Removing rust with electrolysis – gttalk electricity icons free

After reading a lot about electrolysis rust removal, I decided to give it a try. Sandblasting can be messy, plus requires more air than most of us have available, so when blasting we spend much more time waiting for the compressor to catch up than actual sand blasting time.

Building your own electrolysis system is very inexpensive & doesn’t take much time to put together. You can start with any size you want. Many just use a 5 gallon plastic bucket. But any plastic or fiberglass (non-metallic) container will work fine.

For my system, I am using a 55 gallon plastic drum. You can use a simple battery charger to power it, as long as it isn’t a "smart charger" which has to detect a battery in order to operate. You can even use a DC welder set to lower setting. I am using a 10amp battery charger & it works great.

As you can see, I made my 4 anodes from concrete reinforcement rod (re-rod). The action works by "line of sight", so you want as many anodes as possible. You could even use steel sheet metal for the anode, shaping it to fit the container’s wall.

Once you have your container with anodes, it’s time to mix the liquid. It is simply plain water with Arm & Hammer LAUNDRY Soda, also labeled "washing soda", which you can find at grocery & department stores. You can also use feed grade "bicarbonate of soda" (feed buffer), which is what I use, as I have that in bulk for our cattle feed.

The positive wire from the power source connects to the anodes, with the negative connecting to the part being cleaned. Once the parts are hanging or sitting correctly, you may put the power to the system. Reversing the polarity will sacrifice your part, so be SURE positive goes to the anodes!

Now that you have your tank ready, it’s time to remove some rust. You can use a wood 2×4 or most anything to lay across the barrel to suspend my rusty parts from as long as nothing can short against the anodes. You CANNOT allow hanging parts to touch any anode, or it will short out the system & electrolysis process will come to a screeching halt, plus it could overheat your power source. When I had several small parts to clean, I used a steel tube across the barrel, then suspending each part with steel wire, then simply put the negative clamp from my charger to the tube, which connected all parts together.

Here is my Bush Hog garden tractor frame in my tank. It is sitting on the bottom of barrel & resting against the plastic of the barrel top. With it, I had to do one end of the frame at a time. When one side was finished, I flipped & did the other end.

As you can see, the water is red from the removed paint. You can also see the bubbling action from the process, which the bubbling starts almost immediately upon applying power to the solution. The beauty of electrolysis is that you can leave the part in the tank without fear of harming it, and all the while you can do something else with your time. Once the rust & paint is loosened, the bubbling pretty much stops. Usually 24hrs is as long as it will take.

Once ready, shut off the power, then remove the part & immediately use a putty knife & wire brush to remove the black oxide that WAS the rust. The oxide brushes off easily, along with any remaining paint. Paint peels off best with the putty knife, then follow with the brush. Cleaning up the half of this frame took only about 5 minutes.

The solution will last indefinitely. But if lots of trash builds in bottom of barrel, the solution can simply be poured onto your yard, leaving the sludge in the barrel, of which the sludge can be removed & placed in a container & taken to any place that will take unwanted paint & other chemicals. The solution itself is safe for the yard (increases soil acidity) as long as stainless steel was not used. The solution is not dangerous to the skin, but I recommend using latex gloves or similar just the same.

Electrolysis has proven itself to myself & countless others as a very worthwhile method of restoring lawn tractors, garden tractors, parts, just about any metal part needing rust, scale, & paint removed. My brother in law has removed lots of rust from parts of his John Deere "A" after I showed him how to build an electrolysis tank. So far, everyone that I know who has built an electrolysis system has been amazed at how well & easy it is to use.