Electrolysis cleans away rust like magic, and you can set up a simple system in your shop with a battery charger and a few household items.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:April 2010
A simple system consists of a shallow container, a battery charger, rebar, a short copper wire, a clothespin and washing soda.
This gunky water is actually quite safe,
although I wouldn't use it to mix cocktails.
It can be dumped down any drain.
I read about this rust removal
technique in American Woodworker
magazine several years ago and decided
to give it a shot. It seems like something
you’d see on “MythBusters,” but
guess what? There's no myth busted
here; it really works. I'd like to
explain all the neutrinomistic-plasmotical
physics involved, but, um…I
just don't have the space, so I'll just
tell you how to do it.
You'll need a plastic or glass container
deep enough to hold enough
water to cover your rusty item. And
you'll also need a battery charger, a
box of washing soda (found with the
laundry detergents at just about any
big grocery store), a short copper wire
and some rebar bent to fit around the
object you're restoring. Hook everything
up as shown and walk away.
Tomorrow morning you'll be amazed
to see how rust-free Grandpa's old
hatchet is. It gets rid of most of the
rust, but you'll still need to polish
with sandpaper, steel wool or Scotch
pads to get down to bare metal.
When your kid comes home telling
you about the science fair project,
baby, you are ready! Only you still
have to figure out that science-y stuff
for the display. And by the way, don't
e-mail me for help with that—I'm
These photos show the cleaning results on Grandpa's old hatchet head.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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