= Electrolysis Rust Removal =

Here is one of the methods that I use to remove rust on my restorations. This method is very easy to use and even better, it's cheap!  The most expensive part of the whole system will be a small battery charger. The one that I use is a 6 amp Shumacher that cost me about $30.00. My 5 gallon bucket uses eight steel anodes which are bolted right to the bucket. This may be a little over done, as you can even get away with just one anode, but the reaction is "line of sight" so when an object is in the middle of the bucket, it's in a 360 degree line of site. To attach the part to be cleaned, I use spring clamps on heavy gauge wire. I have two wires with clamps on the end for multiple parts. These wires are attached thru the bucket with a 1/4"-20 bolt for the negative connection). This allows me to just clip the charger onto the bolts outside of the bucket. The solution is a mixture of 1 gallon of water to 1 tablespoon of washing soda or soda ash also known as "Sodium carbonate"  This solution is non-toxic and can be dumped out in your yard without worry, there is plenty of iron in the soil already. However, they only reason to dump it is that you are sick of looking at it. No matter how dirty it looks it still works the same. Now what you do need to know, is that this needs to be done in a vented area. The electrolysis process does create a small amount of hydrogen gas which is non-toxic but should be ventilated all the same.

**Please note: I seem to have confused a few people with my wiring on the bucket itself. When I built this system I only had so much wire in my shop. I had plenty of the thin gauge black wire, but, just a small roll of heavy gauge red. Not really thinking about it when I did this, I reversed the color codes compared to the charger itself. Please make a note that the wire inside the bucket is negative, or black, while the anodes are positive, or red. (Please note the labels on the bucket itself)

The best this will ever look!


External connections


Here is the solution after just a couple minutes.


Mmmm, Yummy!!


And this is where all that rust went off to!


The test subject. A cheap fifty cent hand plane I bought just for the tote.

All in all, it did a good job for something that took no effort on my part other than a little steel wool to rub it down.






Here is an alternative method where I wanted to clean a small lathe bed. This bed was about three feet long and a make shift tank needed to be made. I used some 2x4's to make a box and clamped a large construction trash bag to the frame. I have a 32" piece of flat steel scrap laying under the lathe and the lathe itself is held off the bottom with a 3/8" nut as a spacer. I mixed the solution in a 1 gallon bucket and dumped it in one gallon at a time. This tank only holds 5 gallons and the bed is fully under water. This same method can be used on a larger scale with landscape plastic, or maybe you have a place you can dig a hole in the ground to line with plastic. Let's face it... you only need something that can hold water for a day or so.




This is one of the parts off my sandblast cabinet. In my 5 gallon tank it had to be done in 2 steps because it would not fit into the tank all at once. I could of used the method above but as this is a painted part it makes little difference. There can be a slight "ring" when done this way, although I did not get it myself. I figure this was such a great before & after shot I needed to add it in to my site.



There you have it, electrolysis rust removal in a nut shell! If you are still curious, just Google "electrolysis rust removal" and you will have enough info for a day of reading. I have been asked why I put so much effort into bolting the anodes inside the bucket over just sticking one in the bucket with it. My plan was to make a tank that can be sealed up when done with the lid and be ready to use by just removing the lid while keeping my new charger out of the water itself. This tank is stored nicely under the sink in my workshop while not in use. One thing I might change is that I would drop the anodes down to four, as the inside of bucket can get a little tight at times. This change would allow me to place things in the bucket without worry of hitting the anodes accidentally.

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