Awesome Rust Removal for intricate parts

Hello all, I came across this form of rust removal on one of the gun sites i use. I gave it a try and it worked Awesome..
Basically you set up a electrolysis tub that removes rust from parts you would not want to sand or wire brush. I was curious and started with a chainsaw blade that had been outsde for months. It was a soild hunk of steel and rust . i used my cell phone charger for a power source. i didn't cut the end off , i just wrapped the wire around the end. i let it sit in the tub for about 5 hours and i couldn't believe the result. I actually cleaned and oiled the chain and now use it! i used it on a couple of delicate engine brackets from the 35 and the result was the same . Give it a look . p.m. me if you have any questions. Surplusrifle Forum • View topic - How to make and use an electrolysis tank *PICS*
I havn't used it on carc, but I have used it on painted brackets and on a door knob that had latex and oil paint on it. they all came off. You have to look at this like an experiment. i had to move the items aound in the tub to get the best results. It's really easy to do you just "set it and forget it". Keep me posted if you try it..


Well-known member
Steel Soldiers Supporter
Los Angeles,Ca
I soaked this seat base in vineger for a few days and it worked great even on the real heavy deep rust. It will not remove paint only rust. You just have to knock off all the loose rust and make sure there is no oil or grease on the part you are working on or it will not work. For the real heavy stuff after a day you might take a wire brush to it just to speed up the process.



New member
Gordon, PA
Not really a new process. I've used it for over 4 years. Lye works the best... but washing soda is a good substitute.

Its not really for large parts as the removal is line of sight... so using a slight acid (vinegar, molasses etc) works much better for nooks and crannies.

Plus you must be wary of hydrogen.

Be advised that rust is converted iron that is gone forever. You use a chain or bolt that has rust removed you are using a part that can have significantly less strength than a new part.


New member
Charlottesville, VA
I use both the electrolytic method and Evapo-rust. Evapo-rust works great, but is expensive. Electrolytic works great and is cheap, but requires a good electrical connection between all the bits you're trying to derust and the anode source (it's an alkaline system, so you have a sacrificial cathode and the work is the anode). And there has to be line of sight between the rust and the cathode or nothing happens.

So if it's something big and/or simple, I'll hit it with the battery charger and washing soda. I don't even mess with parts like exhaust manifolds anymore until they've been through the soup. Little or complicated things that would be hard to get a good connection to or are just small and fiddly (like special bolts, little brackets, hand tools, Lionel track) go in the evapo-rust.

Caution items:

1. washing soda is mildly caustic. Eye and hand protection are a good idea.
2. Derusted parts (with either method) often have nasty jaggies that will take your hide off or cut you.
3. don't forget about work left in either system - strange chemical stuff starts to happen after a few days.
4. Neither system works at all if there's anything oily (nonpolar) getting in between the rust remover and the work. Step one, therefore must usually be a thorough degreasing. Again, for big ferrous parts, hot water and lye is very effective, though not exactly danger-free. Also makes a dandy paint stripper.

Useful notes:

1. There are two ways to adjust current flow through the work with an electrolytic system: a) voltage, b) washing soda concentration. This means that you can overload your DC source if you boil off/electrolyze too much water. In either case, you want to start the system with just enough current to cause a gentle bubbling at the electrodes. More is not better - you want just enough gas bubbling to stir the electrolyte.

2. Lye theoretically works better than washing soda in electrolytic derusting, but in practice, it's a don't care. Use washing soda. It's a lot safer.

3. Washing soda can be hard to find. Google for it and you'll find a list of retailers who carry it. It's dirt cheap, btw. I and my motorcycle restorer friend have, however, noticed an alarming tendency for washing soda stocks to be depleted by the laundry department of the household once they discover the stuff. It actually works really well for washing stuff too...

3a. You can get by with dishwasher detergent which is mostly (yup) washing soda. But there's other stuff in there that you may not want. Stick to the very cheapest brand of dishwasher powder to avoid the additives. Even so, it smells funny.

3b. There are also well water treatment systems that use bulk quantities of the stuff to treat acidic well water.

4. Don't put anything aluminum or magnesium in an electrolytic deruster.

5. Evapo-rust also lifts many paints.

6. The electrolyte never wears out in an electrolytic rust remover, but you can get a pretty thick layer of sediment in the bottom of the tank after a while. If your parts sit on the bottom of the (plastic) tank, it can cause electrical problems, too. I pour off the electrolyte, wash the gunk out with a hose, then pour the electrolyte back in.

7. both of these methods have a huge advantage over acids or grinding because they don't remove any metal. They only remove the rust. This is not an etching process. It can often salvage something like a rusty engine part. Likewise, if you want to see any stampings or makers marks, they're probably still there under the rust. Acid might or might not leave them. A wire wheel would obliterate fine marks. Electrolytic leaves depressions filled in with a thin layer of black magnetite that helps you see them.

And lastly, when in doubt, consult the experts. Here's where I learned about eletrolytic derusting more than a decade ago. These guys do it for a living and they're working with historical treasures that have been soaking in salt water for centuries:

Iron Conservation: Part I - Introduction and Equipment - Conservation Manual - Conservation Research Laboratory - Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation - Texas A&M University You're interested in the section on 'electrolytic reduction cleaning.' Note that they get their anode and cathode terms backward because they are archaeologists, not solutions chemists. Also note that they are probably much more worried about chloride (from seawater) than you need to be.
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Active member
Raleigh, NC
I've used Red Devil lye in this process for the past 10-12 years... doesn't take much. Use large plastic storage totes for small & larger parts. Use a And you can derust on a large scale by using a plastic kiddie pool & a simple 2x4 wood framework over the pool. I've seen car frames done with this process in a makeshift plastic tarp-lined pit or trench; just don't poke holes in the plastic!



New member
Gordon, PA
You do need to keep a certain current... the larger the surface, the more current you need to push. You are litterally shooting electrons from one part to another... a big flat part needs LOTS of current and can quickly overload a power supply (water is essentially a dead short).


Michie, ,tn
I just make this thing up, so hope it works. The wire that goes to the two metal bars, do they have to be totally strip of it insulation. I only strip off about 4inches to wrap around the bars. I got my car battery changer hooked to the wire. I added baken powers. How long will it take to show any results. If i did not does this right, let me know


Active member
Ruston, La
I just make this thing up, so hope it works. The wire that goes to the two metal bars, do they have to be totally strip of it insulation. I only strip off about 4inches to wrap around the bars. I got my car battery changer hooked to the wire. I added baken powers. How long will it take to show any results. If i did not does this right, let me know
You forgot the pics...
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