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Electrolytic Rust Removal

Rust Sucks! It can eat through your metal and spread very quickly. While there are many produces and technique for rust removal, I chose to go with electrolysis. This concept uses electricity flowing through a fluid electrolyte to make positive and negatively charged ions on both pieces of metal. The negative charged piece collects ions from the positive charged item. This will decay the negatively charged piece but at the same time clean the positive side of all corrosion.

Still confused? Basically we are putting our rusted coil spring in a bucket of solution with a scrap piece of metal. When connected to a power source, the scrap metal becomes a rust magnet. Pretty cool.

The materials I used are a 20 amp battery charger, scrap metal (stainless steel), Arm & Hammer's Activated Baking Soda Deodorizer, and one of the coil springs.

rust removal supplies

First I filled the bucket with water and one table-spoon of baking soda per gallon. (There is no gain in making it more concentrated) Then I placed both the scrap metal and the spring in the bucket making sure they were not touching. Some people hang the spring so it doesn't touch the bottom but for me it made no difference.

eloctrolytic rust removal setup

Once the charger was turned on, bubbles came off the spring. This is hydrogen gasses which is highly flammable so don't smoke around it or you will turn your garage into the Hindenburg. After about 15-20 minutes, a thick layer of dissolved rust started to form on the surface.

eloctrolytic rust removal setup eloctrolytic rust hydrogen

After 6 hours I unplugged the charger, disconnected the cable, and removed the spring and the rod from the bucket. After wiping the residue off, the spring came out great. (kind of hard to tell from the picture) The positively charged rod is now covered in the rust that once covered the coil spring.

rust removal hydro choric acid

eloctrolytic rust black oxide

The spring is covered in black oxide residue which was easily scrubbed off. I have also have heard that you can remove this by soaking the part in soda or diluted hydro choric acid for a day. I personally have not tried this but would be interested to hear your results.

Overall, I am very happy with the results and will use this method again in the future.

eloctrolytic rust removal coil spring eloctrolytic rust coil springs

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