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Electrolysis Using Lye


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  #21  
Old 03-28-2018, 10:50:16 PM
Scotty 2 Scotty 2 is offline
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Default Re: Electrolysis Using Lye

Save yourself some money and go to the pool shop and get some dry soda ash and chuck in the electrolysis bath. It's used to adjust pH in pools. Cheap as chips and easy to find. About as easy to find as a pool shop..
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  #22  
Old 03-29-2018, 08:29:36 AM
TomBall TomBall is offline
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Default Re: Electrolysis Using Lye

Pete, I liked the presentation you did on the comparison of the two. I also wonder if the type of steel anode has anything to do with efficiency. In my small tank, I had two different types of anodes ( one lawn mower blade and one of some mild steel I pulled from the junk pile), and the mild steel one seemed to pull more rust. I think I will check my tank later today and have a look. I have to try something different to speed this up. If I switch over, I'll post my findings later. I also want to find a bigger power source as I am limited to the amps my present charger will put out without shutting down.
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  #23  
Old 03-29-2018, 09:02:44 AM
landreo landreo is offline
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Default Re: Electrolysis Using Lye

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Spaco View Post
1. About the "carbon":
I haven't seen anybody take note that almost ALL steel has some carbon in it.
Even A36 mild steel contains as much as 0.36% carbon.

2. Washing soda vs Bicarbonate of soda:
See:
https://spaco.org/Blacksmithing/Rust...ashingSoda.htm

and do look at the attached spreadsheet for the numerical results.

Pete Stanaitis
---------------
I read the study and looked at the results and they do not really mean much. The author states that fish oil is a strong base which is nonsense. He talks a lot about baking and laundry which has no real relation to cleaning steel using electrolysis.

For steel or iron you want a strong base, not an acid or a neutral salt despite what one poster stated. Using an acid or neutral salt as an electrolyte will degrade and rust the part you are trying to clean! A weak base such as baking soda is good only if you are trying to clean something that will be damaged by a strong base such as aluminum. For aluminum I will use baking soda for the electrolyte but for iron or steel I use as much washing soda that will dissolve. There are some real advantages to using a strong base as an electrolyte when derusting iron or steel.

Your cleaner may be basic but not a strong base and you may be getting rust from just from sitting in the tank. If you use a strong base as an electrolyte you can leave your cleaned or cleaning part in the tank as long as you want and it will not rust. A very strong base will passivate or protect the iron from rusting in the tank. After derusting, if I am not ready to paint etc.., then I will let the part just sit in the tank with no electricity until I am ready to finish cleaning and prep for paint. Sometimes the part will sit in the tank for months but I do that to keep it from getting rusted again.

Using a strong base as an electrolyte will also help dissolve or remove the paint on the object being cleaned.

Get washing soda from Walmart, pool supplies, Lowes, Home Depot as PhPlus or PhUp pool supply brands. Where I live it is around $2 a pound.

Here is a link to Texas A&M conservation site:

http://nautarch.tamu.edu/CRL/conservationmanual/
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  #24  
Old 03-29-2018, 09:40:22 AM
slip knot slip knot is offline
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Default Re: Electrolysis Using Lye

It would be easy enough to get some pH test strips and see where your at on the pH scale. Most pool suppliers carry them. And they’re cheap too.
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  #25  
Old 03-29-2018, 03:48:43 PM
Scotty 2 Scotty 2 is offline
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Default Re: Electrolysis Using Lye

Quote:
Originally Posted by TomBall View Post
I also wonder if the type of steel anode has anything to do with efficiency. In my small tank, I had two different types of anodes ( one lawn mower blade and one of some mild steel I pulled from the junk pile), and the mild steel one seemed to pull more rust. .
Try lead for the anodes.
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  #26  
Old 03-29-2018, 10:40:41 PM
Pete Spaco Pete Spaco is offline
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Default Re: Electrolysis Using Lye

Well, TomBall, after being beat up about the fish oil professor, I probably shouldn't say anything but----

-I have never had my parts rust while sitting in my electrolytic derusting baking soda solution while the power was on. And, why would I ever leave my stuff in the electrolyte while the power was off?

-it occurs to me that more area of anode you have, the more current you will get.
-Also, higher voltage should get you more current.
One guy talked about using a 6 volt battery charger, I think. I wouldn't use less than a 12 volt charger myself.

I have been messing around with rewinding microwave oven transformers (MOT's) lately and they could be used to make a pretty good electrolytic derusting machine. I'd wind one for about 24 volts, using 12 ga "magnet wire". All you have to do is to buy a full wave bridge rectifier from Surplus center (and get an ammeter someplace) and you'd be in business. Youtube has lots of vids on MOT rewinding.
I even have one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cCP2gd8ihE

I suppose I need to put in a disclaimer saying: if you aren't confident that you know how to do this, don't do it.

Pete Stanaitis
---------------
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  #27  
Old 03-30-2018, 02:42:16 AM
Beanscoot Beanscoot is offline
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Default Re: Electrolysis Using Lye

When messing about with these alkaline chemicals, it's really nice to have a shaker of vinegar at hand. When your hands get slimy from the base, sprinkle some vinegar on them and rinse - the sliminess will be gone immediately.

The mild acid of vinegar safely neutralizes the alkali, stopping its attack on your skin, which is what causes the slipperiness.
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  #28  
Old 03-30-2018, 09:07:39 AM
TomBall TomBall is offline
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Default Re: Electrolysis Using Lye

So here we are a half day later from when I checked my tank contents and got pissed off. My anodes were clean but still bubbling the solution. I pulled everything out and emptied the solution and cleaned the tank. There was some rust laying on the bottom but plenty still on the part. I drove to the local shop and save and bought 7 boxes (3lbs 7 ozs each) of arm and hammer washing soda. I put in 250 gallons of water and the 7 boxes which I believe is around 3/4 cup per 5 gallons. I reinstalled the anodes and hooked up my small charger, but could only use one anode because of the current draw. I noticed rusty colored foam above the anode a short time later, so I borrowed a large charger from a friend to see what I might need to run this bad boy. At 12 volts and the 4 anodes hooked up it drew 30 amps. Now we were getting somewhere. Today, after about 16 hours later, I pulled the anodes. Yes, they were heavily coated in rust. I guess I am now back on track. I cleaned the anodes and turned it back on and I am anxious to see the results after a few days as the part has some fairly heavy rust in spots. I will probably replace some sections of the metal, but I want to see how well the new mixture works. Also, I am now searching for a new power source. The new chargers seem to mostly be micro processor controlled and I am led to believe that they won't work without a battery in between the work. So I either find the older style manual charger or buy a dedicated power supply. I thank all the replies. I guess I shouldn't have wasted so much time with the soap powder I had, even though it appeared to be working. Maybe it did have a rust deterrent in it, I don't know. The cost of the arm and hammer was not a factor in using the other powder. I had it laying around so I tried it. I now know it is not magic. So on a large scale, I have discovered that you need a lot of power compared to those who use small tanks. It will be interesting to see what a small part in the big tank will do. I am thinking that the power requirement will be much smaller. I have used electrolysis many times before and even though my methods this time may seem silly to some, I assure you that I am no greenhorn. Lets just chalk it up yo scientific research. I will let you know how the part is in a few days.
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  #29  
Old 03-30-2018, 09:14:31 AM
Wayne 440 Wayne 440 is offline
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Default Re: Electrolysis Using Lye

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Spaco View Post
...I wouldn't use less than a 12 volt charger myself...I'd wind one for about 24 volts, using 12 ga "magnet wire". All you have to do is to buy a full wave bridge rectifier from Surplus center (and get an ammeter someplace) and you'd be in business...
I have a 24V, 50A charger that would probably be a good start on an electrolysis power supply. Too bad you are far away.
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  #30  
Old 03-30-2018, 09:53:06 AM
landreo landreo is offline
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Default Re: Electrolysis Using Lye

Almost any base will work as an electrolyte provided it does not react with the metal you are trying to clean. For aluminum, zinc, pot metal I use baking soda, it will buffer to a pH of around 8 which is safe for those metals. For steel I use as much of a strong base as I can get to dissolve, washing soda or lye but lye is getting harder to find. As in the link I provided above, the strong base has some advantages not the least is it will passivate both the metal being cleaned and the anode so it will last longer along with removing grease and paint. A thin coating of the passivating oxide will have basically zero effect on the current flow. Folks use stainless steel as an anode with good results and it has a passivating coating of chrome oxides. Stainless steel may be a bad idea for other reasons such as the formation of the potentially dangerous hexavalent chromium so I would not use stainless as an anode but the oxides have no real effect on the current flow. Commercial electrolysis anodes are often something called MMO titanium which is titanium coated with a mixture of metal oxides, the MMO part, to passivate the electrode.

I often leave my cleaned parts in a electrolysis tank to remove the grease and paint prior to electrolysis, another good effect of the strong base, and then they may stay in the tank when done if life events get in the way. I know they will not rust in the tank if it is filled with a strong base. At a pH of 8 then they will rust, at a pH of 11.5 then they will not rust. My electrolysis tank is 150 gallons so it is easy to leave many parts submerged until I can get them cleaned as a group with a pressure washer.

There are times when a neutral salt or an acid may work well with electrolysis but for rust removal a strong base will give some distinct advantages over a very weak base such as baking soda. The world will not come to an end if baking soda is used for an electrolyte but it is definitely not the best choice for iron/steel.

The link above that I posted from Texas A&M is a good explanation of the process and gives some real science to support their recommendations.
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