I'm using a graphite cathode and an iron paper-clip anode, in a saltwater solution, basically to produce rust.

I've done this before with no complications, but this time I noticed a white, mucous material forming around the paperclip, quite late into the process. I had eaten about half-way through the clip when I started noticing the cloudy white stuff. That suggests that whatever is producing it, is at the core of the clip.

If I try to move it, the mucus immediately detaches and sinks to the bottom of the jar, where it stays above the iron hydroxide. Everything else seems to be in order, colour-wise.

Another thing is, if I shake the mucus off, the paperclip starts off clear, before turning black again, as it should be.

Does anyone have a clue of what this might be? I know zinc oxide is white, but I'm pretty sure zinc and iron don't mix.

I've turned the power off, just in case it's something I -really- don't want to handle without protection.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can you please add a picture? That can help us find out better. By the way, welcome to StackExchange! $\endgroup$ – Pritt Balagopal May 23 '17 at 3:27
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    $\begingroup$ Where did you get your water? If it's from the tap, then the question gets more interesting! Please describe the water, container, and as @PrittBalagopal mentions, if you can reproduce the experiment again, a photo of the stuff in question. What happens if you pour the water off slowly, does the stuff stay lumpy, or collapse into a very thin layer? $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 23 '17 at 3:45
  • $\begingroup$ Apparently there's a character limit and I'm too lazy to make two posts, so here's a text image $\endgroup$ – MudBelcher May 23 '17 at 12:16

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