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Thread: Oxalic acid

  1. #1
    working on progress treebound's Avatar
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    Oxalic acid

    Well, I finally found some of the stuff, and in the interest of trying to help others who are also trying to find some I thought I'd post some pics and where I found it. And I've been looking at quite a few places. A lot of the times people in the stores I went to had no clue what I was talking about, and being way past due for a haircut and a shave they were probably wondering what I really wanted it for. Anyway....

    The local Home Depot stores around here no longer carry it, I finally found someone who said their distributor just stopped shipping any to them for whatever reason. I did find some at a local Sherwin Williams paint store, but even there one clerk had no clue and the other clerk on duty knew what it was. They had two 12ounce tubs left at around $9.50 each. Okay, hoping to find a bigger tub I checked one more place the Home Depot lady said to check, the nearby Ace hardware store. Got to Ace, went to paint, found someone who looked like they had a clue, and they took me right to it. They had over twenty 12ounce tubs on the shelf at $8.50 each so I got one to try it out. I had also stopped at the local woodworking store, WoodCraft or WoodCrafters I think, and all they had was a two-part liquid wood bleach with something other than oxalic acid in it.

    So here's a couple of pics of what the tub looks like so any of you who haven't been able to find any will know at least what one brand looks like. I may mail order a 7 pound tub from some online store I found but will give this stuff a go first. I might have to wait though because I don't think I want to use this in the basement near the gas furnace, and the garage is currently below 4degF so anything I put into the solution might just freeze, and I don't think that would be a good thing.

    Oh, and any guesses from you experienced users of this stuff how it might work on the Schwinn seat springs on my old 1967 2-speeder? I assume I don't want to soak the seat cover in it and will probably wait for warmer weather to try it out. First things I'm going to experiment with are some steel cranks and chainrings. Anyway, here's the pics of the stuff in the tub.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    I've had a 1 lb can that has lasted a decade.

    To be honest, I think you'd be better off tackling seat springs by hand.

    If you do try OA, try soaking some papre towels in it, wrapping the spring, and applying more as it dries.

    Good Luck.

    PS--Rockler sells it and will ship.

  3. #3
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    You might get a knock (or a fist) at your door. Oxalic acid can be used to make Urea. Urea is a precursor to the synthesis of high-explosives.

    Time to hang out your sign: al Qaida Cycle-Works.

    Now it's time for my WARNING!

    Oxalic Acid is corrosive and poisonous to all animals. If spilled, neutralize with baking soda. Add until fizzing stops. Clean up thoroughly and wash the area clean with water several times. Wear rubber-gloves (grocery store for dish-washing) and eye-protection when working with this chemical. Also be aware - if a pet, or other animal, were to walk in a spill you didn't clean up, it would burn their paws. And they would lick their paws. Dead animal.
    Last edited by Panthers007; 01-24-09 at 09:15 PM.
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    Senior Member DavidW56's Avatar
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    Just coincidentally, I bought my first tub of oxalic acid late this afternoon and used it this evening. I, too, had trouble finding it before this; Home Depot and ACO Hardware nearest me do not have it. Another local "real" hardware store used to have it but was not in stock the day I visited. I finally found it at Duke's Hardware, the locally famous family-owned business that has everything you need and practical knowledge to answer customers' questions. I phoned ahead to check if they had it, and it was waiting for me on the counter (along with their dogs) when I arrived. I was surprised at the cost -- $9.08 for the size tube described above by treebound. It's meant to be a one-use package -- the directions require the entire tub to be mixed with a gallon of water. I wanted to clean the rust of a wheel, and the best I could think to do is to pour a portion of the solution into a shallow alumiunum-foil baking pan, and then set the wheel upright in it. It was just deep enough to cover a few inches of the bottom of the wheel.

    And yes, it was cold out there (Detroit area). It was 20 degrees F and dropping, and would have been warmer in the garage, but I had to open the door to allow fresh air to disperse the fumes. It remained fluid for about an hour, but began to gel and solidify after that. I saved off most of the used solution to a glass jar, and the unused portion to a plastic milk jug, and brought them to the basement so the solution wouldn't freeze.

    Just saw Panther's post. I wore heavy-duty rubber gloves while using this product.
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  5. #5
    working on progress treebound's Avatar
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    We've got pets, and the neighborhood is full of rabbits, squirrels, several fox that run around, assorted flying things, chipmunks, and other stuff I'd rather not accidently kill, so with that in mind I picked up a plastic tub with a lid today at a thrift shop which will be the container for any solution I mix up. Sounds like this stuff will last a while and still be effective.

    Any recommendations on how much to mix in with 3 or so gallons of water? Would 1/4 cup be too strong? How about 1/8th?

  6. #6
    Veni, Vidi, Bici gridplan's Avatar
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    It's easy enough to find. Just type in oxalic acid on eBay. That's where I got mine. BTW, amazon.com also sells it.
    Last edited by gridplan; 01-24-09 at 10:40 PM.
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    Avenir Equipped BlankCrows's Avatar
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    Buying big tubs of the stuff is overkill. I got a 12oz tub and it lasts a long time. For steel parts on a flip bike you need a pinch or two added to some warm water. An overnight soaking and some light brushing the next day does the trick. I use a big pie tin or a cheap foil roasting pan I can get from a dollar store. Steel wheel rims clean up nicely in a narrow plastic wallpaper tub that I got from a Ace or True Value kind of hardware store--a few partial rotations for each wheel and it is done.

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    Guys, it doesn't have to be hard.

    Go to a Auto Parts store and get a bottle of Eagle One
    wire wheel cleaner. Spray on, let sit for 5 minutes and spray off.
    It will not damage chrome and will remove 95% of the surface rust.

    For the jobs (rust) that are a little harder, just use some 0000 wool
    along with the cleaner. If the chome is pitted, of course it will
    remain, but the chrome will look brand new.

    No muss, no fuss. Eagle One comes in a 12 ounce bottle and
    is very easy to use. It doesn't have to be difficult, and saves the
    drama of using oxalic acid.


    JohnnyBee.

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    Senior Member Barchettaman's Avatar
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    I can sense another thread coming on along the lines of ´animals I have accidently killed with Oxalic Acid´.

  10. #10
    Senior Member ga_mueller's Avatar
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    I leave an open tub in the backyard, for the neighborhood squirrels.

  11. #11
    Veni, Vidi, Bici gridplan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
    Maybe not. If you have to submerse an entire frame (the kiddie pool treatment), I used a couple of the 12 oz tubs for one treatment. As noted earlier, you can save the solution for reuse, although a kiddie pool full would take a drum or more to hold it.
    Is there a smaller alternative to using a kiddie pool? I need to soak a frame too when it gets a little warmer out. So far I've only soaked parts.
    Last edited by gridplan; 01-25-09 at 06:53 AM.
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  12. #12
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gridplan View Post
    Is there a smaller alternative to using a kiddie pool? I need to soak a frame too when it gets a little warmer out.
    You could bag it with a large trash bag. No need to fill the bag like a balloon. Just get some sloshing in there and maybe agitate the bag every now and again while it sits.

    jim
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    "For the jobs (rust) that are a little harder, just use some 0000 wool
    along with the cleaner. If the chome is pitted, of course it will
    remain, but the chrome will look brand new." QUOTE.


    NEVER use an abrasive on brightwork. (chrome)


    Regards,
    J T

  14. #14
    Veni, Vidi, Bici gridplan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgedwa View Post
    You could bag it with a large trash bag. No need to fill the bag like a balloon. Just get some sloshing in there and maybe agitate the bag every now and again while it sits.

    jim
    Thanks, I can certainly try that. Hopefully the acid won't eat through the plastic before I'm done soaking it.
    Big hitter, the Lama.

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    Senior Member sonatageek's Avatar
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    I was doing some clean up on a few cruiser bikes I bought back in December out in the garage. 5 Five gallon pail with the solution and smaller bucket with water and baking soda to neutralize after the cleaning.

    All was working great until the temperatures dropped in early January. For the past few weeks I have two big 'Popsicles' that are of no use at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J T CUNNINGHAM View Post
    "For the jobs (rust) that are a little harder, just use some 0000 wool
    along with the cleaner. If the chome is pitted, of course it will
    remain, but the chrome will look brand new." QUOTE.


    NEVER use an abrasive on brightwork. (chrome)




    Regards,
    J T
    If you have rusted Chrome you have already done the thing you should NEVER do. You let it rust. For all intensive purposes it will never be the way it was. How you now remove the rust then polish out the marks left by it is really insignificant. Like polishing marks from automotive paint work ,try the finest polish first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gridplan View Post
    Thanks, I can certainly try that. Hopefully the acid won't eat through the plastic before I'm done soaking it.
    Acid won't eat through plastic at least not at this mixture.


    Be careful guys, this thread is a hair's breath away from an emergency rrom visit.

  18. #18
    Avenir Equipped BlankCrows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
    Maybe not. If you have to submerse an entire frame (the kiddie pool treatment), I used a couple of the 12 oz tubs for one treatment. As noted earlier, you can save the solution for reuse, although a kiddie pool full would take a drum or more to hold it.
    A frame without the fork attached can get into one of those wallpaper tubs too. Just soak one portion at a time. Wrap the seat tube in solution saturated rags. It may take a little longer but you'll end up using less of the oxalic acid and water, and the kids and squirrels can play in the kiddie pool. If reusing the solution is a goal you won't have gallons of it to mess with.

  19. #19
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    "If you have rusted Chrome you have already done the thing you should NEVER do. You let it rust. QUOTE.

    True!


    "For all intensive purposes it will never be the way it was." QUOTE.

    True, but depends upon the quantity/severity.


    "How you now remove the rust then polish out the marks left by it is really insignificant." QUOTE.

    If the damage is not severe, using an abrasive will remove the thin (.0005") chrome plate and you

    will be left with the nickel which now will tarnish.


    "Like polishing marks from automotive paint work ,try the finest polish first." QUOTE.

    Plating is unlike paintwork, the only thing that they have in common is that they require protection,
    wax, sealer, etc. Plating, by the way, is porus.



    Regards,
    J T

  20. #20
    Dolce far niente bigbossman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nivekdodge View Post
    Be careful guys, this thread is a hair's breath away from an emergency rrom visit.
    Oxalic Acid is fairly weak, and when properly used you are nowhere near an Emergency Room visit.

    Don't over-do it guys, all you need is a pinch or two in a large pan of water, and let the parts soak overnite. Use latex or nitrile gloves -Don't use your bare hands in the solution, don't eat it, and don't breathe in the dust and you'll be ok.

    See:
    http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/o6044.htm
    Last edited by bigbossman; 01-25-09 at 09:36 AM.
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    Avenir Equipped BlankCrows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nivekdodge View Post
    If you have rusted Chrome you have already done the thing you should NEVER do. You let it rust.
    We're typically not the owners who have let the things rust. We get them after they are already in that condition.

  22. #22
    Senior Member PBR Streetgang's Avatar
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    I Agree with JT on oxalic acid vs. abrasives. If you use OA to chemically remove the rust, then there is no chance of removing the chrome. Abrasives like steel wool will remove the rust very well, but also (1) remove at least some chrome and (2) become more abrasive as chunks of rust are broken off and added to the steel wool.

    The chrome layer is very thin. A much thicker layer of nickel is underneath the chrome. Nickel plating looks nice, but not as nice as chrome. OA helps keep your chrome, well, chrome.

  23. #23
    Senior Member CrankyFranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
    Oxalic Acid is fairly weak, and when properly used you are nowhere near an Emergency Room visit. -Don't use your bare hands in the solution, don't eat it, and don't breathe in the dust and you'll be ok.
    See:http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/o6044.htm
    Thanks for posting this bbm.
    The link above didn't mention the LD50 for it.
    "LD50 (LD50 is the Median Lethal Dose, which is the dose of a drug or chemical predicted to produce a lethal effect in 50 percent of the subjects to whom the dose is given) in rats is 375 mg/kg. So for a person about 145 pounds (65.7 kg) that's about 25 grams of pure oxalic acid required to cause death."

    I'm guessing that 25 grams is about a heaping tablespoon or two.

    The Health rating of 4 (cyanide is also 4, I think) is because all the oxalic acid you absorb/ingest will end up complexing with your calcium and will end up plugging up your kidneys. You can not excrete it. It accumulates as insoluble CaOxalate. That is why they rate this as 4, extremely damaging to health. So even if you don't take in the 25G needed to kill you outright, your kidneys might rot with a smaller amount or with repeated exposure.

    Yes, it is a weak acid - the chemical term to indicate it does not ionize completely in water, unlike hydrochloric, sulfuric, etc. Acetic acid is also a weak acid. But unlike acetic acid, Oxalic is toxic to the kidneys.

    So it pays to warn people when they use this!!! Especially using it around critters to which you do not wish an agonizing death.
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  24. #24
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    As an organic chemist who knows, by heart, the protocol for handling hazardous and deadly chemicals - I'll give you something to memorize aside from my warning on cleaning up/neutralizing spills:

    In case of contact with skin and eyes, immediately flush skin and eyes with clean water for at least 15 minutes. For eyes - seek immediate medical attention.

    This is laboratory safety protocol 101 for oxalic acid (it gets more advanced as you work with such as phosgene and hydrogen cyanide...). Memorize it in case of accident to self/others.

    Oh - and I sure wouldn't suggest a kiddie-pool. Least of all outdoors on a hot summer day! A bathtub would be more appropriate. It won't eat the pipes if you keep water running when you drain the oxalic acid solution.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  25. #25
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    After reading about oxalic acid here, I tried some recently on a motorcycle I'm fixing up. I mixed it sorta like a paste, since I couldn't dip it, though the crystals seem to settle out of solution. Painted it on, waited and washed, steel wooled and/or wire brushed it off. Worked ok, honestly no better than the pink rust remover (Naval Jelly) I've been using for decades. And the pink stuff is much easier to apply and remove.

    Soaking may be another story.

    BTW, I keep a plastic container with the pink rust remover to throw small parts in; soak awhile, rinse with hot water, spray with lube and wipe dry. Touch up with steel wool.

    BTW2, you can use a fine brass or stainless wire wheel or chrome as long as you don't get too aggressive. Been doing that for decades too; in fact just wirewheeled 2 motorcycle exhaust systems that were pretty badly rusted. Used to do it to frames with chrome lugs too, when I used to paint them...

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