How to Keep Reloading Dies from Rusting in an Effective Way?

Did you know your reloading dies could rust and necessarily disrupt your reloading process?

If you are taking your baby steps towards reloading, you probably already know that the game of reloading is all about precision, and earning that finesse is not that easy. Over time, with experience, the process might appear to be 8more comfortable, but there is still a lot to learn.

You are probably already acquainted with the different reloading components, including the reloading dies. But, the game of reloading is all about precision, and earning that finesse is not that easy.

Reloading dies, just like most other reloading components, are made of steel, and just like any other steel products, are prone to rust over time. Sure, you do not want that, since it makes the performance of the die questionable, so let’s find out how to keep reloading dies from rusting!

Rusted Reloading Dies: Why it happens?

Here is the thing – Rusting is a rather common phenomenon in metals and alloys. Before digging deeper into the topic, let us first find out what exactly is rusting and why your die gets rusted?

No, do not worry! I will not get in all the scientific definitions. Simply put, when the iron in some metals or alloys (a combination of different metals) such as steel, cast iron, etc. come in contact with oxygen and water, a type of corrosion occurs, and the resulting compound is known as rust.

You can see rust as a reddish-brown, rough, and flaky kind of substance on the surface of metals. But is rust really harmful? Well, to be honest, it is. Over time, rust causes the metal to get weaker as well as brittle, meaning it can eventually wear out and become unusable.

You may ask, why would my die rust if I do not expose it to water at all? I mean, yes, I will give you brownie points for thinking of it, but by the water, we actually mean moisture, which can be, in present, in minimal amounts anywhere and everywhere.

Air, for instance, has small amounts of water vapor present in them, and the quantity of this water vapor is higher in places where humidity is high. Therefore, in areas as such, your dies can be exposed to a level of moisture that can cause a corrosive reaction.

Certain places inside your house can be humid due to the lack of sufficient ventilation, such as your garage or basement. So, either you would want to ensure proper air insulation or store your dies elsewhere in order to avoid getting your dies rusted.

Your sweat, if exposed to the die, can also trigger the process of oxidation, eventually causing your die to rust. In fact, salt can fasten the rusting process, for which people living nearer the sea and along the coastline might have to be extra cautious.

Big story short, even if you are extremely watchful, your reloading dies might end up being rust, unless you undertake proper prevention methods.

How to keep Reloading Dies from rusting – Preventive Measures

Yes, you can actually remove the rust off your die. So, you might ask – so why are we stressing so much on preventing them?

Well, most rust removing techniques are tough, time-consuming, and might not guarantee effective results either. Also, if your die ends up having rust on the inside, dodging your eye, you can have trouble. For instance, at times, rusty dies can get stuck inside reloading cases because of their rough surface, damaging the case.

So, why go into so much trouble if you can prevent it from happening in the very first place? So here is your guide to preventing rusty reloading dies. Besides, as Benjamin Franklin rightly said, “An Ounce of Prevention is better than an Ounce of Cure”!

Prevention involves following a bunch of techniques used to maintain and care for the die so that you can stop the corrosion from happening, at least in the short run.

Initial Treatment

The very first step to ensure that your dies go longer without rusting is to cleanse them thoroughly.

If you are handloading your ammunition, you will likely buy a brand new set of reloading dies. Manufacturers these days coat the dies with a sort of corrosion contaminator or an anti-rusting oil/lubricant to delay the rusting process. However, you would want those off before you start using the dies.

On the other hand, if you are actually reloading, meaning you are using already used components to build your ammunition, there is a chance that with heavy use, carbon has built upon the surface of the die. These dies also tend to collect excess lube from the cases, which also build upon its surface. These can eventually trigger corrosion, and therefore rusting.

Therefore, it does not matter if you are handloading or reloading; the first thing you need to do is clean your die. For that, first things first, you need to disassemble your die and separate all the parts; that way, you can reach the inside part of your die conveniently.

Once dissembled, spray a lubricant or degreaser generously on both the external and internal surfaces. Then, clean it with a clean piece of cloth. Now, you are ready to take it to the next step of the prevention process.

Putting Oil

So, the next step involves putting a light oil or rust preventive oil on the surface of the die, which acts as an anti-rust treatment. This type of oil is formulated to lubricate and protect metal surfaces against corrosion.

In case you were thinking of how you could possibly shield your die from humidity, this is just your answer. Thickly coating the surface of the die with such oil and lubricants can also be a great help to keep your die-off rust if you are worried about being vulnerable to humid conditions.

But the question is – which oil to use? Is there any particular type of oil for preventing rust from reloading dies?

One of the most common oil people uses WD-40, which is known for its high effectiveness in preventing corrosion.  When you apply the WD-40 on reloading dies, it forms a film on the surface, which then helps in preventing rust.

Other oils include the Cosmopolitan RP-342, which works for an extended period of time. Then there is also Eezox, and Boeshield T-9, which is a multi-purpose rust-preventive treatment and is also an effective one to prevent rusting.

All you need to do is apply these lubricants onto the surface, and they will form a film or coat over the die to prevent it from rusting. However, if it is a lubricant gel, you might be required to remove it from the surface after application and allow it to dry.

Long-term die storage

Putting oil and lubricants can help you keep the rust off your dies in the short run, but what about in the long-run? Truth be told, it is challenging to keep you die from rusting over time since the die eventually is exposed to some sort of oxygen and moisture, but you can make an effort to safeguard it for a yet more prolonged period.

That being the case, where and how you store your die is important, especially when the humidity of the place you live in is beyond your control. We cannot stress enough on the importance of keeping your die from humidity in order to protect it from rusting.


Wrapping your dies in clean clothes can help keep them from the contact of air, and prevent the build-up of rust in the process. If you want to further step-up your rust prevention game, you can apply any light oil on the cloth too. That way, from time-to-time the die will be lubricated, keeping it safe against oxidation.


Since air contains moisture, you would want to store your dies in an airtight container in which air cannot flow in or out. Therefore, storing them in airtight containers can help keep the die protected from humidity and rust.

What’s yet better is if you can wrap them in a cloth and then place them in an airtight container in order to ensure the highest protection against rust.

Storage Locations

Provided you are following the techniques mentioned above to store your dies, where you store them shouldn’t really be a concern, but it is still worth keeping a few things in mind.

Garages might not be the best place to store them since these places usually are very humid. However, if you want to store them in your garage, or if you live in a very humid place, don’t worry. Dehumidifiers can come in handy to help you regulate the humidity level.

The best place to store would be the basement or cellar because these places usually do not have frequent air inflow and outflow. But the baseline is that, as long as they are protected in airtight cases, they are good to go in any place you store them in.

Cleaning and Rust Removal from Rusty Dies

See, preventing rust, in the long run, is actually tricky, but as mentioned earlier, is not impossible. Whether it is thin patches of rust or comparatively heavy rusting, it can be removed from the reloading die by following appropriate removing techniques.

There are quite a number of ways in which this can be done and here is your guide to how to clean rusty reloading dies –

For situations in which the rust is just starting to appear, you can scrub the surface using a brush with brass or stainless bristles, heavy-duty steel wool, or even sandpapers. You can pair the scrubbing with some oil like WD-40, or the 3M undercoating spray or the Permatex Rust treatment if the rust is a bit more serious.

But another way of cleaning relatively more spread rust would be by using chemical treatments like Evapo-rust. These chemicals react with the rust and dissolve them, leaving you with an almost rust-less die.

A similar way of cleaning rust off reloading dies is Electrolysis, which involves placing the rusty die in a solution of baking soda or washing powder and water, and connecting it with a battery charger so that the rust dissolves in a similar manner as chemical treatment. But, make sure to wash and scrub the oil or other lubricants off the surface of the die before conducting the Electrolysis.

One other way of removing rust is by Tumbling Reloading Dies. Tumbling is a great way of cleaning, polishing, brightening, and not to mention – removing rust from the surface of a metal.

The process of tumbling is a fascinating one, which involves placing the die, media (could be stones or sand), water, and lubricants in a barrel, and closing it with a lid after which the barrel is rotated on a carousel, and as it rotates, it creates a centrifugal force, which eventually removes the rust from the surface. Interesting, isn’t it?

But, be cautious! Surfaces that are rusted might have a type of bacteria called tetanus, which can enter the human body by even a small scratch and can be fatal, affecting the nervous system and causing muscle stiffness. Also, some of the lubricants may not be gentle on the skin, so we highly recommend using industrial gloves before carrying out any of these activities.

Final Words

I bet this had been an insightful read!

You see, part of the reason why people opt for reloading is that they want to economize. Apart from the feeling of reward that it provides, people also save up money, and by keeping your dies and other reloading components for that matter, away from rust, that way, they will last for a more extended period.

Of course, there are more important things to know about reloading, but it is always good to have a rough knowledge before you get on with the process.

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