Options re brass corrosion inside portafilter?

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
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#1: Post by alxndr »

I found an old Livia 90 via Craigslist, and after a few soaks in Cafiza the portafilter it came with still has greenish/whitish corrosion (along with some darker spots) on the inside walls... see photos

I've found a few threads here that seem related (Avoiding dissimilar metal corrosion problems, Is it safe to use a portafilter with exposed brass?) but I'm unsure what my options are with this PF.

Any recommendations welcome, thanks!


#2: Post by zfeldman »

If you're worried...easiest is drill the bottom out with a hole saw and make it bottomless.

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alxndr (original poster)

#3: Post by alxndr (original poster) »

The white/green corrosion is mostly on the sides, rather than the bottom -- but if it's bottomless then the liquid won't come in contact with the rust?

Could I safely take a wire brush to it? Maybe some thinner/softer bristles?

Team HB

#4: Post by JRising »

Have you tried with anything acidic? If a mild acid won't remove it, then wire brush for sure... Unless you just hole-saw all the un-needed brass out, I think zfeldman's answer is best.

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alxndr (original poster)

#5: Post by alxndr (original poster) »

I haven't tried anything acidic, just Cafiza (which I believe is very basic)... I've got some white vinegar lying around, is that the sort of "mild" you had in mind?

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#6: Post by HB »

The chrome is gone, so there's no need to be gentle. I'd use steel wool and some elbow grease.
Dan Kehn

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alxndr (original poster)

#7: Post by alxndr (original poster) »

Excellent, thanks all!


#8: Post by Pressino »

I guess one question may be whether or not the brass is lead-free or zero-lead. I think they started requiring zero-lead brass in 2014.


#9: Post by puffinjk »

Barkeepers' friend and a green scrubby will put in like new condition without the chrome, run a few seasonings shots before using. JK :D


#10: Post by WWWired »

As HB mentioned above in comment #6, its important to get rid of that corrosion thoroughly. Any signs of corrosion on Brass, Lead, or Copper components should be addressed promptly and the component either replaced or thoroughly renewed without hesitation. If in question, take a sample of water from your espresso machine and have it tested for Lead and Copper content (its fairly inexpensive and most cities have someplace where water samples can be tested). This will be important for aging espresso machines. Testing is a cheap way to check the health of an espresso machine (looking for evidence of internal unseen corrosion of components that may contain Lead etc.) and to protect an espresso owner's health. Water testing kits for Lead can be purchased online, eBay, Amazon and other sites for very cheap, $20 to $50 . . . here's a screen shot in 2022 of a few such kit found with a quick eBay search . . .

Alxndr, our original poster offered some very important pictures demonstrating corrosion in a Brass/Lead containing espresso machine component (portafilter):
alxndr wrote:. . . I'm unsure what my options are with this PF.

Any recommendations welcome, thanks!
A Good Approach Can be to Educate and Inform Your Position:
Environmental Protection Agency wrote: The EPA has stated that the LCR ("Lead and Copper Rule") has reduced exposure to lead "that can cause damage to brain, red blood cells, and kidneys, especially for young children and pregnant women." It also explained that the rule has reduced copper exposure "that can cause stomach and intestinal distress, liver or kidney damage, and complications of Wilson's disease in genetically predisposed people.
Brass is a alloy of Copper primarily, that has impurities introduced to it to harden it, Lead being the traditional impurity utilized, commonly 5%, but can be more. Pure Copper is generally a soft malleable metal.

Here is a <link-click here> from a company (Quick Cut Gasket) showing Chemical Resistance Data with Brass, and other materials rated for resistance against Chemicals (such as Acetic Acid etc.) . . . and here's a small screen shot sample of the data (the link has many chemicals and o-ring materials listed) . . .

Corrosion in any Lead containing component should be a serious concern as it can release high levels of Lead atoms. Lead is an atomic element that can cross into any part of the human body, including the brain by crossing the blood-brain barrier. The human body has no way to flush out or remove a toxic metallic atomic Element like Lead naturally, however, the Mayo Clinic has information about Diagnosis and Treatment <for Lead Poisoning linked here>. The Mayo Clinic says of Lead Poisoning:
Mayo Clinic wrote:A simple blood test can detect lead poisoning. A small blood sample is taken from a finger prick or from a vein. Lead levels in the blood are measured in micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL).

There is no safe blood level of lead. However, a level of 5 mcg/dL is used to indicate a possibly unsafe level for children. Children whose blood tests at those levels should be tested periodically. A child whose levels become too high - generally 45 mcg/dL or higher - should be treated.
EPA - Chapter 2 Linked Document on Corrosion in Lead and Copper and below a screen shot from the section . . .

Here's a <Link for the United States EPA Lead and Copper Rule Wikipedia information>

Here's the Wikipedia Link on the Safe Drinking Water Act and Lead <Link-Wiki on Lead in Drinking Water>

Here's a video by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) where the discussion begins at about 2 minutes and 30 seconds (please ignore the political back patting and just take the information basics):