Electrolysis Revisited

Fri Dec 15, 2006 8:53 pm

I finally finished setting up the tank that we cut out at Cubfest NE in October. Lots of stuff going on and not a lot of time to play. I did a little revising of the original setup that Rudi posted. He has pics of it and as soon as I get a chance to get some finals they will be posted. Instead of using seperate cables for each rod I looped one cable to all and fastened them with 5/8 inch ground rod clamps. Then there is one cable coming from the negative terminal to a clamp that I clamp to the part being cleaned. This is the same negative set up I had on my original tank. I like the solid connection as opposed to having the chain carry the current. A chain gives to many locations for a bad connection. I also took some old lawn mower blades and tack welded them to the rerod increasing the amount of material on the anodes tremendously.

An interesting observation. The only TSP I could get last night from Home Depost was a concentrated TSP substitute. It came in liquid form and I got a gallon of it to add to the 45 gallons of water in the tank. It did not even draw 1 amp. Tonight I picked up a box of TSP (without the phospate. Wouldn't that make it just TS.) and added it to the tank. As I added the TSP I watched the needle on the charger go from 1 to 6 amps. The more I added the higher the amperage.

So if you are concerned about having enough TSP in the solution I would say just watch the amp meter until it gets to where you want it to be. 6 to 10 amps in a fresh solution with good connections should do it.

Time will tell. By tomorrow afternoon the grill should be ready to take out. Pictures of befor and after to follow.

Fri Dec 15, 2006 9:26 pm

Cecil, Home depot advised me that they will no longer carry the TSP we all know and love for our electrolysis tanks - only the non-phosphate type. Lowes still carries it however. I'm not sure Lowes is up in New York. Rudi's system works great for me. I really over-engineered my first tank and it didn't work all that great, but Rudi's "keep it simple" maxim really made a difference. I just brush off my anodes when they get cruded up and off she goes again. One pound per 20 gallons of water works great for me and pulls about 7-8 amps.


Fri Dec 15, 2006 10:15 pm

You will still find TSP on some Home Depot shelves. But it will soon be disapearing. With the Roll out of several new programs. That keep us conforming to goverment policy. So we can sell to the goverment. It is a commitment that was made to better provide goods and services to federal gov. At least you just have the dissapointment of not being able to get it. I have to explain why we don't sell it to everyone that is looking for it.

Fri Dec 15, 2006 10:21 pm

Well at least y'all won't be alone. It seems that Kent will not be stocking it in the very near future either. They will only be stocking the TSP-Free TSP...

What an oxy-moron. However, the TSP-Free from DAP and from Savogran does work as Cecil and I were able to show at CubFest. Thanks for getting that Cecil and teaching me something new....

There has to be something in the TSP or the TSP-Free that does this.. as either preparation works.. the real stuff just works a heck of a lot quicker.

I think what I am going to do is pick up as much of the real DAP TSP that I can before we go to the Free stuff...

I knew the concentrate would be useless... that is why I put it in the previous threads as a Don't Waste yer money note...

Oooops.. sorry Cecil.

Fri Dec 15, 2006 10:36 pm

Has anyone tried using LYE in place of TSP, or is this a bad idea?

Fri Dec 15, 2006 11:07 pm


I am no chemist and maybe I am off-base, but isn't lye basically an acid? I do know that lye is very caustic, and probably would be detrimental to the parts being cleaned..

Fri Dec 15, 2006 11:12 pm

I agee with Rudi. It would seem that if Lye is an acid it would eat at whatever you were trying to clean. I guess what I have to do is find out the chemical composition of lye. Or maybe someone who is a lot smarter at chemistry than I am can chime in and help. :roll:

Fri Dec 15, 2006 11:14 pm

I believe lye is a base (the opposite of an acid).

Fri Dec 15, 2006 11:23 pm

Jim is correct, in fact Lye is so basic it is as caustic as many acids.

Fri Dec 15, 2006 11:34 pm

It's been over 55 years since I had HS chemistry, but I remember lye as being NaOH, (sodium hydroxide) a strong base... exactly the opposite from an acid. If you have any lye, try to keep it as far as you can from any acid since the two together will react violently.

I think with proper precautions lye would be an excellent electrolyte for a tank because of its' cleaning and paint removing ability. Used carelessly it could be quite dangerous. :( It will remove your skin in addition to paint.

Fri Dec 15, 2006 11:47 pm

Thanks George. Rudi and I just spent about 30 minutes searching out all kind of information on lye. If I had paid a little more attention in HS chemistry class :cry: I might have remembered too.

Fri Dec 15, 2006 11:49 pm


You are correct on Lye being a base.. and my use of acidic was incorrect. I used it I guess because Lye, is caustic.. and that I guess intimated acidic in my feeble brain. Lye is can be either sodium or potash based. It is Caustic, in fact can be very caustic.. as it is commonly Sodium Hydroxide. If you look at this article Troubled Times : Lye, you will notice that fumes from simple soap making can be dangerous. So not only is it risky to use without proper precautions, we all know how we can get distracted when doing stuff.. so I would be very, very leary of using Lye as an Electrolyte....

I kinda wished I had paid more attention to my High School Chem teacher as well... :roll: :!: :D

Sat Dec 16, 2006 12:03 am

So if I set up a electrolysis tank using lye in place of TSP, the lye would strip the paint and the electrolysis process would remove the rust? I did use a lye tank (55 gal. drum) years ago to strip the old paint off jeep parts and had good success, but the rust remained on the parts. Could the end result of a eltrolysis/lye tank be bare metal parts?

Sat Dec 16, 2006 12:12 am

Glen Thibodeaux wrote:So if I set up a electrolysis tank using lye in place of TSP, the lye would strip the paint and the electrolysis process would remove the rust? I did use a lye tank (55 gal. drum) years ago to strip the old paint off jeep parts and had good success, but the rust remained on the parts. Could the end result of a eltrolysis/lye tank be bare metal parts?


I haven't done so, but that's what I expect would happen. The electrolysis process, in addition to removing rust will go a long way for paint removal... but the lye should help it along. The dissolved lye should make the solution conductive enough for the process since it will ionize.

If you decide to try it, be very careful.

Sat Dec 16, 2006 12:13 am

So Glen, would you stick your bare hands in your tank to remove your parts? Lye burns. TSP don't. You will however get a tingle if you forget to turn off the juice. TSP does not flash rust.