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Rust nightmare


Has anyone ever closed up their studio for a week and come back to a
rust nightmare? I am working with many chemicals including black
max, liver of sulfer and other plating chemicals, what is it???


I personally have experienced ruty tools directly attributed to
patinas… specifically liver of sulpher or similar oxidizers. I have
only used them outdoors (with the aid of a butane torch in the
winter) for at least the past 20 years now.



I close my shed for a day, and come back two days later (the
shortest time was 1/2 a day), and it’s usually nice and rusty, thank
you humidity. The problem has been lessened (not completely removed)
by using Lanox.

Regards Charles A.


Hi Patricia;

The worst offender for rusting tools is an open pickle pot or any
open container of acid.

David L. Huffman


High acid content in the air probably from your pickle pot. If you
find yourself gone for an extended period of time either cover
tightly or discard all together.


Nitric, hydrochloric or sulfuric acids can all rust tools in a
heartbeat if they are not stored in properly sealed containers. They
all fume, emit acid vapor at room temperature and pressure. If you
have acid plating solutions then you likely have hydrochloric or
sulfuric acids present in them. That would be my first guess.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


Using PhDown for pickle seems to be working best for me. Never have
had a rust problem, but never leave the pot on after a session is
over. Here in Colorado there isn’t much chance for the humidity
problem!!! HA I just picked up another container of the PhDown at
Home Depot today. When the solution is warm, it is so much better
than Sparex, which used to be the only thing suggested.

Rose Marie Christison


Liver of sulfur has to be the worst. Both the Dry Granules and the
Liquid will do a rusty thing on tools. One vendor was showing me
hammers that were covered with rust. They had been stored below the
display of the Silver Black bottles. Now the bottles and granules
are stored in locking Picnic coolers separately in the store.

Rose Marie Christison

I just picked up another container of the PhDown at Home Depot
today. When the solution is warm, it is so much better than Sparex,
which used to be the only thing suggested. 

Remember that both PhDown (and similar products) and Sparex, use the
exact same active ingredient, sodium bisulphate. The only
significant difference between the two products are price, and the
fact that PhDown doesn’t have that infuriating brown gunk (which does
nothing useful I can discern, but makes a mess of the pickle pot)
contaminating it. if you find that PhDown is pickling your metal
faster, then no doubt you’re mixing it up more concentrated, because
as a pickle, the two should be similar if mixed to the same strength.
It’s the aspects OTHER than actual pickling ability that make PhDown
so preferable. Sparex, simply put, is overpriced, and is sold impure
with regard to that annoying waxy or gunky brown residue. PhDown, by
comparision, has some anticaking compounds added so the powder pours
and doesn’t clump, but, mixes up nice and clear with no sludge

Peter Rowe

Nitric, hydrochloric or sulfuric acids can all rust tools in a

I have a cabinet where I store all my chemicals, i.e. mixed pickle,
liquid fluxes, blackening agents, etc., all in sealed containers and
I can attest to the corrosion of ferrous metal. One day the door is
going to fall off because the hinges are so rusted.

Rick Copeland


Speaking of rust nightmares, I have observed the following in both
the laboratory environment and in the studio. People often feel safe
in storing acidic components in glass vessels such as canning jars
and jars formerly containing condiments such as mustard or
mayonnaise. The lids are not usually made of glass but of metal. The
lids corrode, come apart and drop pieces of the corroding metal into
the brew. Not a good idea relative to safe living and bright tools. I
have also encountered problems with deterioration of plastic
containers, even those intended for chemical storage, when they are
placed in a cabinet with “mixed fumes” from materials other than
those the container is intended to hold… I recently lifted a plastic
bottle containing a strong oxidizer and had my thumb go through the
side. I was cleaning the chemical cabinet–about time! My point is
that we should closely consider the vessels in which we store our
hazardous chemicals as to suitability for those specific chemicals as
well the “chemical environment” in which the vessels are stored.
Further, the storage area should be checked periodically for

Many research laboratories store containers of acids and bases in
polymer-coated wooden cabinets and organic solvents (alcohols, paint
thinner, acetone, toluene, brenzene, etc.) in vented and
electrically grounded metal cabinets. If you can arrange it, it is a
good idea to vent chemical storage cabinets to the outside. If your
storage is sizable and you are having problems with fumes, the cost
of installing a vent hose may be offset by shiny tools and less
health risk.

I confess. In the heat and hurry of he moment, I have stored
chemicals in inappropriate vessels, intending to correct the mistake
when things slowed down. They never slowed. I cleaned up the mess
much later. We shouldn’t do this kind of thing. Sorry.

Gerald Vaughan