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Hot Chemical Dip Cleaning or Hot-Tanking
Article © MAIL User: MrSchnuh

A cheap (and relatively easy) alternative to clean your armor instead of tumbling in media is hot chemical dipping (or hot-tanking as it's known to gearheads).
This is the way I clean my armor and here's why:
1. It's cheap.
2. It's easy.
3. It's faster than soaking in cold cleaners.
4. It won't take off anodizing or galvanizing like tumbling.
5. The chemical dip can be reused over and over, unlike Citrus Oil cleaners.
6. Hot liquids can hold more matter in suspension than cold liquids, and when it cools off all the excess it holds goes to the bottom, so you can take the liquid out, scrub all the gunk out of your container, and use that liquid again and again.

There are a few ways to go about hot tanking. The first is the most costly, if done on a regular basis. All you have to do is find an automotive machine shop (one that does engine rebuilds and upgrades) and ask if they can hot tank your armor and how much it will cost, they are usually pretty reasonable and will likely be able to clean as much armor as you want all at one time.

The second way is pretty cheap, but can be a little dangerous if you aren't careful because it does involve fire. Find an old steel stock pot (garage sale or rummage sale) that is big enough to fit your piece into it. Next you'll need some acid (and not the type that makes you see pretty colors), something strong enough to clean the grime but won't eat your precious mail, or you can go to an automotive machine shop and ask what they use and where to get it. After you have all that go outside put your mail in the pot, add your acid, and heat it up. You can use a small fire and some big rocks and an old oven rack or a Coleman stove, even an electric hot plate works, make sure you don't let it boil and make sure your acid isn't flammable (DO NOT USE CITRIC ACID BASED CLEANER IT IS EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE, not to mention it leaves a worse mess on your mail than when you started if it burns on). The reason I say not to let it boil is you can use it over and over, and boiling it means you lose your acid up in steam (like burning money!!!). After your armor is clean, cool the liquid and either suck the liquid out (from the surface) with some sort of pump, or put a small valve in your pot about an inch or so from the bottom to drain it out and leave the gunk.
The third way to do this is to build a hot tank of your own. The most expensive thing you will need will be some sort of tub, the size will depend on your needs. Tractor Supply Co. has galvanized steel tubs of varying sizes for under $100 (for the biggest size they have, and boy is it big). You'll have to make the tub sit off the ground to fit a heating source underneath, bricks work pretty good for this, paving bricks or cinder block but you'll want it to go all the way around the bottom so the heat stays in. Next you'll need a way to regulate the temperature and actually heat the tub, a few good sources are old ovens or hot water heaters. Gas or electric both work good, depends on what you prefer. I used a gas hot water heater (fairly easy to strip out what you need and it won't boil the liquid) and mounted the control box on the front with the burner in the center of the tank for even heat, I had to extend the gas pipe to get the burner centered (mine is the big tank). Another thing to remember is make sure you put the temperature sensor in the tank at the top of your liquid level when it is empty. Last thing you will need is a lid and a raised rack for the bottom so your armor doesn't sit on the bottom of the tank.

Hope this helps a little, good luck cleaning your maille.
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