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I found my Kasenit!

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Alan H.

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#1
I made a small part today out of some very poor quality steel. I was really just playing and when I go finished I wished I had used a better grade of material. I decided I would try to case harden it.

So I went on a mission of trying to find an old can of Kasenit that I have had since the early 80's. I thought I might have thrown it out but I found it!

Did a little research and found out this stuff is no longer made and a can of it is valuable. My lucky day.
IMG_20170405_215112.jpg
 

Chipper5783

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#2
Same here - have a can from the early '80s (been opened one time for one small part). What makes it special? Aren't there equivalent product readily available?
 

ch2co

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#3
Great!! Now have to start digging around to find an old can of it that I had. It was LONG before the '70's though.
This could ruin my whole weekend! THANKS! :mad:

CHuck the grumpy old guy

Maybe I'll just dig around the refrigerator for a few beers.:beer mugs:
 

Bob Korves

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#4
I also have an old can of Kasenit. The difference is that it also has cyanide in it, which is poisonous. The cyanide also nitrided the work. The work was both carburized and nitrided.
 

ghostdncr

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#5
I had no idea they stopped making Kasenit. I used my can just last weekend and like some of you guys, I've had it since back in the 80's.
 

Tozguy

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#6
I also have an old can of Kasenit. The difference is that it also has cyanide in it, which is poisonous. The cyanide also nitrided the work. The work was both carburized and nitrided.
I have some from the sixties. Its the cyanide part that needs to be respected. Read and follow instructions very carefully.
 

Alan H.

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#7
The "cyanide" in Kasenit is sodium ferrocyanide. It should be treated with respect but it not poison. Read Here

I read that the demise of Kasenit was due the difficulty in sourcing this key raw material. Hydrogen cyanide is used to make the sodium ferrocyanide and that caused this salt to become more difficult to come by simply because the hydrogen cyanide (HCN) manufacturers stopped or limited shipping the HCN.

For example, here in the USA DuPont was a huge producer of HCN and supplied it to many other chemical manufacturers but in the 80's they decided that they would limit shipping it due its toxicity and risk associated with moving it in cylinders and/or rail cars. It didn't take long for other HCN producers to take the same stance. Some of the HCN producers then began to build manufacturing capacity to make derivative chemicals on site with the HCN production. So HCN was produced and then consumed within the confines of one manufacturing site.

Small volume chemicals just didn't often make the cut due to the cost of building a plant for the specific chemistry involved in a particular compound. Low demand and cost considerations put a big tangle in the supply chain for many compounds that used HCN as a raw material in their manufacture. So availability and cost put a kink in lots of user's rope. Of course, the global supply chain always steps up when there's a dollar to be made but again costs and availability becomes an issue.

So hang on to that old can of Kasenit, it is more valuable than that old can makes it appear. I am going to clean my old can up a bit and display it with pride!
 

Alan H.

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#8
Okay - for fun, the obligatory "before and after" photos.
Before:
IMG_20170405_215112.jpg
After:
after 1.jpg

Not bad for a ~35 year old can. What's your "aged" can look like??
 

owl

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#9
I too have a can of that vintage that I treasure. For those that don't and who can stand a very shallow case, an old trick is to use sugar. Heat the part red hot, dip in sugar, preferably repeatedly, then quench. It won't give quite the hardness or depth, but it will harden the surface satisfactorily for many uses.
 

Bob Korves

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#10
Thanks, Alan. "poisonous" was perhaps not the correct word to use. It is only dangerous if the cyanide is set free from the stable molecule. My understanding was (and is) that the cyanide is liberated when it is heated for case hardening, so use Kasenit with good ventilation and don't breathe the vapors given off when it is heated. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Edit: The dry Kasenit in the can is dangerous if it gets wet. Keep it dry at all times.
 
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Alan H.

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#11
Bob, First a disclaimer I am not a chemist by education.

As we all know, many compounds are not stable at 1600F! I can imagine that sodium ferrocyanide is one of them and as a matter of fact, that is likely the very mechanism that provides the surface hardening that occurs. I am not sure if its decomposition liberates HCN. HCN by itself is quite flammable and if any is created by the thermal decomposition of the sodium ferrocyanide in Kasenit, I am imagining it would likely immediately combust.

Meanwhile, I would never use anything like Kasenit in closed quarters. Nor would I oil quench, etc. where I would be breathing any of the vapor created. I don't like smelling the smoke off the a cutting tool dabbed with cutting oil.

So your advice for caution is a very good one from my perspective.
 

ch2co

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#13
I can remember when it was 5-6 years old, one of my jobs in the summer was to squirt Cyanogas, from a little can with a longish plastic snout,
into any entrance of the many ant piles around our yard. The stuff had a powerful bitter pungent smell. Killed the entire ant colony in
a single treatment. I don't even remember washing my hands afterwords. :eek:

Still around and still Grumpy after all these years.
 

wawoodman

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#14
Gator,
I suspect we all have stories like that. I remember heating mercuric oxide (?) over a bunsen burner, and playing with the resultant mercury. And putting pennies in nitric acid until they were the size of dimes, so you could use them in the pay phones.
 

Bob Korves

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#15
I remember my dad bringing us home a jar of mercury, several ounces of it, that we played with and poured it back and forth from hand to hand, without adult supervision. I was about five years old.
 

pdentrem

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#16
I had seen that Kasenit was no longer available. I had put it in a safe place within a seal container - my gun safe!
Pierre
 

RJSakowski

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#17
Back in the seventies, as an analytical chemist working for a battery company, I had the task safely disposing of about fifteen lbs. of sodium cyanide from the machine shop. The recommended method was to tie it up as sodium ferrocyanide. I elected to dispose of it by adding bleach. The bleach oxidizes the cyanide to nitrogen gas and carbon dioxide. The reaction was quite vigorous so it was carried out in fume hood, adding a little bleach at a time. It took several days to totally decompose the cyanide but eventually I was left with a tub of salt water. I still have the fabricated stainless steel box it came in. The machine shop wanted no part of it.

Those of us old enough will remember the Gilbert chemistry kits which were highly desirable Christmas or birthday presents. Sodium ferrocyanide was one of the chemicals. One experiment was to make Prussian Blue, the primary component of Dykem or Permatex blue all the scrapers know and love. It was also used for making blueprints, the old blue background type.

Case hardening can be accomplished with a variety of chemicals containing nitrogen and carbon. Urea was often used in historical times, in the form of urine, sometimes that of a virgin, or piles of manure and straw. Since the process of manufacturing of steel in its modern form had not yet been invented, steel was made by carburizing iron which each smithy having its own closely guarded recipe.
 

RJSakowski

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#18
I can remember when it was 5-6 years old, one of my jobs in the summer was to squirt Cyanogas, from a little can with a longish plastic snout,
into any entrance of the many ant piles around our yard. The stuff had a powerful bitter pungent smell. Killed the entire ant colony in
a single treatment. I don't even remember washing my hands afterwords. :eek:

Still around and still Grumpy after all these years.
Maybe that is what made you grumpy?;)
 

Bob Korves

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#19
Those of us old enough will remember the Gilbert chemistry kits which were highly desirable Christmas or birthday presents. Sodium ferrocyanide was one of the chemicals. One experiment was to make Prussian Blue, the primary component of Dykem or Permatex blue all the scrapers know and love. It was also used for making blueprints, the old blue background type.
Prussian blue in oil is very good for marking up parts for scraping or for spotting in metal to metal fits. The only downside is how messy it is. You will get it all over your nose, hands, and certain other body parts. :eek: Then it is difficult to impossible to ever get it off again. :blue: Canode water based dyes are much more user friendly.
 
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chips&more

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#20
After readings about how Kasenit is no longer available and then noticing how cans of the stuff can go for crazy money on fleabay. That got me thinking and going crazy ALL day today trying to find the can I had! Didn’t get much done otherwise, but I did find it! Now I can sleep tonight.
kasenit.JPG
 

Alan H.

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#21
Okay - proof that you have one! Thanks for the photo.
 

Silverbullet

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#22
YUPP. I've got a can in a bunch of polishing wheels and compounds stored in a box in my attic. Someday it'll get found and I hope make some money for my grandkids. I'll never be able to get up there to get it. When we moved everything was stored till needed. Things didn't go as I planned so there it sits. When I wanted to open a gunsmith shop , the costs to comply with all there regs. Was just way out of my reach . So the materials to do the polishing and treating are stored, felt wheels hard and soft sisal wheels too. Different compounds to polish steel , wax stick . YUPP I was prepared had tanks burners racks for bluing.
 

Matustahl

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#23
I made a small part today out of some very poor quality steel. I was really just playing and when I go finished I wished I had used a better grade of material. I decided I would try to case harden it.

So I went on a mission of trying to find an old can of Kasenit that I have had since the early 80's. I thought I might have thrown it out but I found it!

Did a little research and found out this stuff is no longer made and a can of it is valuable. My lucky day.
View attachment 230686
In German whe use "gelbes Blutlaugensalz". It cost 17 Euro for a pound.

Greating
Bernhard
 

Alan H.

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#24
Bernhard, looks like that is potassium ferrocyanide instead of the sodium ferrocyanide in the Kasenit.
 

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#25
You can get a compound called Cherry Red for case hardening. My understanding is that it doesn't work as well as Kasenite, but I have seen no definitive proof of that. I have some and have used it. Seemed to do what I wanted it to.
 

Alan H.

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#26
Yes, I have seen the Cherry Red. It is not the same as the potassium or sodium ferrocyanides and I have read that it may not work quite as well but I cannot confirm that with personal experience.

Cherry Red is made of potassium nitrate and chromium oxide.
 

KBeitz

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#27
I'm a collector of old Gilbert stuff... I still play with mercury...
I harden my tools and stuff with carbon out of D cell batteries.
I take the battery apart to get the carbon and then I smash it up with
a hammer. Then I wrap it in a special foil wit my tool and heat...
 

RJSakowski

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#28
I'm a collector of old Gilbert stuff... I still play with mercury...
I harden my tools and stuff with carbon out of D cell batteries.
I take the battery apart to get the carbon and then I smash it up with
a hammer. Then I wrap it in a special foil wit my tool and heat...
If you're referring to alkaline manganese cells, the black gunk between the central rod is primarily manganese dioxide with a bit of graphite added. The old zinc-carbon dry cell has similarly formulated black gunk but a central carbon rod.

If you are using the carbon rods, why not just use charcoal briquettes instead?

When I was doing some blacksmithing, I could get a fairly decent case by simply soaking the iron in a bed of glowing coke. This was particularly effective on thin sections due to the higher percentage of the steel being affected by the case hardening.
 
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cjtoombs

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#29
If you're referring to alkaline manganese cells, the black gunk between the central rod is primarily manganese dioxide with a bit of graphite added. The old zinc-carbon dry cell has similarly formulated black gunk but a central carbon rod.

If you are using the carbon rods, why not just use charcoal briquettes instead?

When I was doing some blacksmithing, I culde get a fairly decent case by simply soaking the iron in a bed of glowing coke. This was particularly effective on thin sections due to the higher percentage of the steel being affected by the case hardening.
My understanding is that wood charcoal or other fairly pure forms of carbon tend to be very slow to absorb into the steel, making them not as good for surface hardening. Charcoal made from leather, due to the tanning additives, works much faster. You can also mix some of the comercialy availbale hardening comounds in with charcoal or other forms of carbon, as these contain the additives which accelerate the absorption of the carbon.
 

Brian Hutchings

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#30
If you have Kasenit in tins then I would suggest that you transfer it to glass jars with non-metalic lids.
My tin of Kasenit (admittedly 40 years old) disintegrated when I picked it up to use it recently!
Brian
 
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