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I have no doubt that you are onto something there. If a separate additive was used for each action, the optimum mixture may depend on the condition of the parts being cleaned. A dry, rusty part may be cleaned best by one mixture while another mixture is better for a part with a lot of grease and paint but less rust.
We might also find that use of the system depletes the detergent but not the electrolite.
I am seriously considering building one of these tanks but the messages I see regarding the usage of stainless is puzzling to say the least. I realize that they work better and faster with less effort to clean the electrodes between usage but the following is a warning I found on a website as to why to not use stainless. I'm all for making something tough easy, but I ain't real big on dealing with the results mentioned below:
Why you should not use stainless steel electrodes for electrolysis
Many people using the electrolysis method for rust reduction swear by stainless steel, stating (incorrectly) that it's not consumed, stays clean and seems safe.
Stainless steel is indeed consumed when used in the electrolysis process, although slowly. The main problem with using it is the hazardous waste it produces. Stainless steel contains chromium. The electrodes, and thus the chromium is consumed, and you end up with poisonous chromates in your electrolyte. Dumping these on the ground or down the drain is illegal. The compounds can cause severe skin problems and ultimately, cancer. Hexavalent chromate is poisonous. These compounds are not excused from hazardous waste regulations where household wastes are.
These compounds are bad enough that government regulations mandate "elimination of hexavalent chromate by 2007 for corrosion protection."
Does your electrolyte turn yellow? That's a sign of chromates.
If you have been using stainless steel for the anodes (positive electrodes), wear rubber gloves when working with or near the liquids. If you need to dispose of it, allow it to evaporate into powders and dispose of the powders in sealed containers during your local "hazardous waste clean-up days".
Best bet - don't use stainless steel no matter how tempting it is.
Build the tank. Use Re-bar or flat stock or tube stock.. JUST do not use Stainless...
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