Electrolysis for rust removal

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mickyd
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Electrolysis for rust removal

Post by mickyd »

I wanted to create this thread to deal with the topic of electrolysis. It's showing up in various threads and seems to have enough interest where we can devote a specific thread for it.

This thread is a continuation of the topic from the Navel Jelly thread http://www.shopsmith.net/forums/showthread.htm?t=3301. It morphed into electrolysis.

From that thread, read posts #4 through somewhere around #28 and then pick it up again here. If there's not posts below, come back later.

We left off with a dialog about why it's recommended to use washing soda vs. baking soda.
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mickyd
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Post by mickyd »

Good info [ATTACH]3751[/ATTACH]. Doesn't say exactly why washing soda is better that baking soda as the previous thread left off but thought it was worth posting.
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beeg
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Post by beeg »

From the PDF, here's the reason for using washing soda.


Electrolyte solution is made from water with a soluble salt
(usually sodium carbinate or washing soda) added to the
water to enhance the conductance of electricity. Household
lye can be used, however eye protection and gloves should
be worn when handling the solution.
Add one tablespoon of soda to a gallon of water. If you
have trouble locating the washing soda, others have
reported success with baking soda.
NOTE: It is the current that cleans, not the solution; nothing
is gained by making a more concentrated solution
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heathicus
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Post by heathicus »

mickyd wrote:Charger, craiglist, $10
Baking soda, supermarket, $1
Scrap sheet metal, craiglist, free
Plasitc bucket, home center, $5
Water, your faucet, $.0001

Results - Priceless
Unfortunately, there is no local Craig's List site. And even those that are somewhat close have very little on them. That's one of the few things I miss about living in the Northern Virginia area. Anything I wanted was on Craig's List at just about any time I looked for it and wasn't too far away.

I guess there are always garage sales, but my wife and I both enjoy sleeping in as late as the kids will let us on weekend mornings too much to get up and do the garage sale thing.
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Post by foxtrapper »

I do use the elecrolysis method at times, but not always. Cleanlyness and surface area are *CRUCIAL* to making it work. Bigger is exponentially better.

The first time I tried it I used a piece of rebar. The results were quite disapointing. Then I tried it with an old hand saw blade. MUCH faster. My main tank has two sanded bare large flouresent lamp reflectors in it. You can watch the rust leaping off the pieces I place in this tank.

For fun, stick your hand in the tank. You can really feel the current, especially as you get close to either the anode or cathode.

After a few hours of use I'll reverse the current to clean the rust off my plates. Rust buildup essentially shuts down the process.


I've also used the chileaten method (beet juice) and acid baths.

A vinegar soak is my preferred method for smaller pieces, and I keep several gallons of vinegar around just for that purpose. It also works very well on awkward and recessed areas.

Chleaten works, but is slow and stinks to high heaven. I don't consider it worthwhile, except for dunking a complete engine or such.
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Post by mickyd »

Here's an article that touches on why washing soda is preferred over baking soda of the electrolyte solution. It's PH related.
http://www.holzwerken.de/museum/links/e ... ion.phtmlr


Shows a massively rusted part cleaned up
http://www.davidbradley.net/ERR.html
Note: This guys talks about using high amperage. NOT NEEDED. All it does is heat the water. It doesn't amount to a hill of beans for doing a good / fast rust removal job.


A fellow woodworking guy
http://www.rickswoodshopcreations.com/M ... emoval.htm
DON'T USE stainless steel for the anode like this guy talks about. It results in nasty hexevalent chromium getting into the solution which is NOT environmentally a good thing. Stick with regular magnetic carbon steel sheet metal.
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Post by iclark »

mickyd wrote:Stick with regular magnetic carbon steel sheet metal.
just don't assume that
magnet-sticks-to-it = other-than-stainless-steel

martensitic stainless steels such as 410 and the 600-series will hold a magnet just fine. some shops keep those alloys around because they are easier to machine than the 300 series.

if someone here knows how to tell the difference between clean, not-rusty carbon steel and martensitic stainless, I'd appreciate hearing about it.
preferably methods that don't require x-rays or electron microscopy:rolleyes:

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Post by JPG »

iclark wrote:just don't assume that
magnet-sticks-to-it = other-than-stainless-steel

martensitic stainless steels such as 410 and the 600-series will hold a magnet just fine. some shops keep those alloys around because they are easier to machine than the 300 series.

if someone here knows how to tell the difference between clean, not-rusty carbon steel and martensitic stainless, I'd appreciate hearing about it.
preferably methods that don't require x-rays or electron microscopy:rolleyes:

Ivan
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Post by mickyd »

Good webpage on the chemistry of electrolysis. http://www.holzwerken.de/museum/links/electrolysis_explanation.phtml

Should the website ever go away, here's the pdf version of it below.

[ATTACH]6623[/ATTACH]
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Anomalocaris
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Re: Electrolysis for rust removal

Post by Anomalocaris »

I know it has been a long time since anyone posted to this page, but will the cheapo rebar at Lowes work as a plain carbon steel anode?
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