener.”   Paraffins, Beeswax, Toilet sealing rings, Carnuba wax, Soy wax and so on are the stiffeners for the lubricant. Oils or greases whether they are animal, vegetable, mineral based or synthetic are the primary “lubricant” and usually supply the portions of the mixture critical to keeping the BP fouling soft.  Materials like Petroleum Jelly, Cosmoline (which can be the lubricant or an extender) and Even Beeswax can act as extenders while helping with the lubricity.  Beeswax is one of those wonderful things that acts as a stiffener and still helps with lubricity.   

As a side note another wonderful thing about Beeswax is that it also contains things like ester myricyl palmitate which is a fatty acid which we will talk more about.  In many of the old traditional lubricants they used only beeswax and a fat, or some sort of oil.  When paraffin became readily available it became used more and more as the primary stiffener because it was so abundant and cheap.  But the lube gets brittle when the amount of paraffin gets above 40% or so.  With a lot of Paraffin mixes Beeswax is added to keep the paraffin ratios lower and Beeswax also acts as a stiffener.

At one time in the 19th century U.S. government arsenals used Japan Wax alone as a lubricant which confuses many people, but Japan wax is not a true wax, but a fat derived from berries of trees like sumacs that contains palmitin, stearin, olein and japanic acid.  Note all of those are fatty acids.

When comparing the “better” BP lubricants one thing begins to stand out.  They all contained abundant “fatty acids” in one form or another.  This is one of the things that all the petroleum based lubricants and oils whether Paraffinic or Naphthenic  lack in comparison to animal and vegetable oils.  When looking at petroleum greases it’s not just the hydrocarbon rings in naphthenic oil but the lack of fatty acid groups that exacerbate the hard fouling and creates the hard "tar" looking residues.

In the case of saturated animal fats the fatty acids act as emulsifiers and give them their semi solid characteristics.  For instance the three primary acids in Mutton Tallow are Oleic acid, Palmitic acid and Stearic Acid, other tallows have similar characteristics.   An oil that looks a bit like an animal fat is Soy Oil.  Soy beans have more linolenic acid than anything else which is not surprising because it is plant based.  But they also contain oleic and palmitic saturated acids, it also has stearic acid.  Olive oil is another vegetable oil high in triacylglycerols, it has Oleic, Linoleic, Palmitic, Stearic and Linolenic (not Linoleic) acids in it.

Petroleum greases have “soaps” added to them as emulsifiers to make them thicker.  Organic emulsifiers would increase the affinity for water which is the chemical mechanism that keeps Black Powder fouling soft, but the petroleum in the forms we see as extreme pressure or high pressure greases is hydrophobic and the emulsifiers are usually sterates such as lithium, sodium or calcium sterates.  The sterates can increase water affinity  to some extent in the compounds liberated at ignition, but way below the levels of natural fatty acids.

Fatty acids are hydrophilic and bond with hydrogen during exposure to heat incorporating water into the compounds that are created.  Petroleum is hydrophobic by nature and has limited incorporation of water liberated or created by the combustion process.  Without the oxygen in the water or the water based compound the carbon is free to associate with other elements and creates the hard substance we see in both smokeless and Black Powder residues.  When water is present the carbon is almost always incorporated to a large extent.

The hard to clean carbon fouling is simply the product of pyrolysis.  It is simply the conversion of an organic substance through carbonization.  In any pyrolytic process oxygen is removed and you are left with a hard carbon or carbon compound unless there is an abundant source of oxygen that keeps the process from fully removing the oxygen.  Water supplies the oxygen to keep the pyrolysis to a minimum.  With hydrophilic additives or naturally occurring sources as you have with the fatty acids in non-petroleum oils or greases they keep the pyrolysis from being as complete. 

The fact that naphthenic oils also have closed hydrocarbon chains that I wrote about earlier adds to the problem with pyrolysis.   With no fatty acids and with hydrocarbon groups that don’t create a lot of water or water compounds during the ignition reaction we get a hard and moisture resistant fouling as a primary residue.  This along with the fact Black Powder is so inefficient and leaves a large amount of residue means we get a harder tarry like residue which quickly fouls our bores and sometimes even the arbors if the gases get back in between the bore and the arbor bore on the cylinder.

So if you look at everyone’s pet recipes that actually work they all have some common factors, high fatty acid content, the lack of hydrocarbon chains that are bound up in rings (note that fatty acids are merely carboxylic acids with long hydrocarbon chains with abundant hydrogen and free access to the hydrogen), and some sort of stiffener.

Sound about right?

Regards,
Mako
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« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2011, 09:56:05 pm »

Excellent information. 

You are making my head hurt.
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« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2011, 10:13:55 pm »

Edible... explains why mice at the lube off my bullets and devoured another pound or so of it in the lube tray over the course of the last couple weeks.
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« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2011, 05:19:55 am »

As weird as it sounds, the way to determine if you can or should use a lube in contact with burning Black Powder comes down to whether or not you can eat it, or I should say ingest it (not always a good idea, but it wonít poison you).  If the product has a medicinal use like paraffin, petroleum Jelly, mineral oil, etc.  You can probably use it with BP.  The reason is that it is going to be low in naphthenic compounds.  The body will react to naphthenic compounds and they will basically poison you.  If Mineral oil was poisonous many of us would be dead and our mothers would still be in prison.


.......and that is essentially what The Mad Monk told me many years ago!
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« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2011, 12:27:06 pm »

...it all comes down to whether or not you can eat it...
.......and that is essentially what The Mad Monk told me many years ago!

How do you think Bill went mad in the first place? Shocked

Yep, he's a treasure and has taught me a lot.  I'm constantly referring to his unpublished works he has provided.

I am just trying to compile some of the information and separate the facts from superstition.  Too many rituals of BP are almost voodoo instead of science or even pragmatic trial and error as they should be.  That doesn't mean we all won't have our favorite lubes, bullets, loads, etc., it just means we will understand why the "sky gets angry" when there is a thunderstorm...

Well for most of us...I'm still not sure about Noz.  Rumor has it he wears silk stockings and other unmentionables  under his shooting duds for luck.  I had discounted that rumor until the first time I saw the picture of him in blonde pigtails.

Regards,
Mako
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« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2011, 03:04:38 pm »

Thanks Mako,

That explains why I have to store my PL-II in metal containers.  The mice seem to thrive in it.  I haven't hung any our in our suet feeders, but I suspect our various wood peckers would eat it.

Perhaps made a mite thinner it would make good schmaltz. . . .

DD-DLoS
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« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2011, 05:39:19 pm »

How do you think Bill went mad in the first place? Shocked

Yep, he's a treasure and has taught me a lot.  I'm constantly referring to his unpublished works he has provided.

I am just trying to compile some of the information and separate the facts from superstition.  Too many rituals of BP are almost voodoo instead of science or even pragmatic trial and error as they should be.  That doesn't mean we all won't have our favorite lubes, bullets, loads, etc., it just means we will understand why the "sky gets angry" when there is a thunderstorm...

Well for most of us...I'm still not sure about Noz.  Rumor has it he wears silk stockings and other unmentionables  under his shooting duds for luck.  I had discounted that rumor until the first time I saw the picture of him in blonde pigtails.

Regards,
Mako

I shall ignore the "silk stocking" reference but say that the information above is exactly what we who desire some experimentation require.  My candle wax, toilet bowl ring and vegetable shortening lube looks real good and is CHEAP. Ratio seems to be 1.5 # candles, 1# toilet bowl rings and 1# vegetable shortening.  As I said It came out a little stiffer than expected until I added the last 1/2# of vegetable shortening.
Since it is cheap to make, I can try other stuff as well. I have a local butcher that is looking for some lamb fat for me. Mutton is not real high on the list of desirable meats in the hills of Missouri.
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« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2011, 06:45:54 pm »

Now hold on there Noz - someone reported on this forum recently that the toilet bowl ring is comprised of petroleum products.

Now I happen to have some left-over toilet bowl ring material on my work bench that I've been itching to try as a lubricant. My plan was to squish (engineering term here) it into some felt wads and then place the waxy-felt-wad between ball and powder. But if my toilet bowl ring is actually petroleum based as some folks have alluded to and, thus, perhaps hydrophobic, then here comes the hard stuff, carbon presumably.

So, you may want to reconsider using that toilet bowl ring in your lube mixture, unless of course you eat spoon full or so and don't get the squirts afterwards!   
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« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2011, 07:14:23 pm »

Now hold on there Noz - someone reported on this forum recently that the toilet bowl ring is comprised of petroleum products.


Nort, that's what Mako has been saying............but not all petrol products are the same, some good, some bad! If that ring has a lot of mineral oil in it and is soft, it will probably work fine in a lube mixture
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« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2011, 09:06:28 pm »

I shall ignore the "silk stocking" reference...

Noz,
Don't get your knickers in a wad... My sincerest apologies. Tongue

You may wear what you wish.  And obviously do based on pictorial evidence.

~Mako
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« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2011, 10:01:35 pm »

Ah My Dear Mako -

You have expounded upon Dutch Bill and Noz's findings and are Blinding us With Science!
The explanation of the difference betwixt the "open chains" and the "closed rings", and identifying
for us which belongs to which is priceless data, and, even tho I am confounded by Carbon Rings and Esters,
for that you have my undying gratitude.

"if you can eat it, you can use it" - I will take that one to the bank.

your enlightened servant
prof marvel
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« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2011, 07:16:04 am »

Would sufficient heat help drive off any remaining naphthenic or aromatic elements from otherwise usable materials? Outdoors of course, I've no desire to poison myself.
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« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2011, 08:24:26 am »

Would sufficient heat help drive off any remaining naphthenic or aromatic elements from otherwise usable materials? Outdoors of course, I've no desire to poison myself.

Nah! I think adding heat would make asphalt! Huh
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« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2011, 09:40:06 am »

Noz,
Don't get your knickers in a wad... My sincerest apologies. Tongue

You may wear what you wish.  And obviously do based on pictorial evidence.

~Mako

You misunderstood. I didn't say I didn't wear them, I merely stated I would ignore your reference. 
I don't, by the way. I find them too much of a barrier when urgent bathroom visits come up.  Cheesy
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« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2011, 01:52:14 pm »

GOOD info, Mako.  I actually understood 34 words! 

 Wink

Seriously, I've often marveled at the experts and their Voodoo "rules" about BP+oils, when I personally had no problems using Good quality gun lubes and BP without getting the dreaded "Hard tarry residue."  I always chalked it up to ignorance.  Mine.  Since I didn't KNOW (my ignorance) that the two didn't mix, I used what I wanted with no issues!

They say "Ignorance is Bliss."

If so, there must be some awfully happy, blissful people out there!

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« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2011, 04:35:13 pm »

You misunderstood. I didn't say I didn't wear them, I merely stated I would ignore your reference. 
I don't, by the way. I find them too much of a barrier when urgent bathroom visits come up.  Cheesy


OMG!!!!!!!!!! I REALLY didn't need to know that! Shocked
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« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2011, 05:03:38 pm »

You misunderstood. I didn't say I didn't wear them, I merely stated I would ignore your reference. 
I don't, by the way. I find them too much of a barrier when urgent bathroom visits come up.
  Cheesy

Oh, I didn't misunderstand at all, I never said you didn't wear them, I was just apologizing for upsetting you  Lips Sealed and making you get your thong in a wad.


OMG!!!!!!!!!! I REALLY didn't need to know that! Shocked

Yeah... now you know how I feel.

 Grin Mako
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« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2011, 05:12:49 pm »

Would sufficient heat help drive off any remaining naphthenic or aromatic elements from otherwise usable materials? Outdoors of course, I've no desire to poison myself.

The problem is that the naphthenics and aromatics are pretty much all that remain.  The paraffinics have been refined out of the "unfriendly" petroleum products.

Cuts is right if you heated it all you would do is drive off any volatiles and light constituents.  It wouldn't be Bitumen, but it would be a close approximation.  Nasty, dark and tarry.

Why would you do that anyway?  The refined oils are much more expensive than Mineral Oil, or the petrolatum byproducts.  Just buy them.  There is no advantage with BP to using a naphthenic compound, you already have all the lubricity you need with any lube, what you need is something that binds oxygen and isn't hydrophobic.

Regards,
Mako
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« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2011, 06:58:52 pm »

Would sufficient heat help drive off any remaining naphthenic or aromatic elements from otherwise usable materials? Outdoors of course, I've no desire to poison myself.

Heat plus oil equals carbon/coke-like substance. 

Ask any old-time mechanic. In fact, the Triumph motorcycle service manuals from the 1960s talked about de-coking the cylinder as routine maintenance. This is because the old Triumph 650cc engines didn't have valve guide seals and ingress of oil into the combustion chamber was the norm rather than the exception. So, periodically you had to unbolt the cylinder head and scrape off the hard coke/carbon deposits. The Triumph manuals called the exercise "decoking", but I doubt that it was actually coke, more like hard carbon. 
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« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2011, 12:17:02 pm »

Mako:

Please forgive my simple minded question.  But, if I've understood you correctly, the oft heard rumor that SPG contains paraffin may be true.  Or, at least that using paraffin as a hardening agent in BP lube would work.

Yes?

Thanks.
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« Reply #22 on: December 16, 2011, 12:59:19 pm »

Mako:

Please forgive my simple minded question.  But, if I've understood you correctly, the oft heard rumor that SPG contains paraffin may be true.  Or, at least that using paraffin as a hardening agent in BP lube would work.

Yes?

Thanks.

August,
It's not "simple minded," it's a good question.  I've thrown up so much information that it can be hard to navigate.

Paraffin is quite commonly used in high quality Black Powder Lubes.  I'm pretty sure SPG has paraffin in it as the stiffener.

I use paraffin in my lubes, the "traditional" Mutton tallow lube has 40% paraffin in it by weight.  If it gets above about 45% it starts getting "crumbly."  that's why things like Beeswax are added to keep it stiff yet not brittle.

This is the formula for one pound and five pounds of the "traditional" Mutton tallow lube (note this formula is by weight, not volume):

INGREDIENT       RATIO    1 lb. Lube    5 lbs. Lube
Tallow       (40%)    6.4 ounces    32 ounces
Paraffin       (40%)    6.4 ounces    32 ounces
Beeswax       (20%)    3.2 ounces    16 ounces


Paraffinics get along fine with Black Powder.

Have a good one,
Mako
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« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2011, 03:32:54 pm »

I can't begin to put out the kind of technical info that our Mako does.  I can only go by info I've learned over the last 40 years at the School Of Hard Knocks, 'tho I'm still a Freshman.  I'm slow, but thorough.

I started with a recipe for lube then modified it as follows.,  If I understand even half of what M has presented, I understand better now WHY it has been working.

I started with 1 lb. blocks of canning paraffin & beeswax.  A cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to "liquify" & soften.  (Can "slutty" olive oil be found?)

I carefully heated up the ingredients until all melted together.

Let me stress here that Beeswax is very flammable.  Many use a double boiler set-up for safety, especially if gas is used.  My stove is electric, which is good because I don't have ready capability to double boil.

When this cooled, I found it to be too hard for my plans.  I had a new PRS 250 gr. BigLube (tm) mould from Dick Dastardly.  Thanks again, Dick!  Due to deficit spending already necessary, a Lubrisizer was not available in the near future.  I STILL want a Star set-up.  So, pan lubing was my primary goal with C&B lube for all seasons was the secondary goal.  I began to add Olive Oil.  I have lost track of exactly HOW much oil went into this batch but it is close to a bottle and a half!  The paraffin really stiffens the mix!  MUCH more than Beeswax!  More B/W and a tinybit of paraffin were added when I put in too much oil.  I ended up with a lot of lube and I'm still using it.  The exact ratios are lost in time, but I have 2 different batches from the initial mix.  The largest portion, of which I still have a couple quarts (by volume) is what I use for cartridge loading all year round.  I have another, smaller batch which is probably half-again runnier for my C&B shooting.  Years ago I bought a lube squirter from Dixie.  It is made of brass and looks somewhat like a cake decorator.  It will hold enough lube for 3-4 matches, or about 100 shots.  Its a big hypodermic-lookin' thing and is VERY handy if you use a lot of over-ball lube like I do.  I don't mind the mess at all.  I also have soaked 1,500 felt wads in the lube and sometimes use only the lubed wads, but often I use BOTH.  This works best ... the lubed wad "scrapes" the bore as it travels 'thru after firing, and the over-ball lube keeps the gun operating at 100%.  It works for me.  I also still have a small amount of Spit Ball, which is no longer made, I think, but was a good lube commercially made.

YMMV

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« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2011, 09:31:25 pm »

a tidbit about Paraffin...

If you ask for Paraffin, you are never really quite sure what you are getting.

It isn't a specific thing, but sort of a group or class of things, each slightly different at the molecular level.

The melting point of Paraffin "wax" can vary quite a bit, depending on the exact Paraffin you get when you ask for it.

Ask for Paraffin in the UK and you better bring a bottle or jug because it is typically a liquid (we call it "Kerosene" in the USA)
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