Thursday, November 6, 2014
METAL HOW TO TRIVIA: POLISHING RUST OFF OF CHROME OR STEEL USING ALUMINUM FOIL.
My husband and I have been in the metal business for a combined 30 years now but I still constantly learn new things. Typically we use caustic chemicals to remove rust and such but this would be a non-toxic method to consider.
I first heard about removing rust from chrome with aluminum foil watching the American Restoration show this weekend. It is good to note that this method will also remove rust from steel, though obviously, raw steel will not polish to the degree of chrome plating.
Basically, you use a piece of aluminum foil crumpled up, dip it in water and then with a little bit of elbow grease, the chrome is polished out into a nice shine.
To summarize: When heat is created by the friction of rubbing the aluminum on the chrome and rusted area, the aluminum oxidizes, creating aluminum oxide. First, the oxidation process of the aluminum changes the properties of the rust on the chrome, breaking it down. Second, the aluminum oxide mixed with the water produces a fine metal polishing compound paste that smooths and polishes the chrome.
Since the rust is actually getting broken down, thereby making removal easier and the aluminum is softer than the chrome so you don't get the scratches that you would by having to more aggressively scrub with steel wool or other similar abrasives. As you are creating a liquid polish, this will also help get down into dings and divots to dissolve the rust. The edges created by the crumpled piece of aluminum will also help smooth out the pits or divots to a degree.
Use more water for more shine.
Once you have gotten some initial shine with the first piece of aluminum, wipe off this first batch of paste and finish with a clean piece of aluminum and water.