How to do Electrolysis of a saw blade

Stuart Ablett

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Tokyo Japan
Hi Dennis

It is very straight forward, all you need is a plastic container a bit bigger than the saw blades, some water, some baking soda, a few pieces of sacrificial steel, some wire leads, and a DCV battery charger.

OK the solution, you want washing baking soda, the cooking stuff will work, but the washing stuff works better. What you are looking for is "sodium carbonate". One tablespoon per US gallon of water, adding more washing soda does NOT speed the process up, but adding more amps on the DC source will, to a point.

You want to put some extension leads on your battery charger, to keep the stock ones clean, and so you can place the charger a ways away from the tub.

You need a positive electrode, this is some sacrificial steel of some sort, re-bar works well, but any chunk of mild steel with work fine, it does get covered with rust.



Mix up your soup, if you can, make the water warm, not hot, but warm, as the washing soda does not mix in the cold water so well (or did not for me).

Now this is just an idea, that just popped into my head, so I dunno if it would work or not, but, if you had a 5 gallon pail, and you could cut it down to only 6" tall or so, then I'd bend a couple of pieces of steel in such a way that they are along the bottom, so they sit near the edges of the bucket, then attach the negative lead to one piece of steel and a jumper lead over to the second piece.

I'd then put a stick, say about 2" wide across the top of the cut off pail, I'd drill a hole in the center of it, and put a wire down into the pail, this is your connection point for your negative lead. I'd suspending the blade by the center hole, maybe a large washer on the end of the wire or something?

As long as the wire from the negative lead is touching a blade, you could, I guess, put 3 or 4 blades in at one time, I'd want a space between each blade, so they are not touching.

When ever you unhook the clips from your tub of soup, make sure the charger is unplugged, you do NOT want a spark around all the hydrogen and oxygen coming off the tank.

Make sure that the suspended parts and the electrodes on the sides of your tub NEVER touch.

Really it is a very simple process, and with a decent battery charger, it works well. You do NOT want to be using a "Trickle" charger.

You should see bubbles coming off the steel, and there is a build up of soapy brown foam (from the rust) on the surface.

And please remember, those bubbles are full of Hydrogen and Oxygen...............



Need I say more :D

Please tell us how it worked out.

Cheers!
 
Last edited:

Ed Nelson

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Charlotte, NC
Hi Dennis, Stu's post details the process nicely. You should be able to find washing soda by the laundry detergent in the grocery store.
 

Jeff Horton

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The Heart of Dixie
Carbide tipped blades??? I have never got this answered but I have always questioned what happens to the brazing/brass that holds the carbide on. I have heard/read some conflicting info, but that it will break down aluminum.

I am not sure it is a good idea on those blades but I don't know. So I wouldn't do a carbide tipped blade till that question was answered.
 

Stuart Ablett

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Tokyo Japan
I think that if you did this every week, I might worry about it, but once or twice a year :dunno:

Wayne posted this...........

After reading a thread on this site about cleaning glued up clamps using electrolysis I recalled a conversation with a fellow at FS Tools here in Canada about cleaning saw blades. He told me they use electrolysis to clean the blades sent in by customers, at that time I had little knowledge of just how easy it was to set up such a system and for very minimal cost. I used sodium carbonate purchased from the local pool supply shop, it is actually called 'Soda Ash' and is one and the same product.

One thing to note is that this process will clean everything from the blade including paint.
Emphasis added by me.


I'm sure that if you contact the makers of the blade, they will tell you NO WAY, but I'm sure they they will also tell you that you have to use Kevlar coated gloves, a full face shield and have paramedics on hand just to remove the wrapper from the blade, and you would then need a team of factory trained techs to install said blade on your tablesaw, after said saw was inspected in factory of origin within the last two weeks for defects...........:rolleyes:

My point is that I could not see any maker ever saying "Yeah, no problem" because of the "Lawsuit happy" society we now live in.

It is a good point, and one that needs looking into, but from Wayne's post, I thought he was saying a sharpening service DOES this to clean customer's blades? :huh:

As always, use all information provided at your own risk! :wave: :D
 

Frank Fusco

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Mountain Home, Arkansas
You say to not use a trickle charger. My charger has 2/10/50 volt settings. The 50 is only for short bursts to start an engine and the charger gets hot quickly, so I wouldn't use that. Then, if I read you correctly, the 2V would be inadequate and the 10V would be setting of choice. Right?
 

Kerry Burton

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Location
Orem, Utah
[FS Tools] did say they now use ultrasonic sound waves together with an acid bath to clean the blades
Any chemists out there? What's the main difference between putting a piece of steel in an acid bath versus putting it in a "base" bath (sodium carbonate) and applying an electric current? :huh:
 

Scott Whiting

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Location
Glendale, AZ
I will have to admit I have not seen the electrolysis method of cleaning used in my industry. I do know several people using either acid (lye) baths or ultrasonic methods for cleaning. I myself don't like anything in the shop I can't use my bare hands in or pour down the drain so I stick to cleaning with a combination of abrasives and Simple Green and Castrol Super Clean. It may not leave stuff shiny but it cleans it well enough to work.
 

Norman Hitt

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Location
Odessa, Tx
I left each blades in the solution for 30 minutes but I suspect this could be refined depending on how dirty the blades are. I'd check the blades every 10 minutes but first turn off the charger and put on some gloves. I couldn't find 'sodium carbonate' anywhere, the pool cleaning shops label it 'soda ash', probably so they can charge more for it so there may be a cheeper source.

Best,
Wayne
Wayne, the "Soda Ash" is not a "New" label put on by the Pool Supply Stores, but is the real name for a product that has been available for at least 50 years that I'm aware of. Out here in "Oil Patch" country, ALL the laundromats Used to have at least a couple of washing machines dedicated to "Greasers" (greasy/extra dirty work clothes), and they ALL had the vending machines that sold small boxes of detergent, softner, and "SODA ASH" (which, although hard on the cloth would really cut through the oil,grease and grime and let the detergent work). "Most" laundromats around here though have gotten rid of their Greaser machines now and have gone to different products that are not as damaging to the cloth, (but I don't find them as effective either), but a few still have their greaser machines and have the soda ash available in bulk and will sell it a Cup at a time on request, (naturally for more money).:rolleyes: I hadn't needed any Soda Ash in a long time so when I recently wanted to buy some to do some electrolysis cleaning, I was very surprised to discover that NOT ONE grocery store in this whole town of 100,000 plus, now carried ANY Soda Ash, OR the Arm & Hammer detergent with the soda base in it,:dunno: but they were all selling a variety of brands of the new milder stuff (which was much higher priced). I had to go to 9 different laundromats before I found one that had some soda ash in bulk to sell me, (and I had to go back home and get my own Jar to put it in).:rolleyes:

Next time I will be going to the pool supply since I was "Educated" on those products by my daughter (who has the Pool Management/?? Certification):eek: for either Soda Ash, or the PH enhancer (which is Sodium Carbonate). :D
 
When the above steps have been completed, there is one final procedure to stabilize the metal and prevent future corrosion. Wipe it down with a solution of Phosphoric Acid, sold at hardware stores under the name of Ospho. Your steel will be clean, acid and salt free.

These measures are used to prep corroded metals for painting. Squeeky clean results.

For the actual electolysis, better than baking or washing soda is a mild solution of Citric Acid. Sold also at hardware stores.

Gary Curtis
 

Kerry Burton

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Orem, Utah
For the actual electolysis, better than baking or washing soda is a mild solution of Citric Acid.
QUESTION: As I understand it, sodium carbonate is a "base". If you use a Citric Acid solution as the electrolyte, would you need to reverse the polarity of the wires from the power source? (Still wondering about the chemistry, I guess. :dunno:)
 
Kerry, I actually don't know. that information was posted on several different WW forums. It caught my eye because my experience with electrolysis has been awfully messy and disappointing. I used ordinary Baking Powder.

I forget the stated advantages of Citric Acid. It is cleaner. The phosphoric acid after-treatment ensures that the rust won't return. Maybe somebody else here knows about the polarity issue of an acid vs. a base.

Gary C.
 

Vaughn McMillan

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...It caught my eye because my experience with electrolysis has been awfully messy and disappointing. I used ordinary Baking Powder...
Baking powder has less sodium bicarbonate than baking soda, and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is still less effective (based on what I've read) than true sodium carbonate. Probably explains the "disappointing" part of your experience. ;)
 
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Location
Mountainburg, AR
What am I missing here? I use Simple Green to clean my saw blades. I put the blade into a 5 gal bucket lid, cover the blade with the Simple Green, let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then I take a old tooth brush and scrub the teeth, rinse and WA LA! clean shiny blade. Seems like a "simple" solution to me!
 
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I guess I'll jump into this at the risk of sounding like a contrarian. The method described here is not advisable for carbide tooling. If FS says you can use it on their blades, then go for it. But please don't do this to a Freud blade, bit or cutter. Basic carbide is made from carbide grains in a cobalt binder. The binder will deteriorate in contact with cleaners that have high pH. Soaking in a sealed container of kerosene then brushing with a stiff nylon bristle brush is the only cleaning method recommended by Freud.
 

Frank Fusco

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12,219
Location
Mountain Home, Arkansas
When the above steps have been completed, there is one final procedure to stabilize the metal and prevent future corrosion. Wipe it down with a solution of Phosphoric Acid, sold at hardware stores under the name of Ospho. Your steel will be clean, acid and salt free.

These measures are used to prep corroded metals for painting. Squeeky clean results.

For the actual electolysis, better than baking or washing soda is a mild solution of Citric Acid. Sold also at hardware stores.

Gary Curtis
Phosphoric acid does, indeed, work kinda OK for removing rust. I have used it on gun parts with less than exciting results. But, phosphoric acid is also used as a blueing agent for gun parts. Not the best blueing one can get but it does the job on most steels. It might work for what we are talking about here but be prepared for your tools to become a different color. Personally, I wouldn't use it and have given up it's use for gun parts.
 
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