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Hopefully tomorrow my kids and I are going to do electrolysis on a couple plane irons and chipbreakers-here is my question. I normally read that hot or warm water works better and to not do it in a confined area and best to do it outside-I live in Mn-and it's winter. They are talking 10 degrees above which is a BIG heatwave to about 20 below as of late but I don't think that counts. My shop is about 1100sq ft so will the gasses that are being put off be a hazzard in that large of an area-I would do it in my finishing room but my small exhaust fan is not explotion proof. The other concern is that I heat my shop with a gas furnace- but I could do it at the other end of the shop. I just don't know how dangerious the gasses are-can I do it by the window and just open it every so often?? The other thing is does the temp matter that much as long as the water does not freeze?? If I start with HOT water and do it outside I would have a substantial amount of time before it freezes. Also, about how long does the process take to do a chipbreaker and iron that is pretty rusted. Any other info would be great as well. Thanks a lot-I don't want to look bad in front of my kids!!!
Nate
 

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you are using a plastic tub right? the reason i say that is that aluminum and galvanized can produce noxious fumes and steel will get eaten, although at a slow rate. the gas produced by electrolysis is hydrogen. It is highly flamable, though not toxic. you need to use ventilation, if its a confined space and its a heavily rusted object. Heavy scale rust can take 24 hours or more, typical surface rust is 1 to 2 hours depending on surface area and size. good site on it right here if your really worried about it and have to have it inside, use a rubbermaid container that has a lid and just seal it up. vent when you open it.

Oh and dont use a stainless steel electrode, use mild steel. during the electrolysis process using stainless steel hexavalent chromium is produced. it is a toxic carcinogen. and its illegal to dispose of the stuff into a city sewer system.

cliff
 

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Nate, hot water will speed the reaction up but unless you have some means of keeping the temperature elevated then it will rapidly cool down to ambient temperaure. So I would not worry about the temperature of the water and just let the reaction proceed at your shop's ambient temperature.

As far as the process producing an explosive reaction that is not going to happen. It will release hydrogen but the amounts are so small that it would be impossible to reach explosive levels (it would have to reach 4% of the volume in a sealed area). The real problem with this reaction comes from using an electrolyte such as table salt in the process. It will work but the reaction will release chlorine gas which is noxious and highly corrosive.

As far as time goes that really depends on both the condition of tool and the speed of the reaction. I have left planes overnight.
 

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Nate-We have about the same weather here in Wisconsin, so doing electrolysis outside in winter is iffy. I do it in the shop/garage.

I have done several planes and other tools, and normally just let them cook overnight.

I use a cat-litter bucket and a 2' length of rebar from Menards. The rebar is cheap, seems to have the right metal, and if you wire brush it off can be used over and over.

Use washing soda NOT baking soda, and definitely don't use salt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well it was a success, we did it in the shop and just opened the window every once and a while. My main concern with the gas was more for the safety of my kids breathing it in-I should have stated that better. We got the rust off in about 2 hrs, and there was a lot of rust. I will post pics soon if I can figure it out. Thanks again for everything.
Nate
 
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