How do you remove lime/salt deposits?

toolpro

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How do you remove those chalky white deposits from pots? I assist with a public collection in Atlanta, and some of the donations we receive have these deposits. Vinegar, alcohol, and lots of scrubbing do not seem to remove much, if any, of the deposits. Can you help me?
Rick
 

Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
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I wonder if CLR would be safe, and if it would work? Never tried it, and would hate to recommend something that might be bad for trees.
 

Eric Schrader

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Well, you can hide them by coating the pot with an oil, like if you put some walnuts in a sock and whack it a few times and then start rubbing the pot the oil will shine the pot like for a show, hiding the white deposits.

As for removing them - muriatic acid (HCl) would certainly work, but it is dangerous and you would only want to use it on pots that are empty. It's available at home centers sold for working with cement and for swimming pools. The deposits are largely Calcium chloride and other salts that are present in the water. Vinegar would work if you used a more concentrated version than just 5% household stuff. I'm guessing that the active ingredient in CLR is some sort of acid...but I'm not sure.
 

bonsai barry

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There is a product called Lime Away that I bought at Home Depot. I used it with limited success. I've heard of people burying their pots for a season. I've never tried this, assuming that I'd break the pots in the process of digging them up.
 

jk_lewis

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The ABS's "Bonsai Journal" has had a series of articles on this recently.
 

toolpro

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Thanks guys. I will try the muriatic acid, Lime Away, and anything else I can find. I don't have any CLR here, but my wife had something similar which I tried this afternoon with no apparent success. And I'll look through my piles of books and try to find the ABS articles.
This is harder than I ever expected!
Best regards,
Rick
 

jk_lewis

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With pots that have a smooth finish (glazed and unglazed) I've had success with my Dremel and a stiff (non-metallic) brush.
 

toolpro

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Mr. jkl, you are not concerned about damaging the glaze with the mechanical abrasion??
Rick
 

toolpro

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Thank you all for the good advice. This morning I called Michele and Charles Smith, excellent bonsai potters, and was told as follows. Glaze is essentially glass, and think of it that way. Light abrasion is the best idea - some very fine polishing blocks sold by BonsaiMonk (and probably many others), very fine steel wool, various acidic chemicals such as CLR or Limeaway. Try the stronger chemicals like muriatic acid on bottom or obscure places first; it may remove the glaze, but not sure. There is no magic bullet.

So thank you all. I will try these suggestions, and report back. ...and I still can't find my back issues of ABS Journal :(

Regards to all,
Rick
 

jk_lewis

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.and I still can't find my back issues of ABS Journal
You don't have to go very far back. Maybe the last issue last year and the first 2 or three this year.
 

toolpro

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Thanks! I'll look. The problem is that I am a messy person with p-i-l-e-s of reading matter around!
Merry Christmas!
Rick
 

Bill S

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Rick you have seen every thing I have heard of. By very fine polishing block did you mean the ones used to clean up tools after getting sap etc. on them? if not there you go.
 

BUBBAFRGA

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How do you remove those chalky white deposits from pots? I assist with a public collection in Atlanta, and some of the donations we receive have these deposits. Vinegar, alcohol, and lots of scrubbing do not seem to remove much, if any, of the deposits. Can you help me?
Rick
I use sanding stone.....same type of stone my wife uses on her feet. I also have used sanding sponge that sheetrockers use, and alot of elbow grease.

What public collection in Atlanta? Did not know there was a public collection in Atlanta.
 

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
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I use CLR (similar to LimeAway). Works fine for me. I apply to a rag first and use it to "wipe" the minerals away. I agree with what others recommend (about testing in an obscure area first), but I have not had a problem.
 

toolpro

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Mr. Bubba:
The Smith-Gilbert Gardens is a beautiful small (17 acres?) garden in Kennesaw, just northwest of the city. We began to assemble a collection about two years ago. We have a reasonably good facility, trees ranging from 'plant sale' to 'pretty good', and a part-time curator, Rodney Clemons. The trees are maintained by a few volunteers led by moi. There are few bonsai shown, but to see the garden look at http://www.smithgilbertgardens.com/ And if you are not too far and would like to volunteer, let me know!
Rick
 

toolpro

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Well all, I have tried a stiff nylon wheel on a dremel tool, CLR, and muriatic acid up to 50% dilution. All repeatedly over several days, with much patience. I cannot tell that one does better than the other. The deposits are reduced, but far from gone. It seems there is no magic bullet. The pot is now back on the garden wall, to await another day.

If any genius solutions appear, I will let you know!
Regards all,
Rick
 

toolpro

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Eric, the only walnuts here are at the grocery at a considerable price. Is there anything special about walnut oil, or will any vegetable oil suffice?
Rick
 
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