Ultimate guide: Remove a broken point with alum
The ultimate guide: How to dissolve a broken point with alum

Finally it happened to me and a point broke with a short piece around 0.5 mm still visible outside the barrel; too small to grab.
Since I repointed them before I knew that there was a 5 mm point piece stuck in the barrel.

[Image: 1Ulegxb.jpg]

I tried the "throw it in alum" method.
It was a bit of work to gather all relevant information therefore I decided to write detailed step to step manual for dummies like me Wink

I started this guide on the first day but had to add a ‘diary’ section.
You can already guess that it took longer than I thought but it did work.


The guide

You need: a glass container, alum, a cooking pot and a plastic spoon.
We will heat the container in a water bath.
Alum dissolves iron and steel therefore you will absolutely need a nonmetallic container.

I have no idea if a plastic spoon is really needed for stirring but did not want to risk our good cutlery and provoke the wrath of my wife.


1. Choose a glass container:
It should be just big enough to lay the barrel in.
It should be high enough that the barrel is well underwater.
It should be small enough to fit in a cooking pot.

2. Check how much water you need:
Put the barrel in the glass container
Fill normal water in until the barrel is well covered
Measure how much water you need

3. Buy the alum:
You will need a saturated saline solution.
This will be about 3 parts water and one part alum; for example 150 ml of water and 50 grams of alum.
Buy the cheapest alum (potassium aluminum sulfate) you can get.

4. Dissolve the alum in the required amount of water:
Take a cup that's good to stir.
Put in hot water, put in alum and stir.
Repeat until you have a lot of alum crystals undissolved on the ground.

5. Mix it all together:
Put the alum solution (with the crystals) and the barrel in the glass container
Put the glass container in the cooking pot.
Fill the cooking pot with some water.
The cooking water must NOT get into the glass container.
Place the pot on the stove on a low setting and let it simmer.
When the solution becomes hot the remaining crystal will dissolve, if not add some water.

6. Yeah:
You see a lot of bubbles rise from the dissolving point.

7. Cooking time:
Check every hour.
Top up both liquids with water if necessary and this will be necessary; I had to refill 100 ml Water every 2 hours.
You may roll the barrel back and forth a little and stir the alum solution.

8. Optional - Measure the progress:
If you want to know what’s happening grab the barrel and push a piece of a thin wire/another dart-point (whatever fits) in the point hole.
Normally a point hole is drilled out at least 6 mm deep.

9. SUCCESS:
No more bubbles means no more broken point pieces in the barrel. Check with a wire/dart-point to be sure.
Wash you barrel under clean water to remove any alum (you don't want to have salt crystals in the stem-thread).
Repoint the barrel and throw your next 9 darter.

Additional tip:
The barrel should be horizontal or the nose should point upwards in the solution.
If the point hole is aligned downwards the solution would have to move upward against the bubble stream and after a short time an air barrier would protect the point metal.
If you have a barrel with a thicker end make the front thicker or use something to put the front part on.



Video
Here's a link to a video which shows the cooking with the arising bubbles.
I wanted to convert it to an gif in Imgur, but strange things happened.
Alaun dissolves broken dartpoint

[Image: pMh8EzB.jpg]



The diary

Day 1:
After 5 hours simmering around 2 mm of the broken point are gone. This works really good. Tomorrow I can repoint the barrel. I put the container on a radiator, perhaps it will continue to work.

Day 2:
Another 2 hours simmering and the stupid point seems to resist any further dissolving. I can’t measure any progress and I'm close to aborting everything.
I mix a new alum solution and change it. Maybe this will work better. No, I do not see a better effect; I could have skipped this.
I let it simmer for another 3 hours. Let’s say that in total 3 mm are gone. I see all the time tiny bubbles coming out of the point hole so something is happening.
Never give up and put it back on the radiator overnight.

Day 3:
The ‘radiator time’ seems to be very slow. The solution is not hot enough to trigger a fast chemical reaction but nevertheless should work. I put all back in the water bath and enjoy again a lot of tiny bubbles arising.  Today I have only 4 hours cooking time. I measure the process and another 1 mm seems to have vanished.

Day 4 and 5:
Only ‘radiator time’ since I have no time to monitor the simmering.

Day 6:
Great surprise: As I grab the container I see huge crystals but as I measure the progress at least another 1 mm of the point is gone. I poke with a dart in the point hole and it feels like a cut-through on one side. Back in the hot water bath, the crystals dissolve and I see again a lot of tiny bubbles arising.  After 5 hours cooking time I notice no more bubbles from the barrel. Ok, be cool, don’t be too optimistic, roll the barrel a bit around, no bubbles. I grab it and poke with the other dart in the hole, SUCCESS! - IT IS DONE.

The barrel was nonstop for 5.5 days in the alum solution. I heated it for a total of 19 hours.
That was not as fast as I thought and read before but also not as long as I feared on the second day.



Frequent asked questions

What is alum?
The name alum is used for different salts with nearly identical chemical formulas.
It does not matter which you will use, choose the cheapest.

Is alum dangerous?
No. It's on the same level as table salt.
But it works also as a bleaching agent for your skin, so take care of your suntan.

How does this work if alum is harmless?
A heated alum solution will break down in a sulphuric acid compound if it comes in contact with base metal.

Where do I get alum?
It is sold on Ebay and Amazon if you like to order it online. Otherwise drugstores and pharmacies should have alum. You can even take an pure Alum deodorant stick, but you have to crumble it to pieces.

But how much alum do I need exactly?
See above; it depends on the used water volume.
With 100 g you should have more than enough alum for one broken point.

Does it smell?
No, I did not smell anything from the bubbles or the alum solution.

How does it taste?
Are you kidding me?

Can the alum solution be reused?
Yes. If you let the water evaporate, beautiful alum crystals will remain, which you can keep forever.

Will my barrel be damaged?
No, tungsten is completely resistant to alum. Perhaps they become shinier.
Theoretically a low percent tungsten alloy with high iron content could be affected. Take care of your ancient heirloom.

Will a coating or a color on the barrel be affected?
I don't think so. They should be resistant too, but who knows what colors and coatings are used for barrels.

How long will it take to remove a point?
It depends on the temperature of the alum solution and the remaining length and the alloy of the point in the barrel.
I would say you should expect at least 4 hours cooking time per 1 mm remaining point material inside the barrel. The pieces outside the barrel will dissolve quickly because there’s much more surface the solution can work on. In reality you simply have to count in days. Reserve some time because you have to monitor the process sporadically.
If you just put the solution in a warm place, I would calculate at least 3 days per 1 mm remaining point material; think in weeks.

Isn't there some way to speed this up?
In theory you can use something like sulphuric or hydrochloric acid. Tungsten is acid resistant and a higher concentrated acid would work faster on the tip. But you will definitely leave the safe zone you have with alum.
It’s all about corroding the steel tip. The more aggressive the solution is the faster it will work. Also vinegar or salt water will work over a duration of months.

Do I really have to monitor the cooking process?
Yes because the solution and the cooking water will disappear faster than you believe.
Never leave the house when the stove is on.

Why didn’t you heat the alum solution direct?
This would lead to a much more frequent monitoring because the solution will evaporate faster. With the water bath this is only a low priority background task.
But the real simple reason is that I have induction cooking zones which means only steel/iron cooking pots will work (and dissolve) and I did not want to use the oven.

Do I need a repointer?
Yes Nope, plant your barrel under an oak tree in the night of a full moon and a new point will grow in 4-6 months.



Conclusion:
If you have a shop around the corner that can do it for you choose this option, pay some bucks and receive a repointed dart back. Wink
Use the alum cooking method if you are a DIY guy and you have the patience and the time to monitor the process. After the visible part was gone the progress took a bit too long for my taste. But if you want to drill out the broken point this is a great method to get a starting point for the drill after one day.

The alternative slow alum method:
Just put the glass container with the alum solution and the barrel on a radiator (or in a sunny place in summer). Refill water periodically and in some weeks the point will be dissolved.

The ultimate solution:
Treat yourself some new shiny darts; a broken point is a perfectly adequate reason if you ever needed one. You still can throw the unusable barrel in vinegar or alum and check it months later.
Reply
Had you bought a higher quality alum the job would have been completed in around five hours of constant simmering. Don’t do as I did and then put the Pyrex jug into cool water as it will shatter LOL
[Image: GEpKdcf.png] 
Current Board 
ONE80 Gladiator 3 with Corona Surround and Unicorn number ring
Darts
Modified Unicorn Striker with RD medium sparkle stems, hardcore  charcoal flights and Target titanium stem rings   

Playing 40 years on and off and still barely average
Reply
(01-13-2020, 03:37 PM)ChrisTheFish Wrote: Had you bought a higher quality alum the job would have been completed in around five hours of constant simmering. Don’t do as I did and then put the Pyrex jug into cool water as it will shatter LOL

What do you mean with 'higher quality'?
I had pure alum powder. I don't believe there's much difference in the alum but in the used point steel alloy.
Reply
Can’t understand why yours took such a long time as it took an evening to completely dissolve my broken storm point?
[Image: GEpKdcf.png] 
Current Board 
ONE80 Gladiator 3 with Corona Surround and Unicorn number ring
Darts
Modified Unicorn Striker with RD medium sparkle stems, hardcore  charcoal flights and Target titanium stem rings   

Playing 40 years on and off and still barely average
Reply
(01-13-2020, 04:09 PM)ChrisTheFish Wrote: Can’t understand why yours took such a long time as it took an evening to completely dissolve my broken storm point?

The storm points are more cast metal than forged steel and therefore much less corrosion resistant Wink
Reply
(01-13-2020, 03:37 PM)ChrisTheFish Wrote: Had you bought a higher quality alum the job would have been completed in around five hours of constant simmering. Don’t do as I did and then put the Pyrex jug into cool water as it will shatter LOL

Chris, did you heat the pyrex jug directly? If so, could that be why it worked quicker?
Bulls NL 501 pyramid grip 24g
L Style flights & stems
Unicorn Volute points
Reply
Great guide!

I hope I never have to use it SmileSmile
[Image: 5GPKrWp.png]

B: 23g   S: Short   F: No.6   180s: 2/25
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+1 on all of it. Thanks for taking the time to present to us in detail
Reply
(01-13-2020, 04:22 PM)jt4527 Wrote: Great guide!

I hope I never have to use it SmileSmile

Exactly what jt4527 said Wink
[Image: aviary-image-1546527737695-02.jpg]
Reply
(01-13-2020, 04:20 PM)Chappers Wrote:
(01-13-2020, 03:37 PM)ChrisTheFish Wrote: Had you bought a higher quality alum the job would have been completed in around five hours of constant simmering. Don’t do as I did and then put the Pyrex jug into cool water as it will shatter LOL

Chris, did you heat the pyrex jug directly? If so, could that be why it worked quicker?
Yes I did, on the gas cooker. Had to keep topping up the water every 1/2 hour ( small 1 litre jug which I had to replace when it burst! )
[Image: GEpKdcf.png] 
Current Board 
ONE80 Gladiator 3 with Corona Surround and Unicorn number ring
Darts
Modified Unicorn Striker with RD medium sparkle stems, hardcore  charcoal flights and Target titanium stem rings   

Playing 40 years on and off and still barely average
Reply
Ayup cateye

Nice walk thru, but wouldn't it be easier & need less solution to just suspend the dart point below the solution surface?

Shed
Reply
(01-13-2020, 09:25 PM)Shed inn Wrote: Ayup cateye

Nice walk thru, but wouldn't it be easier & need less solution to just suspend the dart point below the solution surface?

Shed

This would mean that you would only use a few milliliters solution which would evaporate so fast when heated that you would need a constant supply of water.
Furthermore the solution would have to move upward against the bubble stream and after a short time an air barrier would protect the point metal.

Alum is cheap. I paid around 6€ for 500g.
Since I did not found any reliable information how much alum you need I chose a larger package.

But this was a good question. I will add the tip that the barrel nose should point upwards in the solution.
Reply
(01-13-2020, 09:25 PM)Shed inn Wrote: Ayup cateye

Nice walk thru, but wouldn't it be easier & need less solution to just suspend the dart point below the solution surface?

Shed

This would mean that you would only use a few milliliters solution which would evaporate so fast when heated that you would need a constant supply of water.
Furthermore the solution would have to move upward against the bubble stream and after a short time an air barrier would protect the point metal.

Alum is cheap. I paid around 6€ for 500g.
Since I did not found any reliable information how much alum you need I chose a larger package.

But this was a good question. I will add the tip that the barrel nose should point upwards in the solution.

Ayup Cateye

Fair point, i asked because I've never replaced a point through breakage!
 And I'm in my 7th decade of playing darts!

Shed
Reply
I know this isn`t what this topic is about but you could retrofit your darts with Swiss points from Tony and forget about this issue
180-0(32)
[Image: lvnS5tM.jpg]

[Image: images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSk3_mUOv_jGoysjynm41f...KJnZ__w9ge]
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(01-14-2020, 03:07 AM)Troll Wrote: I  know this isn`t what this topic is about but you  could retrofit your darts with Swiss points from Tony and forget about this issue

I'm sorry, but this is the completely wrong solution for me.
(not considering that such a modification would cost me as much as a new set of darts)
What everyone really wants are unbreakable points that last forever.
What you get with the Swiss points are fragile points that can be easily replaced when they break and they will break.
I will always vehemently refuse to consider points as a kind of 'refills' or consumables.
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