L. & I. J. White


   
 

Restoration Techniques


 
 

Removing Rust with Citric Acid by James D. Thompson

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A quick, simple, and safe method of removing rust from your old tools (or anything else for that matter) is to immerse the rusty parts in a solution of citric acid.  There are many questions asked about citric acid and I will try to answer some of them here. These are my personal opinions only, and I am solely responsible for them.

Q: Where do you get citric acid and how much does it cost?

A: Look online, or locate a brewing supply store. I buy mine at a local brewing supply and it costs about $17 for 5 pounds.

Q: Will the acid hurt japanning?

A: I havenít seen any damage, but I donít leave my parts in the solution for a very long period of time. Your mileage may vary if you leave the parts in for a really long time.

Q: How much do I need?

A: It depends on how many rusty things you want to clean. My 5 pounds has cleaned a lot of tools, and I still have 3 pounds left.

Q: Can I re-use the acid?

A: Yes. When you have finished with cleaning any parts, put the acid into a plastic container and save it for the next job. If you like, you can replenish the acid with fresh powder to keep the strength up.

Since it is fairly inexpensive, I toss mine when it starts to look nasty. It is environmentally friendly, so you can toss it down the drain when you need to dispose of it.

Q: Is it safe, and does it have a nasty odor?

A: I put my hands in it all the time without any harm. It does sting in a fresh cut though. It has no odor.

Q: How much do you have to use?

A: I put a cup of powdered citric acid in a gallon of warm water. Others say they use a lot less. My reasoning is this: I want the job over and done with as quickly as possible.

I donít like to leave any chemistry out overnight. My preference is to stay with the parts in the acid until they are clean.

In the picture story that follows, I was finished within 25 minutes.

Q: Do you have to agitate the solution?

A: Probably not, but I scrub the parts as they are soaking using a soft wire brush. This gets the acid into the rust faster, and when I bring my rust free parts out of the acid they are clean.


 
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