Cheapskate Electrolysis

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by sgoody1 » Thu May 30, 2019 11:30 pm

Easylife wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 3:05 pm
sgoody1 wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 1:58 pm
Thanks.
Which clip goes on which piece (positive vs negartyive).
Also, I just threw away an old horseshoe that was so crusted I thought it was beyond saving.
Do you have a before and after picture of the one you did?
Am now going to check through my old electrical box of bits that should have been thrown out and see what I have.
Here you go.
H1a.jpg
That's about 400 years of rust removed, it's still quite well defined underneath but could do with a bit more attention. Old penny for size reference.
Negative goes on the item you want to zap. ::g
Thanks for that - maybe I shouldn't have thrown away my old shoe.
Will have a go when I find something worthwhile.
Did you buy the crocodile clips from somewhere?



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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Easylife » Thu May 30, 2019 11:53 pm

No, I have accumulated various bits that I just recycle. :D
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Roughwood » Fri May 31, 2019 7:26 am

Just remembered something I read about electrolysis.

Apparently you shouldn't use stainless steel as your 'sacrificial' item as it can make the electrolyte/water solution dodgy to handle/dispose of. However. lots of people appear to recommend it...

:-/

EDIT: Just had a look in my bookmarked links and found it d;]

https://antique-engines.com/stainless-s ... trodes.htm

I have to admit I've used stainless before, but after reading this again, maybe best to avoid it... ::g
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by bazzerhut » Fri May 31, 2019 12:26 pm

Roughwood wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 7:26 am
Apparently you shouldn't use stainless steel as your 'sacrificial' item as it can make the electrolyte/water solution dodgy to handle/dispose of.

I use pure graphite rods - easily had for a few pennies, and particularly efficient because of their excellent conductivity.

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by detectorman5050 » Fri May 31, 2019 7:57 pm

I was going through my 'finds cupboard' this afternoon, and found an old copper coin that is in a 'bad way.' It's covered in green stuff, that I imagine is verdigris.

Would electrolysis work on this coin? I suspect the coin might be a few hundred years old, and just want to see more detail so I can ID it.

I found the following article on copper coin electrolysis, and am not sure what to make of it:

https://www.metaldetectingworld.com/cle ... ysis.shtml
Last edited by detectorman5050 on Fri May 31, 2019 11:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Easylife » Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:19 am

detectorman5050 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 10:51 pm
I use a tea spoon as an electrode, and now half of it has disappeared!
It sounds like you have it wired in reverse. :D
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Easylife » Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:25 am

I once read something about not using a stainless steel anode so I just used mild steel instead, then read the opposite so have more recently just been using a stainless steel desert spoon with great success. Electrolysis can give good results on copper alloys but only if they are sound underneath the crud, which is not often. :D
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Oxgirl36 » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:02 pm

Brown sauce overnight :D works a treat ::g
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by amphora » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:47 pm

OMG ""%* NEVER do silver coins like that. The electrolyse will ruin their worth. A collector sees it immediately. If you look at it magnified you will see that even the "smooth" parts got dents in it from the electrolyse.
Only do that with worthless finds. Or iron. WWII iron stuff for instance goes good that way.

Clean old silver coins the old school way.
Put it into lemon diluted with water (1/3 lemon, the small bottles you buy in the supermarket).
Depending on the dirt, leave it in that for a few hours up to a day.
After that clean it very well in water so the lemon is gone.
And then there is a trick to get it even shiny as new.

But remind that collectors more like coins with some patina then without.

Image
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Allectus » Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:59 pm

"OMG ""%* NEVER do silver coins like that. The electrolyse will ruin their worth. A collector sees it immediately. If you look at it magnified you will see that even the "smooth" parts got dents in it from the electrolyse.
Only do that with worthless finds. Or iron. WWII iron stuff for instance goes good that way."
I've never read so much total cobblers. You haven't got a clue! :))

A ;)

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by amphora » Mon Jun 03, 2019 5:01 pm

Allectus wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:59 pm
"OMG ""%* NEVER do silver coins like that. The electrolyse will ruin their worth. A collector sees it immediately. If you look at it magnified you will see that even the "smooth" parts got dents in it from the electrolyse.
Only do that with worthless finds. Or iron. WWII iron stuff for instance goes good that way."
I've never read so much total cobblers. You haven't got a clue! :))

A ;)
Yeah sure. Ask real coin collectors about it.
Good luck hunting.
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Bradrick » Mon Jun 03, 2019 7:28 pm

amphora wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 5:01 pm
Allectus wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:59 pm
"OMG ""%* NEVER do silver coins like that. The electrolyse will ruin their worth. A collector sees it immediately. If you look at it magnified you will see that even the "smooth" parts got dents in it from the electrolyse.
Only do that with worthless finds. Or iron. WWII iron stuff for instance goes good that way."
I've never read so much total cobblers. You haven't got a clue! :))

A ;)
Yeah sure. Ask real coin collectors about it.
I'm NO expert by any stretch, but surely it is 'horses for courses'? I've had good results on Viccy and Georgian coins that weren't too bad to begin with where lemon brought them up, but I've also had a couple of denarii that would never have seen the light of day if I hadn't zapped them... totally encrusted and not even obvious as coins.

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by sgoody1 » Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:42 pm

This has me worried - is that correct:

Do not use stainless steel as an anode during electrolysis. Why? Because it will produce chromates in your electrolyte solution. If your solution turns yellow, that is a sign of chromates. Stainless steel contains chromium and the solution can cause burns and even cancer. It is illegal to dispose of this solution onto the ground or down the drain. It needs to be dried and the residue place in sealed containers and disposed at a hazardous collection site.

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Roughwood » Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:00 pm

It is apparently. I included a link in my post - take a look ::g
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by sgoody1 » Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:14 pm

I have been using those things that hold your paper together inside a big ring binder (not sure there is a name for them).
I don't think they are stainless steel - or at least hope not - as I have had the liquid all over my hands!!

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Easylife » Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:11 pm

You'll be fine, but using gloves is better. ::g
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by detectorman5050 » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:41 pm

Here is an 1897 shilling I found down the beach the other day. When I initially saw it, it was in such a state, it wasn't particularly obvious that it was silver!

Photos below, show before and after electrolysis. 2 sessions of roughly 20 minutes each.

EDIT - I did not use a 9v battery to do the above, but rather a 'plug in the wall' electrolysis device.

Image

Image

Image

Image
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Pete E » Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:13 pm

detectorman5050 wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:41 pm
Here is an 1897 shilling I found down the beach the other day. When I initially saw it, it was in such a state, it wasn't particularly obvious that it was silver!

Photos below, show before and after electrolysis. 2 sessions of roughly 20 minutes each.

EDIT - I did not use a 9v battery to do the above, but rather a 'plug in the wall' electrolysis device.
Excellent results......Can I ask what do you use as the electrolyte for this?
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by detectorman5050 » Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:18 pm

Basically I used water and poured table salt into it. I did 2 sessions, and pour more salt in with each session. I also gave the coin a scrub with a toothbrush after finished the electrolysis.

I used a teaspoon as the electrode, and after many sessions the spoon has started to disintegrate.

I believe that small amounts of chlorine gas are released when using salt, so maybe a good idea to keep the windows open while doing this!?
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Incognito » Sat Sep 28, 2019 10:26 pm

Personally I tend to avoid electrolysis as much as possible, and only try when all else has failed but I think it nescessary to really clean off a surface. When I do I use an old 9v battery, graphite rod, sodium carbonate or bicarbonate. The clip for the coin should preferably be same material as coin. Salt is said to be too aggressive for silver, particularly older silver. I have cleaned old silver totally encrusted and unreadable with just mild acid and very happy with the result, just takes a bit more time. The reason the electrode dissolves is because it is sacrificial, if you connect a coin the wrong way it will do the same. A carbon anode (found in old zinc carbon batteries, pencil "lead" I think does as well etc.) does not dissolve into solution. Stainless is not recommended because of some of the metals used to create the alloy. Electrolysis on an item tries to return "rust" to its base state (metal) but the gasses tend to dislodge it, and as unwanted mineralisation dissolves out. If you lower the voltage or disconnect while still in the solution it is likely metals in the solution will plate onto the coin. I personally don't think mains and water is a good idea, nor large lead acid batteries. If left unattended then any setup should be somewhere that does not matter if it catches fire. Copper usually is not sound underneath (i.e. is pitted) by the time electrolysis is considered to clean it. In short best to practice on not valuable coins before you decide if it suits, and maybe read up the ideas around regarding older silver so you know if there might be any trade-off you are willing to accept.

::g

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Incognito » Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:12 am

For what its worth, and maybe to help quell any future argument over electrolysis and cleaning :

Once someone decides how they prefer their coins ( completely uncleaned, leaving all patina, enhancing detail, cleaned with some patina, clean, clean and then repatinated... roughly) then they have to assess what is possible with any particular coin, as well as if the coin is of a value beyond what "they have a right to" tamper with. All of those, except what is possible, are subjective and so will remain open to discussion. What is possible...

Electrolysis will remove all non metal impurity from the surface of a silver coin, and it may also recoat a coin with copper content. It will act down to metal from the start. So if you have a coin which is KNOWN TO BE very pure silver, and that is not "that old" ( because very old silver sometimes crystallises and might be corroded /pitted/ brittle/ honeycombed by the silver oxides/ other impurity ) then electrolysis "should" simply clean it back to a newish state. Some silver might also have been in a harsh environment and be corroded under any patina.

If it contains a higher degree of copper ( and therefore copper derived patina and pitting etc.) , or is plated, it might leave an unpleasant surface, it might remove detail which was in the patina, basically ruining the coin.

Notice there are no firm lines in that, so some caution is not a bad idea when dealing with potentially valuable coins.

With the use of acids (or ammonia) and gentle mechanical cleaning, the same can happen. However as long as the coin is not left soaking, but simply dipped in light acid for a short while at a time, the work is to move slowly down through the dirt, and then through the patina, as far as chosen. So it is a more careful method, in general. It requires more work and care.

Finally, you have copper based coins. Here really the only use is to strip off very hard patina down to metal, where you have already reached metal by mechanical cleaning and found it sound, but want to remove all very hard patina without what might be further mechanical or corrosive damage, so as to reveal detail in a coin where the patina presently fills it. It can then be left to repatinate by itself, for example. Generally I leave copper coins alone as far as possible.

You can read a scientific analysis on this by searching for a pdf headed

The Conservation of Early Post-Medieval Period Coins Found in Estonia
Aive Viljus* and Mart Viljus†

Or at academia dot edu

Authentication and conservation of corroded archaeological Qatabanian and Hymyarite silver coins

Awad al-Zahrani

Plus there are others that give an idea of the complexity in dealing with older silver, for example

Archaeological silver embrittlement:
a metallurgical inquiry

R.J.H. Wanhill

Examples of electrolysis succesfully cleaning, and ruining, older silver coins can be found online.

The above isn't written in stone, and I am not advocating electrolysis as a cleaning method (instead I personally prefer lightest of cleaning only normally) . It is just a "to the best of my knowledge".

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by thefiggis » Sun Sep 29, 2019 7:55 am

Thanks for that, Incognito. As you rightly say, it's all a matter of choice but the more we understand the process the more informed our decision on whether to use it will be.

::g
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Incognito » Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:56 pm

thefiggis wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 7:55 am
Thanks for that, Incognito. As you rightly say, it's all a matter of choice but the more we understand the process the more informed our decision on whether to use it will be.

::g
I don't claim perfection, and like most people have learned what I do know by making plenty of mistakes. Some people prefer every coin spotless no matter, and who am I to say really, the point is just to help give people an idea of some of the pitfalls. I go on a coin by coin basis, so there are coins I take back to metal sometimes, if I know they are sound, just because I want an idea of what they were like in their day to use. In the UK silver was the main metal for many centuries, and the UK didn't debase the metal normally I think until much more recently maybe, unlike some roman and also some medieval and later coinage elsewhere, which is probably why zapping hammies works so well. Just to say that that is not the case for all silver coins.

::g

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by The Digger » Sat Nov 16, 2019 1:28 am

I just use a 12v battery charger, does a grand job and a lot safer than a 9v battery.

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Chilgrove » Mon Nov 18, 2019 4:30 pm

I am currently making a little electrolysis tank but I have just noticed the spare charger I happen to have has a dc output of only 3.7 volts so I am unsure if that is sufficient ? Regarding the current delivered (as previously discussed above) the dc (direct current) produced is governed by the load which in this case is the electrical resistance provided by the water and whatever else is added into the water to aid cleaning. If the croc clips are allowed to touch when switched on, an infinite current tries to flow so then your RCD (residual current detector) will pop out or a fuse in the house or plug will melt safely to give protection to house/operator. To be on the safe side always keep them apart and of course this also applies to the objects being held by the croc clips. There is too a chance of causing irreparible damage to the charger unit if we cause a short circuit like that. I too have heard we are better using carbon rather than a stainless steel fork.

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Incognito » Sat Nov 23, 2019 2:52 pm

Chilgrove wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 4:30 pm
I am currently making a little electrolysis tank but I have just noticed the spare charger I happen to have has a dc output of only 3.7 volts so I am unsure if that is sufficient ?
There are different effects at work, with zapping what happens is that the oxide layer is reduced (deoxidised) but generally does not adhere afterwards to the base metal and instead drops or is washed off. Low voltage is ok, there are chemical potentials that have to be overcome for the reactions to take place, and as far as I have read 3v is above them. Lower voltage is used in plating and for gentler cleaning, I think most people zapping coins use a higher voltage for speed . I don't have links handy, but you will find a lot of info in search, but I think we only really learn by observing what happens as well, so no reason not to try 3V and see how that goes, then hook up a small 9v battery for example and compare. Electrolysis is very energy efficient in reality, if current or voltage are high you get creation of gases which is not nescessary in the reaction but might help dislodge oxide physically. That uses more energy, but still a small 9V battery will do enough electrolysis to get an idea of the difference voltage makes. You can lower the amps flowing by weaker electrolyte or distance between cathode and anode .

::g

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by The Digger » Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:12 pm

Rather than use batteries I use a small 12v-4amp battery charger. Have cleaned a few grotty coins with this method and was always pleased with the results. ::g

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Chilgrove » Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:30 pm

I am sure I have read that the negative should be connected to the object being cleaned. If the amount of bubbles being emitted from the object is relevant then in my case there are more bubbles when I connect the positive to the object. So far my 3.7 volt unit is working ok with one George II copper coin coming up quite well. The button I am currently trying to clean is putting up more of a resistance so maybe just have to be patient. I am using a little carbon rod as the sacrificial electrode. (Have heard using the usual stainless steel fork can contaminate the water so reducing the effectiveness of the cleaning process.)

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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by sweepstick47 » Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:18 pm

If you don't have ready access to electrolysis, just soaking in a solution of acetic acid and warm water brings excellent results on silver. White vinegar (kitchen item) is perhaps instantly accessible, as an alternative to that.

Needless to say, the usual safety handling precautions (rubber gloves and eye protection) should be worn when working with any acids. I've found acetic acid, which can be bought in crystal form, is a sound and very cheap option. Regards ss47 ::g
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Re: Cheapskate Electrolysis

Post by Incognito » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:59 am

Chilgrove wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:30 pm
I am sure I have read that the negative should be connected to the object being cleaned. If the amount of bubbles being emitted from the object is relevant then in my case there are more bubbles when I connect the positive to the object....
Connecting to negative is right, and that is whar I always thought when people mentioned bubbles cleaning. Usually there are some small bubbles on the coin also but they don't seem to do much .

@ The Digger a small 9v battery always seemed safe to me, I suppose you are talking if it gets shorted ? I guess it is possible for it to overheat or at the short, but have not heard of 9V battery fires ?

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