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How to build a "hot tank" for metal cleaning?

November 12, 2008

Q. I'm a small hobbyist and no where near a commercial shop. I would like to build a small parts cleaner around 5 gallon or smaller. I was given some white powder that I mix with water and it is supposed to clean carburetors. it cleans but not very well. the guy at the parts store referred to it as "caustic soda" I'm not sure if that's what it was. I have read here that the next step up is muriatic acid. is it possible to keep this in a 5 gallon pail in my garage for a long time till I need it again? I first found this website searching on how to build my own hot tank like the engine machine shop but quickly realized I need ventilation, so this idea is out. but I am still hoping that I can add something to my home made hot tank in the way of a heater or agitator or bubbler.

I will hopefully be putting in aluminum steel and even to a lesser extent gold and silver jewelry and stainless. I would like to have a magic bullet chemical that cleans all these things but I am realistic and I understand if I can only use steel in it.

any help would be greatly appreciated.

Jason K [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
hobbyist - Montreal, Canada

A. Hi Jason. Yes, caustic soda is a good grease and dirt remover, but it works much better at high temperatures (190 °F) than at room temperature. It also dissolves aluminum and zinc diecastings; so it may clean steel well, but is likely to destroy a carburetor. Solvent-based carburetor cleaners available at auto stores will work better.

Muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) is not a grease and dirt cleaner, it is a rust remover. In an industrial environment, muriatic acid might be the "next step" in sequence after a caustic soda-based cleaner and rinsing, but not the "next step up".

The acid cannot be stored in a pail, because it is not a liquid, it's a gas dissolved in the liquid. It would be like trying to store ginger ale or champagne in a pail.

I shouldn't have to tell you how dangerous it is to be mixing and using very strong, unlabeled chemicals that you are unfamiliar with, or leaving them hanging around.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

LA's Totally Awesome Cleaner

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March 19, 2013

A. It sounds too simple to show any results but I use LA's "Totally Awesome" to clean engine blocks and such, and without any agitation or a brush or anything like that, it just eats it away. I usually get like 20 bottles and pour it all in a plastic tub and let the parts soak for about half an hour and they come out like new. Just rinse them off and dry. Hope this helps.

Joshua white
- middletown Delaware usa

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