Here is an old ham radio operators trick for cleaning wires for soldering that are old and corroded.  It is hard to find this technique printed anywhere! I am a ham, NH7ZE, and learned it from my elmer (mentor). I am passing it on.  I hope it helps people who need to clean wires:P Please vote!!!

Normally, if you strip a wire, and see it is corroded, there is not much you can do to restore it's shiny new conductive properties. There is scraping and scratching which comes to mind, but you'll never get it to the solderable slickness it once was long ago. After laboring and fretting over the corroded pieces of wire for a long, long time, you see that your sweat coming out of your palms and fingers are corroding the copper AGAIN!!!! Oh, dear. NOT TO WORRY!!!!! Give yourself a pat on the back, because what you will pull out of your bag of tricks now, will send all the corroded copper wires scurrying and scampering away in fear!!!! Here is how to clean any corroded wire without even touching it, in 30 seconds!! And what's more, you can even solder it!!!

This process uses two solutions, one is regular table salt and vinegar. Any kind of vinegar will work, from balsamic, to rice, to white vinegars. Its the acidity and corrosiveness of the salt and vinegar together that you want. The other solution is Sodium Bicarbonate, or baking soda, and water. This is used to neutralize the corrosive properties of the other solution, and to further clean the wires.  

Step 1: Strip the wires to be cleaned.

Step 2: Get 2 containers, one for each solution. They can be paper cups, plastic, glass, bowls, whatever you can find. I have vials, because I am a professional electronics installer and I use these solutions out in the field.

Step 3: Get 1 tablespoon of raw salt, and put it in one of the containers. Fill up the rest of the container with vinegar, and stir the both together.  As a general rule of thumb, put as much salt in the vinegar as will dissolve.

Step 4: Get 1 tablespoon of Sodium Bicarbonate, (baking soda) and add it to the other container. Fill up the rest with water, and stir well.  Add more baking soda to make it cloudy. The amount is not important, as long as it is alkaline to cancel the acid of the vinegar solution.

Step 5: Put the stripped end of the wire in the vinegar solution, and stir the solution with the wire. any wire you want cleaned needs to be under the solution. Movement of the wire in the liquid speeds up the process.

Step 6: After 2 minutes or so, the wire will look very shiny and new in the vinegar solution. The acid and salt in the solution is etching away the oxides, exposing the bare metal. Make sure the metal is uniformly shiny. Leave it in longer if it is not perfectly clean throughout. 

Step 7: Once the wire is satisfactorily clean, remove the wire from the vinegar, and plunge it into the baking soda solution to neutralize the acid's corrosive properties.  If the wire was exposed to the air, without neutralizing the acid first, it would quickly corrode again. The baking soda keeps it clean and shiny. Swish the wire around in the baking soda water for about 10 seconds, and then you are done!! Shiny new wire ready for soldering, and conducting once again!!

Please vote on this instructable!! 
Thanks for reading.

<p>perfect thanks :-)</p>
<p>I would like to start out and say this is an amazing trick! I had bluish/greenish corrosion inside my HDMI cord and figured that since it doesn't work, that this trick would be a great test to see if it would also work for connecting cords that contain copper. Also, I wouldn't recommend just doing this on a super expensive cord without doing proper research on what these solutions would do to other cords containing other types of metal. Since I had nothing to lose on a broken cord, then I went right ahead and it was the perfect solution. Now, I have a perfectly working HDMI cord and saved about $20-$30 (for the type of cord I have). Thanks again for this trick!!!</p>
<p>excellent...thanks for the tips</p>
<p>I have a Pana-Vue slide viewer that was put in a &quot;safe&quot; place, with the batteries in. 20 years later, found that safe place, and thought the viewer was gone, it had (I said 'had') a layer of blue/green corrosion all over the copper pieces in the battery compartment. I did the trick above, did a little wire brushing and my viewer works again! Thank you.</p>
<p>Worked great! Im all over my boat, pushing back entropy. Great that it works on copper wire and the white sulfate-like corrosion from sea water. Thank you!</p>
<p>Excellent tip - Instead of using emery cloth on meters of reclaimed copper wire for jewellery use, I'm now just watching them clean in a bath of this solution. Could not be simpler!</p>
<p>Hey Austin, I read you were using copper wire for jewelry, as am I.</p><p>My wire came out of the solutions with a dull finish.. I wonder if steel wool 000 would shine it up? Thanks Deborah</p>
<p>yes steel wool 000 or 0000 (extra fine) would help, you could also use a scotch pad - like the green ones you can use on dirty plates, but a finer grade grey one. After polishing up you can stop them re-oxidising (and making your skin green) by dipping them in a barrier agent like anti-tarnish lacquer; of course do this when the item is made as solder won't stick otherwise.</p>
<p>Easy, effective, convenient: Belongs in the Do It Yourselfer's Handbook.</p><p>Thanks for a good one.</p>
<p>Thankyou for this information. We have 4 electrically powered fishing kayaks and with the constant exposure of salt water, the wiring has to be regularly replaced because of corrosion to the copper wire. I have added insulation paint to the connections but can't beat the corrosion. Your simple answer has saved us hundreds of dollars each year.</p><p>Regards</p><p>Geoff</p>
I'm glad that helped. Another thing to try if you are in a marine environment is stainless steel heavy leader cable. It's what you use for fishing heavy game fish. Make all your wires out of that, and make the insulation out of heatshrink. The terminals on the wires can be made from small gauge stainless tubing crimped on the stainless cable wire, and you can drill a small hole in the flat crimped end of the tube. You are basically replacing the assy with all stainless. Most people say stainless doesn't work for electrical, but that is not correct. I have installed all stainless wiring in several boats and never had any wiring issues for years, of constant sea spray. Hope that helps.
<p>10-4 WORKS LIKE A CHARM!</p>
<p>10-4 WORKS LIKE A CHARM!</p>
Going by your reference I am cleaning some copper wire as I speak...I burned the coating off from around the wire and went with you method of cleaning and it started to clean it's self within min of putting the copper into the vinegar / salt solution. Thank you so much for the tip, I can now get more money at my local scrap yard for clean copper!
<p>three thumbs up. ty :)</p>
Thank you so much for this ible -- I did an instructables search for cleaning copper, knowing that someone had a solution for me. And by golly, you not only have the solution, your solutions are easily created in my kitchen! The huge roll of copper wire I found out in our old shop building will soon be clean--with minimal effort on my part thanks to you sharing your knowledge. Thank you!
<p>Thanks for this! I am a ham myself (N1JOK), but used this to clean a piece of copper jewelry I made for my wife last year. This removed the tarnish quickly using stuff I had in the kitchen. Great tip.</p>
<p>Thank you so much! We used this technique to clean the underside of a copper counter top before soldering the corner. We experimented with several techniques, this one was quickest and easiest hands down! Now, I'm going to experiment with (scrap) this formula to try to get the ugly black ring on the counter top left by an wet aluminum can. (any ideas?)</p>
<p>I like the combination , I was aware of each for cleaning but not the importance of finishing with baking soda to neutralize the solution. </p><p>While in Mexico a favorite of mine has been to substitute a lemon covered in salt and jam the wires into them. </p>
<p>Brilliant thank you </p>
I am going to try this tomorrow on the wires to my battery cable connector. I tried oxiclean today without any luck. I can't find out how to vote on here though. I am on my phone maybe I need to go to the full website. Thank you so much for posting this!
I had a big slug problem last year in my garden, and this year I am experimenting with copper to deter the slime-makers. I have old copper wire and tried your method, and it worked easily. Thank you.
Awesome, thank you so much for sharing this. I've always known there was a chemical way to cleaning corroded cables and favorited this instructable when I saw it months ago knowing I would need the information. Today I tracked down an intermittent starter fault to a corroded connector on my van that has been bothering me for the last three years. As soon as I stripped back the wires, and saw the condition of them, I knew this was the trick I need. Worked perfectly, I now have two little containers setup and labelled for next time. Soldered the wires together and we have reliable transport now. Thanks again for sharing.
Da%# right I'll vote for that one. Old school techniques do &quot;occasionally&quot; pay dividends. Been an electronics repairman for 45 years and never knew that one. THANX
same with me ! thanks
TA DA !! !!Thanks a lot!! !! <br>love !!
After viewing many complex methods with solutions that are not readily available, this was a welcome fix!
New to me too - I could have used this a hundred times or more in my life if I'd known about it sooner! <br>Thanks, brilliant, simple Instructable. Well done.
Nice article, great tip and comes at a time I need it. <br> <br>Thanks John
This is an excellent access of information. I&rsquo;ll also give a try to it for cleaning wires. I was not aware of this that wire can also be kept clean. This is an easy way of cleaning. <br><a href="http://www.emergencycleaningservicemiami.com" rel="nofollow">wet carpet service miami</a>
We had to clean a lot of wire at my friend's house once. We dipped the ends in very dilute pool acid for a few minutes. Good as new, although your method works great too!
Thanks awesome tip, I normally use steelwool/fine sandpaper. <br>When you have a couple of hundred stranded wire ends to clean it takes forever. <br>Your tip took 3 minutes <br> <br>Magic
its amazing ................................
Cleaned up a wiring harness this way today - thanks for posting this, it worked quite well.<br><br>Not a bad idea to hit the bare ends with WD-40 afterward though to pull out water that may have made it under the insulator.
Everyone here saying what they've done that doesn't work I use 000 plain steel wool and it works fine for me. Though if a wire is all corroded under the insulation I've had to change them sometimes.
Where are the buttons for voting?
wow, I've had bad times with hard to solder copper wire, this is one thing I will memorize for good.<br>TY
Thanks for sharing this technicks
Please have a try! This is from brandbagstore.net Now there are many famous brands of products on the world, such as LV, Ed hardy , Gucci ,and so on. I think you may go to shop to buy them or on other websites. At that time, you are worried about the price so high or the quality so low. You also worried about the sellers can&rsquo;t do anything if the products are not work, We have going in business for a long time, And we have a lots of customers from all the world becoming our partner, Autumn is coming, we have opened the fall fashion door to all the customers, Would you mind making a decision to buy one or two product to have a try? I thins our perfect products and best service will make you satisfied! And you will never forget the websites brandbagstore.net Please have a try!
This is great!! Simple, household chemicals to clean wire. I usually scrape with a knife, but that doesn't work very well on small wires because it can cut off the wires.
Nice one. <br> <br>Thanks for sharing. :)
Thanks for sharing this. <br><br>I always use sandpaper, but that is cumbersome and ineffective, and is not suitable for very thin wires.
I found a shop on the Internet: fashionclpumps.com The shoes are very elegance, beautiful riches and honour
Nice...<br>another way of doing this is by using ferrous sulphate solution, (the one used to make PCBs).
This is so helpful!

About This Instructable


143 favorites


More by solomonhorses: All Metal Bolt Earbuds How to perfectly clean wires in minutes!!!
Add instructable to: