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Chrome plating doesn’t only make any metal object look shiny; it also makes the metal long lasting by making it corrosion and tarnish resistant.
However, there are various reasons when you will need to remove this durable coat from a metal object. The shiny and durable coat damages easily through wear and tear becoming unsightly. Or, you may want to re-chrome a metal surface.
I won’t suggest you go to a professional repairer and get the job done for a hundred bucks. There are several ways to remove chrome plating from metals that are not very difficult to do.
Regardless of the reasons, this guide will help you to remove chrome plating through multiple ways.
What Is Chrome Plating?
Chrome plating refers to a process of applying a thin coat of chromium to any metal surface through electroplating. This kind of coat is applied to the metal to increase durability of the metal.
How to Remove Chrome Plating? 3 Easy Method
Just as you can remove the rust on your metal, you can also remove chrome plating in several ways. No matter which method you follow, make sure you take safety precautions and required safety protocols as well.
It’s highly recommended to use a respirator, protective gloves, and splash goggles to avoid unexpected things to occur.
Method 1: Use Specialized Machinery to Remove the Chrome
1. Using an Abrasive Blaster
You can use an abrasive blaster to get rid of chrome from a metal object. The professional auto body workshops do their job of removing chrome using this kind of devices. The device abrades materials with tiny pellets or a spray of fine grain power.
Use 400-grit sandpaper which is fairly adequate grain medium for blasting the chrome to avoid any further damage.
Use appropriate face mask before starting this process. When the abrasive blaster chips off small portions of chrome, it will produce toxicant airborne dust and sediment.
2. Using an Ultrasonic Cleaner
An ultrasonic cleaner is a more advanced device that can remove chrome through sound waves. When it gets quite difficult to get rid of chrome from a certain type of metal, it’s recommended to use an ultrasonic cleaner in that case.
For the cleaning process, you need to put chrome objects inside an ultrasonic cleaner basket and immerse them with a cleaning solution.
If you use a solvent like bleach, it will enhance the effectiveness of an ultrasonic cleaner. Nonetheless, you should only use a solvent instead of water when it does not rust the cleaner.
This method only works with comparatively small items like jewelry, ornaments, tools, lug-nuts, etc.
Method 2: Removing Chrome Using Chemical Solutions
1. Using Muriatic Acid Aka Hydrochloric Acid
Muriatic or hydrochloric is quite strong and corrosive acid. This chemical is used for removing chrome plating from metals in high concentrations. To remove chrome, 30 to 40% concentration of the acid solution will suffice.
Prepare a mixture of 1/3 part of muriatic acid with 1 part of water to make a 30% acid solution in a heavy-duty bucket of plastic. You can also buy pre-mixed acid solution as well.
Now, you need to submerge chrome plated metal objects in that solution. When the chrome comes off, gently, clean the object with soap and water and make sure to rinse it before drying. Make sure this chemical isn’t easily accessible by your kids or curious pets like Boston Terriers while cleaning in your garage.
2. Using Sodium Hydroxide
Before proceeding, note that this method works well with carbon steel and ferrous metals. Sodium hydroxide is a corrosive and highly basic chemical that is used to dissolve various types of metal coating. But it reacts greatly with aluminum and water, so do not use this method with aluminum.
Prepare a mixture of 8 to 12 ounces of sodium hydroxide with a gallon of water in a heavy-duty plastic bucket. Now soak chrome coated object in this solution. It will take a long time to strip the chrome off. Therefore, keep an eye on the bucket frequently.
When the chrome comes off, wash the metal object with water and soap. Do not forget to rinse it before drying.
3. Reverse Electroplating
This method is pretty interesting to do. As you probably know, chrome plating is done through electroplating process where using electric current chrome is bind to metal items at a molecular level. This method emphasizes reversing the electroplating process to remove chrome.
Nonetheless, the method sounds quite easy but is extremely dangerous. The process deals with live electrical current, various toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. If you are not an expert working with chemicals, this isn’t your job to do.
Make a mixture of chromic and sulfuric acid with water with a ratio of 100:1. More precisely, you can mix 33 oz. of chromic acid crystals followed by .33oz of sulfuric acid with refined water for making a solution of 1 gallon.
The amount depends on how much of the solution your metal would require. The solution should be mixed in an immersion tank that is used for electroplating, chemical treatments and materials testing.
Keep in mind that for decorative chrome, the temper of the solution needs to be from 95-115 degrees Fahrenheit. And for hard chrome, the temperature should be 120 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now the chrome plating solution should be exposed to negative charge through a DC power source via a cable. Attach the metal object with a positive cathode and submerge it into that solution. It will pull positively charged external chrome metal from the thing.
Rinse the object with stirring running water. And rinse one more time. Make sure you dispose the waste.
Method 3: Removing Light Chrome
You don’t need to go for expensive methods to remove chrome plating. If you want to remove light or thin layer of chrome plating, there are many homemade ways to do that. Let’s have a look on this section.
1. Using Abrasive
Light and a thin layer of chrome can be removed by scrubbing through an abrasive. Prepare a mixture of baking soda with water and make a paste of abrasive.
Now, rub the paste on chrome surface with a clean and soft cloth. Soon, the chrome will be wiped off.
Continue to scrub and check the cleaning progress often. But if you scrub it too long, it will make scratches on underlying material.
2. Using Oven Cleaner
Commercial oven cleaners work great to remove fake plastic variants of chrome. These de-greasing cleaners are found as liquid and foam. Give the chrome surface a coat from the cleaner and leave as it is for about 10 minutes. After that, wipe off the chrome along with foam or spray cleaner as well.
Do not let the spray cleaner sit on a chrome plated metal for too long. Otherwise, it will darken the underlying surface. Apply this process repeatedly giving short increments until you got the expected outcome.
3. Using Bleach
Chrome that is plated in the model cars can easily be wiped by giving the metal a bleach bath. All you need to do is submerge the chrome metal in bleach and leave it for a day. The chrome plating will lose if it cannot be stripped entirely.
Avoid using the used bleach any further and dispose it.
Note: You can also use bleach for good brass cleaner.
4. Using Brake Fluid
You can remove chrome layers by using your car’s brake fluid. It works as paint thinner and easily removes chrome from plastic objects. But this method takes a longer time compared to other methods. Mostly, it takes few days to do the job.
Wear hand gloves and rub brake fluid on the chrome plated object and leave it for 10 minutes. Then, you need to rinse it off. Further repeat the process until you get the expected result.
Plastic is dissolvable by brake fluid. So, be cautious to apply the method on a chromed plastic surface.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
1. Can You Powder Coat Chrome?
You can powder coat chrome plating. Even though chrome plating looks great, but if the metal is scratched, it doesn’t look good.
However, if you powder coat chrome, you can prevent your car from looking ugly even after any scratches. It will further prevent corrosion or rust on your auto parts.
2. Can You Sand off Chrome?
Chrome is a hard and shiny surface. As there are several ways to remove chrome; you can also sand it off. You can use a high-speed sander, but if you’re not skilled, you will probably end up damaging the metal surface.
But you can easily sand off chrome using sandpaper. Hand sanding is the easiest and safest way to do so.
We have discussed some effective ways to remove chrome plating from metal objects. However, depending on the type of metal choose suitable method wisely.
No matter what method you are about to apply, make sure you take precautions.