using camphor to inhibit rust

Discussion in 'Functional Gear & Equipment' started by gunbunny, Oct 15, 2011.


  1. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    I thought I'd try an old machinist's trick and see how well camphor would work to keep rust from forming on the firearms in my safe without having to use the goldenrod or other power fed dehumidifiers.

    Camphor- Camphor - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary It can be easily obtained at your local pharmacy by asking the pharmasist for it. It will come in a small square bar, about 2"x2", wrapped in plastic. When you open it, you will notice a few things right away. One is that it smells like vicks vapu-rub and is very potent. Wash your hands after handling it. Two, it looks and feels like wax. Three, the bar is usually made up of four smaller squares, like a candybar.

    I started the experiment back in late Spring by sealing up my gun safe with silicone and sticky-backed foam weather stripping. Note: this gun "safe" is actually a gun cabinet, as it doesn't have a fire rating or double thick walls. I sealed it up pertty good, as I was able to tell at a leter date.

    The location of this safe is also good for a test; it is in a basement in an area that gets rather humid in the summer months. No point in trying it in a controlled atmosphere environment like A/C.

    I unplugged the goldenrod and placed a quarter square block on the floor of the safe. I checked all of the weapons inside for any rust, so I would have a base line for analysis later on. Everything was okay and I closed up the door.

    I checked on the safe periodically in the next few months. I could see the little camphor block slowly evaporating away. I could not smell the camphor until I opened the safe, and then had to hold my breath because it was rather potent inside. The silicone applied to each crease and overlapped corner of the metal cabinet, and the weather stripping of the door held the air tight.

    To this date I could not find any rust (or any NEW rust) on the firearms inside the cabinet. The surface of the metal feels a little oily, but that could also be attributed to the normal cleaning that I put them through before I started the test. Oil will dissapate over a period of time, and I believe the camphor oil suspended in the air of the cabinet either inhibited the evaporation of the gun oil, or replaced it.

    Yes, the guns smell like Vicks. You can wipe it off if you want, but the wood stocks are probably going to absorb the camphor and smell like that for a really long time to come... I haven't tried to remove the camphor smell form any of them yet. I'll have to report back with any significant findings at a later date.

    Anyway, which is worse- the smell or the rust?
     
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    The rust. (Especially if your nose can stand the camphor on your cheek weld.)

    For a hunting arm, camphor would be less desirable, I think.
     
    ColtCarbine likes this.
  3. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    Small update. I pulled out one of the SMLE No4Mk1*'s out of the cabinet and checked it out rather thuroughly. The metal was in fine shape, and there was definatly a thin coating of oily residue on it.

    I wiped it off and tested the cheekweld. The wood still smelled of the boiled linseed oil and tung oil that I used to finish it. I couldn't really smell any camphor on the wood.

    I could, however still smell camphor. It seems to have impregnated the heavy canvas match M1 Garand sling that I use on all of my Enfields. That's what stinks.

    Looking at the little block of camphor, it's all but gone. Evaporated away, like a melting icecube. Just a quick and preliminary guess, but I would say that a square (four small blocks when broken up) should be able to actively protect a small 8 gun cabinet for about two years in my climate.
     
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