Shop uses for vinegar

62 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

Two days ago I took down a 228D Coleman lantern that I bought at a flea market. I dropped all the parts into a container of vinegar to strip the varnish that had built up since 1953(date of mfg stamped on font of this lantern) and today I reassembled the lantern with parts that looked almost new. The lantern operates like new now. My results were way better than lacquer thinner or carburetor cleaner.

I came up with an effective container: a large plastic coffee can, filled with vinegar, using a string across the lip to vent and the lid snapped on tight. Good for parts up to about 6 inches long. I have a 5 gallon bucket ready to go, but have not needed that large of a container so I haven't added vinegar to it.

So to date I use vinegar around the shop to

remove zinc
remove scale and rust
remove varnish

What other uses have you found?

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Etching pattern welded billets

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

cleaning off sticky AcraGlass that got where it wasn't supposed to go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

making heavy rust on steel cleaned with muriatic acid :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I'm now convinced that it would be a good idea to keep a container of viniger in the shop.
What do ya'll think about using it to clean out an old gas tank on a generater?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Probably work wonders, and there is no argument about safety (unlike using thinner) with adding some rattle material. I like using BB's, but other people like small nuts and bolts. Just count what goes in so you know you got it all out. You can follow up with thinner or denatured alcohol to make sure all the water is out after.

I would remove it from the motor so there is no risk of water moving into the motor.

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

So, vinegar works well to remove scale? How long does it take? This is very interesting! Soon I plan to build a tumbler for large stuff, but for small items vinegar sounds like it would work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post


So, vinegar works well to remove scale? How long does it take? This is very interesting! Soon I plan to build a tumbler for large stuff, but for small items vinegar sounds like it would work.


I let sit for about 24 hours, then wash in ammonia and water to neutralize the vinegar, which is easier than baking soda, then wash with soap and water and a wire brush. A stiff nylon brush would likely be enough. I have left stuff in for as long as 7 days by accident, and there was obvious etching, but no real harm done.

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

On scale removal, it helps to take the piece out every few hours and scrub with a bristle brush. Cleaning off the loose oxides helps the vinegar penetrate and work faster.

I only recently learned that vinegar is great for uncured epoxy cleanup, and much safer than the usual solvents like acetone. I see BIGGUNDOCTOR beat me to that one. :) Citrus juices (probably also citrus cleaners) should work as well. The acidity is the key.

Rusty vinegar will blacken woods that are high in tannins, like oak. It seems to be a fairly common technique on antique knives. You could do faux bog oak this way. If you're working with a lower tannin wood, you can add tannins by soaking the wood in really strong tea, walnut husks, etc. (Or you can just use tannic acid. It's readily available on the Internet.) More info here. That guy uses quebracho bark powder to make his tannin tea, but regular ol' store-bought tea also seems to work well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post


On scale removal, it helps to take the piece out every few hours and scrub with a bristle brush. Cleaning off the loose oxides helps the vinegar penetrate and work faster.


I admit a certain level of laziness
Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post


I admit a certain level of laziness
Phil


Well, I said it helps. I didn't say it's necessary, or that I routinely do it. But for the really motivated ones out there... :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Time required is a function of how much scale, how strong the vinegar and what temperature it's working at.

Generally I toss it in the bucket and get it out the next day sometime and wash it with a wirebrush under the hose bib and spray it with WD40 before it's even dry.

I left an old adze in it for a week once and you could clearly see where the body was made of wrought iron and they had welded a thin pad of steel to it to be the cutting edge---I lent it to a Mat Sci proff at the university here to show his classes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

vinigar is great...if you wanna remove mill scale or just regular scale from the forge it rocks... I keep a 5 gal pail and I put a plastic plant pot ( cheap ones from a green house) and I tie nylon cord to lift the "basket" out of the vinegar...i tried wire but it deteriorates...duh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Wow! This is great!! You all can probably guess what I'm going to buy tonight on my way home from work. :D All these years and I never knew about using vinegar. I learn something here every day. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

A couple of months ago, I wrote an short article for my guilds newsletter on the uses of vineger. If you care to read it, here it is:

The wonders of vinegar



There are a few items that a Blacksmith should consider having in his shop, vinegar is one of them. Yes, I'm talking about plain old vinegar. What is vinegar? Well, here's what it says at Wikipedia:

Vinegar is an acidic liquid processed from the fermentation of ethanol in a process that yields its key ingredient, acetic acid (ethanoic acid). It also may come in a diluted form. The acetic acid concentration typically ranges from 4 to 8 percent by volume for table vinegar (typically 5%) and higher concentrations for pickling (up to 18%). Natural vinegars also contain small amounts of tartaric acid, citric acid, and other acids.

OK, now that we know what vinegar is, besides putting it on our salads, what can we do with it? Well, there's a number of good uses I've found for vinegar.

First, you can use it to remove rust from iron. Simply submerge the iron in vinegar and come back in the morning. If heavily rusted, it might take a few days. After you take the iron out of the vinegar, you'll need to neutralize the acid. You can do this by washing it in warm water with a bit of baking soda. I like to use hot soapy water, it feels like I'm doing more if I have suds. Afterwards, wax, oil or paint as desired.

Second, you can use it to accelerate rusting. Get a spray bottle, fill it with vinegar and spray away. Once you have the rusted look you want, neutralize the vinegar by treating with warm water and baking soda.

Third, if you want to get a really high shine to your iron, leave it overnight in vinegar, neutralize and when you wire brush it, you'll be amazed at how shiny it becomes.

Lastly, if you use borax while forge welding, you'll need to remove all trace of the borax. If you don't, given time, the borax will rehydrate and you'll get a white powdery bloom around the weld. Simply wire brushing, isn't enough. You have to soak it in vinegar. How long? I really don't know. Overnight is what I do. And like every other time you use vinegar, you'll need to neutralize it. I do the same procedure as when removing rust.

Now every time someone mentions using vinegar, someone else with say muriatic acid works better. That's true, muriatic acid works much faster then vinegar and will tackle jobs that vinegar would have a hard time doing. However, if my kid gets into the shop and tries drinking my vinegar, I don't have much to worry about, can you say the same if it was a bottle of muriatic acid?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I've heard of the borax bloom, good to know there is a simple cure. I also like the vinegar over muriatic because of safety around children and pets, and the fact that iron doesn't rust around the sealed bottle either.
Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Gerald, about the accidental drinking thing....Recently my wife decided to clean out the kettle with vinegar and didn't think to tell me. So I get up the next morning and stagger into the kitchen, notice that there's plenty of water in the kettle and proceed to make tea with it. It was much more effective waking me up than regular tea as only one sip had me sitting bolt upright with bulging eyes. She found this amusing. (and yup I'm glad it wasn't HCl!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Drop a handful of copper scraps in a pint of vinegar and let it sit for a week or more, then use that solution to patinate steel. Wipe it on, let dry, then neutralize. It gives it a sort of gray/gold tone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Another use for vinegar while in the shop, putting it on ya fish and chips at lunch time.

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post


Another use for vinegar while in the shop, putting it on ya fish and chips at lunch time.

Phil


Fresh only I hope, I prefer a nice malt vinegar instead of plain white vinegar.
Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

What is the shelf life of vinegar in the shop? What amount of surface can you treat with a given amount of vinegar? I"ve only ever seen the 1/2 quart glass bottles at the grocery store. Is it available in industrial strength and quantities?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Bigger grocery stores have plastic gallons. If the store has a canning section, check there too. In a closed bottle shelf life is indefinably, or at least years.

I don't know how far it goes for cleaning scale. A quart will strip most of zinc off of 8 inches of 2 inch galvanized water pipe, about 75% in my sample of 1.

Acetic acid 5% is store vinegar, "glacial" acetic acid is pure acetic acid. The focus of this thread is on the grocery store variety because it is common, available nearly anywhere, and rather safe in the shop and home for a number of reasons, especially when compared to muriatic acid (Hydrochloric acid).

Gerald's post earlier has a lot of good detail in it.

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I also use it to wash up with after I am through working for the day. I just dip my hands in the baking soda solution and scrub the grime off with a brush, the rinse with vinegar and water.

I use this for bathing and cleaning my hair too as soap play havoc on my skin most of the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

A place like Sam's Club will sell it by the box of two 1 gallon plastic bottles cheaply! Don't pay extra for fancy vinegar as for our use it's a commodity!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now