Following this plan, I am wondering what the byproducts of this method are? At the site with the q-tip, the solution turned a bright yellow, with the q-tip turning a dark yellow, almost red. Holding the q-tip in place for about 10 seconds results in a small amount of smoke, and bubbles around the contact point. What are these colors, smoke, and bubbles? I don't know if the kettle is steel or aluminum, it's an old Budweiser keg, if that helps.

In case the link above dies, the method is etching metal using a vinegar and salt solution, combined with a 9 volt battery. Connecting the negative lead to a piece of metal, and using the positive lead with the solution results in a type of reverse electroplating, thus removing metal ions and etching the metal.

Not sure on the tags for this question, so feel free to adjust them, and the description of the etching method.


The yellow colour in solution is likely from iron ions from the metal being oxidized and dissolved: $$\ce{Fe_{(s)} + 2e- -> Fe^{2+}_{(aq)}}$$ (Probably $\ce{Fe^3+}$, too)

The gas bubbles/smoke is the product of the other half of the reaction, the reduction of something in your solution. Because you have chloride in solution, chlorine gas is a possibility: $$\ce{2Cl^{-}_{(aq)} -> Cl_{2(g)} + 2e-}$$

Hydrogen may also be produced depending on what you're using as an electrode on the q-tip.

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