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Old 04-07-2008, 11:34 PM   #1
ttarver
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Default Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

So, I got some Caustic Soda from a friend of mine. I am under the impression that I can use this to remove rust from old parts, sheetmetal, etc... I have never done this and would like to NOT melt the flesh off of my bones. Do you guys have any tips? Have you done this before? How do I dispose of this crap when I'm done? What kind of results can I expect? Am I dumb for trying when I should just spend days with a wire wheel, grinding until my fingers bleed!!!!????? Any help would be awesome as the bag of this shit sitting in my garage kinda freaks me out.


T.
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Old 04-07-2008, 11:43 PM   #2
Rootie Kazoootie
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

Drain cleaner. Google is your friend.
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Old 04-07-2008, 11:44 PM   #3
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

Caustic soda is drain cleaner, or Lye. I know it will remove anodizing from aluminum so you can polish the Al, but not sure on rust removal. It is pretty dangerous- don't get it on you and don't breath it.
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Old 04-08-2008, 01:02 AM   #4
enjenjo
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

Back in my youth, I worked in a chemical factory. We used caustic soda and methelene chloride to remove rust, paint, filler from steel. DO NOT USE ON ALUMINUM. Great on paint and filler, so so on rust.

Wear a rubber apron, heavy elbow length rubber gloves, a face shield, and a resperator at minimum. It will permanatly scar skin in seconds. Put it in a cut down plastic shipping drum.

My advise, try something else.
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Old 04-08-2008, 02:32 AM   #5
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

Before you start, get a huge jug of vinegar and keep it nearby. Vinegar will neutralize the lye if it gets on you (and it will!). It's not going to melt your skin off instantly or anything like that (unless you lay in it or something), but it does burn like hell and yes, will leave a scar! Safety glasses are also a must.

It is going to heat up like crazy when you add liquid to it - you will need to let it cool some before you do anything unless your only plan is to soak things in it. It will also release some fumes so you should mix it outside and step away from it for a few minutes, it's enough to give you a good coughing fit in even small quantities. You can mix it with a wooden spoon or paint stick (or a yard stick if you are doing a big batch of it), but it will eat the wood if you leave the spoon in there. I'd try it in a small quantity first though to make sure it works before you try to deal with a huge batch of it.

Disposing of it would depend on how much gunk is left in there once you get the parts out of it. Normally, I would dump it down my drain, but not with rust and gunk in there. My suggestion would be, once you are done, add at least an equal amount (more is better) of cheap cooking oil (any kind, even a big hunk of crisco or lard melted will work), stir it well (you will see a color change) and leave it sitting for a couple of days. It will make a "soap" type substance - nothing you would want to bathe with, but safer to throw away than plain lye. It should harden and may be a bit tingly to the skin should you try to wash with it, but nothing major.

And don't worry about it being in your garage, I have a ton in mine now and have never had an issue though if the bag is open, it may clump from moisture. There is also a ton of safety information on lye on some of the soapmaking forums and websites.

Hope that helps! Good luck!
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Old 04-08-2008, 05:26 AM   #6
noboD
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

Caustic soda is what radiator and engine machine shops use to clean parts in hot tanks. Do not use it on aluminum.
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Old 04-08-2008, 06:37 AM   #7
leadsled01
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

Pearl is right about the vinegar.. My brother used to truck caustic soda in his semi and would always carry a bottle full of vinegar just uncase.
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Old 04-08-2008, 06:39 AM   #8
olskool53
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

Had a helper burn his hands so bad he was out of work for 3 weeks. Nasty stuff! Buy some
grinding
discs!
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Old 04-08-2008, 06:51 AM   #9
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

They add that crap to the drilling fluid in the oil field...I wouldn't screw with it if I were you as it is EXTREMELY volatile! We had some moron add hot water to it as he mixed it in the pits instead of cold water...he is now in the hospital with some nasty chemical burns.

If I were you I would go for the aircraft paint stripper...or the grinder/wire wheel method...it is a pain in the ass but a lot safer in a relative perspective.
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:20 AM   #10
325w
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

It will take the first layer of you skin real quick. Been there done that.
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:35 AM   #11
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

Google electrolytic rust removal. Washing soda, water and a cheap battery charger. Works very well without removing sound metal, no nasty flesh-eating chemicals.

Edit: Here's a sample-
http://www.rowand.net/Shop/Tools/Electrolysis.htm

The soda/ water concentration affects the amount of current the battery charger puts out. Weaker solution= longer time to derust, easier on the charger. And don't use a metal bucket. I did once, the process left a ring of pinholes in the bucket at the top of the solution.
I've found it usually leaves steel parts black, sorta like a black oxide finish. Prep and paint as normal. Never tried this to clean alloy parts.

Last edited by Halfdozen; 04-08-2008 at 07:50 AM. Reason: Added link
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:46 AM   #12
bbodybenny
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

My two bob's worth is you should just take your parts to a shop that has a caustic hot tank and have them dipped by them. It wont cost that much.
The thread running through all these posts is the same, its nasty stuff that can mess you up. I wouldnt muck with it buddy, aint worth it.
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:53 AM   #13
the SCROUNGER
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ttarver View Post
So, I got some Caustic Soda from a friend of mine. I am under the impression that I can use this to remove rust from old parts, sheetmetal, etc... I have never done this and would like to NOT melt the flesh off of my bones. Do you guys have any tips? Have you done this before? How do I dispose of this crap when I'm done? What kind of results can I expect? Am I dumb for trying when I should just spend days with a wire wheel, grinding until my fingers bleed!!!!????? Any help would be awesome as the bag of this shit sitting in my garage kinda freaks me out.


T.

it will work- basically caustic soda is an extreme "base" solution, the opposite of an acid- yes, it eats rust, and is what many drain cleaners/uncloggers are made of- in the old days a "hot tank" had caustic soda in it as well, at most large local machine shops- the other method is an acid solution at the other end of the PH scale- I have used muriatic acid from hardware store, and it kicks ass and takes names on rusty parts- I'll post pics of results shortly

use gloves, and use it outdoors in a tank, and submerge the parts

you can also get it in crystal form and add water, as drain cleaner. The common "iron out" sink-toilet-tub-bathroom cleaners are actually a caustic soda solution

to be honest, acid is easier to work with than caustic soda- buy a gallon of muriatic acid from hardware store, it costs $5-6 a gallon- mix it 50/50 with water in a large tank, and submerge your parts for a few days- pull them out each day to check on them- in 2-3 days the heaviest rust scale will be gone- I don't use acid full strength it's just too fumey- acid won't remove all grease and paint, only rust

the caustic soda will remove everything

Last edited by the SCROUNGER; 04-08-2008 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 04-08-2008, 08:39 AM   #14
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

derusting experiment with muriatic acid/water mix- I already did a few cylinder heads, valve covers, etc. in this tank, but these hinges and piston/rod were REALLY rusty so it was a challenge- this is what I started with

4 hinges, one piston/rod- the hinges were outside for about 20 years, the piston/rod was an old tin plated piston, from who knows what ? was there at least 60 years buried in dirt

http://i29.tinypic.com/23tfuo5.jpg

http://i28.tinypic.com/2ah8i9l.jpg
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Old 04-08-2008, 08:43 AM   #15
the SCROUNGER
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

removed the parts after 2 days, almost all rust was gone, wire brushed them and the rod and hinges were bright, but with some rust here/there- so dunked them again for 2 days- all the rust disappeared but grease in the tank started to turn the parts black

all the rust is gone, leaving only pit marks where rust used to be- had I kept a closer eye on the parts and pulled them out sooner, or used a clean fresh solution to begin with- they would be brighter looking and not discolored from grease in the tank- this acid seems to last a long time, and doesn't freeze when left outside

if that was an aluminum piston without tin plate, it would have been gone completely

http://i26.tinypic.com/2ufrjp2.jpg

http://i27.tinypic.com/14e6wck.jpg

http://i27.tinypic.com/vdzji9.jpg

http://i27.tinypic.com/5bd9j7.jpg
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Last edited by the SCROUNGER; 04-08-2008 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:11 AM   #16
Mark in Japan
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

If you have to ask, you're not ready to use it!

http://www.av.com.au/uploads/downloa...(45-50%25).pdf
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:28 AM   #17
James Curl
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

Oven Cleaner, which is what I use to degreese car parts is nothing but sodium hydroxide or lye. I have used Muriatic acid to derust, but when you wash the acid off with water it will flash rust again. I do not know what to use to neutralize the muriatic acid so I just wash wirh water.
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:31 AM   #18
pitman
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

Something about adding acid, slowly to water (as in a Large amount of water) vs the other way around. HAMB-er reaction, never a good thing!

Last edited by pitman; 04-08-2008 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:41 AM   #19
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

always add acid to water, if you add water to acid you will get a nasty heat reaction: DANGEROUS!
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:03 PM   #20
the SCROUNGER
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Default Re: Caustic Soda ?!?!?!?!?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by docauto View Post
always add acid to water, if you add water to acid you will get a nasty heat reaction: DANGEROUS!

true- I noticed water to acid, that's when it makes the most fumes and I have to get away from it quick

acid to water, there's not much of a reaction at all and I can stand nearby and not get all fumed out
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