Anyway, here are several takes on the processes and media to use when you’re trying to recondition aluminum, from www.finishing.com.
Probably what I’m going to start with: soda.
“Soda blasting will return your part to like new condition.except it will not remove heavy oxidation. there is no need to degrease before you blast and it will not harm your delicate components.it will not remove any base material and soda is a corrosion inhibitor . you do need to clean with water before coating.”
– Cattaraugus, New York
Get yer soda here, at Harbor Freight.
I like Northern Tool better- here’s their abrasive media page, but they don’t have soda. They do have plastic, though, plus walnut shells and corncob.
Here’s the cheat sheet from Northern:
“Corncob blasting media is used for cleaning delicate surfaces such as wood, stone, block and glass. Will not scratch glass surface.”
Walnut: “For use on soft surfaces. Leaves a smooth, dull finish.”
Plastic: “Commonly used to strip aluminum and fiberglass. Great for stripping paint, light oxidation and surface rust. Works quickly, lasts a long time and increases visibility within the cabinet.”
Ya know… the more I thought about this, the more I figured there just had to be a comparison chart of all common media out there. Where here it is, courtesy of Kramer Industries. Not only that, there’s a page with some simply awesome explanations of the various media, here. Thanks guys!