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How does ALUM dissolve Iron or steel? what is the reaction process?

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How does ALUM dissolve Iron or steel? what is the reaction process?

Post  oilseed on Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:11 pm

I've read a number of articles on the internet which states that a solution of ALUM (potassium aluminum sulfate or  aluminum ammonium sulfate)
will dissolve steel (or Iron) (e.g. remove a broken screw, drill bit or tap in Brass or Silver, other non-ferrous metal).  
Heating the mixture will increase the rate of reaction.  
What 'none' of these articles explains is;  

  • HOW this is done?
  • WHAT 'IS' the chemical reaction taking place and
  • WHY is the steel (or iron) broken down?

Also, why are the other non-ferrous metals (Brass and/or Silver) left untouched?  

As a side bar, if the Brass is plated with Rhodium or Nickel, will this ALUM solution affect it or leave it untouched (like the Brass)?

Thank you.


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