Introduction- How to Fix Pitted Chrome
Chrome is a shiny metal used in vehicles, including mountain bikes. Coating resistant with a brilliant shine, chrome provides an attractive additional layer for any engine.
Although chrome can be highly tarnish-resistant, it tends to rust over time. If this rust settles on the metal, the rust can cause corrosion on the chrome parts. In addition to recreating the truncated portion, you can further restore the beauty of the finish by removing rust and polishing the metal.
Although chrome has a high level of luster, it is also susceptible to a condition known as corrosion. When looking at older chrome parts, you may notice small areas and marks on the surface, which give an uneven texture. The bumps indicate pitting, which is similar to rust, and it affects certain types of metals.
The faucets in the home are just as sensitive as bicycle tires, car wheels, and other chrome surfaces. Restoring chrome facets eliminates these signs and restores the initial shine.
This process is only effective if the chrome is not peeling off. With polishing, the pitted surface can shine again and eventually will look almost new.
How to remove rust from chrome with aluminum foil
There are two very easy homemade methods to remove rust from chrome, and two of them may surprise you: washing with foil to get smooth rust and treating the rust with a mild acid first (Diet Coke should work) for more extensive restoration work.
Chrome is typically used to add a protective or shiny coating to other metals, and the metal under chrome is often a source of rust. Removing this rust with household items is surprisingly easy and requires little effort.
An easy and inexpensive way to remove rust and polish chrome surfaces by hand is to rub with saltwater soaked aluminum foil.
This process offers two advantages. First of all, since aluminum foil is softer than steel, it will not scratch the surface. Secondly, a by-product of the process creates a fine metallic polishing compound that softens the chrome surface to give it a brilliant shine.
How does it work?
Rust is an oxidized metal. Heat is generated by rubbing aluminum foil on chrome; some of the aluminum also oxidizes to produce aluminum oxide. Aluminum has a more eminent reduction potential (a tendency to absorb electrons and, in the process, reduce or break down) than chrome. Thus, it will remove oxygen atoms from all oxides on the surface of chrome, which changes the rust properties and breaks them down.
A common way to clean a rusty chrome surface is to use fine steel wool. However, when you use this method, it takes a lot of effort, and you may end up with a slightly boring surface with a few scratches, not to mention the dirty “dust” left by the steel wool. This is because you are physically shaving off the rust.
When using the aluminum foil method, it chemically dissolves rust, so there is no need to scrub it so hard, and because the aluminum foil is softer than chrome, it has little or no scratches. This method also allows you to remove rust from small pitting without having to dig on the surface.
Aluminum oxide created by friction when washing the surface of chrome removes rust and, when combined with added water, creates its polishing compound for a clean, smooth, and shiny surface.
Steps to Restore a Pitted Chrome Bike Surface
- Cut a strip of aluminum foil into small squares; about 4 by 4 inches should be sufficient.
- Clean or wash the surface to remove dirt.
- Dip a square in salted water or sprinkle a little water and spread it on the surface.
- Place the wet square on the surface to be cleaned for even coverage.
- Start rubbing an area of 6-20 centimeters, and remember that you should not rub too hard. As you rub, you will feel the surface become smoother until the foil slides over it. You will also notice that a light brown paste forms. This is a result of the chemical reaction.
- When the surface is smooth and polished, take a clean cloth, and wipe off the polish.
- After you finish cleaning and polishing the item, you need to cover the surface to protect it. At the very least, you can clean it well with a clean cloth. Since the material inherently contains a certain amount of oil, this will at least give you some protection.
This video shows how simple it is to restore a chrome bike part using aluminum foil and salted water (Credit to Michael Denton):
Easy Removal of Pitted Chrome with Mild Acid
The “Coca-Cola” method uses cola, lemon juice, or other mild household acids. Any glue or soda that has phosphoric acid in the ingredients can be used to dissolve the rust. Lemon juice or vinegar also works. These mild acids can remove rust without any risk of corroding the surrounding metal.
Why diet sodas? Diet sodas do not contain sugar, so that the process will be less sticky. Avoid strong or concentrated acids, which can cause corrosion, weaken the base metal, and produce toxic gases.
Dip or cover the chrome with the liquid. It is ideal to soak the product for 10–15 minutes to help dissolve the rust. If you cannot soak the object, lightly pour the acid on the surface and then scrub with a dishcloth or a hard sponge.
If you are working on a car or motorbike part, wash off the residue with a mild soap suitable for auto refinishing, rinse and dry. Do not use dishwashing soap, as this can damage the paint on your bike!
Finishing Off the Task
Finally, if it’s a bike part or something exposed to weather elements, you will want to protect it with wax or chrome lacquer.
The best method of finishing would be to use a small amount of chrome polish or something like turtle wax. Be sure to clean the surface first with a paper towel instead of a rag, as the paper does not contain oil. You will then have a clean, dry surface to stick the wax or varnish on.