The Role of Electrolytic Fluids in the Weld Cleaning Process
Electrolytic weld cleaning, as the name suggests, works on the principle of electrolysis – a chemical process that removes oxides from the metal surface with the help of low-voltage electric current and specialized electrolytic fluids.
In practical terms, electrolytic liquids act as agents in ion distribution and rust removal.
Traditionally, metal parts were immersed in electrolytic baths to bring about the required chemical reaction.
In contrast to this method, Cougartron weld cleaning fluids are applied manually using a carbon brush which also serves as a current conductor. You can read more about the use of weld cleaning brushes in our comprehensive guide here.
The process is very efficient and, unlike chemical pickling, safe for human health and the environment.
The application of electrolytic fluids during weld cleaning also assures simultaneous (re)passivation of the surface. Passivation is the process by which the protective layer of steel is re-established after fabrication. This layer is responsible for preventing corrosion and structural deterioration of the stainless steel.
Neutralizing liquids have a slightly different function. They are applied after weld cleaning and polishing to remove all traces of acidity from the weld surface.
Composition and Safety of Electrolytic Weld Cleaning and Neutralizing Fluids
In essence, our weld cleaning liquids are mild phosphorus-based acids – also found in everyday household cleaning items. This eliminates the need to use complicated protective equipment when working, but also, more importantly, makes the management of liquid waste disposal much simpler.
Although much safer than the alternative chemicals used during weld cleaning, our liquids are still acids, which means you have to handle them with care and take all the necessary precautions.
This includes working in a well-ventilated area (or outdoors) and wearing basic protective equipment (gloves, goggles) – especially if you work for extended periods of time. Additionally, make sure to follow the instructions found inside applicable MSDS files for each fluid.
The evaporation that occurs during electrolytic weld cleaning consists mostly of steam (>90%) which makes it much safer than the substances released during welding.
Alternative methods such as chemical pickling do not provide these benefits which you can read more about here.
Neutralizing fluids share most of these characteristics in terms of safety and ease of handling. For example, our CGT-N1 neutralizing liquid contains, in addition to water, baking soda and ethanol – substances that are widely used in homes and workshops around the globe.
The key to their effectiveness is in a carefully defined formula – The same result is impossible to achieve using water alone.
Application of Cougartron Fluids during Weld Cleaning
As mentioned earlier, Cougartron fluids are applied to the surface using special carbon weld cleaning brushes.
The process is very simple.
The brush is dipped in liquid, after which it is applied to the surface of the weld.
Depending on the type of weld, you will use either short straight strokes (lighter, thinner welds) or circular motions (wider, heavily oxidized welds).
The excess fluid that has accumulated during or after the process is simply removed with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Neutralizing liquids are applied immediately after cleaning to thoroughly remove invisible acid deposits from the surface. Neutralizers are best applied in generous amounts using a spray bottle to ensure even distribution. Make sure to remove them from the surface with another clean cloth after neutralization.
Important: Make sure your brush is never dry – Dip it into the liquid often during the cleaning process. This not only ensures the high quality of the work done but also prolongs the life of your brush.
This will also help you avoid surface damage in the form of burns.
An overview of Cougartron Weld Cleaning Fluids
Our product range includes several types of cleaning and neutralizing liquids – adapted to different applications and production needs.
Weld cleaning fluids come in 1.3 Gal and 1 Qt options while neutralizers are supplied in 1.3 Gal and 0.5 Qt bottles.
Read more about each fluid below:
Weld cleaning fluids
CGT-550 Weld Cleaning and Polishing Fluid
CGT-550 is our most popular and most powerful weld cleaning fluid with a potent formula suitable for all weld cleaning tasks including the removal of stronger and heavier contamination (bluing, heat tinting, discoloration, and rust) on all types of stainless steel welds. It can also be used to clean aluminum welds.
The liquid is also suitable for effective polishing of stainless-steel welds and surfaces.
You can use the CGT-550 with all Cougartron weld cleaners and weld cleaning brushes.
Note: Due to its chemical composition, the CGT-550 cannot be transported by air, which you need to consider when ordering.
CGT-350 Weld Cleaning Fluid
CGT-350 is a milder version of the CGT-550 fluid and is used to remove less-progressive forms of oxidation on TIG stainless steel welds.
The liquid does not work as fast as the CGT-550 – especially when cleaning dirtier and thicker TIG welds – and is also not recommended for MIG weld cleaning.
However, it is more suitable in industries with strict chemical regulations such as the food processing industry.
Unlike the CGT-550, Cougartron CGT-350 is not suitable for electropolishing but still provides effective results with everyday weld cleaning tasks.
In addition, it carries a Non-Dangerous UN declaration which means that it can also be transported by air.
CGT-N1 Neutralizing Fluid
CGT-N1 is an effective water-based neutralizing liquid designed to remove all traces of acidity after weld cleaning and surface passivation.
It restores the pH neutrality of the surface, which brings a number of benefits including making the steel more resistant to structural damage.
The video below shows the pH neutrality test we performed after applying the neutralizer:
CGT-N5 Neutralizing Fluid for Brushed Stainless Steel
CGT-N5 is also water-based but contains a stronger formula developed for brushed stainless steel surfaces that is also very effective with all other types of steel and metal.
Thanks to its alcohol-enhanced formula, CGT-N5 possesses useful degreasing properties and can evaporate quite quickly leaving the surface fully neutralized and clean.
By treating the surface with CGT-N5, you prevent the appearance of white acid stains that impair the aesthetic appearance of steel and can damage its structure. Therefore, you always need to apply the neutralizer immediately after weld cleaning and polishing.
CGT-N5 proved to be a perfect alternative for our clients who failed to achieve sufficiently satisfactory results when using the CGT-N1 on brushed steel or metal in general.
The fluid is available in 1.3 Gal and 0,5 Qt bottles and is best applied directly on the surface using a spray bottle.
CGT-100 Finishing Fluid
CGT-100 is a potent electrolytic fluid developed for effective finishing of stainless steel surfaces and welds after fabrication, weld cleaning, and neutralizing.
This type of finish is optional and can be used in addition to neutralization to maintain the attractive appearance of stainless steel.
The liquid can also be used as a degreaser, which extends its application to preparatory activities for welding and weld cleaning.
When treating surfaces with low or moderate contamination, CGT-100 can be diluted with demineralized water in a ratio of up to 1:5.
Use our fluids in combination with accessories for better work efficiency
Along with effective cleaning and neutralizing fluids, we have also developed a range of useful accessories for everyday use that make your entire workflow even easier.
Click below to see our full range of useful fluid accessories:
Want to know even more about our weld cleaning and neutralizing fluids?
If you still have questions about the composition and application of our liquids, feel free to contact us any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.