Sun Dec 23, 2012 12:01 pm

I have never had a lot of luck with the electroylsis tank what am i doing wrong? i am using a plastic tank with a manual battery charger it's showing 5amps i have two pieces of flat metal about two inches wide i have tried arm &hammer detergent and some PH chemicals that are used in pools i have the negative cleanly attached to the rusty part and the posititve to the metal pieces after twelve hours i can't see any difference in the rusty metal the water has a little rust color to it but not a lot.the part that i am trying to clean is about two feet square how long should it take to clean it?



Sun Dec 23, 2012 12:22 pm


It all depends. I have not used Washing Soda, they say it works but I am a TSP user. TSP Free also works but doesn't minimize flash rust. This is my tank - Rudi's Electrolysis Tank. I simply use a Schumacher Manual Battery Charger and 5 1/2" rebar -- well they are a little smaller now :lol: . It sat idle for a couple years but is now in the Pole Barn and being plumbed permanently along with the 440 gallon tank. Just before Cecil's CubFest Northeast 2012, I decided that I would try to rebuild my Belt Pulley Gear Box. Wouldn't come apart so I hooked it up to the electrode and hooked up the anodes, turned on the charger and even though I was only getting about 4 amps, the gear box was clean the next morning. I left it in for a couple days longer just cause I wasn't ready for it and was curious as to how much crud would come out. Didn't take much cleaning when I took it out of the tank and didn't flash rust. We took it to NY played with it, it then sat in the Van for a few days and then we came home. It is currently in a plastic pail awaiting a bearing. Still no flash rust. TSP is my favourite.

I don't mix chemicals for the electrolyte either. I would use simply Arm & Hammer Washing Soda - but you have to have the right amount. A table spoon or so simply isn't going to cut it. In my 45 Imp or 55 US gallon tank I normally have about 40/50 gallons of water and at least 2 kilos or about 4 lbs of TSP in the water. This provides a pretty good solution with a lot of room to add more TSP till it hits it's saturation point. There really is no need to get to the saturation point unless you intend to use it all winter and not drain the tank for a few years.

Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda55 oz box or 3.5 lb box of

That should be sufficient for a 55 US gallon tank with between 3/4 and 7/8's of the tank filled with water. If it still is not working to your satisfaction after ensuring that the electrodes are clean metal, then suggest adding a bit more. Here is an observation I recently made - in a sufficiently saturated electrolyte solution and with at least 4 amps of current it is very easy to see the Coriolis effect around each the electrode and each anode. Very remarkable and interesting observation.

Course this is simply my $0.02 worth, others may pop in who have experience with electrolysis. Although I do have a sand blaster - the tank is still my preference - no effort really - and I don't have to be there for it to work. Armex provides and interesting read as well.


Sun Dec 23, 2012 12:33 pm

I'd add more metal to create more surface area. Also the sacrificial metal should be as clean as possible when you begin. With 5 amps I'd say it would take 24 hrs. Of course amount of rust and crud you are removing affects time it takes. Also I use trisodium phosphate.


Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:23 pm


As Thomas said, add some more electrodes (positive side of the tank). I never liked 2 electrodes - provides very little surface for the crud to migrate to. Cecil had a great idea after we build one of the tanks at CubFest Northeast 2006. He has welded old mower blades to a shorter piece of re-bar. This does two things right away. Multiplies the active area and makes cleaning the electrodes much simpler - flat instead of round. A minimum of 4 electrodes seems to me to be a good compromise. I have 5, but that can cause some issues with slightly larger items like the blade. I solved that issue by getting a much larger tank - but that is not the realistic answer for most folks. So bring it down to 4 electrodes with a mower blade welded to it.

Time to get the job done depends on a number of factors - how concentrated the electrolyte is, whether you have 2 amps or 8 amps (which is the max my charger puts out), how much crud needs to come off of the piece you have connected to the anode.

Let us know what your electrolyte concentration is.


Sun Dec 23, 2012 4:13 pm

I have a LOT of sacrificial metal in my tank (about 40 gallon) and a half box of the washing soda. I can get 10 amps and peal all the rust and paint off a wheel center in a little over 12 hrs.

I have a 3/8" metal rod bolted to the inside top edge of the tank. I then have up to 6 10" saw blades welded to pieces of the same rod with a hook on the end. I hang these on the rod inside the tank, as many as I can without touching the part being cleaned.

I have my next tank set in place. It is a 6 man hot tub, and will have a winch system and be able to insert a whole plow or set of disc's. :big afro:

I need to add that I have a 36v golf cart charger for the new tank. :big afro: :{_}: :{_}:
Last edited by Former Member on Sun Dec 23, 2012 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Sun Dec 23, 2012 7:09 pm

Pool PH chemical what do you mean by that?? When we had a pool the residue of the chlorine chemicals left the pool base and we had to add an acidic chemical. Being frugal (polite for cheap) I bought a gallon of Muriatic acid at the hardware. There are pool chemicals to make the water more base. If you used a base and an acid one canceled out the other or some what so. Never add acid to salt water for you will get killer chlorine gas. It is slightly green and was one of the poison gasses used in WW1.


Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:38 pm

I used 5 old mower blades welded to rebar in about a 60 gal. plastic tank w/TSP - does a good job! Dusty B


Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:53 pm

Pool PH chemical what do you mean by that??

Soda Ash or Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) is used to increase the ph of swimming pools. You can find it at Wal-Mart in season. Same as Arm and Hammer Washing Soda but easier to find here.

Jim, you probably need larger positive plates. Call me if you don't get it working, l have had great results.



Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:49 am

Daniel that is what I was hoping he was using but I wanted to hear it from him. There are pool chemicals to raise the PH and there are also ones to lower it. You and i may know the difference but does he and others reading this topic?

Edited to add.
The old Bell System Motto.

Safety is our most important product.


Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:28 am

I don't use iron or steel any more for the electrode. I use galvanized metal roofing. The zinc is a less nobel metal and will work faster than iron. When you're done just throw it away. An easy way to how much washing soda to use keep adding it to the tank untill it will no longer raise the amperage. Voltage doesn't matter.


Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:37 am

THANKS to all who have chimed in what i was using was aqua chem balance + protect ph up Thanks to Rudi and others i think i am on the right track i now have a four pound box of dap TSP and i am going to add two old mower blades to the two pieces of flat steel i was using.one final question (i hope) will this remove old paint as well as rust.



Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:39 am



Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:25 am


Theoretically it really shouldn't, but in real life it not only removes paint - it can come of in sheets if you are lucky, it also removes grease, oil, dirt, grime and probably anything else that may be on your part. Enjoy the process and post some pics ok?

Merry Christmas to you and yours Image