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View Full Version : Caswell Plating, Getting Rid of the Solution?



Ed P
12-31-2013, 01:52 PM
I have a Caswell electroless nickel plating kit that has served me well but the solution no longer works and I've been trying to get rid of it. I followed the instructions in the manual but the solution did not turn white, it just stayed blue. I wondering if it is now safe to pour down the drain as indicated in the instructions, even though it did not turn color. I've asked Caswell but they were very unhelpful. I've tried to post this question on their forum but have been unable to do so. Does anyone have experience with this kit and can advise?

Ed P

lakeside53
12-31-2013, 01:59 PM
If you aren't sure... take it to your toxic waste disposal (assuming you have one). Ours will take just about anything.

CCWKen
12-31-2013, 02:25 PM
If it's still blue, you have way too much nickel in it. Did you pour the plate-out solution into it? How big is your tank? It takes about a box full of steel wool pads to draw the nickel out of a four gallon tank and that's running 5-6 hours.

vincemulhollon
12-31-2013, 02:50 PM
Pull the MSDS and let us know what you're trying to dispose of. Caswell thinks it hilarious to password protect their MSDS, as if that would stop a real chemist from cloning their products for more than about an hour. Mostly it just ticks people off.

I'm going to take the wild guess your reducing agent isn't sodium hypophosphite anymore because thats been DEA listed. So what your reducing agent actually is, is an excellent question. Maybe they have an exemption if the economics are something like you'd need $1M of plating solution to make one "serving" of meth. Or maybe they're using some other reducing agent. Or maybe you're on some "list" now and if you persist in ordering a crate of the stuff every weekend for a year or two, they'll start asking questions.

Your blue stuff sounds an awful lot like a Nickel II Sulfate solution.

You're not going to get a straight answer from anyone because they're all lawyer-ed up. The feds clean water act, and each state is different, and finally local muni sewer regs vary, so whats legal in WI is probably not legal in SC. Everyone is lazy and CYA to the max so even if it is perfectly legal all you'll be told over and over is to contact a disposal service if you contact the feds, state EPA, local muni sewer dept, etc. Its not a scientific or legal judgment, its just CYA and lazyness they'd order you to do exactly same thing if you asked how to dispose of a can of Miller Lite.

What I can say is you'll be scientifically safe if you flush it in great dilution far below 1% concentration. Scientifically safe is no consolation if you end up in a cell. What I'm trying to say is if you contract out to a hazardous waste service it almost certainly will be transported somewhere, diluted to a couple mg/L concentration, and dumped right in the sanitary sewer. Which may not be legal where you live, or legal for you to do, but it'll be legal for them to do, where they are at the time they're dumping it. This is just if you're idly curious what will happen to a very small quantity of it after you give it to a toxic disposal service or dropoff site or whatever. VERY Generically speaking most sewer systems don't care about nickel as long as you keep it to single digit ppm or so and don't give them more than a couple pounds a day. YOUR local sewer system operator will probably have somewhat different opinion. In other words a home gunsmith type is a rounding error to them but the waste from a full time plating company is far beyond their capability to handle without "special technologies" which will be expensive.

The EPA no longer cares about nickel in drinking water (WTF moment?) but back when they cared they liked less than a tenth of a mg/L so diluting what you dump in the sewer down to that means you could safely drink it, although personally I'd let it run its course thru the sewer system. Which is why I say its scientifically safe, although perhaps not legally safe.

A mg is a thousandth of a gram and a liter is a thousand grams so if you were flushing 100% concentrated stuff you'd have to dilute it by a factor of a million, but its highly unlikely its that concentrated and you probably don't have very much. So its probably well beyond flush the toilet level of dilution and well below dump a whole swimming pool in.

Some nickel compounds are relatively more dangerous and would be treated differently. If you plate all the nickel out onto something, what remains isn't nickel anymore (obviously) and is mostly harmless so they might take that tack instead and plate the bad stuff out.

Frank K
12-31-2013, 04:14 PM
" Caswell thinks it hilarious to password protect their MSDS, as if that would stop a real chemist from cloning their products for more than about an hour. Mostly it just ticks people off."

If true, I can think of at least 3 Federal agencies that won't think its hilarious.

Ed P
12-31-2013, 04:39 PM
If it's still blue, you have way too much nickel in it. Did you pour the plate-out solution into it? How big is your tank? It takes about a box full of steel wool pads to draw the nickel out of a four gallon tank and that's running 5-6 hours.

Yes I poured the plate-out solution in it. The tank is about a gallon, maybe a little more. I followed all the instructions including putting in the steel wool pads. First I put in the ammonia and that's what changed the color from green to blue which is per the instructions.
I going to try and see if the local waste disposal place will take it, it's not too far away.

Ed P

CCWKen
12-31-2013, 05:46 PM
Looks like the safety and environment police are out in force today. :)

I think I'll go out and burn a tire.

jdunmyer
12-31-2013, 07:51 PM
I think I'll go out and burn a tire.


Do that only at night, there's no black smoke then.

Or so I've heard.

mike4
12-31-2013, 08:03 PM
Have you tried to add some Sodium Hydroxide (lye solution) to the mix , this usually precipitates the nickel and other metals out of solution , then let it settle , carefully tip the liquid off and allow the other remaining material to dry out in the sun ,if its hot enough.
Thats has worked for me in the past when I had to clean some stuff with hydrochloric acid and the dissolved metal couldnt be tipped into a sewer.
Michael