Before and After

Kicking this thread off again, and with a rather nice hand forged axe. Early Googles indicate possible late 19thC but am waiting to hear back from a few enquiries.
This was found about 40cm down in a nearby beach last week after some sand had shifted. Would normally have been out of reach or too scratchy to chase. Gave a really rich tone rather than the usual iron grunt which is why I followed it.
Still needs a fair few hours in the passivation bath, the hard work has been done though so it’s back to the low current for cleaning up before treating and sealing with microcrystalline wax.

Any time you lift ancient iron, it’s important to keep it wet until you can treat it, then it needs to be electrolysed and treated to prevent further (rapid) decay. To ensure a good electrical contact with the object, I drill a small hole and bite an old tap in for a couple of threads, then clamp the electrode to this. As passivation only works in direct line between electrodes, a tin can lined with green scouring pads (to prevent accidental shorts) works excellently with a 360° coverage.

This is progress so far…


Looks real interesting. What voltage do you use and what is the electrolyte?

Hi guys I am new to the site and I just wanted to ask with regard to removing the rust off this piece are you wanting to remove all the rust?
I have done a few clean ups on old tools and used Molassas One part to Nine parts Water warm to mix the Molassas and just soak the object and the oxide just dissolves away inside and outside of tubes etc and you just rinse off with water and then protect the cleaned steel item when you are satisfied with the finished surface.
This works only on oil free surfaces! Ron

1 Like

For bulk objects like this, I start with a car battery charger, for maybe 15-30 minutes at a time to shock the heavy scale off the outside, then back it right off, sometimes down to around half an amp. The axe will probably take another couple of weeks before drying well at 110° and treating.
Fine items I use a cellphone charger at milliamps, and often have two or three things brewing on my desk at work (in separate jars).
Electrolyte is just water with a little baking soda, just enough to start the reaction.

I only clean enough scale to reveal or identify. The remaining scale in the pic above will likely stay. You can overclean, and I wouldn’t use electrolysis or chemical (incl. Molasses) on anything with fine detail or precious metal inserts/inlays. That comes down to soaking and time with toothpicks and a loupe.

(And forget the tinfoil ‘trick’ to clean silver - There’s easier ways to ruin coins etc, but not many that are quicker)


Link to Document for cleaning and preserving…Well, Everything really.


Here’s a few pics of some blobs I picked up last night at the beach.
Unfortunately (A) didn’t cooperate, the rest were junk.

(B) is an interesting one, evidence of a steel rod protruding four ways…update castor me thinks

axe looks an oldie think ive seen something like it on aquachigger videos my bet its american.good score