Re: First batch of clean brass - I'm impressed
One correct way you anneal brass (and you only anneal the shoulder and neck) is to sit the head of the case in water to assure it is not heated at all. If any of the head is annealed, the case is useless and dangerous.
While soot may be abrasive, the residue inside fired cartridge cases aids reloading with no ill effects on the hardened tooling. Dirt on the outside of the cases scratches the sizing dies and ruins them.