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Removing Zinc Coating From Galvy Wire
Article © MAIL User: chainmaileaglescout

(Editor's Note: MAIL takes no responsibility for any injuries or hilarious Youtube videos that result from trying anything in this article)

I have been making chainmail for six years now, and I was constantly irked when my galvanized wire became grey and powdery. So irked was I that I schemed and plotted to get rid of the zinc coating that was making my chainmailing experience that much more annoying. I could never get my chainmail clean: I tried steel wool, sandpaper, and rolling my armor around in a bucket of sand. I took my crusade to M.A.I.L. and I came across an article that suggested using pool chemicals to treat my hauberk.

When I suggested this to my father, he came up with another solution. He suggested milk-stone remover*. For those of you who don’t know, milk-stone is a calcium buildup in milking equipment that can harbor bacteria, something you don’t want in your milk supply. Anyway, milk-stone remover is usually around 60% phosphoric acid, with the rest being water and colorants. I know that Fleet Farm has this in stock, and it should be in other hardware stores.

Now, to prepare for the anti-zinc scourge. If you have small samples, a Tupperware or glass container will work perfectly (as long as you thoroughly wash the container afterwards, it’s perfectly safe to eat or drink out of). Larger pieces will require a plastic bucket. Do NOT use a metal bucket, unless you want the acid start eating at the bucket. Now mix one part milk-stone remover to four parts water**. If you haven’t taken chemistry 101, here’s a handy tip: always add the acid to the water, not the other way around. Working with acid can be dangerous and adding water to concentrated acid could have a potent reaction. Better safe than sorry, right?

(Editor's Note: Acid vapor/fumes can also be generated, and can eat away at skin/clothing. Be careful, kids!)

As your chainmail begins to steep, the acid will begin to eat away at the zinc and produce hydrogen gas. HYDROGEN GAS IS EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE! BE SURE TO CONDUCT THIS IN A WELL-VENTILATED ENVIRONMENT. (Editor's Note: FOR REALS.) When the concoction stops bubbling, either your chainmail has been cleaned of its zinc coating, or all the acid has been neutralized, and you will need to add more. After you have stripped the zinc from your chainmail, it is essentially mild steel and it will rust. However, removing rust is relatively easy, and there are other articles for that.

I am in no way responsible for any injury/harm that may come from using the information in this article. Keep in mind that you are working with ACID. Be extremely careful.

*Working on the farm, my dad and his family would work with milk-stone remover bare-handed. However, I would strongly advise that you use gloves when working with the concentrated acid.

** As a personal preference, I also use one-half part hydrogen peroxide as a catalyst. It increases the reaction rate.
Original URL: http://www.mailleartisans.org/articles/articledisplay.php?key=593