Rust removal...Go!

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Blog entry by jbswearingen posted 07-13-2012 10:48 PM 2358 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m trying my hand at rust removal with electrolysis for the first time, and so far, it looks good. I’m using my 10A battery charger, two pieces of 1/2×18” rebar, 12AWG wire, a plastic tub that is just a bit too small, and washing soda.

An hour and a half in, and there is already rust floating on the surface and a steady stream of O2 and H2 bubbles coming off the rebar pieces.

I’ll put more pics up as it progresses. I’m hoping to get the base finished and primered this weekend.


After about 18 hours of sitting, there is a noticeable difference. The electrolysis had stopped working (or had slowed so much it wasn’t visible) because the rebar pieces were covered in rust. I was working conservatively, so I only used two pieces and the water level was low. To speed things up, I’ve filled the container further and added three more pieces of rebar. I also pulled the two original pieces, and under running water, scrubbed them with a steel brush to “refresh” them.

Started it back up and the bubbles started flowing again.

Before and after:

The black is fresh, clean cast iron:

Ugly stuff, ain’t it?

-- Semper fi, Brad

7 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3700 days

#1 posted 07-14-2012 01:03 PM

Great start!

View DocK16's profile


1184 posts in 4114 days

#2 posted 07-14-2012 03:02 PM

Polarity: pos to the item you want derusted and neg to the rebar post?

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

View jbswearingen's profile


108 posts in 2186 days

#3 posted 07-14-2012 03:14 PM

Yup. The rust is “pulled” from the negative side (the base) and deposited on the positive side (in this case, the rebar).

-- Semper fi, Brad

View jbswearingen's profile


108 posts in 2186 days

#4 posted 07-18-2012 02:16 AM

Quick update—

The base is done with the electrolysis. I scrubbed it with a wire brush and lots of water to remove any residue, let it dry, and then hit it with Rustoleum rust primer to kill any that I might have missed. Working on the motor cover now.

One rail is done, too.

-- Semper fi, Brad

View jbswearingen's profile


108 posts in 2186 days

#5 posted 07-19-2012 04:09 PM


I made a mistake; you have the polarity swapped. You want the positive (black) on the item to be “derusted” and negative (red) on the rebar/sacrificial metal side.

-- Semper fi, Brad

View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 2404 days

#6 posted 08-25-2012 07:17 PM

I thought red was always positive and black was always ground or negative.
Haven’t tried electrolysis yet but have a bandsaw table that needs some attention and have been reading up on it.

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View jbswearingen's profile


108 posts in 2186 days

#7 posted 08-25-2012 09:45 PM

Well, by labeling, the red is positive. Though electrically, it’s the point that is negatively charged, as it’s where the electrons “flow” from.

-- Semper fi, Brad

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