Electrolysis process has been used for long as a method of cleaning metal objects. It is a process where an electric current passes through an electrolyte. This causes migration of positively charged ion to move to negative electrode and vice versa. Using the process you can easily remove rust, paint and other such thing from metal objects. It is very effective in for cleaning and un-seizing engines and machinery.
During electrolysis electric current is passed through water or any ionic substance which is solvent. The chemical reaction that takes place at the electrodes causes separation of materials. If you want to try this out you can use distilled water, baking soda and salt to study the chemical reaction. You can find how separation takes place by trying to clean a coin that is tarnished.
Salt is most commonly used in this experiment. However, some experts suggest using baking soda would be safer. For the experiment you need a non metallic container, distilled water, little bit of baking soda and salt. You also need two forks, spoons or solid rods or plates as electrodes. You may also use tap water instead of distilled water. However, most people prefer distilled water as it does not contain any minerals and impurities. Take a tarnished coin so that you can check how cleaning takes place in this process. You need three alligator clips. Ultimately you need an AC/DC power supply of around 4 to 15 VDC and 500 mA. Ensure that it does not exceed 1000 mA as it may be dangerous.
Baking soda and salt in this procedure are the active ingredients and thus very important for the process. They are the electrolytes that attract positive and negative ion to the coin and the fork. It is these electrodes which cause the negative and positive ion to be attracted towards them and reduce staining and rusting on various items.
For the actual process fill up about ¾ of the container with distilled water. Attach the wires to the fork or rods. Drape it over the side of the container. Make sure that the wires are not submerged. Now attach the coin to the alligator clips and keep it in such a position that it is submerged in the electrolyte. Once done plug in the transformer. Add the baking soda or salt and stir with a spatula. After some time you should find the coin fizzing a bit. If it doesn’t then you have attached the wrong wires to them. Exchange the items. Once correctly done, the coin starts to fizz. In the ion exchange that takes place the effect is that of coin being cleaned. If you add more salt the process speeds up but it leaves the electrolyte dirty and mucky. However with baking soda it will clean slower but the electrolyte will be cleaner.
Electrolysis using water and baking soda can easily help clean tarnished silver, remove rust from iron, etc. Commercially too it may be used to remove rust between seized bolt and other cleaning needs.
Commonly washing soda and salt is used for electrolysis. However, you may find baking soda a good option and a better cleanser.