By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Allendale Jan 24th

Consequences of Machining Cast Iron

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Samsaranda12/08/2021 20:22:49
1254 forum posts
5 photos

This story starts about 18 months ago at the start of the first lockdown, we had our downstairs cloakroom completely refitted, everything was renewed and it looks very smart and the wife is very proud of the result. For the last ten days I have been machining cast iron castings in the workshop, it is a very mucky job but the end result is very pleasing, as long as you don’t hit too many chilled areas. Usually when I come indoors from the workshop I wash my hands in the kitchen sink, which is stainless and easily cleaned afterwards, sometimes the kitchen sink is otherwise occupied and that means I use the downstairs cloakroom which has a small rectangular plastic composition sink. When I washed my hands last evening I could see some little orange dots on the bottom surface of the sink. These dots appeared to be fixed to the plastic surface. It didn’t take much working out that the dots were from tiny particles of cast iron that had washed off from my hands when cleaning up after machining in the workshop. My first thought was panic if the wife sees rust marks in her cloakroom sink then I’m dead, so I got some cleaner to remove the evidence, I used a well known “Lime and Grime” cleaner because it was non abrasive and wouldn’t damage the plastic, it was only partially successful, it removed most but there were a few dots remaining but nowhere near as conspicuous as before, I reckoned that as the wife has cataracts she would probably not see the few remaining dots, fingers crossed. I hope this helps stop anyone else suffering the same problem.

Unfortunately have upset the wife in the past when she had one of her pristine white classical garden statues located adjacent to my workshop door and I had been using a grinder to shape some steel pieces and the dust from grinding drifted towards her statue, everything looked fine until a couple of days later after it had rained and the statue ended up with orange spots on her feet. That episode ranks alongside the one where I was using my hand held grinder in the garden near the rear porch and wife subsequently found particles of metal embedded in the double glazing, I will have to stop living dangerously. Dave W

Pete Rimmer12/08/2021 20:34:28
1096 forum posts
69 photos

Get some 'Iron Out' wheel cleaner. It's purpose it to remove the particles of iron that come off car brake discs and embed themselves into the paint/powder coating of your car wheels. It's fantastic stuff.

P.S. if it melts your sink it's your fault not mine :D

Samsaranda12/08/2021 21:10:51
1254 forum posts
5 photos


Thanks for the info, never heard of “Iron Out” must be worth a try. Dave W

Simon Collier12/08/2021 22:33:13
434 forum posts
60 photos

I have a pump pack of sorbolene cream and roll of paper towel in the workshop and do a pre wash with this when leaving the workshop. I also put these in my tool kit when I run my engine. Gets most of the stuff off your hands and easy on the skin as well.

martin haysom12/08/2021 22:42:49
60 forum posts

i put an old Belfast sink under my outside tap useful for gardening as well

not done it yet12/08/2021 23:13:46
6445 forum posts
20 photos

One should never ever scrub a SS sink with wire wool. It might depend on the grade of stainless but that is the usual warning. I expect that iron dust might also cause rust marks if left to rust. Best to use a ceramic sink/basin - or just wash hands under an outside tap.🙂

Mike Crossfield12/08/2021 23:31:04
267 forum posts
36 photos

I keep a bottle of Jenolite rust remover under the stainless sink in my utility room, and when I see the dreaded red spots a quick rub with a few drops on a cloth soon removes them. The key ingredient of Jenolite is phosphoric acid.

Samsaranda12/08/2021 23:45:48
1254 forum posts
5 photos

Much useful advice being preferred which I am taking on board. Dave W

Tim Rowe13/08/2021 07:55:22
32 forum posts
4 photos

Another option is a yacht chandlery or buy online. They will have rust stain removers for use on GRP boats and the active ingredient is oxalic acid. Very effective.


Martin Connelly13/08/2021 08:07:29
1938 forum posts
207 photos

I had a car that had particles from abrasive wheel use sprayed on it and I didn't know until it had got damp and the particles turned into embedded rust. Luckily it was an old car with 150k on the clock that was going to the scrappy soon anyway (I still did another 18k before then though).

At work where we used a lot of stainless steel we had to separate out tools for stainless from tools for non-stainless steel. Cross contamination on the stainless soon showed up when condensation or rain got involved.

Martin C

Oldiron13/08/2021 09:17:31
865 forum posts
23 photos

Just a little aside to this topic. We have a caravan with a S/S ? sink in the kitchen area. When I laid it up for the winter a couiple of years ago I left a bottle of Fairy Liquid sitting upright in the sink. It sat there through the winter for about 3 months. There must have been a smudge or drip of the contents onto the surface where the bottle sat. When I got the van ready for the season I found a small hole in the bottom of the sink and an obvious ring of corrosion around it where the bottle had been sitting. Just goes to show you never know what is in any product you buy however harmless it seems.


not done it yet13/08/2021 09:55:55
6445 forum posts
20 photos

That was likely salt. Used as a thickener in the product. SS does not like chlorides!

Bo'sun13/08/2021 11:08:35
540 forum posts
2 photos

Another vote for Oxalic Acid. Used to work in a foundry, and despite how well it was filtered and scrubbed, cast iron dust escaped into the atmosphere and onto peoples cars. At the time, Oxalic Acid (bought in crystal form) was the go to product.

jaCK Hobson13/08/2021 11:40:21
221 forum posts
76 photos

I have to wash my hands before I can wash my hands in the sink. If I'm down the workshop and then have a shower, the shower tray ends up with little orange spots all over - I'm probably going to need to have a shower before I'm allowed in the shower.

Rik Shaw13/08/2021 14:09:23
1463 forum posts
396 photos

"has a small rectangular plastic composition sink"

Loads of oxalic acid in rhubarb leaves. Give it a rub with one and hope it doesn't crumble teeth 2

Russell Eberhardt13/08/2021 14:20:37
2720 forum posts
86 photos

+1 for oxalic acid. Also good for cleaning teak on boats.


Howard Lewis13/08/2021 15:42:07
5562 forum posts
13 photos

Yes, have to scrub the S S sink in the utility room with a green scrubber to get rid of the rust spots after washing from working in the 'shop.

Would never hear the end of it if I did the same to the sinks in the kitchen or cloakroom! Probably grounds mfor a divorce, on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour.

Definitely +1 for Oxalic acid, or a Stain Devil perhaps?


KWIL13/08/2021 20:51:12
3447 forum posts
66 photos

Always wear a mask when machining cast iron, the carbon particles are vey fine and not good for your health.

old mart13/08/2021 21:33:03
3418 forum posts
210 photos

I remember how deglazing brake drums in the sink used to leave little brown spots stuck all over the stainless steel.

Chris Crew13/08/2021 22:13:13
153 forum posts

I had a similar issue with a beige coloured kitchen sink but managed to remove the rust spots. From that time onward I have kept a tub of Swarfega in the utility room adjacent to the kitchen then pre-wash my hands at the outside tap. It kept the peace until she had a new kitchen fitted with an expensive black sink that she managed to spoil by emptying boiling water directly into it. That was just 'wear and tear', of course, because she had done it herself and not the end of the world event that I had inadvertently caused and rectified.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
rapid Direct
walker midge
JD Metals
Eccentric July 5 2018
Eccentric Engineering
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest