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Cast Iron Cleaning and Seasoning Help With and Tips & Techniques For Cast Iron Cookware Restoration

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  #1  
Old 09-29-2015, 04:49 PM
Steve MacDow Steve MacDow is offline
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Default 1st time E-tank setup questions

I manage a restaurant, and I have a couple pieces of old stainless equipment sitting out back. I thought I would scavenge a sheet or two off of them to set up an e-tank. I was looking at an old stainless steel deep bar sink that's missing a couple legs, and I thought I could cut a couple panels off that and then...duh...I realized the sink itself is a perfect tank. I can put it on a wooden frame, fill it with water, and the sink itself becomes the anode. Perfect.

Now the questions....

First, just how much hydrogen is produced?

The best spot I have for it logistically is in my basement. However, I don't have good ventilation down there, and I have a pilot light on a gas water heater as well as a gas furnace. Last thing I need to do is blow up my house trying to restore a $6 rusty pan.

My only indoor option is in an unheated mud room. Two exterior doors and two windows, so I can get plenty of cross ventilation. However, I live in New Hampshire, so in a couple month it will drop below freezing and stay there for a couple months. Pretty hard to use an e-tank that is frozen solid.

How does water temperature affect the electrolysis process?

An advantage of my sink setup is that I can hook a hose up to the drain and start with warm water each time I want to use it. Unless I find a mother lode of old iron somewhere, I don't see myself needing to run it all that often. Will it work to start with warm water even if the ambient temp is well below freezing?

Of course for now I can set it up outside. I'm just trying to think about what to do when cold weather sets in.

Thanks in advance for any advice!
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  #2  
Old 09-29-2015, 06:58 PM
RobM RobM is offline
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Default Re: 1st time E-tank setup questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve MacDow View Post
I manage a restaurant, and I have a couple pieces of old stainless equipment sitting out back. I thought I would scavenge a sheet or two off of them to set up an e-tank. I was looking at an old stainless steel deep bar sink that's missing a couple legs, and I thought I could cut a couple panels off that and then...duh...I realized the sink itself is a perfect tank. I can put it on a wooden frame, fill it with water, and the sink itself becomes the anode. Perfect.

Now the questions....

First, just how much hydrogen is produced?

The best spot I have for it logistically is in my basement. However, I don't have good ventilation down there, and I have a pilot light on a gas water heater as well as a gas furnace. Last thing I need to do is blow up my house trying to restore a $6 rusty pan.

My only indoor option is in an unheated mud room. Two exterior doors and two windows, so I can get plenty of cross ventilation. However, I live in New Hampshire, so in a couple month it will drop below freezing and stay there for a couple months. Pretty hard to use an e-tank that is frozen solid.

How does water temperature affect the electrolysis process?

An advantage of my sink setup is that I can hook a hose up to the drain and start with warm water each time I want to use it. Unless I find a mother lode of old iron somewhere, I don't see myself needing to run it all that often. Will it work to start with warm water even if the ambient temp is well below freezing?

Of course for now I can set it up outside. I'm just trying to think about what to do when cold weather sets in.

Thanks in advance for any advice!
You won't produce enough hydrogen to blow up your house. I've run the e-tank in my spare bathroom for hours on end with no issues. If you're really concerned, keep a door open and a small fan running to circulate.

I do find however that the electrolysis process is slower when the water is cold. Non-existant when freezing. I left a dutch oven in my e-tank overnight last fall, had a major cold snap and had to take an axe to the block of ice to free it.
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  #3  
Old 09-29-2015, 10:57 PM
W. Hilditch W. Hilditch is offline
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Default Re: 1st time E-tank setup questions

1 piece in a small tank at 2 amps produces less bubbles than a glass of champagne and then it disperses. Can't light it with a Bic. I wouldn't wan't it bubbling like a 4 qt. pot of water left on high for the spaghetti next to the water heater.

Think of water and lye like air and humidity (water). The warmer the air the more water it can hold. The warmer the water in a lye tank, the more sodium hydroxide it will hold and the stronger the lye will be.

Hilditch
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  #4  
Old 10-01-2015, 10:10 AM
DougH DougH is offline
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Default Re: 1st time E-tank setup questions

Also, keep in mind that eventually your sink as the sacrificial anode will get a hole and need to be repaired/replaced. To my knowledge, that will take a pretty long time and a lot of electro to happen, but it will happen eventually.
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Old 10-01-2015, 12:05 PM
RLMuse RLMuse is offline
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Default Re: 1st time E-tank setup questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by W. Hilditch View Post
1 piece in a small tank at 2 amps produces less bubbles than a glass of champagne and then it disperses. Can't light it with a Bic. I wouldn't wan't it bubbling like a 4 qt. pot of water left on high for the spaghetti next to the water heater.

Think of water and lye like air and humidity (water). The warmer the air the more water it can hold. The warmer the water in a lye tank, the more sodium hydroxide it will hold and the stronger the lye will be.

Hilditch
Most people use Washing Soda in the water to make the electrolyte.

[SIZE=1]---------- Post added at 10:05 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:58 AM ----------[/SIZE]

Quote:
Originally Posted by DougH View Post
Also, keep in mind that eventually your sink as the sacrificial anode will get a hole and need to be repaired/replaced. To my knowledge, that will take a pretty long time and a lot of electro to happen, but it will happen eventually.
I am not sure if I am understanding this properly.

From my limited understanding, the "sacrificial anode" is the one that ends up all gunked up.

Isn't the electricity flow going from the cast iron to the anode? I thought that the electric flow pulled the gunk off the cast iron and deposited it on the anode.

Is it the cleaning off of the gunk to "refresh" the anode what would eventually wear a hole in it?
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  #6  
Old 10-01-2015, 12:41 PM
DougH DougH is offline
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Default Re: 1st time E-tank setup questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by RLMuse View Post
I am not sure if I am understanding this properly.

From my limited understanding, the "sacrificial anode" is the one that ends up all gunked up.

Isn't the electricity flow going from the cast iron to the anode? I thought that the electric flow pulled the gunk off the cast iron and deposited it on the anode.

Is it the cleaning off of the gunk to "refresh" the anode what would eventually wear a hole in it?
I don't know all the details off the top of my head, but the sacrificial anode gets eaten away over time through the electrolysis process. What I'm remembering from when I was reading about it and setting up my own tank is to think of electrolysis as a trade of material. Rust is traded to the sacrificial anode, and some of the anode material is traded back to the CI. I use graphite plates for my anodes, and when I take a piece of CI out of the tank, there is a black film on it, which is from the graphite. And those plates are about half as thick as they were when I got them and started.

So making your tank the anode means that it will eventually eat it's way through. Now, I've never used stainless, but it's said that stainless lasts a very long time as an anode...so this should be a long term issue, not a short one.

Just need to keep an eye on that tank occasionally looking for wear that may turn into pinholes and cause leaks.
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  #7  
Old 10-01-2015, 12:51 PM
RobM RobM is offline
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Default Re: 1st time E-tank setup questions

Posted this about current flow in another thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobM View Post
Current in reality flows from negative to positive. When you have your anode and cathode in the electrolytic solution and turn the power on - current flows from the piece you're cleaning to the sacrificial iron. Current isn't doing the damage. It is what it is. This is the reason you have to clean your sacrificial iron, it gets dirty right?

However, it's the "ions" from the sacrificial iron that travel in solution from the positive to negative. Once ions start leaving metal for example, it gets "eaten".
The electrolyte solution is the ticket here. Not easy to find a diagram that works.

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  #8  
Old 10-01-2015, 06:51 PM
Dan Farmer Dan Farmer is offline
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Default Re: 1st time E-tank setup questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by DougH View Post
Just need to keep an eye on that tank occasionally looking for wear that may turn into pinholes and cause leaks.
And he probably won't see any of those pinholes until they are leaking, since they will begin on the inside, and the electrolyte will be too murky too see them until its running down the outside.
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  #9  
Old 10-01-2015, 09:32 PM
T.Winchester T.Winchester is offline
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Default Re: 1st time E-tank setup questions

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Originally Posted by RobM View Post
Posted this about current flow in another thread.
I guess it doesn't make any difference, but electron flow is from negative to positive, while current flow is positive to negative.
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  #10  
Old 10-01-2015, 09:46 PM
Dan Farmer Dan Farmer is offline
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Default Re: 1st time E-tank setup questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by T.Winchester View Post
I guess it doesn't make any difference, but electron flow is from negative to positive, while current flow is positive to negative.
Kind of like salmon swimming upstream, huh?
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