Removing Aluminum Oxidation

What You'll Need
Paint remover
400 grit sandpaper
800 grit sand paper
1200 grit sand paper
Dremel with a polishing bit
Metal polish
Dish or another mild detergent
A bowl or bucket for the cleaning water
Safety glasses
Aluminum coating and an applicator.

Aluminum oxidation happens because air causes a discoloration to the aluminum. This is not rust, as aluminum does not really corrode. It is not possible to prevent oxidation completely, but it can be cleaned up once the problem occurs. 

Step 1: Preparation

Be sure that the area that will be used when doing this project is well-ventilated. Small particles will be floating in the air, and the fumes from the polish and paint removers are harmful to breathe in. A particle respirator should be worn for maximum safety. 

Gather all of the items for the project ahead of time so that everything will be in reach when needed. Take apart the aluminum item if possible, piece by piece. Set each piece on the work area. 

Step 2: Take Off the Coating

Many aluminum items come with a clear coating designed to protect it. If this is the case, remove it using a rag and some paint remover. Be sure to get all exposed areas, as well as any nooks and crannies. A new coating can be applied at a later stage. 

Step 3: Sanding

Starting with the lowest grit sandpaper, begin sanding the oxidized area of the item in one direction only. Next, do the same with the 800 grit sandpaper and sand again with the 1200 grit sandpaper. Be sure not to use steel wool for this project. It will cause future oxidation problems. 

Step 4: Polishing

Safety glasses should be worn at this point in order to keep small particles from getting in the eyes. 

Using the dremel tool and the polishing bit, buff the aluminum item. To do this, it is necessary to use a small amount of polish made for metal. Apply this polish during the buffing process. If needed, a soft cloth or piece of rag can be used to wipe away any surplus of polishing materials.

Step 5: Cleaning

Take the safety glasses off. Wash the aluminum item using water and detergent. This will help to remove excess grit, polish and anything else that is attached to the aluminum item. 

Step 6: Apply Coating

If desired, another aluminum coating can be added once the item is completely dry. Allow for more drying time when this is done. 

Step 7: Finishing Up

If the aluminum item had to be taken apart in the first step, it can now be put it back together fully. Once this is finished, clean up the work area and put all of the tools and work items away. 

Taking care of these aluminum oxidation problems as they arise will help to keep the item from looking old and worn down.