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Chadd S.

Removing forge scale with vinegar

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Hello everyone, hope you're all doing well.

 

So, confession time. I'm very bad at brushing off forge scale as I work, so my blades end up coated in the stuff, and man is it a pain to remove. I only have a 1x30 grinder and it doesn't do a good job of removing scale, or anything for that matter.

 

I've done soaks in vinegar, and it helps, but recently I found some 30% vinegar solution vs the 10% (I think) I've used in the past. I was wondering if 30% would be too strong and damage blades or not. It's 20 bucks, so I haven't bought it yet. Anyone have experience with the stuff?

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Posted (edited)

No it won't damage them. 

 

Edited by Gerald Boggs

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it'll be fine. 

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I should add, be careful with it.  It won't hurt the steel, but it will give you a nasty burn on skin contact, and will blind you if it gets in your eyes.  "Ordinary" white vinegar is 4.5% acidity.  "Cleaning" vinegar is 6.5%.  30% is basically industrial-grade acetic acid.  If you try it, keep an eye on the blade.  If you leave it in too long it can eat away the thinner parts.  The 6.5% stuff removes all scale for me with an overnight soak.  I'd think the 30% would do it in an hour or two.  

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David Mooneyham recommended swimming pool pH reducer, 4 parts water to 1 part reducer.  Sure does a nice job of cleaning off scale and does it a whole lot quicker than vinegar.  I had a "ton" of scale on a hammer head I'm working on.  Stuck it in the reducer and went to town to run some errands.  Came home (about an hour and a half trip) and hit the head with a steel brush and wallah..........it was clean as a whistle.

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If we're going to talk about alternatives, I put my axes and blades in a tumbler.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the advice guys. Might pass on the stuff seeing as its 20 bucks, and learn to brush better as I forge instead. Probably a better long-term solution than the 30% solution...Bad pun intended.

Edited by Chadd S.
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54 minutes ago, Gerald Boggs said:

If we're going to talk about alternatives, I put my axes and blades in a tumbler.

 

That's funny, Gerald, I was thinking just last night about putting my new Dog's Head hammer in my stainless steel pin tumbler before putting a handle on it. That would sure clean it up.

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