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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 07-13-2008
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Oxalic acid on sails

Hi,

I have rust stains to remove from sail. Have been advised to used Oxalic acid. Got some FSR (which contains oxalic acid) but don't know how to use it. Do I dilute it? What proportions? Sponge it on, hose it off? Any advice would be much appreciated.

Rick
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Old 07-13-2008
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Oxalic Acid is very strong and while I'm pretty confident that the stains will disappear, I'm also as confident that the sail will be damaged. While it may look good, I suspect that the fabric will be compromised.

Better to check out SailCare (http://sailcare.com/). I've used them a number of times and they are professional, their work is superior, and the price is great. They will make repairs as well as totally refurbish the sail. I can't recommend them strongly enough; their customer support is great too.

BTW, I have no affiliation with the company. They're just great, IMHO.
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Old 07-13-2008
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A 5% solution of Oxalic Acid may be used on DACRON sails to remove rust stains. Don't expect to get the entire stain out...just some of it. Scrub with a soft brush on the spots. Don't use it on the whole sail. Rinse very well with a hose and brush.
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Thank you. I guess I will wait a bit on the Oxalic acid. I will also consider your sailcare suggestion after I get a good look at the sails under some load.

Rick
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Old 07-14-2008
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I used K2R for years and it was perfect. Haven't been able to find it in years now though... Good luck
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Old 07-14-2008
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I sent my old sails to Sailcare Inc. They got the rust out, restitched some broken threads, cleaned all the dirt off the sails, recoated with resin. My sails came back to me bright white, looking like new, drawing much better. I have recommended them to several friends, and all of them were pleased with their results. I not only am not affiliated with them, I don't even remember where they are! Google search- I think they are in PA. Usually if the PO got rust stains on the sails, they are neglected enough they will need other work too (as mine did.)
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Old 09-27-2008
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Removing rust stains

You can dissolve away iron rust stains with several different readily available acids and won't harm the sail material at all. Try a 2% solution of hydrochloric acid (pool acid from Home Depot...), or a similar solution of phosphoric acid (found in concrete stain removers, descalers like Limeaway, CLR). Even white vinegar or lemon juice will do the job, but take a little longer. Don't worry about the Dacron sail cloth - completely inert to the acid (it is a polyesther synthetic fiber made from the same material that plastic milk jugs are made from. Just brush it on an work it a little bit with a small brush - then rinse well. Oxalic acid is good to, but no need for the expense. Stay away from any kind of abrasive cleaners - you want to DISSOLVE the stain, not mechanically remove it from your sails.
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Old 09-27-2008
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Lemon Juice - (real lemon) will work wonders if used with a mix of Baking Soda.. Let soak into for about 10 minutes, rub in and spritz with water if it dries out before time is out, then scrub using a sponge or a non abrasive brush. May take about 2-3 applications to rid all of the stain- but will also work. The major issue is preventing the stains from re-occurring.

In which case - use fine wool to get the rust off the grommet.

Use fingernail polish "clear" (stuff they use for the clear enamel) - and coat the grommet or rust producing element after its been cleaned. Its ok to extend it onto the sail if not really neat about it. It'll prevent the oxidation and the reason its ok for soaking into the sail just a bit - is to let it seal between the two grommet edges..

The latter is a low tech method of reducing the rust stains and nothing more..
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Old 10-02-2008
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Rust removal from sails

Jody makes an excellent recommendation about sealing grommets, although most grommets are stainless steel, brass or bronze alloy and don't really bleed a lot of "rust" if left in open air to dry. But stowed away wet, and you can get stainless to produce iron rust marks. Heck, she has such a good idea, I'm going to get a quart of toe polish and lacquer all of my stainless steel fittings on deck ....

However, if your interested in removing large rust stains that originated from something else (read wet sails thrown into a locker with other hardware or metal), then Jody's "chemistry" of lemon juice mixed with baking soda, is NOT a viable cleanser here. The most typical rust demon is an oxide of iron metal, and to put it back into solution and rinse it off your sails, you need an acidic solution. The proposed idea of mixing lemon juice with baking soda fails on 2 accounts:

1 - If you put alot of baking soda with the juice and make a paste, then the baking soda is acting as an abrasive, similar to a scouring agent, and not good for the sail cloth or resin. as you rub/scrub it around.
2 - If you put minimal amounts of baking soda in the lemon juice, then all you are doing is neutralizing the acidic nature of the lemon juice (ever recall using baking soda to neutralize and clean acid battery terminals, or drinking alka-seltzer to neutralize stomach acid?). No wonder it takes several applications to get the job done, there is very little acid actually working to dissolve the rust.

Let's apply good chemistry principles, not kitchen brewed ideas. (But maybe my grommets would look pretty in pink!)
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