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Author: Subject: Electrolysis. See the light!
Spyderman

posted on 20/4/04 at 12:15 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by NS Dev
Snip.
, but will point out that the caustic is available from common shops as a household chemical (won't say what/where due to the cautions above!!) so anybody could use it and not realise the seriousness of the dangers.
Snip



I was bewildered when I bought some drain cleaner to find small aluminium filings in it.
Only when it had been poured into the drain and some warm water added did the penny drop! The immediate chemical reaction and consequent fumes made me realise what I was using. Only then because I was familiar with the stuff, having used it in my work.
Just think how dangerous the product is, especially if hot water had been added. The stuff spits and boils violently, so you don't even need to splash it onto yourself.

Do you really read the instructions of every product you buy? I know I don't! Just a cursory glance to see what is needed.

It is fine for things to be available to all as long as the necessary precautions are known. However using Caustic in that manner shocked me!

Terry






Spyderman

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NS Dev

posted on 20/4/04 at 01:36 PM Reply With Quote
If you add the caustic to water it's usually not too bad, if you add water to the caustic then it's no joke!! But that's why it says on the packaging about never adding the water to the caustic. However, the warning still doesn't prepare you for the resultant reaction!! (why do I always have to try the opposite to the instructions just to see what happens!!)
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gjn200

posted on 22/4/04 at 08:09 PM Reply With Quote
Dunno if anyones interested, but I use this..altrans





<- Me!

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Andy S

posted on 24/4/04 at 08:12 PM Reply With Quote
Many thanks for posting the link this is a great method - only wish I had been enlightened during the winter so my bucket of gunge and charger could have been working away in the freezing cold of my garage whilst I was warm indoors.

Soon running out of bits to clean and will have to resort to pulling stuff off the car

Andrew

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ceebmoj

posted on 25/4/04 at 07:19 PM Reply With Quote
Hi, I thort that I had written my findings with this up but a quick look through this thread does not seam to shown up my results.

I made couple of alteration to the basic proses first of all a used backing soader because I was not happy with the risks of using the other additives. The disadvantage is that you will get a lower current draw and hence it will take longer to clean the part.

The other thing I did was use an old pond / fish tank pump to cycle the water thought a filter watching the ammeter on my power supply shows that this prevents the current from dropping over time and the solution in the to the main bath can be redirected to was over the part helping to dislodge rust and scale.

However the biggest improvement I made was with the anode I started with a thin sheet of steal so that I could bend it to match the contours of the part to be cleaned and based some hole is in it with a nail so that the rages points where all facing the part to be cleaned. This enabled a hire current flow as the electrons find it easer to fall of the piece of metal at the points.

Blake

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craig1410

posted on 25/4/04 at 11:09 PM Reply With Quote
Blake,
Intersting tips, thanks.
Only thing I would mention though is to watch out for using too many amps as I have read somewhere that this can be disadvantageous. IIRC, the article said that some of the oxidised iron nearest to the surface of the solid iron can be reduced back to solid iron provided a relatively low current is used initially. I think this is referring to the "black" iron oxide and not the red iron oxide which I think is not so practical to reduce back to metal.

I guess the net effect of this will be to save more of the metal and hopefully reduce the amount of pitting which you are left with after the rust is cleaned off. I usually use 4 Amps and leave the part overnight and this seems to do the job nicely. Also remember that higher currents will cause more heating of the solution and will produce more gas so be careful and make sure you have adequate ventilation.
Cheers,
Craig.

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ceebmoj

posted on 26/4/04 at 06:12 PM Reply With Quote
good point about the current all though I only use 2 to 4 amps (limited and monitored by the supply) depending on how I am feeling and how big the part is but I get a fizz from it like you get from a fresh glass of coke. This fizzing will last for the length of time you are cleaning the part.

All of the parts I have cleaned have been left with a black covering witch can be removed with a wire brush. However the pond pump and filter means that it is perfectly clean to work with before I did this it gets all crapped up and the current draw fall of slowing the cleaning proses.

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ChrisS

posted on 27/4/04 at 11:14 AM Reply With Quote
Hi

Was wondering if anyone could clarify how big the electrode needs to be, or if it would be a benefit to have a large tube effectively using sheet metal bent round a part for cleaning.

Ive seen details of an iron electrode being used and assumed this might be solid & quite small in diameter.

Also was wondering if it mattered how the electrode was positioned in the tank, either upright or laying down.
Although ive just realised that the connection probably needs to be out of the water DOH!

That stainless steel electrode stuff is quite worrying, is everyone sure its safe at all using iron or even mild steel?

Chris S.

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craig1410

posted on 27/4/04 at 02:27 PM Reply With Quote
Chris,
On the safety aspect, I can only say that I am satisfied that I am perfectly safe when using plain mild steel anodes but you need to satisfy yourself as obviously I don't want to give you any guarantees for potential legal reasons. Look at it this way, if there is no chromium in the steel or solution then you shouldn't be able to come to any harm from chromium poisoning...

On the other subject of anode size and shape I will say this: The closer to the piece the anode is then the higher the current flow will be and therefore the faster the process will go. Also, you will find that the rusty item will clean up where it is closest to the anode quicker than the bits where it is farher away. For this reason a sheet of metal bent around the inside of the bucket is a good method as it gives good surface area and even coverage of the piece. Where you have a hollow area such as the centre of a boss then perhaps a piece of concrete reinforcing bar in the middle might be good to provide electric current to the inner circumference.

Hope this helps,
Craig.

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ceebmoj

posted on 28/4/04 at 07:04 PM Reply With Quote
Criss

The electricity will take the esest path from anode to part (basically the shortest distance) so if you use some thing that you can bend to follow the contours of what you want to clean to can acheave a lager are of the part is near the anode and hene a larger bit will get cleaned.

The only reason that I punch hole in my sheet is to produce a surface that has lots of small sharp high points on it as the electrons will fall off easer (there are I am sure people who will shout me for that description)

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NS Dev

posted on 28/4/04 at 08:02 PM Reply With Quote
sounds like a pretty good description to me!! more surface area for the electrons to fall out of!!
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JH

posted on 13/5/04 at 06:16 PM Reply With Quote
Just been pointed in the direction of this post after asking a similar question in another part of the forum.

I was quite concerned about the suggestion of using stainless steel until I saw someone had already pointed out the dangers. What about a carbon electrode? I'm no chemist, but when I was in school my slightly nutty chemistry teacher (who was missing a finger from a home made bomb gone wrong in his teens) Stuck a pen in the earth hole of a mains socket to open the bottom two, plugged a carbon rod into each hole, connected each one to a carbon rod suspended in a small glass of water with a tiny bit of salt added, then turmed the power on.

we all expected trouble, but it bubbled away nicely, not blowing any trips or fuses!

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craig1410

posted on 13/5/04 at 10:03 PM Reply With Quote
JH,
You should be safe enough with mild steel anodes but they do corrode quite badly and leave a messy solution. Not a major problem mind you and a method used by many on this forum with great results.

Carbon doesn't conduct very well compared to steel but it would probably work given that the solution is also not very conductive. I think the biggest problem you may have is getting enough surface area of carbon to get enough current flowing and get an even coverage of the piece being restored.

I'd say that if you are trying to restore mild steel then you are better off using a mild steel anode otherwise there is a chance of getting by products from the reaction which might cause the steel to corrode again more quickly. From my knowledge of chemistry I would doubt that carbon would produce any by products but you really need to be careful as the example of using stainless steel shows...

If you want to plate the steel afterwards then by all means look into Nickel plating.

Cheers,
Craig.

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VinceGledhill

posted on 19/5/04 at 02:41 PM Reply With Quote
What about a copper electrode? Or copper sulphate used after the cleaning. From school I remember electro-plating things with copper sulphate.

Basically to plate something with copper simply use coper sulphate (must be obtainable from the chemists) the cathode (negative) should be connected to the work to be plated and the positive in the solution.

Copper plated hubs instead of painted ones??? Polished up they would look great.... you would have to keep polishing them though.... duraglit out every week





Regards
Vince Gledhill
Time Served Auto Electrician
Lucas Leeds 1979-1983

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craig1410

posted on 19/5/04 at 07:43 PM Reply With Quote
Vince,
Hopefully someone with more chemistry knowledge than myself will respond but if I remember correctly, copper will oxidise very rapidly and is not a very good plating compound to use on steel. Much better off with Nickel or Silver or Gold (yeah right for the latter two!). Nickel is commonly used and I think you can buy commercial nickel plating kits.

If you are still keen on copper then take a look at your water pipes under your kitchen sink and tell me if you like the look of them! I know mine are all dull and green in places which isn't very pleasing to the eye... The soldering flux causes very rapid corrosion if not removed after fitting but even clean copper gets dull very quickly.

Cheers,
Craig.

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welshy

posted on 1/7/04 at 08:55 AM Reply With Quote
To prevent the cathode from becoming all gunked up would it still work if you wrapped it in a shealth made from kitchen foil. You could then simply replace the sheath!
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blueshift

posted on 1/7/04 at 01:36 PM Reply With Quote
I wasn't taking seriously the ideas of copper plating, but hmm.. if you got a decent surface on something then copper plated it, buffed it up then laquered it, might look kind of cool.
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millenniumtree

posted on 8/7/04 at 03:03 AM Reply With Quote
According to this page (given earlier in the discussion)

"The copper connector of the battery charger must make good contact with the stainless steel but it must not touch the solution. If it does touch, it will dissolve. The copper that dissolves will wind up depositing on the iron object being cleaned and cause it to rapidly rust"

http://www.holzwerken.de/museum/links/electrolysis_explanation.phtml

So that's a no on the copper!

Also, if two different metals are touching, sometimes one or both of them will oxidize MUCH faster than if they were not touching.
So if you copper-plated something it might look cool, but it may turn green (copper rust) much faster than normal.

[Edited on 8/7/04 by millenniumtree]

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Skirrow

posted on 18/7/04 at 11:33 AM Reply With Quote
Can anyone help me with this, I have been using one of those little chargers that has a black squre thing that plugs into the wall. I'm only getting 0.5 Amps which is doing something but it's painfully slow. I think the max output of the charger is 0.8 anyway.

What does I need to do to my PC power supply to get a higher current? I'm not that electrically minded so if someone could tell me what to do with the jumble of coloured wires that come out of it it woule be helpful. I saw a post saying I should place a load resistor across +5v tp ground but that doesn't mean a massive amount to me.

Cheers!

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atomic

posted on 13/9/04 at 07:21 AM Reply With Quote
A WORD OF WARNING !

Before you try the rust removal if you havn't already.... Read this

"Many people using the electrolysis method for rust reduction swear by stainless steel, stating (incorrectly) that it's not consumed, stays clean and seems safe.
Stainless steel is indeed consumed when used in the electrolysis process, although slowly. The main problem with using it is the hazardous waste it produces. Stainless steel contains chromium. The electrodes, and thus the chromium is consumed, and you end up with poisonous chromates in your electrolyte. Dumping these on the ground or down the drain is illegal. The compounds can cause severe skin problems and ultimately, cancer. Hexavalent chromate is poisonous. These compounds are not excused from hazardous waste regulations where household wastes are.
These compounds are bad enough that government regulations mandate "elimination of hexavalent chromate by 2007 for corrosion protection."

Does your electrolyte turn yellow? That's a sign of chromates.

If you have been using stainless steel for the anodes (positive electrodes), wear rubber gloves when working with or near the liquids. If you need to dispose of it, allow it to evaporate into powders and dispose of the powders in sealed containers during your local "hazardous waste clean-up days".

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craig1410

posted on 13/9/04 at 08:33 AM Reply With Quote
Hi,
Yes I pointed this out a while back but given the size of the thread it is certainly worth repeating.

Cheers,
Craig.

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stephen_gusterson

posted on 13/9/04 at 08:34 AM Reply With Quote
see the movie erin brocovich for more info on hexavalent chromium. The whole movie is about its efects.

Plus you get to see Julia Roberts in short skirts and wonderbras.....


atb

steve






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Northy

posted on 29/12/04 at 04:05 PM Reply With Quote
HELP!!

I've just spent over an hour trying to get this to work

I got some of the soda same as Mark got (shown below) and connected everything up. Nothing. The battery charger stays on trickle charge. No bubbles, nothing.

One thing I'm curious of is how people have made a good contact to the part they're cleaning? I used a big croc clip and it seems to have a good contact.

Please help,

Cheers





Graham


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Northy

posted on 29/12/04 at 05:05 PM Reply With Quote
OOpppss heres the picture Rescued attachment Soda.jpg
Rescued attachment Soda.jpg






Graham


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craig1410

posted on 29/12/04 at 05:17 PM Reply With Quote
Some battery chargers won't produce any decent power unless they are actually attached to a battery. The one I have from Halfords is like this. You may need to find an alternate source of 12 Volts. I have a laboratory power supply myself which can supply up to 18 Volts at 10 Amps.

Cheers,
Craig.

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