First you will need:
- A large plastic bucket - nothing metal please
- A battery charger - something that produces 6 to 10 amps
- Four electrodes - Rebar does the trick cut 4-6" above your bucket. Each rebar should be wire brushed until clean for good contact with cables and water.
- At least four (4) C-clamps (no copper)
- Arm and Hammer Laundry soda
- Cables with clamps (jumper cables work) for connecting electrodes to each other and to battery charger
- Small link chain or cable to suspend Dutch oven in bucket
- Small lengths of small chain (used to suspend the rusty parts in solution) or some other means to suspend the part to clean into the solution.
(1) Add 1/2 cup Arm and Hammer Laundry soda to your bucket.
(2) Fill bucket with 5 gallons of water
(3) Mix until soda is dissolved
(4) Attach the four rebar to the inside perimeter of the bucket with c-clamps. Make sure they are secure. They should never touch the dutch oven.
(5) Connect electrodes together with cables (or decent gauge wire works too). These are you anodes.
(6) Suspend the Dutch oven to be cleaned in the center of the bucket. This might be the tricky-est part and requires some creativity as the Dutch oven can't touch the rebar OR ANYTHING CONNECTED ELECTRICALLY TO THE DUTCH OVEN. It is possible to hang the Dutch oven from chains attached to a couple rebar that are laid across the bucket top, but again anything connected to the Dutch oven should not touch the rebar around the perimeter of the bucket. They should also be as far away from each other as possible. Hence the tricky-ness. The Dutch oven is the cathode.
(7) Now its time to attach to the battery charger. One jumper cable connection gets connected to the Dutch oven, other end to the negative (-) lead on the charger. The positive (+) lead on the charger goes to the rebar or electrodes. Just remember negative to Dutch oven, positive to rebar. All connections should be made to clean metal. Keep water away from the charger itself. Just a precaution so you don't get electrocuted.
(8) Turn on charger. Almost immediately you'll see bubbles. You're witnessing water molecules being torn apart. The result is hydrogen and oxygen being released. For this reason, it should be done with plenty of ventilation. A closed space with just hydrogen is flammable. A closed space with a perfect mix with two part hydrogen, one part oxygen mix is explosive. Don't do indoors, in a closed garage, or tight space. Get some ventilation.
(9) Watch the rust come right off and attach to the rebar. As that happens you might want to clean them off. They will also slowly disappear over time. Don't touch the electrodes, leads or Dutch oven. You, obviously, will get shocked. Also, if you want to detach any of the jumpers or cables, turn off the charger. This will prevent sparks. Remember the emitted gas is flammable. You shouldn't smoke or have any other flames nearby as well.
(10) Dispose of the gunky water. This is safe water and can be poured on your lawn.
Anybody with experience using electrolysis to clean a rusty Dutch oven, please post some comments on how your experiences. Remember to season your cleaned up Dutch oven Enjoy your restored Dutch oven.