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topic 9334

Electrolysis for Barnacle removal


Q. A question: 'How do I clean up a bit of brass covered in barnacles?' I believe that immersing the piece and attaching a power supply to the part and to another immersed piece of metal will do the trick.

Q What polarity / current? What liquid solution? What sacrificial metal part? How long will it take?

I am vaguely aware of the process but do not know the details.

Can anyone help?

Steven Harvey
- Hildesheim, Germany

Dark Light
Randy Wayne White

November 19, 2009

A. Hi, Steven. If the purpose is simply to remove barnacles, I think a barnacle remover [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] will be faster, safer, and easier.

But you seem to be referring to a process used for the restoration of bronze and silver artifacts. So, from Faust's ASM Electroplating Course:

"A particularly valuable process to restore artifacts might be referred to as electrolytic scale reduction. Over the centuries, bronze and silver items have been changed by exposure to the environment to almost solid masses of corrosion product. This change took place at a very slow rate. By cathodic treatment at a very slow rate in a dilute alkaline solution, the corrosion process is reversed. The corroded artifact of unrecognizable shape is converted back nearly to its original form and design."

The protagonist in Randy Wayne White's novel "Dark Light" restores some artifacts this way.

Regards, Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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