I need to make sure the steel is completely free of oil and grease before I enamel it. A good test, to see if it's grease-free, is to run water down the steel and see if the water pulls away from anywhere on the steel surface.
I set up a hot alkali bath (above) using a temperature controlled relay switch to control the power to a hot plate. I'm using a fairly caustic solution of Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH).
The Litmus paper test gives this a pH of 11, which should do nicely!
So I soaked the steel test pieces in the bowl and agitated it from time-to-time
I soaked for at least an hour but found the pieces still didn't pass the surface water test mentioned above.
I resorted to a well tried method of using a different kind of grease...the sort found around the elbow!
I'm scrubbing the steel with a cloth and caustic pumice paste. Once done the steel is washed with tap water and put to dry:
The 'oven' here is just a large cardboard box positioned over a kiln. In the oven the the steel dries quickly enough not to get rusty.