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Green crud on copper; how do I get it out/off?

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  • Robert
    Hi, I m new to the list, but my hootch experiments go way back. I found a copper 12 liter fire-extinguisher-bottle that I m going to use for my new boiler. A
    Message 1 of 8 , Apr 6, 2003
      Hi, I'm new to the list, but my hootch experiments go way back.

      I found a copper 12 liter fire-extinguisher-bottle that I'm going to
      use for my new boiler. A real plus is that it has a solid 3 inch
      solid copper screw-cap up top.

      My two questions:

      1) How do I get the green corrosion out of the tank? I was thinking
      of using vinegar, as I have a few gallons. I also have an oxygen
      product that I use for cleaning my fermentor jugs. I might try that,
      but the green crude looks like maybe battery acid would be the only
      thing to cut it. I have 5 gallons of that, and boy, I'm about ready
      to use it!

      2) This thing is about 100 years old. It was a bitch to get the top
      off! While I was hammering at it, the thought occurred to me that it
      must have been put together with lead solder (and rivets) in the
      construction of the tank. Is the lead solder going to be a problem?
      I'll be using silver in the column and condenser, of course...

      Any suggestions?
    • Mike Nixon
      Robert wrote: Subject: [new_distillers] Green crud on copper; how do I get it out/off? Hi, I m new to the list, but my hootch experiments go way back. I found
      Message 2 of 8 , Apr 6, 2003
        Robert wrote:
        Subject: [new_distillers] Green crud on copper; how do I get it out/off?

        Hi, I'm new to the list, but my hootch experiments go way back.

        I found a copper 12 liter fire-extinguisher-bottle that I'm going to use for my new boiler. A real plus is that it has a solid 3 inch
        solid copper screw-cap up top.

        My two questions:

        1)  How do I get the green corrosion out of the tank?  I was thinking of using vinegar, as I have a few gallons.  I also have an oxygen product that I use for cleaning my fermentor jugs. I might try that, but the green crude looks like maybe battery acid would be the only thing to cut it. I have 5 gallons of that, and boy, I'm about ready to use it!

        2)  This thing is about 100 years old.  It was a bitch to get the top off!  While I was hammering at it, the thought occurred to me that it must have been put together with lead solder (and rivets) in the construction of the tank.  Is the lead solder going to be a problem?  I'll be using silver in the column and condenser, of course...

        Any suggestions?
        ====================================
        Welcome Robert!
         
        Others will probably have better suggestions, but I would start by trying dilute battery acid on that verdigris.  Vinegar is unlikely to touch it.  If it proves to be really stubborn, see if you can find someone with a sand-blaster to get the worst off.
         
        Lead solder in the boiler is no problem as metal salts do not get vaporized when you boil the contents.  You could even get away with using lead solder in the column, but it's best to play safe and stick to your decision to use silver solder, particularly with anything that will be in contact with liquid that you finally collect.
         
        Sounds like your still is going to look like a beauty!
         
        All the best,
        Mike N
         
      • deno752002
        ... What are metal salts and how does their presence and/or interaction with the liquid contained effect things? Dene
        Message 3 of 8 , Apr 7, 2003
          > Lead solder in the boiler
          > is no problem as metal salts
          > do not get vaporized when you
          > boil the contents.

          What are metal salts and how does their presence and/or interaction
          with the liquid contained effect things?

          Dene
        • Mike Nixon
          Dene wrote: Subject: [new_distillers] Hey Mike!... Explain this bit for me Lead solder in the boiler is no problem as metal salts do not get vaporized when you
          Message 4 of 8 , Apr 7, 2003
            Dene wrote:
            Subject: [new_distillers] Hey Mike!... Explain this bit for me

            Lead solder in the boiler is no problem as metal salts do not get vaporized when you  boil the contents. 

            What are metal salts and how does their presence and/or interaction with the liquid contained effect things?
            ==========================================
            Sorry Dene ... I forgot that some people may not know these terms.  For those that know them, please skip all this (except the final paragraph) as I'm going to have to go back to basics.
             
            Metal salts are chemical compounds that have one or more metal atoms as part of their structure.  Common table salt is one, being a combination of one sodium atom (a metal) with one chlorine atom (not a metal).  Blue copper sulphate is another common compound that many have seen, if only to grow rather nice large crystals, or for use in the garden as a pesticide or fungicide, or something (I'm not a gardener!)  This is a compound which has one copper atom in it, and thiss too is a metal.  Water is hydrogen and oxygen (no metals) and all the alcohols and other complex compounds produced in fermentation are compound based mainly on carbon (not a metal), hydrogen and oxygen.  Some can also have sulphur as part of the mix, as this is to be found in living material, nitrogen, etc, but no metals.  All these are collectively known as 'organic' compounds. 
             
            Organic compounds and compound like water with no metals as part of their makeup can vaporize fairly easily, but none of the metal salts will.  When you boil a liquid that has metal salts in it, these salts therefore all get left behind in the boiler, and only the water and organic compounds get to reach the column.  The lead in lead solder can react over time if it is in contact with water to form lead salts, and these are rather nasty as the body finds it very difficult to get rid of them.  What's worse, lead salts not only accumulate in organs like the liver, but also adversely affect brain functions.  This is characteristic of all the so-called 'heavy' metals like lead, mercury and cadmium, but 'light' metals such as sodium and potassium are necessary (in the proper quantitities) for good health.
             
            Bottom line for anyone making beverages or processing food is to avoid lead like the plague!  Fortunately, it stays in the boiler, so that's fine for distilling as we are only interested in what we can boil off in the form of vapor ... but please don't use that boiler for heating up soup or anything else you may be eating or drinking, and serving direct from it!!!  It won't harm you immediately, but lead is a very nasty cumulative poison.
             
            Mike N
             
             
             
          • deno752002
            ... Thanks for the explanation Mike...All makes sense, well explained. Dene
            Message 5 of 8 , Apr 7, 2003
              > What are metal salts and
              > how does their presence
              > and/or interaction with the
              > liquid contained effect things?

              Thanks for the explanation Mike...All makes sense, well explained.

              Dene
            • pgleichauer
              Not too sure the acid is a good idea as the green stuff is copper oxide and acid is an oxidiser. Has been a while since I ve done chemistry but you ll need
              Message 6 of 8 , Apr 8, 2003
                Not too sure the acid is a good idea as the green stuff is copper
                oxide and acid is an oxidiser. Has been a while since I've done
                chemistry but you'll need something to either get the oxide layer off
                or to remove the oxygen from it.

                To get the layer off, you could try putting a few handfulls of sand
                and grit into it and giving it an enthusiastic shake, though it
                sounds like it's rather heavy..

                To get the oxygen out, you'll need something more reactive than
                copper, so that the oxygen comes off and reacts with the other
                substance. Luck would have it that almost every metal is more
                reactive than copper. So once you've had a go at getting the thick
                off, put a lot of clean wire wool (iron not ss) into it, add half a
                cup of salt then fill it up with boiling water and seal it. Has to
                be boiling water as you don't want to introduce more oxygen and
                boiling water holds hardly any. Also it'll disolve the salt and as
                it's hot, it'll speed up the reaction rate.

                Soon you'll notice that the wire wool has started to turn to rust and
                there should be a lot less green crud. Easy as pie. Hmmm pie

                Anyhow, the green stuff won't hurt if there is any left as it'll not
                evaporate.

                Good luck

                -phil
              • Mike Nixon
                pgleichauer wrote: Subject: [new_distillers] Re: Green crud on copper; how do I get it out/off? Not too sure the acid is a good idea as the green stuff is
                Message 7 of 8 , Apr 8, 2003
                  pgleichauer wrote:
                  Subject: [new_distillers] Re: Green crud on copper; how do I get it out/off?

                  Not too sure the acid is a good idea as the green stuff is copper oxide and acid is an oxidiser.  Has been a while since I've done chemistry but you'll need something to either get the oxide layer off or to remove the oxygen from it.
                  ==================================
                  Verdigris can be a number of different things, from copper acetate [Cu(CH3COO2.H2O], the basic copper sulphate [CuSO4.3Cu(OH)2)] - often with copper hydroxide mixed in it as well, the basic carbonate [CuCO3.3Cu(OH)2], or in maritime regions a basic chloride (atacamite) [CuCl2.3Cu(OH)2].  Colour ranges from green to blue.
                   
                  All of these dissolve quite happily in dilute sulphuric acid, as do both copper oxides.
                  Your idea of hastening things on with a sand/grit scouring mixture is a good idea, and would be what I would do first to get rid of the loose stuff, and then after acid treatment to give a final polish.
                   
                  Mike N
                   
                • Brandon Lee
                  to remove the green tarnish on copper simply soak it in a vinegar solution--it will get rid of the green tarnish(oxidation) as well as shine up your copper
                  Message 8 of 8 , Apr 8, 2003

                    to remove the green tarnish on copper simply soak it in a vinegar solution--it will get rid of the green tarnish(oxidation) as well as shine up your copper pipe

                     Mike Nixon <mike@...> wrote:

                    pgleichauer wrote:
                    Subject: [new_distillers] Re: Green crud on copper; how do I get it out/off?

                    Not too sure the acid is a good idea as the green stuff is copper oxide and acid is an oxidiser.  Has been a while since I've done chemistry but you'll need something to either get the oxide layer off or to remove the oxygen from it.
                    ==================================
                    Verdigris can be a number of different things, from copper acetate [Cu(CH3COO2.H2O], the basic copper sulphate [CuSO4.3Cu(OH)2)] - often with copper hydroxide mixed in it as well, the basic carbonate [CuCO3.3Cu(OH)2], or in maritime regions a basic chloride (atacamite) [CuCl2.3Cu(OH)2].  Colour ranges from green to blue.
                     
                    All of these dissolve quite happily in dilute sulphuric acid, as do both copper oxides.
                    Your idea of hastening things on with a sand/grit scouring mixture is a good idea, and would be what I would do first to get rid of the loose stuff, and then after acid treatment to give a final polish.
                     
                    Mike N
                     


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