Electrolysis

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Caution: if you electrocute yourself, please don’t blame me for it. Can’t say that enough.

There are many how to’s online on how to set up an electrolysis tank and clean your cast iron. It does work wonderful. The battery charger seems to be the go to solution for the 12V high amperage system but do you realize that any 12 volt power supply with higher amperage output will work just fine?

I set up a test system using a 650 watt computer power supply that I had kicking around, they are capable of sustained high amps at 12 volts and the setup process is an easy one. You need to obtain a computer PSU with higher wattage. Even a bad power supply tends to have a bad 3.3V or other, the 12 volt works just fine – check the 12 volt using a meter to verify. I’m using an Enermax Infinity, capable of 28 amps @ 12V.

 

Electrolysis with computer power supply

 

Simply weed out the yellow wires, these are the 12 volt leads – and more is better. Do not try to use a single yellow lead to perform electrolysis, you will blow the power supply or burn the leads. Do NOT use the yellow leads with a “black stripe”, cut them off before you start the procedure.

The set up I have is a test system, and I have ganged 12 yellow leads from the PSU, stripped 6 inches of shield, soldered the ends, formed a loop and soldered it. Do the same with a dozen of the black leads, these are your grounds. The single green wire is for the push button switch on the computer itself, it needs to be shorted to ground to close the circuit. This will allow you to turn on/off the system using the power switch on the back of the power supply. Solder the green wire to a ground (black) and use electrical tape to protect it.

As for electrolyte recipe – Use super washing soda (sodium carbonate) – Safeway generally carries the Arm and Hammer brand. Use 1/2 cup of washing soda per 5 gallons of water – have 10 gallons of water, use 1 cup. Hot water seems to work better than cold.

Sacrificial iron is your anode – the cathode is the piece you are going to clean. I like stainless steel for an anode, but any old iron piece will suffice. Don’t use copper, brass or other soft metal.

 

Hook up booster cables to your power supply ends, black to black, red to yellow (red/yellow is positive of course). Clamp the black to your cast iron piece (cathode), the red to the sacrificial iron (anode) – double check your connections and turn the system on. You should see small bubbles lifting from the piece you are cleaning. If you hook up in reverse, then the piece you are trying to clean will be ruined over a period of time.

It’s not pretty, but it works like a charm.

Electrolysis cast iron power supply

 

The action shot, there’s a number 10 dutch oven bottom in the bath. Yes, I know I shouldn’t have the leads in the water, I don’t any more, this is an old picture.

Electrolysis cast iron power supply

I say again, if you electrocute yourself, blame me not. I have never had an issue doing this.