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

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Old 06-07-2020, 06:50 PM
LVaughn LVaughn is offline
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 21
Default Electrolysis Anode Cruds Up Fast

I recently set up a small electrolysis tank using a 5 gallon bucket and an old lawnmower blade for the anode, 2/3 cup of washing soda for the electrolyte and an old manual 6 amp battery charger. It works pretty well, much faster than my lye tank and vinegar bath setup. But I find that I must clean the crud off the mower blade every couple of hours or it builds up to the point that very little current flows and so the process slows to a crawl. Is this typical?
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Old 06-07-2020, 06:58 PM
Doug D. Doug D. is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 6,221
Default Re: Electrolysis Anode Cruds Up Fast

An anode with larger surface area will help. Even multiple pieces wired together (think more blades). Stainless steel does not seem to crud up nearly as much, but it will eventually rot like any other. Graphite plates (or other forms) stay the cleanest and therefore the most efficient.
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Old 06-07-2020, 08:50 PM
Ty L. Ty L. is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 445
Default Re: Electrolysis Anode Cruds Up Fast

Yes. For steel anodes it's very typical. A couple years ago the owner of my local lawn & garden shop generously gave me lots and lots of used lawnmower blades in exchange for cleaning some old cast iron cookware of his. Since electrolysis works off of line-of-sight I'll form a ring of lawnmower blade anodes around the interior perimeter of whatever I'm using as a tank. I use black annealed steel wire to connect the blades. The wire and the part of the blade its connected to is left out in open air above the water line so the wire doesn't corrode. Since I typically e-tank my iron in batches I'll run it nonstop for days, if not weeks. I have a 10A charger and when the ammeter drops below 4 Amps or so I'll take a blade I'm not currently using and scrape off all the other blades while leaving them in place. Since I can't see what I'm doing I'm scraping them strictly based on feel, but generally it's easy to feel when the gunk's mostly gone. I leave the e-tank running so I can see the ammeter climb back up as I go from blade to blade, careful not to short any blades to the piece being cleaned. I've noticed that more blades not only shortens how long it takes to clean a pan, but since the load is being shared along a lot more surface area it also takes longer for the blades to build up an unacceptable amount of gunk.

An interesting footnote: There's a world of difference between cheap and high quality lawnmower blades. I've done dozens of pans with the same bunch of blades. I have some apparently cheap ones that have lost a couple inches on them while the fancier mulching blades I have look like they're just a good sharpening away from cutting grass again. I like the mulching blades because it's easier to wrap multiple turns of steel wire around them to ensure a good electrical connection.
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Old 06-08-2020, 07:28 AM
LVaughn LVaughn is offline
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 21
Default Re: Electrolysis Anode Cruds Up Fast

Sounds like I need to increase the surface area of my anode then, at least for starters. Thanks very much.
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