View Full Version : removing stains- bluing remover?
01-16-2009, 02:58 PM
I have recently bought a few razors from ebay, and although they are in pretty good shape, ie no active rust, they do all have black stains on the blades.
I can see from the way the blades reflect light that the polish remains in the stained areas, and it seems a shame to sand them aggressively.
I was thinking about these stains and it struck me that they are the same thing as bluing on firearms, indeed 'rust bluing' is a controlled version of what we experience on our razors.
Several manufacturers make blue remover creams and solutions, and I imagine these would work a treat to remove the stains.
Unfortunately, 'gun' is a dirty word here in the UK, and I am having trouble locating some blue remover. I can get hold of it if absolutely necessary, but it will be difficult and expensive.
I was wondering if any of you guys have some of this to hand, or can get it locally and would be willing to try an experiment?
In theory, it should work perfectly, and if so, it will be worth the effort for me to get hold of some, but it would be nice to know for sure first.
If it does work, then it could save a lot of people a lot of sanding. The razors I have would probably only need a polish if it wasn't for the stains.
01-17-2009, 12:30 PM
I think you would be better off with some metal polish like Simichrome or Maas or some cape cod polishing cloths which are designed for that purpose. Sometimes those stains will not come off easily and you have no choice but to use some abrasive.
01-17-2009, 12:33 PM
Maas should get most of it off.
01-17-2009, 05:06 PM
If they're just water stains, I wouldn't worry about it. Gives 'em character.
01-18-2009, 01:26 PM
Well the idea really was to avoid removing metal and get rid of the stains chemically with little to no 'elbow grease' needed.
Bluing remover seems like the obvious choice, as it is designed specifically for removing bluing, which is effectively what these stains are.
Sticky, while I understand that some may appreciate the character that the water stains give to the blade, it's not really for me, I prefer a polished brand new look.
One of my razors is a very old frameback that had no active rust or pitting, but had horrendous black streaks all over the blade. I have no idea how it got so badly stained without any pitting, but it looked truly awful.
When I first saw the blade I thought to myself that it looked like someone had gone crazy on it with some bluing cream, which is what made me make the connection in my mind.
I have sanded off the stains, but it took a long time and I'm still having trouble in some of the hard to reach nooks and crannies, especially near the pivot point.
I have another razor that has staining in the jimps and that's proving to be an absolute bear to remove. Metal polishes will not help here, or at least would take absolutely ages.
To me, the idea of a solution that could remove the stains and which could be brushed on and washed off would be ideal.
01-18-2009, 03:50 PM
If you are bound and determined to go the chemical route, try some of this (http://www.jelmar.com/CLRproducts.htm). I have used it successfully to loosen rust on straight razors (short-term application). It will definitely remove blueing.
I have heard that CLR is known to do bad things to DE's that are soaked in it for any length of time. Don't get it on your razor's scales, either.
I have no idea what it would do to the thin edge if you left a razor in it overnight. One of these days I'll toss a beater in and find out maybe.
01-18-2009, 04:32 PM
They helpfully provide the patent number on their website, so I googled it and from what I can tell, it is the organic acids which are doing the rust removal.
I have been reading a little about this, and from what I gather, citric acid (which is an organic acid) is a good choice, because it doesn't attack steel, or at least not anywhere near as bad as a mineral acid does.
This is a good thing because the ideal outcome would be rust/stain removal with as little etching of the steel as possible, leaving less polishing work to do afterwards.
I asked for some citric acid in my local pharmacy (Boots) a while back because I wanted to strip some zinc plating. The woman who served me looked at me very disapprovingly and told me that they didn't sell it. She wasn't very polite either.
I found out afterwards that heroin users use citric acid for something to do with injecting drugs, so I'm guessing that she assumed that I was an addict :mad:
I may try lemon juice to avoid further embarrassment, and I'll test it on an old Opinel with a slightly rusted carbon steel blade that I have around here somewhere.
Sticky, am I to assume that the way you phrased your remark 'If you are bound and determined to go the chemical route.....' implies that you don't think it's a good idea?
Here's my reasoning:
For 'sanding' read 'sanding or polishing'
1. Sanding is a pain in the rear.
2. Sanding can't reach some of the nooks and crannies that need cleaning.
3. Sanding will inevitably round off some of the edges and angles of the blade.
4. Using a solution may be less damaging to etching/ gold plating on blades (this is only an educated guess)
5. A liquid could clean the pivot area without needing to remove/ repin the scales.
6. Sanding is dangerous, I have already been bitten once, despite taking great care (ok, so I'm clumsy :biggrin:) If I could reduce sanding to a bare minimum by getting rid of stains with a solution, I get to keep my thumbs for longer....
My other educated guess is that a citric acid solution would not harm most of the materials that scales are made from, but again this remains to be seen.
Is my reasoning flawed? I have experience with firearms and knives, but am new to razors, so if there is something I haven't taken into consideration, please educate me.
01-18-2009, 04:44 PM
Sorry, forgot to add, I too had concerns about the razor's edge in acid, because it's extremely fine to begin with.
Hopefully damage could be avoided because of the less corrosive action of an organic acid, but you could be doubly sure by masking off areas that may be vulnerable, not just the edge but also etching and gold plating.
I have some experience with etching metals using ferric chloride (circuit board etchant). Areas that you want left alone can be painted with nail polish, which can then be washed off with acetone once the process is completed.
I'd guess from what I have read about citric acid that this should be unnecessary, but it might be prudent to protect any gold plating in this way as a precaution.
Normal baking powder in water could be used to neutralize the acid once it had done its job.
01-18-2009, 07:13 PM
Those who have much experience with knives know that you can put a "patina" on knives; on purpose. Vinegar is an acid and is widely used to do exactly that. Potato, apples, mustard paste, and onion juice will also work.
If you wish to use acidic compounds to clean the razor, go slowly and cautiously. Realize that some acids are more likely to apply a patina, than remove it. I don't use acids much and can't be a lot of help in that direction.
I use the more "standard" methods like Ballistol w scotch pad, sanding, Maas, Dremel with sanding wheels, etc...
EDIT: ballistol is also alkaline and will neutralize some acids.
01-18-2009, 07:38 PM
Yes, that is something I thought too, in fact I have used exactly that technique to blacken chain mail.
From what I can gather, it depends on the type of acid, but also on concentration of acid, the amount of time the steel sits in the acid and the type and hardness of the steel.
Sometimes the blackening process goes badly and can be wiped off with a finger, and this would be desirable in the case of a razor.
From what I understand, citric acid shouldn't touch the steel itself too much so hopefully it will work. It might be better to use a cotton bud to scrub at the stain rather than soaking in a bath of acid.
One thing that may point to this not working is that before the advent of stainless steel, pocket knives often had a 'fruit blade' made of silver, as using the carbon steel blade on fruit would discolour either the blade or the fruit depending on which account you read.
I might well be barking up the wrong tree, I guess the only way of knowing is to experiment.
I'll get some lemon juice tomorrow and give it a go.
01-19-2009, 10:46 AM
Not used it on razors.
But I know for a fact Naval Jelly will take the blueing right off a gun.:blushing: (Luckily this happened to a friends gun, not mine)
Should be able to get that stuff anywhere.
01-19-2009, 01:47 PM
Yes, that's what is usually recommended for bluing removal, phosphoric acid is the active ingredient, and that's what's in a lot of proprietary bluing removers.
Unfortunately, while you may be able to get it anywhere in the US, that doesn't seem to be the case here in the UK.
I'd also be concerned about the etching effects of phosphoric acid.
I've found lots of rust remover products that advertise both that they don't touch the sound metal, and that they are made from natural plant extracts and are environmentally friendly. To me, that points to citric acid.
I forgot to pick up lemon juice when I was shopping earlier, so the experiment will have to wait...
01-19-2009, 02:44 PM
Incidentally, I thought of another reason!
The razor that I have that had the particularly bad stains but no pitting was pretty sharp when I got it. It wasn't shave ready, but it would pop hairs off my arm with ease.
Now I have sanded the blade, it has lost this sharpness and will need a lot more honing to get it into a usable condition.
I was careful when sanding, but a lot of the stains were at or near the edge, so touching the edge with the sandpaper was inevitable.
If I had had a liquid that would have dissolved the stains, I probably would only have needed to use abrasive paste on a strop to get this razor going.
02-07-2010, 08:56 AM
I found this site last night while doing a search for how to remove bluing from stainless exhaust pipes, and I feel compelled to chime in for anybody that it may benefit. I had installed a stainless header on my 1993 Yamaha TDM 850, which was having having some carbuerator mixture issues, and consequently turned the pipes terribly blue in the first twelve inches of the header length, and the usual goldish patena the rest of the length except with spotting that looked like pitting. I tried some rust away (phosfuric acid) which helped a little, but then purchased some Blue Away from a cycle shop. I was sceptical to say the least. Oh my gosh! What a pleasent supprise, I won't have to return this stuff to the shop. This stuff with some fine steel wool and white vinegar kicked ass! About twenty minutes per pipe (2) and they look as good, or better than new! I just wanted to pass this on. Now I'm off to the garage to re-install the pipes, Woohoo!
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