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Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly? (Read 1354 times)
Lewis Downey
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #16 - Apr 14th, 2018 at 8:54pm
 
For what it is worth, you can get good results with low amperage. I often run less than 1 amp, with good results. If I am in a† hurry, I might bump up to 2 amps, and sometimes run as much as 5 amps. I am using a lab power supply not a battery charger. Also, I use a higher concentrate of electrolyte. Sez me, the concentration of the electrolyte is† analogous to wire gauge -- the more concentrated the electrolyte, the more current flows and the more electrochemical activity results. Work carefully; the combination of concentrated electrolyte and a lot of current can generate enough heat to be a problem!

I use a 2% solution of sodium hydroxide as the electrolyte† - roughly the same as a 5% solution of sodium carbonate. I haven't worked out the math but the common recommendation of a tablespoon or two of sodium hydroxide per gallon of water is a much weaker solution. It works but requires a lot of current.

There is an information rich document provided by the Texas A&M Nautical Archeology Program that is sometimes referred to in this forum. The section on iron is technical but contains great information. My use of a 2% sodium hydroxide electrolyte came from there -- and from a comment Jeff Friend made years ago.
Methods of Conserving Archaeological Material from Underwater Sites IMO the pdf linked from that† page is easier to read than the web site. Their document focuses on iron that was found in seawater. They have a lot of information related to chloride removal. As I understand it, chlorides are less of a concern with terrestrial iron. Everything in that section of the conservation manual is relevant to cleaning pans. The chloride specific information might be a bit less critical for us. In an ideal situation I would monitor my chlorides anyway (maybe one day Smiley)

Used lab power supplies can often be found for less than $100. Good ones are designed to be run continuously, and they provide a lot more control over the current in your electro than a battery charger. Some can power more than one electro at a time. They are also less expensive to operate. I use roughly $0.08 to $0.20† of electricity per day of continuous use -- the high end of that amount only running at higher amperage.

To be very clear, I am not saying the methods used by others do not work. I am just saying it is possible to get good results with low current if you are willing to dig into the details.
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Cheryl Watson
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #15 - Apr 5th, 2018 at 1:17am
 
That is a good price... might have to pick up one myself!  Smiley
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Jeff Franklin
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #14 - Apr 4th, 2018 at 4:42am
 
Cheryl Watson wrote on Mar 29th, 2018 at 4:50am:
These are the two that I have been watching as possibilities, should one of mine decide to go poof!

http://www.batterychargers.com/dy-1420/

http://www.batterychargers.com/se-1520/


Tractor Supply has the SE-1520 for $89.99 I'm thinking of getting one and shipping to the store for free pickup.

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/schumacher-2-20-55-140a-12v-manual-whe...
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Russell Ware
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #13 - Mar 29th, 2018 at 12:55pm
 
I have been using an SE-1520, running it in the 20 amp mode. It's been very effective and reliable.
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Cheryl Watson
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #12 - Mar 29th, 2018 at 4:50am
 
These are the two that I have been watching as possibilities, should one of mine decide to go poof!

http://www.batterychargers.com/dy-1420/

http://www.batterychargers.com/se-1520/
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Jeff Franklin
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #11 - Mar 29th, 2018 at 4:36am
 
Cheryl Watson wrote on Mar 27th, 2018 at 11:37pm:
In my experience, any charger that has an Automatic mode, will not work properly for electrolysis.†

Once the metering is in place, it will cause the unit to shut down, and not run continuously, which is critical for electrolysis,,,,

and beware of any chargers with a CA rating (California).... even if advertised as manual, they will not do the job either.

I run mine at 20 AMPS,,,, but the manual chargers with a 20 Amp setting are becoming harder, and harder to find nowadays...† Might have to go to a 30 or 40 amp...† Angry

It is important that the Battery Charger has an internal fan, otherwise overheating will occur and shutdown the charger, due to the extended length of time the charger will be running to clean one piece.... Smiley



Thanks - good points.† I agree, looks like a bigger amp capacity is the only choice.
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Cheryl Watson
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #10 - Mar 27th, 2018 at 11:37pm
 
In my experience, any charger that has an Automatic mode, will not work properly for electrolysis.†

Once the metering is in place, it will cause the unit to shut down, and not run continuously, which is critical for electrolysis,,,,

and beware of any chargers with a CA rating (California).... even if advertised as manual, they will not do the job either.

I run mine at 20 AMPS,,,, but the manual chargers with a 20 Amp setting are becoming harder, and harder to find nowadays...† Might have to go to a 30 or 40 amp...† Angry

It is important that the Battery Charger has an internal fan, otherwise overheating will occur and shutdown the charger, due to the extended length of time the charger will be running to clean one piece.... Smiley




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Russell Ware
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #9 - Mar 27th, 2018 at 11:56am
 
If you havenít read the cleaning and restoration best thread, here is a link to it. Check out the electrolysis section.

http://www.griswoldandwagner.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?num=1393982431
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Russell Ware
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #8 - Mar 27th, 2018 at 3:21am
 
If your old power supply was one of those small, lunchbox sized battery chargers, it just won't cut it. It's too light duty. You can use a smaller power supply (as in not a battery charger, but an actual power supply), it needs manual adjustments for voltage and amps, and it requires a bit more attention than I have patience. I found it easier to make room for the larger Schumaker.
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Jeff Franklin
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #7 - Mar 26th, 2018 at 10:58pm
 
Russell Ware wrote on Mar 26th, 2018 at 9:41pm:
I have a manual Schumacher with 2/20/55/150 amp modes. I run it in the 20 amp mode. The only time it ever got close to pulling 20 amps was when I zapped a Lodge 17SK skillet.


Wondering what amperage is too low.† My recently dead 30+ year old Sears manual charger showed 10 amps (it's maximum) on the meter while it was working.† Nothing seemed to get hot - leads were cold, transformer was not overly loud and did not feel all that warm.† The electrolyte was warm after 8 hours or so, but everything was nominal.† Plugged it in today and heard a faint bzztt! and that was it.† The two amp mode works, but 10 amp is dead.

I found a Century model I like that is both manual and automatic - switchable.† I like multi-taskers and it has a 15 amp manual rating.† Would that be enough?† The piece I have been working on is a deep sided skillet/dutch oven that is imprinted with "10 inch" and "no. 7" on the bottom - unknown brand.

My garage/woodshop is crammed to the gills and I want a charger that is smaller than the wheeled type.† Plus, since I actually use the charger on occasion for things other than cleaning cast iron† Smiley the automatic feature would be appreciated when I leave the dome light on in my van for three days.
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #6 - Mar 26th, 2018 at 10:16pm
 
Grin Grin Grin
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Russell Ware
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #5 - Mar 26th, 2018 at 9:41pm
 
I have a manual Schumacher with 2/20/55/150 amp modes. I run it in the 20 amp mode. The only time it ever got close to pulling 20 amps was when I zapped a Lodge 17SK skillet. Number 3 skillets will barely move the needle on the built in meter, but I've cleaned them without issue that way. Some states do not allow sale of manual chargers, and I donít think the charger I bought is still available at Walmart. I recommend looking for the big stand up or wheeled chargers with a 15 or 20 amp intermediate setting. Check the big box stores like Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart.


Jeff Franklin wrote on Mar 26th, 2018 at 5:35pm:
I've got 4 or 5 pans to clean and then that's it, hopefully for a long time.


Aren't those the most famous last words around here?
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #4 - Mar 26th, 2018 at 5:35pm
 
Well my old 10 amp battery charger just failed, so now things are on hold until I can find another.† I'm looking at chargers online and I see plenty of manual chargers.† However, most of them have a 50amp jump start mode which I'm gonna assume is for short term use and to be avoided.† Any suggestions on brands or capacities?† I'm not going to be doing electrolysis on a regular basis.† I've got 4 or 5 pans to clean and then that's it, hopefully for a long time.

Appreciate your help.
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Russell Ware
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #3 - Mar 25th, 2018 at 7:20pm
 
That's flash rust. As long as it wipes off, it's not a problem. Everyone would like to see a cure for that.
Wipe, oil, and bake.
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Jeff Franklin
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #2 - Mar 25th, 2018 at 7:15pm
 
Thanks Russell,

Sounds like I need to rework my anode design. I'll try to get some pictures up tomorrow.  I've had some ideas on an improved design.  For now it will include the perf metal until I can find something better.

BTW I took the pan out of the bath, scrubbed it and dried it in the 200ļ oven today. It looks pretty good, but did become covered with a fine dust of rust - which wiped off easily.  I assume this is normal since, in theory, the CI is now fully naked and ready to react with O2 and H2O when it is clean?  Just wipe rust dust off and apply first coat of oil for seasoning?
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Russell Ware
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Re: Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Reply #1 - Mar 25th, 2018 at 12:42pm
 
Pictures are really going to help in order to get more than just general advice.
Solid steel works better than perforated metal. Using perforated metal can actually lead to round spots forming on your cast iron; since, no electrolysis will occur where there are holes in the metal. The number of amps your piece pulls is based more on the size of the cast iron you are cleaning and not on the battery charger. Small pieces of iron always pull fewer amps than larger pieces. Finally, the bottom of a bucket is the worst place to put the donor metal. Dirt and crud will inevitably fall onto it, limiting its effectiveness. A solid piece of donor metal hung from the side would be a better setup.
Please post photos if you can.
Remember that electrolysis works in a straight line manor. Depending on the contour of the piece you are cleaning, yes, electrolysis may not reach all of it (try cleaning a tea kettle with it). Do you use a lye bath first to strip organic material or are you using electrolysis as the only method of cleaning?
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Jeff Franklin
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Electrolysis - Inside of pan reacts more slowly?
Mar 25th, 2018 at 5:55am
 
Hello everyone,

I've built a simple electrolysis setup in a plastic bin with a† perforated stainless anode on the bottom and plastic "grit guards" as the separator.† A grit guard is a round, open, plastic stand that normally goes in the bottom of a 5 gal bucket to keep grit off of your mitt when washing cars. I had them so I used them.† They allow the pan to be about 4 inches from the anode. I'm using the battery charger I had - an old Sears manual 10 amp. I figure the process would go faster with a beefier charger, but I'm patient.

Since the anode is on the bottom and the pan sits above it, the reaction is strongest on the outside of the pan.† The inside seems to react much more slowly.† I assume this is normal and unavoidable without suspending the pan vertically.† So after a couple of 8 hour sessions the pan looked okay but still had black residue inside.† I took it out and scrubbed with a stainless pad and water.† Cleaned up pretty well, so I put it back in the tank for some more time.

Does all this seem standard procedure/experience at this point?† Was wondering if the pans ever look totally and evenly gray with electrolysis?† I'm guessing there will always be some scrubbing and cleaning needed before seasoning.
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