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  #1  
Old 04-21-2012, 10:05 PM
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Question "after" doing electrolysis ??

ok, so you've built your own setup for doing electrolysis... battery charger, old phone adapter, or whatever. then you zap your item in the salt solution for minutes or hours depending on the size. when you're finished the zapping, you scrub the item really good and get all of that crud off of it.
my question is: what do you do next?
your item is somewhat cleaner than it was when you dug it, your electric current running through it forced a large portion, but not likely "all" of the impurities out of it, you got a major part of the corrosion removed, but how do you further preserve the item? do you oil it or soak it in oil? do you varnish or shellac it? paint it?
i would think if you don't do anything, it's going to slowly start to deteriorate from exposure to the air and if you're in a salty and/or humid area of the world (like i am) that airborne water and salt from the ocean is going to take it's toll after time... especially since that item has already been exposed to those elements... unprotected for countless years.
just looking for some input as to what some of the common steps are taken after zapping something.
thanks,

Pete
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:25 PM
emfederin emfederin is offline
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You just put it on your shelf and enjoy it.

It needs no more further protection than anything else made of the same material.

If you live in a corrosive environment, you may have to treat certain metal items with some protective material and your electrolyzed artifact would be no different.

Some materials are particularly corrosion sensitive like weapons, which are often blued and constantly oiled, and some brass or copper items which may be shellacked.

But I don't think a freshly electorlyzed cannonball is going to crumble into dust the moment you turn your back. If it's a really special item, I suppose you could build an airtight acrylic housing and stick some dessicant in with it.

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  #3  
Old 04-22-2012, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by emfederin View post
You just put it on your shelf and enjoy it.

It needs no more further protection than anything else made of the same material.

If you live in a corrosive environment, you may have to treat certain metal items with some protective material and your electrolyzed artifact would be no different.

Some materials are particularly corrosion sensitive like weapons, which are often blued and constantly oiled, and some brass or copper items which may be shellacked.

But I don't think a freshly electorlyzed cannonball is going to crumble into dust the moment you turn your back. If it's a really special item, I suppose you could build an airtight acrylic housing and stick some dessicant in with it.
yep ok, sounds good.
although a cannonball would be a great find (it's on my wish list, lol), i'm thinking of smaller items. i just finished doing an old ox shoe and when i was finished with the electrolysis, i thought i should do something else to it to keep it looking half decent, so i gave it a couple of thin coats of clear coat polyurethane and it looks pretty good now. and the air can't get at it now.
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Old 04-22-2012, 10:28 AM
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After electrolysis you absolutely have to coat the find in bees wax or repeatedly coat it in oil or it will corrode again.

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Old 04-22-2012, 12:30 PM
emfederin emfederin is offline
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Originally Posted by 007tallguy View post
...i just finished doing an old ox shoe and...gave it a couple of thin coats of clear coat polyurethane and it looks pretty good now. and the air can't get at it now.
That's not a bad idea. Also keep in mind that there are 2 flavors of poly, mat and gloss, that you could use for different effects. A thin mat finish would be almost completely invisible, whereas a gloss finish might add a bit of "bling" or "sparkle" to the object.

BTW, I just had another brilliant idea ()...as long as you're electrolyzing in the first place, after you're done just reverse the leads and hook a piece of zinc, cadmium or gold to (what would now be) the cathode and plate the object!

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Old 04-22-2012, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by emfederin View post
That's not a bad idea. Also keep in mind that there are 2 flavors of poly, mat and gloss, that you could use for different effects. A thin mat finish would be almost completely invisible, whereas a gloss finish might add a bit of "bling" or "sparkle" to the object.

BTW, I just had another brilliant idea ()...as long as you're electrolyzing in the first place, after you're done just reverse the leads and hook a piece of zinc, cadmium or gold to (what would now be) the cathode and plate the object!
gold plated ox shoe..?? that would look really cool! i'm just a little bit low on gold right now, maybe it's time to start hitting the beaches again.
and yeah, my can of poly stuff is the glossy finish, but it turned out ok. i don't mind a bit of shine over the rust-pitted surface.
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  #7  
Old 05-01-2012, 11:48 PM
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bees wax was mentioned above, and I will add a silicone FREE car wax , put on and buffed off works well too. Although its a bit of work getting wax buildup out of pits, nooks and crannies.
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  #8  
Old 05-02-2012, 07:00 PM
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You're going to use Baking Soda...1 tablespoon per gallon, more or less..
Not salt...
Sonnydigs
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  #9  
Old 05-02-2012, 10:26 PM
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Originally Posted by sonnydigs View post
You're going to use Baking Soda...1 tablespoon per gallon, more or less..
Not salt...
Sonnydigs
i've tried using baking soda, but i can't say i've had very much luck with it.
the best way to explain it is when i use salt, i get the bubbles coming off the item i'm zapping, but when i use the soda both the item i'm cleaning and my positive electrode will bubble. i'm not sure why it's doing that, so i've been sticking with salt.
my power source is DC and even though my wires are hooked up properly, i've tried reversing them and i seem to get the same results.... both things bubble. maybe i'm using the wrong kind of baking soda? is there any particular type/brand i should be using?
on a side note, i have very hard well water. maybe the minerals in it could be affecting my setup?

Pete
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  #10  
Old 05-02-2012, 11:09 PM
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I've read in several places, that 'Arm & Hammer' brand 'washing soda', was the best choice, tablespoon per gallon. Baking soda the second choice. Salt is a very bad choice, releases chlorine gas, poisonous, heavier than surrounding air (hangs around), slightly flammable, like the hydrogen, also produced. You noticed the bubbles, now you know the are are potentially dangerous. Don't cover the tank while in use.

After 'zapping' the rusted item for a couple of hours, should look kind of black, need to scrub the black off. If the item is down to bare metal, it's done, otherwise put it back in for another round. Your electrode might get crudded up too, and need to be clean off occasionally too.
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  #11  
Old 05-05-2012, 09:45 AM
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I brought this up on a cast iron cookware forum I am a member of. They always preached to use arm and hammer laundry soap and then I saw people on here using salt, and other solutions. There are scientist over there who really know there stuff. I was told that salt and the other solutions will work. The arm and hammer seems to make a solution that regulates the current better and is not as hard on the item being cleaned. It works a little slower but will have better results and is better for the piece to be cleaned. Much like people on this forum there are guys over there cleaning stuff worth hundreds and some times thousands of dollars to clean items that can't be replaced very easily. Those guys have been doing this for a while and really know the science behind what they are doing.
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  #12  
Old 05-05-2012, 11:14 AM
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The thing with water, is that by it's self, it's a poor conductor. Most anything that will dissolve in water, will improve the flow. You want some resistance, otherwise it's like shorting the leads to your power supply, which is usually a bad think, some have short protection, and will shut themselves off, others burn up.

You don't want to use acid or alkaline, they are corrosive to metal. You don't want to use something that contains a lot of junk that's going to produce a lot of gunk on the anode or cathode, creating resistance, you get plenty from the freed rust.

The bubbles are usually hydrogen and oxygen, from splitting the water molecules, not cleaning the rust. Added too much electrolyte, or too much current flowing. The piece being cleaned may just be to close to the other electrode. It's not a real hazardous process, but there are enough elements, if all put together, in the worst possible way, bad things could happen, very bad things (fire, explosion). Please read several sources, note the warnings and precautions, don't cover it, and keep an eye on it (peek every hour or two).
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  #13  
Old 05-05-2012, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by 007tallguy View post
the best way to explain it is when i use salt, i get the bubbles coming off the item i'm zapping, but when i use the soda both the item i'm cleaning and my positive electrode will bubble. i'm not sure why it's doing that, so i've been sticking with salt.

Pete
It's doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing. The electrode is sacrificial, let it bubble.

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  #14  
Old 05-05-2012, 11:44 AM
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ok guys, thanks very much for all of the input!

and yeah, that the positive electrode bubbling had me a bit baffled and re-checking connections, etc. the baking soda worked, but the salt seemed to work a bit better and that's why i was using it.

back to the original topic, unfortunately i didn't take any photos, but i gave the old ox shoe 2 coats of polyurethane and it looked pretty good. it was a fairly large shoe and i promised to clean it up and give it to the land owner where i found it (and several others) and he was quite thrilled to have himself a new and slightly unusual paper-weight/conversation piece for in his office!

Pete
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  #15  
Old 05-18-2012, 03:26 PM
ThommyParham ThommyParham is offline
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Default Salt: BAD / Beeswax: GOOD

Salt may get it to bubble, but that is because you have a chemical reaction going on. And you're actually driving salts into the metal. Metal is porous, and will hold the salts in, causing deeper weakening and corrosion. Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) is ideal. It facilitates better conduction of electricity, and neutralizes the acids as they are driven out of the metal. After electrolysis, you can dip iron and steel artifacts in beeswax to protect them. DO NOT DIP THEM IN PLASTIC, OR COAT THEM IN ANY OTHER MATERIAL. ONLY USE BEESWAX
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  #16  
Old 05-18-2012, 06:59 PM
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Here is what I do with common iron relics. After I "zap" it, I give it a bath in fresh water for several days, changing it often. After I am fairly certain that all of the salt is out, I then bake it for a couple of hours in an old toaster oven at about 200 degrees. I turn it over half way through. After it has baked to get the the water out and it has cooled down, I spray it with a clear coat paint type of spray. It has always worked for me, but if I found something truly rare, I would ask a professional for advice.

Doug

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  #17  
Old 05-18-2012, 09:03 PM
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I've cleaned hundreds and hundreds of coins and objects safely. I would like to add a bit to the before electrolysis method, and a little for after:

Hope you don't mind if I add to this post, but I think it's important for those pursuing electrolysis to clean finds.

Now, I have something to add to the electrolysis link you posted that should make it work better. I recently picked the brain of a professional electroplater regarding what should be used for the positive lead.

He says Stainless Steel is almost the worst thing you can use next to copper. That metal gets consumed too fast and often will start to plate your object before it's cleaned! (I made this mistake with ancient coins.) Don't let the fact it's called "stainless" cause you to think it won't consumed quickly or cause damage to your finds.

The best metals to use are Titanium or better yet, Carbon.

Titanium, will over time, degrade and need to be replaced. But, it will outlast steel and the like by a mile. Plus, it won't easily plate your object accidentally.

Carbon, is superior. It will not degrade or plate your object.

You can buy titanium pushrods on ebay cheap, and I've also found Carbon Stirring sticks for not much. Make sure your object is solid titanium or carbon, and not just plated.

It would also be good to replace the clamp you are using with a titanium one, or find some nickle/titanium wire on ebay and wrap you object with it, finally clamping the end of the wire out of the water. This will keep the clamp from falling apart.

PRESERVATION:

When you are done, I recommend baking the object for about an hour at 200degrees, (to dry it out), then sealing with beeswax or butchers/finishing wax (preferably after it has cooled a bit, but not yet room temp). Both of these are reversible whereas spraying with poly isn't.

If you don't adequately bake your object, you will seal in moisture that will eat your object inside of it's "protective" coating.

Besides my MD hobby, I produce bronze sculptures for a living and have a lot of experience with this. I always heat 'n seal my finished pieces.

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