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Regulations for anodizing

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  • Regulations for anodizing

    I've been told via metal finishing forum on that simply by anodizing in my garage i'm risking going to jail. I find this pretty ridiculous but it's made me pause and consider if anybody has had any problems with the EPA even with proper disposal? Here's the link where it was being discussed.

  • #2
    I've been pooh poohed by anodizing "professionals" for about 9 years now; they assume that anyone not part of their fraternity is an idiot, and doesn't know how to handle chemicals, electricity, etc. I've had 4 semesters of chemistry with labs in school, I think I know how to handle acids.

    Actually; they don't like us, it seems that we are some kind of threat to them. It is in their business interest to keep anodizing complex and wonderful. The very idea (let alone proof) that an amateur in his garage can learn to anodize as well or better than they can is very scarry. The truth is; its far easier to control any process on a small scale compared to large scale, we should be able to do better work. This is not a reflection on them.

    What they say about EPA etc. regulations is correct. However few of the pros seem to realize that the majority of us are dealing with only a few gallons, we don't use 1,000 gallon tanks. On our scale, we are "below the radar", the EPA has neither the time or interest to bother with us. This is not meant as an excuse for sloppy, dangerous, or polluting practices, use common sense.


    • #3
      regulations and concernes

      This still kind of concerns me. I'm confused about the regulations how does this affect me doing this for a hobby in a residential area. They had mentioned even if I take money for doing it once I would be considered a professional in their eyes. If I step on the wrong persons toes and the call the EPA would I have to be concerned? I've checked with my local waste hazard people who pick up at my work and they will take the old acid and stuff for about $100 a drum so disposal isn't an issue, as they give you full documentation on it. Are they concerned about what might be going into the air?

      "What they say about EPA etc. regulations is correct. However few of the pros seem to realize that the majority of us are dealing with only a few gallons, we don't use 1,000 gallon tanks. On our scale, we are "below the radar", the EPA has neither the time or interest to bother with us. This is not meant as an excuse for sloppy, dangerous, or polluting practices, use common sense.[/quote]


      • #4
        It appears the EPA is concerned with regulating Chromic Anodizing (chromic acid is used instead of sulfuric acid in some types of anodizing.) Fumes and vapors containing chromic acid form a dust when dried, and cause airborne hazards. I haven't found anything to indicate sulfuric acid is regulated in small quantities, whether it's business use or not. Though chromic and sulfuric acids are in two different categories, I still believe sulfuric acid should be handled and disposed of with due concern and responsibility.

        This is only from research I have done on the Internet; so don't take it as gospel. You should do some personal searching on the internet if you haven't already, perhaps using the search phrase "government anodizing regulations", or "anodizing regulations", and see what's out there.

        (edited for spelling)


        • #5
          To expound on what M_D said; chromic acid anodizing is known as Type I, and is commonly used as a base for paint on aluminum (provides good "tooth"). By its nature its very thin and can't be dyed, but its quick to apply, good for large scale painting operations.

          As far as sulfuric acid anodizing (Type II) on the scale most of us are doing here, local zoning regulations are probably more important (residential area). What will likely be lost on the local politicians is again the scale, everyone in govt. thinks big, and wants to figure out a way to tax you for it. If you are setting this up as a business you will have to deal with them. Don't expect local govt. to be smart enough to understand the benign real consequences of small scale as opposed to large scale.


          • #6
            Funny about's comment about risking going to jail for a 3 gal anodizing setup.

            In the 14 years we've been in business, we've heard those people ranting on about this. We've even had to threaten them with a taste of our lawyers boot from time to time.

            Mr Mooney's comments are the usual 'smoke and mirrors' deal we've become accustomed to over the years.

            MOONEY "Code of Federal Regulations at 40CFR413 and 40CFR433 I don't see any way of interpreting it other than that if you sell any product that you have anodized, or you sell an anodizing service, then the full weight of all federal compliance regulations and reporting regulations fall upon you no matter how small the enterprise."

            MOONEY "You are welcome to say to yourself that I'm silly and alarmist, just read the documents I referred to before you do"

            Read here:

            So thats how Mr Mooney sees it, but does anyone else? It seems not. Hot air? Probably!

            Firstly, we operate a 'zero waste' policy. Secondly, if you were to dispose of the anodizing tank, you are looking at a very WEAK solution, around the pH of cider vinegar. This is easily neutralized with baking soda allowing it to easily be disposed of. So you are NOT a hazardous waste generator.

            Bottom line is, we know of no regulations anywhere that can stop you doing this on a small scale. AND not ONE of our clients has ever been charged/arrested/thrown in jail etc. etc. to our knowledge.
            Mike Caswell
            Caswell Inc
            Need Support? Visit our online support section at


            • #7
              Well said.


              • #8
                Just to expand a little on what Caswell has said. The acid is very weak, but even at 5%, it will still eat thru clothing, burn skin and dissolve metals, so it is still a little hazardous as far as handling it. What ever you do, just because it is similar to vinegar in pH, it doesn't mean it is as harmless as vinegar.

                I've used about 2lbs of baking soda to neutralize 1 gallon of 5% electrolyte. Probably more than required, but a good rule of thumb. Be careful if you choose this method as even a teaspoon of baking soda will cause it to foam and splash VIOLENTLY.


                • #9
                  I am new to this forum and all this anodizing stuff but am wanting to learn. I was wondering though since I see you guy's talking about this already, where would I dispose of all the extra stuff I have left over? Also, say if I am wanting to anodize a frame or something for a motorcycle and I have extra acid and dye left over from it, can I keep it in the container to use at a later time? Any info on this would be greatly appreciated, thanks.
                  (sorry if I got a little off subject there.)


                  • #10
                    first off i dont read anything has to offer, they are all full of themself and trying to scare people out of trying anything. i have a full scale hobby plating set up and have contacted the federal epa, my state epa, and the local city inspectors and was told i have nothing to worry about what so ever , im such a small scale operation i fall below their compliance reguirements and it dosent matter if i sell to someone or not and the city said as long as i wasnt creating traffic in and out of my neighborhood ----have a great time is what they said.



                    • #11
                      the epa has too many other thing's to worry about .. like coming to my shop and harassing me over a old leaky tank's that were removed year's ago by the old owner ... i got a stripper set up they never said any thing about .. there only complaint was when i did painting i had to get a down draft booth ...


                      • #12
                        Hey this..

                        I've been down this road and am still enjoying my plating set up!
                        I have even had the city try to rip me up.....there is nothing that says you cannot do this in my city so there is nothing to stand on. Granted they will try to bamboozle you! I was threatened to be taken to court and face criminal prosecution.........Well needless to say im not typing this from a jail cell!