Electrolysis tank for removing rust from old cast iron

This project is one that I’ve been wanting to complete for some time now.  We have several pieces of old cast iron cook ware we’ve acquired that have a problem with rust and decided to try removal with electrolysis.   

An old plastic 33 gallon barrel that my brother gave me was perfect for the tank after cutting one end of of the barrel.  A local welder fabricated the cage for me using rebar and flat material.   I requested the flat steel to be used to increase surface area during the electrolysis process and to make it simple to clean up.

For our purpose we are adding one tablespoon of washing soda per gallon of water.  The electrical current is being provided with an old two amp charger.   Currently the old Dutch oven I’ve got in the tank has been there for less than two hours.  It has a long was to go but there is defiantly a noticeable difference in the amount of rust.  

My cage can easily be removed from the barrel to make cleanup and water changes as simple as possible.


Here you can see the flat steel bands that serve as my sacrificial metal.  It is easier to clean than a bunch of round rebar.  With a putty knife I’ll be able to quickly knock off the sludge that develops during the electrolysis process


Here ís the old Dutch oven that shows the level of rust before going in the tank.


The negative connector is attached to the wire suspending the item to be cleaned.  The positive cable is connected to my sacrificial metal, for my instance it is the cage I had made to fit inside my barrel. Do not use stainless or copper in any part of your build!

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