By Wayne McLerran
TexasMac's Web Site
Later, after receiving comments that leaving the solution in the bore
for 5 to 10 minutes does not damage the bore, another test was in
order.  Using the same, now very clean, piece of iron flat stock, it was
heated it up with a torch, wetted it with flux to remove any oxides
and a few globs of lead/tin solder melted on it.  Most of the solder did
not adhere but a sufficient amount for the test remained.  After
scraping off the heavier solder, the remaining very thin layer of
splotchy lead was sufficient.  The lead coated iron was immersed in
the hydrogen peroxide/vinegar solution and the clock started.  
Progress was checked at 10 minute intervals and I could not detect any
fizzing.  The solution turned a light grey in about 10 minutes.  By 20
minutes it was light pink. By the time the lead was removed (about 1
hr), the solution was deep rust red.

Conclusion/Comments: Significantly longer than 5 to 10 minutes is
required to remove even a thin layer of lead.  If the solution is only in
the bore 10 minutes or so, minimum etching will result.  But if the
solution is used to clean the same bore 6 times the accumulated bore
exposure to the solution is 1 hr.  At this point the testing was stopped
and the case was closed as far as I was concerned.

The bottom line is a solution of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar will
never again be used in my firearms to remove lead.  Although some
contributors to various Internet forum threads on the subject suggest
it's OK to use the solution for a few minutes and other report allowing
it to soak in the bore overnight, based on my findings even short term
use will most definitely etch the bore to some degree.

Wishing you great shooting,

After rendering 360 lbs of lead consisting of 60 lb ingots into 1 lb
ingots, a cast iron pot was left with a thin layer of lead at the bottom
that could not be removed with a sharp scraper or steel wool.  Over
the years I had run across many threads suggesting that a 50/50 mix of
hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, common solutions found in most
households, would easily remove lead from firearm bores.  I had used
the solution with success in the past, leaving it in the bore for an hour
or so.  But additional research on the subject found that the mix
results in paracetic acid, a corrosive agent known to etch iron and
steel in strong concentrations.  So I wondered what affect a weak
concentration has on firearm bores?  Now I had the ideal test sample
for a lead cleaning test using the solution.  I took it a step further as
detailed below.

After scraping the heavier layers of lead and crud out of the bottom of
the pot, it was scrubbed with steel wool.  A splotchy thin layer of lead
remained, filling the pores and covering most of the bottom.  Next, a
pint of 3% hydrogen peroxide and a pint of 5% acidic vinegar were
poured in.  The solution started to fizz very slightly and within a few
minutes began turning red.  In about an hour approximately 75% of the
lead was gone and the solution seemed to have stopped working.  The
old, now deeply, rust red solution was dumped out, the residue was
wiped out of the bottom of the pot and a fresh solution of equal parts
hydrogen peroxide and vinegar was added.  As before, the solution
started to turn rust red and within 15 minutes all the remaining lead
was gone.

Based on the results it was clear the paracetic acid not only dissolved
the lead but oxidized the surface layer of the iron, turning it into iron
oxide (rust), hence the deep rust red coloration of the solution.  It was
also clear that, based on the strength of the ingredients the acid only
lasted so long as it was used up in the process of dissolving the lead
and creating iron oxide.  Since the solution was clearly etching the iron
the next step was to figure out some way to quantify the rate of

So a hunk of clean #0 steel wool was placed in a glass jar and covered
it with the solution.  The wool was pressed down to remove most of
the air and it settled to the bottom.  The steel wool plus solution
immediately began to turn red and fizz (generate bubbles/gas).  After
an hr the solution seemed to have stopped working.  The steel wool
was removed, cleaned under hot water and inspected.  The strands
were now much finer, closer to #0000 steel wool.

At the same time the steel wool was immersed a short piece of iron
flat stock was buffed with a wire wheel and inserted it in a glass jar.  
The jar was partly filled with the solution which slowly started to turn
pink then to red.  The photos below are the before and after results of
the solution on the iron flat stock after 1 hr.  Although the lighting is
not the same for both photos and the difference in the two surfaces
could not be felt by rubbing a finger over them, it’s visually clear the
iron surface was etched.