FireClean is Not Crisco

VIDEO Snakes Revenge As Severed Head Bites And Kills Chef

It slices the sssnake, it putss the piecessss in the juicer, it makesss the lotion, it putss the lotion on the gun….

Nope, it’s Snake Oil. As a bunch of stories at Vuurwapen Blog and TFB demonstrated, spectrographic analysis of FireClean is consistent with it being nothing but rapeseed oil, also known as canola oil, and/or chemically similar oils. Some people called it Crisco. But Crisco is a very pure, food-grade rapeseed oil; you can fry your morning hash browns in it, and they’ll taste delicious. Neither we nor the FDA recommend doing that with FireClean, and neither do the makers of FireClean. Your cardiologist would probably be equally distressed to see you frying up with either, but hey, if we all ate right, how would cardiologists ever make their Bentley payments?

Naturally, the guys who were buying 55-gallon drums of this stuff ($800/metric ton) and selling it (and a bunch of hype) in tiny plastic plastic squirt bottles for weren’t happy to have their secret outed, and so they sued Andrew Tuohy, the writer who first broke the news that FireClean was predominantly vegetable, specifically rapeseed, oil. They also sued Everett Baker, a chemistry student who did some analysis of the suspect formula as a college project, and published his results.

Apparently, showing the world the spectrum of FireClean is supposed to be like saying the name of God was to the Ancient Hebrews, as you can see in this clip from a Biblical documentary.

Yes, suing people for factually describing your product is certainly the way a corporation acts if its business model is based on developing advanced technology. It’s certainly not what a bunch of con artists would do when their con was exposed.

Or is it?

You can read the lawsuit — Andrew has posted it — and form your own opinion. (His lawyers’ memo in support of motion to dismiss is located here. If you donated to his legal defense fund you helped make that document, now donate again). We’re not lawyers, but what they’re demanding is, first, that Andrew and Everett be muzzled with respect to Crisco, er, FireClean. (Please Crisco, don’t sue us for comparing your fine cooking oil to the generic version marketed as a gun lube. No defamation of Crisco is intended).

Then, of course, they want money, because, well, for the same reason you might put cheap stuff in a bottle and sell it as expensive stuff: because they want money.

Meanwhile, of course, because the only justice that American courts are really concerned about is making sure that lawyers get paid, get paid off the top of the stack, and get paid handsomely, it’s going to cost Andrew and Everett a bunch of money to defend against this shakedown.

So there are two things you can do: never, ever, ever recommend, sell, or use FireClean, and throw a few bucks the defendants’ way.

Don’t feel bad for the brothers who run FireClean — when their product was challenged, rather that post science defending their product (there’s no scientific substance in their suit, just spectra of motor oils that are not like the vegetable oils at issue here), they went on legal attack-dog attack.

And there is this: we do not now, and we will not ever, use or recommend FireClean. (Even though Andrew! says it’s good gun lube).

Not only will they lose their SLAPP suit, they, and their product, deserve to be sent to market Coventry. We’re talking nuclear Streisand Effect in the megaton range.

Their major malfunction seems to be that even though their goop is, by its spectra, generic canola oil, it’s really a blend of three vegetable oils, so you can’t call it vegetable oil. They’re also really PO’d that people (not Andrew, who has been adamant about this) are calling it Crisco. And indeed, it might not deserve such a comparison, because it’s unfair to Crisco. The FireClean oils are somewhat like Crisco, except probably not food-grade; you can cook in Crisco, and it might not be safe in FireClean.

It gets better. If you read the suit, you find out their blend of three magic rapeseed oils ingredients.

The suit (available here) is simply full of conclusory assertions and outright falsehoods. Here’s just one:

53. The suggestion that FIREClean is not suitable for military use is false.

Here’s what the US Army’s graphic maintenance publication, PS Magazine (Issue. 735, February 2014, inside front cover) says about using snake oil lubricants like FireClean:


Which tells you all you need to know about how suitable FireClean is for military use. The assertion that FireClean is suitable for military use is false, according to the US Freaking Army, who apparently were not consulted by FireClean’s ambulance-chasers. The military people in charge of lubricants Just Say No (to FireClean and to many other snake oil formulations).

PS elaborates:

[I]f you think you can improve on what the TM instructs you to do, then you’re asking for trouble. For example, using … a different lubricant than what the TM lists, can leave you … not being able to fire at all because your rifle jammed.
Also, just because something has an NSN doesn’t mean it’s OK to use.

That tells you that the attorneys who wrote line 53 there, Bemara J. DiMuro, Bureau of Prisons Nº (oops, Virginia State Bar Nº, but the mistake is understandable, given that both numbers say the same thing about a person’s character) 18784, and Stacey Rose Harris BOP VSB Nº 65887, aren’t shy about just making facts up and lying to advance their lawsuit.

Well, what do you expect? They’re lawyers, not people.

What to Do

  • Gun owners, do not buy FireClean.
  • If you bought it, return it and demand a refund. If they refuse a refund, complain to the BBB and your state Attorney General or other consumer authority. They want to play with lawyers, let them.
  • Range owners and stocking FFLs, stock other products instead. Return any FireClean to your distributor and demand a refund. After all, even if the company didn’t deserve the Market Death Penalty™ for this, it’s not like you’re going to be able to sell the stuff now.
  • Most of all, support Andrew’s legal defense. We donated, but it looks to us like fundraising has stalled out and he can use some more lettuce to feed his lawyers.

If they want to know why you’re returning it, tell them you thought it was Crisco. But now that you know this product with uncannily similar spectrum to Crisco rapeseed oil is not Crisco, you don’t want it; you want your money back. Because it’s not Crisco, right?

It’s snake oil.

32 thoughts on “FireClean is Not Crisco

  1. LFMayor

    Boss I’ve been using straight up Walmart generic brand automatic transmission fluid for cleaning, lube and storage.
    It seems to hold up really well thermally and “sticks” during storage.

    What is your opinion and experience, please.

    1. Quill_&_Blade

      Don’t know how relevant this is, maybe it will apply to non metal parts:
      I’m one of the last old school hand lettering people. It’s a long story, partly because of other parameters, like trying to live debt free. I’ll spare the details, save to say there was a big pleasant surprise sort of deal at the end of that road. Not a tsunami of work, but being spared a bad investment. Anyway, water based paints are a relatively knew thing to us, we’ve always used oil based paints. A sign painter’s brushes and quills are never dry, once they’re purchased and put into use. They are either wet with paint, thinner for cleaning, or oil for storing. The idea being that if they’re loaded with oil, the traces of paint left in them can’t dry and shorten the life of the brush. You’d probably be surprised at the cost of a good brush; but it’s offset by how many years one can last if cared for.
      About 20 (?) years ago there was a trend among some sign painters to switch from lard oil, or neatsfoot oil, to transmission fluid. The idea being that the high amount of detergent therein would help keep the brushes clean, and speed the step where one has to remove the storage oil prior to use. I tried it, and of course it’s hard to be objective about this sort of thing, but it seemed to me that my imported squirrel and raccoon hairs were breaking and falling out at an alarming rate. I’ll never use it again.

    2. archy

      Boss I’ve been using straight up Walmart generic brand automatic transmission fluid for cleaning, lube and storage.
      It seems to hold up really well thermally and “sticks” during storage

      As an Army tank crewdawg through the late 1960s, hydraulic fluid , AKA *cherry juice* was our most common lube as much as Diesel fuel was our usual cleaning solvent. Its flammability leaves a lot to be desired as a lube, in particular when dealing with full-auto weapons, in our case the M73 and M213 coaxial 7.62m mmachinegun and/or the M2HBTT .50 Browning.

      Nowadays that would not be quite as good an idea. Later version higher flashpoint hydraulic and transmission fluids [Skydrol in the Aviation field as an example] are notoriously carcinogenic.

  2. Kirk

    I’m not particularly impressed by the US Army’s historical record when it comes to weapons lubrication. Break-Free CLP is a good product within its limitations, but it never should have been put into the system as the end-all replacement for everything, which was what they did with it. I’m convinced that a significant part of the reason my generation of soldiers, who mostly served after the advent of Break-Free, had such shitty experiences with the M60 MG system. Without the viscosity, “stickiness”, and cushioning effect gotten from LSA, the guns beat themselves to death a lot more quickly than they did under the old lubrication regime. I more-or-less proved this to myself after going back to LSA after it was made available again for the MK19 fleet. After we went back to that, the amount of peening on the usual parts surfaces went way down.

    So, while I don’t have an opinion on the Fireclean kerfuffle, I also don’t have a starry-eyed belief in the competency of the US Army when it comes to weapons lube, either. I remember religiously applying lubricant to the usual “bearing surfaces only” regime the manual listed, getting shitty results, and then doing the “drown that bitch in lube” thing, and never having a jam ever again.

    I’m also fairly suspicious of the whole process by which we got Break-Free, in the first place. The fielding of that crap was ongoing when I enlisted; by the time I got to my first duty station and eventually wound up in the Arms Room, a lot of the old-timers were saying that the whole reason they were doing it was BS, and that a bunch of the decision-makers on the issue were doing it because they were going to fall in on some sweet retirement jobs. Circa 1985-ish, we had a retired maintenance warrant come around shilling for a high-tech environmentally-friendly steam-cleaning system for weapons, and he confirmed from having personnally witnessed the process by which we got Break-Free that it had been more political than technical. He had a lot of really negative things to say about the whole thing, and a lot of what he said turned out to be both accurate and prescient.

  3. Trone Abeetin

    Let’s ask my friend Biggus Dickus what he thinks about Fire Clean.

      1. Trone Abeetin

        funniest flipping movie, its one of those flicks, despite the fact that you know it front to back, you must watch again.

  4. Claypigeonshooter

    Ballistol is all I use for gun oil. Nontoxic and works well with my muzzleloader. I don’t notice the smell very much any more.

  5. Josey Wales

    I’ll be returning the unused portion of my order to Brownell’s on Monday morning, and have called their attention to the issue so they can stop assisting FireClean in defrauding their customers.

  6. S

    Ballistol is my choice: 112 years of success. Can also be used to settle that bitter rising gorge when reading about VA, TSA, WGAO, etc.

  7. 10x25mm

    Rapeseed oil is actually a fairly good antifriction lubricant. Germans lubricated everything in their entire war machine with it during WW II after Allied bombing wiped out their lubricating oil refineries. It became their standard draw lube for final steel case sizing. Even solved their Mark V Panther transmission failures. Just don’t use food grade rapeseed oil, most of it is salted to prolong its shelf life at room temperature. It also lacks detergency, something most automatic weapons need.

    Speaking of detergency, SAE 15W-40 weight, API C[X]-4 standard diesel motor oil is far superior to most proprietary firearms lubricants. A quick squirt through the gas escape holes in the AR bolt carrier every so often keeps you from ever having to use the forward assist. The ‘advanced soot control’ in these oils is very effective at breaking up carbon deposits.

  8. BAP45

    I think what has been most surprising to me is the reaction from people to the whole thing. The pro fireclean camp seems to be overly invested in the whole thing. Some of the comments on other sites are full of so much vitrol its crazy.

  9. 10x25mm

    By the way, CANOLA is an acronym for CANadian Oil, Low Acid. Canola has the natural acidity of rapeseed oil extracted or neutralized. May or may not improve the lubricating properties of raspseed oil, depending upon how it is done and the specific application. But it does taste better.


    haha fireclean.

    I will never be giving any money to help out Andrew T. The guys is not someone I care to help. He has a history himself. Once of which is being banned from arfcom over a bad E&E deal. Not to mention the way he handled some things after his short time with Tango Down . I have heard a lot of vets on other boards talking about how he embellished his experience in combat as a medic with the Marines and counting every time he walked out of the base as a “combat action.” All before he became more well known, I don’t care how the lawsuit turns out

    May be inclined to help the college student though

  11. Tom Stone

    A a Californian born and bred I only use Fair Trade gluten free lubricants derived from organically farmed cannabis.

  12. Bloke_from_ohio

    The reaction over on SSD to this whole fiasco is very entertaining. Too bad we can’t bottle the hate. It might mother make better lube than rapeseed oil, but we sure would make us energy independent in less than a fortnight.

    Out of principal I hope FC loses to reduce any chilling effect this sort of lawfare might have on the online gun community. At the same time I hope this will lead to higher standards and care taken by gun writers.

    I would love to see the marketing gimmick wherein giving a free sample to some dude you met at a gunshow near Bragg or Virginia Beach gets turned into “used by real operators!” on the bottle. A couple folks in cool guy units using a product is not the same as a SOCOM endorsement. Nor is it proof of suitability or effectiveness for any give purpose.

    1. John Distai

      I fell for the marketing pitch of the head Delta Fecebook operator. :(

  13. Slow Joe Crow

    I see a business opportunity here to make a vegetable oil based gun lube that doesn’t infringe Fireclean’s patent and is honestly described and marketed. You could sell for less and steal their market, since rapeseed / canola is actually a good product for some applications.
    As an aside Fireclean isn’t literally snake oil since genuine aceite de culebra is an animal product. Then again it also isn’t literal bovine excrement, but there are many truck loads of the figurative sort associated with this issue.

  14. Miles

    I’ll quote the instructor of the unit armorer course at Ft Lewis in the late 80’s (even a 45B/91F needs to go through that just to learn the paperwork required for running an arms room), a retired MSG by the name of Mr. Butterfly.

    “Yes, there are better lubes out there than CLP, but it has one overriding factor that makes all the others pale to insignificance………It’s free.”

    I agreed with that assessment.

  15. LSWCHP

    No Fireclean for me.

    Slightly off topicc, but I use and heartily recommend Ed’s Red home made cleaning solvent at a few bucks a gallon to brew at home. Google will take you to the recipe. And a little Hoppe’s, of course, if I want my guns to smell purty.

  16. Tierlieb

    There are a lot of interesting details to this, I think:

    1) How it came to be
    As said, Andrew never claimed it was Crisco.
    But TFB did that.
    Andrew recommended that TFB don’t do that.
    TFB seemed to be pretty happy with their catchy headline.
    Then legal action was taken.
    And TFB dropped their articles and pointed to Andrew as the culprit. Or, to say it more clearly: TFB whined and ran like a little pussy.

    Of course, TFB is not a homogenous entity. They usually do not even check whether one of their authors reposts something another author of theirs wrote about.

    2) Whether the claims are true
    The late Todd Green was very clearly against the analyses (plural on purpose) presented by Andrew. The argument goes that spectral analysis can only show similarities to a certain degree. While there is no doubt that this proves that it is not motor oil for example, but clearly a vegetable oil or mix of several of them. The question is whether important additives would show up. The core claim (not the idiot lawyer part that mixes up Vuurwapen’s and TFB’s claims) of FireClan seems to be that the additives used in quantities not found by spectral analysis are what make FireClean lube great.

    And without any scientific training regarding lubrication, I personally do not know what to think here.

    3) Larry Vickers and the advertisement
    A part that is not mentioned these days are the videos with Larry Vickers, who endorsed this product. One video in particular had a comparison between Fireclean and a competitor that was allegedly done with the same ammunition. It had rather stupid arguments of the sort that more smoke means more carbon being ejected. But more importantly, using the HD version of said video, Andrew pointed out that one of the cases had a brass-colored primer, the other a silver-colored one, implying foul play.
    Interestingly, this part is not heard about much.

    *obviously a tier-1-operator because he, too, has his own line of gun lube*
    *denies that his gun lube is a left-over from a friend’s unsuccessful bid for a military contract*

  17. Jim

    Speaking of Crisco, me and a bunch of other blackpowder shooters have been using the real, genuine Crisco as lube for Minie balls for decades. Great stuff for blackpowder shooting – in coldish weather you can use 100% Crisco; in warmer weather melt and mix it with varying amounts of beeswax, and dip your bullets in it. Stays where you put it and keeps fouling soft – it’s not unusual to be able to shoot 50-60 rounds without having to swab out the bore when using Crisco/beeswax lube. And at about $3.50 for a 48 oz tub, it beats the hell out of all those pricy specialty lubes.

  18. archy

    Speaking of Crisco, me and a bunch of other blackpowder shooters have been using the real, genuine Crisco as lube for Minie balls for decades.

    Great heavens, man! Don’t you know that the Royal Small Arms Establishment designed the Land Pattern Musket so dearly known to us all as Brown Bess to be lubricated and patched with beef tallow!?!>

    Now use the real gen, or it’s off to the Tower with you! [And don’t even joke with the Sepoys about that being pigfat!]

  19. Docduracoat

    I recommend frog lube
    It only has 2 ingredients
    Frogs and lube! (sarcasm off)
    I believe it is also a vegetable based clp product
    I was amazed that fire clean went ahead with a lawsuit.
    If they had done nothing and ignored Andrew, the fan boys would have kept on buying it. Newbies would have bought it. No one would have remembered anything about what TFB said about it a year later.
    Now no one will buy their stuff.

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