A Terrific Rust Removal Method – Electrolysis!

We’ve been cleaning out the barn and hauling old wringer washer “skeletons” and the other accumulated tons of miscellaneous scrap metal to our local junkyard this week. On our first trip there, I noticed this old, rust-caked hammer head lying on the ground where we backed in.

‘Been wanting to try a new (to me) rust removal method I’d heard about recently, and this was the perfect small piece to experiment with, so it rode home with us.

I didn’t hold out much hope for the process, because over the years I’ve tried most of the chemical methods for removing rust, but after seeing how well this works, I’m kicking myself for not taking a “before” photo of this hammer for you, so you could see the difference.

This little hammer head was a mess, caked with heavy, flakey rust, looking like it’d been lying there in the dirt for years (and probably was). After 2 hours in a simple electrolysis bath and about 2 minutes with a wire brush, the difference is dramatic, to say the least! I’m sold on this “rust resurrection” method!


I recommend watching the YouTube videos on the subject for the details (search for “electrolysis rust removal”), but basically a rusty part is hung by a piece of wire in water that has a bit (I used about a half cup – the amount’s not crucial) of “washing soda” (sodium carbonate) dissolved in it – warm water works fastest – and another piece of metal is held in the water on the other side of the container. I used a 2 gallon plastic bucket, but most any plastic container or pail can be used as long as the work can be totally immersed.

Connect a regular 12 volt car battery charger’s negative terminal to the work, the positive to the “sacrificial” piece of metal, making sure they’re not touching each other in the solution. Plug in the battery charger and wait a while, and – wow! What a difference! Note: be sure the negative is connected to the work you want to clean of rust. If you get the terminals reversed, you’ll make the part *more* rusty!

I didn’t have any washing soda on hand, but we did have an old box of “20 Mule Team Borax” laundry additive here, so I used that, with great results. I assume this chemical just makes the water more conductive, not sure about that.

Note: This process generates hydrogen gas, so it’s probably best if it’s done outside, or at least with lots of ventilation. I ran this little experiment outside on our roofed deck.

Anyway, watch the details on YouTube, then give it a try. Best method I’ve found yet! A special thanks to my friend “MrPete222” for introducing me to it via his YT channel. 

God bless you and yours,

Dave Harnish

Acts 4:12

About Dave Harnish

I've been an appliance repair tech since 1972, with interests in most everything, including Bible study (I'm one of those KJV-only geezers), old Sunbeam Mixmasters, Maytag wringer washers, the outdoors, birds, hunting, metalworking, firewood cutting, and most anything going on outside on our mountain here in N. PA's 'Endless Mountains'.
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