Peeling off a label safely

There was a thread in the old forum about how to remove such a price label without damaging the box. Could someone remind me?

Use a hair dryer to heat it a little and it will come right off.


I don’t have the old thread nor would I know where to look.

I can tell you from my own experience that Acetone or Laquer Thinner will usually dissolve the adhesive on most stickers and tapes. I apply it with a Q-Tip and slowly peel off the tape or sticker while applying more Acetone to the under-side (it disolves very quickly and you have to keep applying it).

I have used this method to remove all kinds of old tape from boxes and it seldom harms the box or any of the printing. When the Acetone dissolves it leaves no stain or mark of any kind.

Now, having said that, I’m not sure how it would work on your box. It appears to be a very pouous material and the lettering appears to be a stamped ink rather than printed. It could be such that the acetone would dissolve the ink. It would be nice if you had another box just like it to experiment on. Or maybe run a test on a small inconspicuous place, such as somewhere on the inside of the box.

Whatever you do, be careful and don’t call me if it doesn’t work. ;) ;)

While on the subject, why is it that non-collectors seem to have a knack for putting the price stickers in the worst possible location. Or writing their name on the box. And they always have to open the box or break the seal to see what is inside even though the label tells them what it is. And the tape they use - I had a box of Frankford Arsenal tracers recently that had masking tape, cellophane tape, cloth tape, electricians tape, and a plastic bandage holding it together. I removed all of them and all that was necessary was to re-glue the seams with a little Elmer’s.


How do you remove Scotch tape?

I’m tellin’ ya. Try the hairdryer first. It’s magic. They peel right off. And you can call me afterwards. I ain’t skeered. (works on Scotch tape, too)

To open a package of cartridge, I use the vapor of my whistling kettle.
To remove a label this method will not damage the text on the package.


I know that heat will work many wonders but in my experience it only softens the adhesive of most tape and stickers. 1/2 of the adhesive will come off with the sticker but the other 1/2 will stay on the box, soon to become an ugly spot as it collects dirt. To make a clean getaway you have to dissolve and remove the adhesive and only a solvent can do that.


Hot water or steam will work on tape or stickers that have a water based adhesive. That’s also how to remove a complete label or disassemble a box. But on things such as pressure sensitive tapes, see my comment above.

It must be Sunday.


Concur with Ray over the sticky residue left by my method. Resort to acetone for final removal, allowing for resultant damage on the more porous materials. There is no way it will never be “not noticeable” in some way. Did I say that right? Unless it is a high gloss finish, some of that goo is going to remain. Guessing your box will have at least a shadow of the sticker remaining. Gives it character.


Many times it is possible to remove ALL traces of tape and stickers by using Dr. Rays Miracle Acetone. Pictured is the afore-mentioned box that had 4 different kinds of tape holding it together (I made up the part about the plastic bandage). No goo remains, whatsoever. The missing pieces of label and splotches of dirt are not from the tape.

Why would I go through all that trouble for that ordinary box, you ask? Look at the cartridge. The box is an M1 while the cartridges are M2.


You, Mr. Ray, are THE man.

A product that works well is a 3M automotive “General Purpose Adhesive Cleaner” part # 08984
Doesn’t harm colors/ink & seems to work on most everything with out staining/discoloring. HOWEVER as with everything, test it first.

Motivated by the discussions here I decided to experiment a little as well.

While doing an inventory of the recent Landhorst purchases, I noticed some ghosting under the label on an already opened Interarms 9x19 box. The contents were unmistakingly Lapua rounds and the label also confirmed that Lapua was the supplier. Head stamps were all in the 1942-1944 range.

The material I used to loosen the label and reveal the underlying one, was a material that I have in good supply, as it comes with my medication: Pre-injecton swabs. These are basically sterile tissues soaked in Isopropylalcohol (70%). By gently soaking the top label, it peeled right off doing no damage to the underlying label. It confirmed that the box was WW2 Finnish military production which had received an Interarms label for resale post war.

Here is the result:

Ray, are you sure that all the adhesive comes off after snorting all that acetone and smoking your pipe at the same time?
Xylene also works well and evaporates even faster. All these chemicals should be used outdoors only.


Vlim - regarding those Interarms 9 x 19 mm boxes, while the cartridges were originally manufactured in the 1940s, they were converted in Finland much later to non-corrosive primers, and probably new powder, although not sure about the latter. It was done at the request and I believe the expense of Interarms. Amazing that they could convert the ammo and still sell it so cheaply, as the retail price was very cheap even for the time it showed up in America. Our store purchased 250,000 rounds of it, and sold it all retail out of our store - we did not supply other stores with it. It was very good initially, but some boxes I acquired a few years ago had misfires and even a few hangfires, indicating either bad storage somewhere along the line, or primers with very short shelf life. We purchased that ammo in the mid-1960s, as I recall, although I could be off a few years either way.

The primer and neck seals were changed from green (in some earlier dates, from black) to red denoting a non-corrosive primer. An occasional round clearly showed the old color underneath the red. The majority of the ammo was dated 1943 and 1944, but there was plenty from 1941 and 1942 as well, and even the occasional 1940 headstamp. Most of the later headstamps were “VPT” but the earlier ones were Sako in the style of “S-41”.

John Moss

Those were the great days in the world of surplus ammunition. It seemed like every month or so saw something new on the market in genuine surplus, and some early 9mm collections were built on a foundation of headstamps from big importations like that.

[quote=“Gourd”]Ray, are you sure that all the adhesive comes off after snorting all that acetone and smoking your pipe at the same time?
Xylene also works well and evaporates even faster. . .Gourd[/quote]


After snorting the Acetone I don’t really care if the adhesive comes off or not. I’m happy either way.

Is Xylene available at Ace Hardware? I’ve never used it. Actually, even Acetone evaporates too fast. You have to have some handy in a dish or bowl so that you can keep swabbing it on while you peel the label off.



You might want to leave the Xylene alone, I mean with your Acetone hobby and all…

Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) might be easier to work with than the acetone as far as evoporation goes. Much slower to go airborn. Never tried it on a box label, but it’s a decent solvent and doesn’t seem to leave any more residue than the acetone in other applications.

You can still get MEK at your friendly hardware store.


Yea Ray

Go in and ask for some of Methyl Ethyl. Dare ya.


Thanks for the info on the interarms boxes and ammo. I picked up a couple as ‘filler material’ for a book project. The other box has a blue/white/red label with the shield-L Lapua logo on top. I guess that is of a later date.

Around here Xylene and MEK can be bought in the paint section of Orchard Hardware which is now part of Sears and closer than the Sears store. Have a bunch of 22 boxes from Australia that as someone mentioned had price stickers in the worst places. All came off without any damage. Would have liked to try some of the chemicals on the fake 22 box labels made on a photocopier I saw at a show this year. Seller decided he had another show to go to when I finished looking at them with my loupe. Being an old copier tech can spot fake labels right away.



If you can still buy it in CA it ain’t strong enough for me. ;) ;) I want the stuff that can kill laboratory rats.