Initially, the idea that FIREClean was basically just Crisco started with rumors of a spectral analysis, but took off after July of this year, when AR15.com member 12_gauge posted a video to YouTube of a burn-off test between FIREClean and canola oil. The results of this poor man’s spectroscopy were that FireClean and the canola oil looked identical; not a conclusive result, but it began to raise suspicions. Further, FireClean founder Edward Sugg was listed on a patent available to the public listing alternative uses for vegetable oils, such as canola oil, including as firearms lubricants. It was with this that I was all but convinced: FIREClean was canola oil, commonly sold under the brand name “Crisco”. Yesterday the inimitable Andrew Tuohy, a contributor to this blog, posted an article proving to me beyond any doubt that FIREClean is vegetable oil. The results of the infrared spectroscopy he conducted are reproduced below:
It is quite apparent that the results for FIREClean and Crisco are very similar. While I’d rather see a control, it is apparent to me that none of the three look more similar in this regard to other common oils than they do to each other. So, in short, to the best of my knowledge, FireClean is canola oil.
From my perspective, FIREClean has been one of the most aggressively branded gun lubricants in recent years, promoted as a “revolutionary” lubricant that cleans and removes fouling unlike other offerings. [screenshot here] Gun expert Larry Vickers, who I have great respect for, recently released a spot promoting FIREClean as a superior lubricant, “proven” to carry away more fouling from a firearm due to the greater smoke it produced. Those of us with a modest basis in chemistry were immediately skeptical: The smoke produced by an oil under heat has at best only a tangential relationship to its ability to collect and trap debris.
It was with this video, on the backs of what felt like more than circumstantial evidence, that made many feel that “enough was enough”. FIREClean may not have been a poor lubricant, at least for the range where it wasn’t applied to firearms that were stored for a long time, but if it really was $15/oz canola oil as the patents and smoke tests suggested, then the company would have quite a lot to answer for.
With Andrew’s spectroscopy, this has been realized. FIREClean, marketed as “the real deal”, a revolutionary lubricant that would sweep aside all the snake oils that have plagued the gun market for years, has proved to be nothing more than canola oil at a 10,000% markup. Those who bought into it may feel cheated, as they undoubtedly were. Those who learned from previous snake oil gun lubes may feel smug, but they shouldn’t. A slick marketing campaign and a reasonably effective (but horrendously overpriced) product was enough to get many people whose opinion I did and continue to respect. Better men than I, for a certainty, were taken in by this product, which has proven to be nothing more than vegetable oil. FIREClean’s reputation should suffer; theirs should not .
UPDATE: FIREClean responds here.