Posted on Feb 7, 2014

Experiments in rust electrolysis. The idea of using electricity to convert rust back into iron is not a new one, and electrolysis has been used for metal restoration by collectors and archaeologists for decades and the results can be very impressive, with shiny metal being visible after proper treatment. The exact requirements, though, are sometimes poorly understood and

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the equipment often crude in design, although a simple setup constructed using household items is quite adequate as long as attention is paid to certain details. The equipment commonly suggested consists of simply a plastic container, some washing soda, steel plates and a battery charger, although some refinement to this equipment, in particular substituting an appropriate current limited power supply for the battery charger, will pay dividends in improved results, so more details on this later. Rust removal using sand blasting or other abrasives certainly cleans the metal, but this is unsuitable for very old or valuable artifacts as it is destructive, removing good metal along with the rust. Rust can also be dissolved using strong acids, but the acid also attacks the good metal. (Weak acids such as vinegar just don`t do the job on heavily rusted items. ) I required a way of removing just the rust and no more, with the hope of possibly even trying to salvage some of the rusted metal, and electrolytic rust removal seemed to be the best way to proceed. Don`t make the mistake of thinking that rust electrolysis is some magical, or quick and easy way of removing rust. Setting up the apparatus and conditions for electrolysis needs space and is time consuming, and removing the loose converted rust once treatment has been completed also takes time and is quite messy. However, if you are prepared to put in the effort, I believe the...

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