I am trying to clean some corroded aluminum. In my quest to find out how, I've stumbled across a lot of bewilderment and misinformation, and a lot of different feasible techniques as well.

My question is: How can I determine, on my own, whether something will dissolve aluminum oxide (room temperature) or not? Like, just by looking at chemical formulas.

I'd also need to be able to check to make sure a chemical that dissolves aluminum oxide doesn't also dissolve the good aluminum.

My goal is to be able to figure out not only if a given chemical will dissolve it, but also to come up with an idea of which chemicals that I don't know about may also dissolve it.

As a bonus it'd be nice to determine the temperature at which a reaction would occur if it's a bit higher than room temperature so I can determine on my own if I can apply a reasonable amount of heat to make something work.

I know very little about chemistry except a basic understanding that things react and can be described by equations, and that reactions absorb or release some amount of quantifiable energy.

Aluminum oxide is Al2O3.

Sorry I do not know how to tag this.

Also I'm not sure if "dissolve" is the right word. To be clear I use it in a way that means if I apply the chemical to corroded aluminum, it'll make the corrosion go away into the air, or turn back into aluminum, or at least make it easy to scrub or wipe off.

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    $\begingroup$ As a good rule of thumb for alumina, nothing dissolves it at room temperature. Even HF requires elevated temperature. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Jul 23 '16 at 1:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm afraid you're quite confused - Al2O3 is nothing like rust and it actually protects aluminium as it's less reactive then metal. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Jul 23 '16 at 22:56

Normally you would learn about properties of chemicals from general chemistry textbook. Al2O3 is pretty stable and is hard to dissolve in anything at room temperature.

It also depends a lot on what is the physical state of Al2O3. Fresh fine Al2O3 is much more reactive than aged (or coming in big chunks) Al2O3.

Searching in general chemistry literature is the best way to go, but Al2O3 is really robust.


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