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Old 23rd Mar 2019, 12:29 pm   #1
Malcolm T
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Default Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

Just thought I would post this up. Someone may have tried this before here however this is my first go. I had cause to remove rust from a woodworking tool and thought I would try a home brew formula, I wasn't expecting much at all but was very impressed with the result.

I made the solution as follows:

1/ White vinegar (about half a cup )
2/ Teaspoon of salt.
3/ A couple of squirts of Hydrogen peroxide water solution (3% or 5%)
available from the chemist shop.
4/ A clean glass jar.

After mixing the contents I warmed the jar of solution to about 30deg C.

I don't have exact figures because it was done as an experiment and did not expect it to work out !!!.

I used a glass jar to see what's going on within and there was quite a lot of bubbles generated so something was happening, within 5 minutes the water changed colour to a light brown and within a few hours the rust could be rubbed off with a wooden stick quite easily.

The end result was a piece totally devoid of rust as it had been reduced into the solution. The metal had developed a grey colour. I washed the piece in warm water dried it quickly and lightly oiled the piece and stored in a zippy bag.
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Old 23rd Mar 2019, 1:10 pm   #2
stevehertz
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

I dare say the chemists will be along soon with an explanation of what went on. Good result though!
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Old 23rd Mar 2019, 1:58 pm   #3
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

Very interesting Malcolm, would love to have seen a before/after photo.

BTW citric acid (easily bought in quantity from eBay) will remove all limescale especially when hot from a kettle. Obviously very safe to use as it is food grade.

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Old 23rd Mar 2019, 4:38 pm   #4
Malcolm T
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

I can drop some of my rusty nuts in as an example later but ive ran out of vinegar so will pick up some in a few days .
At the time i was having a drop of pepsi to drink and thought about the acid content in that so slung in some pepsi as well, phosphoric acid is in coca cola probably pepsi as well .
Phosphoric acid is used in much higher concentrations in ultrasonic cleaning tanks to clean aliminum !!!. And the results are brilliant!.
I will have to have another go and get to grips with the mix ratios and the temp.
I think Acetic acid should work as well in place of the vinegar just a question of the ratio to water mix . So anyone out there whose got some photographic chemicals might have acetic acid left over !. Cant do that with digital !!!.
I was very surprised it worked as i expected a clear solution but it ended up like a cup of black tea .
Next time i will take a piccy .
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Old 23rd Mar 2019, 5:37 pm   #5
M0FYA Andy
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

Jenolite, active ingredient phosphoric acid, diluted to 10% with water, is brilliant for cleaning the pot-metal castings used for the shells of WW2-era W-connectors. They only take a few minutes and need watching carefully to avoid them dissolving!
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Old 23rd Mar 2019, 7:11 pm   #6
David G4EBT
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

Post #15 might be of interest in the thread below, regarding the electrolysis process, which seems to have gained popularity in recent years, using a car battery charger and washing soda. A little more complex than Malcom's process of course, which calls for no equipment other than readily available household chemicals:

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=153644

As I mentioned in that post, I've yet to try that method, but I've used Jenolite quite a lot to good effect.

I have a small heated commercial ultrasonic bath and whilst it removes dirt and grime very effectively, it has little effect on rust except which it's superficial, which can be removed more effectively on a wire wheel.
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Old 23rd Mar 2019, 9:30 pm   #7
Malcolm T
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

I think the electrolysis method is very interesting as well i will give that a go too. Very good for complex parts with internal areas that are difficult to access with media blasting.
Thanks for that one. Another outdoor job for a fine day !
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Old 23rd Mar 2019, 9:40 pm   #8
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

In the mixture described in the OP, the active constituent is the acetic acid which is working as a chelating agent (discussed on this forum, and else where in detail). This is being assisted by the peroxide, which is decomposed to produce bubbles of oxygen gas, but that's probably just acting as a means of agitation.

Citric acid is a better chelating agent than acetic and is cheap and readily available.

Re David's ultrasonic bath, I suspect that would work well if you used a warm solution of citric acid in it. I've tried electrolysis and the problem is that you struggle to get uniform fields with irregularly shaped objects and I've given up on it.

For anything of size, my starting point is always my trusty angle grinder with a wire brush. Today, I've cleaned up the thin steel backplate on my Suffolk Punch lawn mower on which the powder coating (powder coatings are often ) had failed miserably. Angler grinder, citric acid, zinc phosphate primer, top coat, and it will probably now outlast me .

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Old 24th Mar 2019, 9:57 am   #9
Malcolm T
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

Looks like citric acid is on the menu then as well. Yes warming the solution does speed up the process or so i,m led to believe.
Initially this all started out as a way of etching a pcb on the cheap without ferric oxide, however it kind of went in another direction !
I looked at some you tubes on etching and plating metal components with electrolysis and car battery and they are very interesting and i take your point about difficult to plate areas where the solution seems to work less effectively.
Perhaps a small plastic aggitator fan in the solution would solve this i dont know? it would seem so thinking about it because it would wash away old solution and introduce new to that area like in a photographic development tray when processing film or paper. Worth a try i think.
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Old 24th Mar 2019, 10:41 am   #10
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

With seriously rusted steel parts where mechanical cleaning is impractical i have used Hydrochloric Acid a couple of times. UK shop grade is generally 33%, i slowly added it to distilled water to get a more civilised 11%.

I do recall that a mixture of salt and vinegar often stinks to high heaven once it's been used to clean certain metals. It was enough to put me off!

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Old 24th Mar 2019, 12:13 pm   #11
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

My 'go to' substance is Oxalic acid, pretty easily available (if in doubt go to eBay). Dissolves easily. Removes rust stains from fabrics too.

It's poisonous (it's what makes rhubarb leaves poisonous) but not violently so. So just take sensible precautions, don't store in an unlabelled jar next to the sugar jar, etc.
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Old 24th Mar 2019, 2:20 pm   #12
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

Most trains used to use cast iron brake blocks and the dust would make a mess of any paintwork. Oxalic acid was used to clean off the iron stains.

I have some milk stone remover which smells of organic (acetic?) acid. I might try this at some stage.

I like the idea of sodium bicarbonate solution (washing soda) with electrolysis. No very nasty chemicals. It did strip some paint off a storage heater when the package was left there for a few days so it now sits on a ceramic dish.
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Old 24th Mar 2019, 6:33 pm   #13
Malcolm T
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

Oxalic acid is in rhubarb.
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Old 25th Mar 2019, 10:24 am   #14
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

I tried a 50/50 mix of lidl vinegar and water in my ultrasonic cleaner. Switch on heater. Worked well but dissolved a fine steel wire.
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Old 25th Mar 2019, 4:50 pm   #15
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

Interesting! What temperature was it at?

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Old 27th Mar 2019, 1:20 pm   #16
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

I am a retired chemist but I don't actually know what is going on with the OP's mixture. That said (I was an organic chemist, which goes some way to explaining my ignorance), vinegar is acetic acid - it just comes in different colours depending on the origin (malt vinegar is brown, white wine vinegar is almost clear).

Sodium bicarbonate is baking soda, not washing soda. Washing soda is sodium carbonate. They are not the same thing. The bicarbonate is more acidic than the carbonate. I could explain if anyone needs further information (probably not).

Oxalic acid is poisonous and present in rhubarb - stem and leaves. There is just less of it in the stem. It gives rhubarb its sharp flavour. It also removes rust stains from stuff. Really good on rust-stained baths!

Citric acid is a white powder and is present in citrus fruits like oranges and lemons (there's a clue in the name). It is frequently found in descalers, where phosphoric acid used to be employed. It is less hazardous than phosphoric acid, probably why it was replaced.

Phosphoric acid is probably still a constituent of cola drinks.

Some descalers for domestic equipment contain glycolic acid.

The Philpott wrote:

"I do recall that a mixture of salt and vinegar often stinks to high heaven once it's been used to clean certain metals. It was enough to put me off !"

I am flummoxed. The smell of strong vinegar can sometimes be a bit much, but I can't quite see how putting metal into a mixture of things which you put on your fish-and-chips can give a bad smell. Maybe there was something else associated with the metal in question.

I have never used Jenolite, but I have used Evaporust, which I found to be good.

The stuff used for etching PCBs is ferric chloride, not ferric oxide. Some people think that rust is ferric oxide, but it is more likely to be ferroso-ferric oxide and carbonate.

Temperature is nearly always significant in chemical reactions. At higher temperatures, molecular motion is faster, which means that the molecules come into contact with one another more frequently (this is thermodynamics).

As an aside, I have a bee in my bonnet about the commonly-used phrase "nasty chemicals". Things like liquid hydrogen fluoride, bromine and some other stuff is truly dangerous, but most of the chemicals that we come across on a daily basis warrant care and caution, but are far from being "nasty chemicals". After all, everything (perhaps apart from a perfect vacuum) is a chemical or a mixture of chemicals. It may be of interest to know that our stomach acid is hydrochloric acid, which is why vomit tastes acidic. It is quite a strong solution of hydrochloric acid, too, so were are effectively quite dangerous on the inside!

OK, rant over.

Colin.

Last edited by ColinTheAmpMan1; 27th Mar 2019 at 1:26 pm. Reason: Info on temperature.
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Old 27th Mar 2019, 1:44 pm   #17
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

This thread came at the right time. I am having a clear-out of the garage and found some rusty nails and staples. Instead of binning them I tried an approx 50:50 mix of vinegar and lemon juice (Asda), left them in the solution overnight, and by morning the rust had gone. Not bright and shiny like new ones, more of a dull matte finish.
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Old 31st Mar 2019, 10:18 pm   #18
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reelman View Post
BTW citric acid (easily bought in quantity from eBay) will remove all limescale especially when hot from a kettle. Obviously very safe to use as it is food grade.
Peter
Peter-( most possibly O/T) another solution I used in Zimbabwe with a Russel Hobbs kettle which was severely lime scale coated was a few lemons cut into pieces, added to the water and boiled a few times.
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Old 1st Apr 2019, 7:03 am   #19
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

Was watching American restoration the other night and the guy demonstrated a way to get rid of heavy surface rust by rubbing tin foil over the metal.
I have to say it actually worked the outcome was 1st class and looked like new.
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Old 1st Apr 2019, 8:37 am   #20
M0FYA Andy
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Default Re: Rust removal from steel component on the cheap.

By 'tin foil' I guess you mean aluminium foil?
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