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Thread: Aluminum foil for removing rust?

  1. #1
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    Aluminum foil for removing rust?

    Probably technically, this should be in "Tools and Techniques," but I wonder if we could leave it in "General" for a while for the extra exposure. I also posted it on APS, but I'm reallly interested in what folks might have to say about this:
    ------------------

    I was doing a little reading on aluminum foil for another purpose and came across this little tidbit:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium_foil

    (About 2/3 of the way down in the article.)

    Polishing steel
    A simple and inexpensive way to remove rust from and polish steel surfaces by hand is to rub it with aluminium foil dipped in water. The aluminium foil is softer than steel, and will not scratch the surface. As heat is generated by rubbing friction, the aluminium will oxidize to produce aluminium oxide. Aluminium has a higher reduction potential than iron, and will therefore leach oxygen atoms away from any rust on the steel surface. Aluminium oxide is harder than steel, and the microscopic grains of aluminium oxide produced creates a fine metal polishing compound that smoothes the steel surface to a bright shine.
    Anyone ever try using aluminum foil for removing rust from guns? It would appear that since blueing is just a form of rust, it would also remove blueing surrounding the rust spot, but I wonder if anyone has developed a practical technique for this, or actually used it for taking rust off things like tools?

    No thermite jokes (the chemical reaction is the same). Wait, I take that back. Thermite jokes allowed, but I'm more interested in any aluminum-foil techniques that might have been developed by our half-vast membership pool to remove rust. From any rusty things, not just guns.

    For example, would aluminum powder work (if you can still get it from somewhere)?

    Terry, 230RN

    PS: For those who don't happen to know, "aluminium" is the British spelling for "aluminum," and is probably more correct than the Uhmurricun spelling. Oh, and search engines and I don't get along too well.
    Trouble is, these jerkwads can pass dumb, self-serving, agenda-driven stupid laws much faster than we can beat them down in the courts. And they're well aware of that.

  2. #2
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    Never seen or heard of this before. I'll try it, on something other than a gun.
    PS: For those who don't happen to know, "aluminium" is the British spelling for "aluminum," and is probably more correct than the Uhmurricun spelling
    May be more correct but they way they pronounce it just sounds silly.
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    Interesting. I'll have to try some, but I'm worried about possible bright aluminum markings rubbed into (like drawing on something with chalk) the barrel bluing. But I'll try it and let you know...
    "Guns are swell" - me

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    The British also pronounce it funny.

    AL as in Albert
    U as in you
    MIN as in minimum, and is the accented syllable
    E as in easy
    UM as in hum

    Al-u-min-e-um

    There is no hope for the Brits. Well, actually, they are more correct because all metals without historical names should end with “ium” and have the ee-um pronounced ending.

    Now, back to using it as a rust remover. I’ve tried it and ended up with a sorry looking mess of torn up aluminum, sorry, I mean aluminium, foil and scabby looking work.

    Probably should have used Reynolds Wrap instead of the Wal-Mart Great Value. Which brings me to this: have you noticed that many times the names brands are missing and the shelves are loaded with the Great Value brand?

    I’m waiting to see Great Value 9mm in the sporting goods. Oh lord! now that I’ve mentioned it they’ll probably do it!

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    Alumin(i)um powder is useful, fun stuff!
    You can extract it from an Etch-A-Sketch, buy it retail, or make it yourself
    It might be useful to prepare a gun for re-bluing? Maybe as a polish for a stainless steel finish? I'd try it on a steel spoon first, though.

    Somebody PLEASE tell a thermite joke!

    Actually, Clay, my British brother-in-law elides the i-um into a 'yum' sound

    Al-u-min-yum

    I say toe-may-toe, he says throatwarbler mangrove.

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    It is not the heat of rubbing that turns aluminum into aluminum oxide; it is an electrochemical reaction; the aluminum is oxidized (as it gives off electrons) and the rust is reduced potentially to metallic iron (as it accepts electrons). This very same chemical reaction is simetimes used to remove tarnish from silver (without all the rubbing).

    Metals on the periodic chart conventionally had an "ium" ending. The story I heard was that the US company that was going to market aluminium to the US market had a misspelling on their stationary, leaving out the final "i." Not willing to correct the mistake, aluminum became the standard US term for the metal.

    When someone comes up with a funny pronunciation for "aluminum" or "aluminium" one can immediately reach the conclusion:
    "You ain't from here, are you."
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    If I remember my electrochemical reactions correctly, all one would have to do is wrap the tarnished area with the foil. That should encourage a redux reaction. I remember a few years ago my uncle had a desperate phone call from a local factory that one of it's new products was corroding at an alarming rate. It turned out that aluminum crossmembers were being bolted to mild steel. The more valuable aluminum would preferentially corroding protecting the mild steel pads they were attached to.

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    JW, in MS, we say "yew ain't from round these parts are yew...."

    And we wouldn't waste perfectly good "tinfoil" removing rust from things that will just rust again anyway. We might need it for hats...
    Paul
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    I haven't tried it on blued steel, but I have used it with some success on rusted chrome exhaust pipes (and other chromed pieces) from 20-30 year old motorcycles.

    Removes/neutralizes rust within reason (it will not turn a solid block of rust into new steel). Not too rough on the chrome (although if you get too enthusiastic, you will dull the shine).

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    Actually this had made me wonder, we often attach 'sacrificial anodes' to the metal of livestock trailers to protect it from the corrosive effects of manures. Perhaps one would also reverse some the corrosion. Wonder if I can find some zinc bars somewhere...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacrificial_anode

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    ^ I think most modern wheelweights are made of zinc. You can pick them up at tire shops. But I think you're thinking of tin?

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
    Trouble is, these jerkwads can pass dumb, self-serving, agenda-driven stupid laws much faster than we can beat them down in the courts. And they're well aware of that.

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    I have heard of this before, and done it before, but it was, at the time, recommended for removing rust from CHROME parts.

    Polished up several older (read heavy and chromed steel rather than chromed plastic) car bumpers and some bicycle handlebars this way.

    Never heard of it being used on guns and kind of wonder if it would not "rub off" on the blue like copper or brass can.

    Buckshot

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    I wonder if rust would clean up corroded aluminum.

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    Want quick, simple and easy? Do a Google search for "rust removal with electrolysis". Here's some before/after photos of some M1 parts a guy did with a very simple setup....no refinishing or reparkerizing, just before & after.








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    I think most modern wheelweights are made of zinc. You can pick them up at tire shops. But I think you're thinking of tin?
    More than likely still lead.

    Actually this had made me wonder, we often attach 'sacrificial anodes' to the metal of livestock trailers to protect it from the corrosive effects of manures. Perhaps one would also reverse some the corrosion. Wonder if I can find some zinc bars somewhere...
    For those involved in evaporative cooling, the sacrificial anodes are usually made of magnesium.

    Zinc, magnesium, and to some extent aluminum all work (aluminum forms a protective oxide layer that often protects the aluminum.

    BTW, those are mighty impressive gun part photos.
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    I wonder if rust would clean up corroded aluminum.
    No, since aluminum is more electrochemically active than iron the aluminum would further corrode to protect the iron.

    (aluminum forms a protective oxide layer that often protects the aluminum.
    While this is true in most cases but when there is a free electron exchange with another metal all bets are off.

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    wow, and all this time i thought it was only good for making hats.

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    wow, and all this time i thought it was only good for making hats.
    Don't get me started! Sometime when you are bored silly, drop and aluminum can in a solution of sodium hydroxide (lye.) My late uncle used that reaction to power a "spud" gun and a go-cart of sorts that boasted a fuel economy of a half mile per six pack. (If you haven't guessed by now my uncle was known to take a drink on occasion.)

  19. #19
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    I use to use foil too clean the rust off of chrome bumpers...never thought about using it on a gun though.
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    OK, OK. Been busier'n a goat with two peckers. Machine crashed, running on a backup ancient (and corroded) laptop. I found out what a time sink computers can be, being without one for two days.

    Anyhow, I tried it on a rust-spotted steel can and I don't think it did any better with wet foil than I could have done with Scotch Brite (TM) and fine steel wool.

    I also found out my younger son had used the electrolytic process with good results.

    Terry, 230RN
    Trouble is, these jerkwads can pass dumb, self-serving, agenda-driven stupid laws much faster than we can beat them down in the courts. And they're well aware of that.

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