Posted on Feb 5, 2014

There are various obvious methods of rust removal, but these methods are unsuitable for very old or valuable artifacts as they tend to be destructive in use, meaning that along with the rust some of the base metal is also removed. Dissolving the rust with acids such as phosphoric acid or even vinegar can produce good results, but this process can remove surface features

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which may have been preserved in the rust. As I required a way of actually trying to salvage some of the rusted metal rather than just removing or dissolving it, these methods were considered inappropriate. This left the electrolytic method, also known as electrolysis, which involves using the passage of an electric current in an alkaline solution, or electrolyte, to do the job of trying to convert some of the corrosion products into a more stable form, whilst loosening the remaining corrosion by converting it into a loosely bound, easily removed deposit. Please note that electrolytic cleaning is not suitable for non-ferrous metals such as copper, bronze, brass, pewter, tin or aluminium. The corrosion products found on these metals are rarely formed by electrolytic action and therefore the process cannot be reversed electrolytically. In the case of copper and tin alloys the treatment would be harmless, although aluminium could be adversely affected by the alkaline solution and so should not be subjected to this treatment. Don`t make the mistake of thinking that rust electrolysis is akin to some magical, or quick and easy way of removing rust. Removing the loose converted rust once treatment has been completed is time consuming and quite messy, but if you are prepared to put in the effort, I believe the results are worth the trouble. The idea of using electricity to convert rust back into iron is not a new one, and...

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