Theresa, technically it can be done, but not really a wise decision in my opinion. With all the old thin set still attached to it, it might be a nightmare to get the tiles all leveled when you reinstalled them.
Tile with that clinging morter/glue/grout /mastic/thin-set stuff is not really a good thing to reuse without taking off almost the majority which can be tricky and time-consuming.
Each glob, chunk or smear left on each tile is a separation failure just waiting to happen. Have you ever seen brick that's been re-purposed for other things? Yep, it's real cool to see the stressed material and looks great.
Well, that look is NOT-SO-GOOD for tiled projects where you want a clean-looking and sparkling finish, right?
when my family member said he had "left over tile" he would sell me, I didn't know it was used. I have broken each one I have tried to remove the old thin set from. i
Is there a tool or solution that will take it off?
Get a refund from the relative. If you want to keep trying to remove the thinset, a hand grinder might work. Haven't tried it myself, and it seems like it would take a while, and would take some care.
Just mark it as one of those "life learned lessons" and hopefully the grinding and breaking of tile will be theraputic.
I would have some bad thoughts about that family member. What a skunk!
I did use old tile for a client once. It was 5-600 year old hand thrown and painted from Morrocco.
I spent more time sorting, selecting, and grinding ( both grinder and wetsaw) than I did actually laying and grouting, but they got what they wanted and they knew what they were getting into.
Get a good dust mask, work outside, and use vinegar to wash your hair end of the day
All good advice from everyone. If you still want to remove the old adhesive from the back. Make a little holder that will support the tile. Four tiny wood sticks nailed down to a piece of plywood should do the trick. Just be sure the tile stands proud of the wood. Set the tile on the plywood and fasten the little sticks around it. This will hold the tile into place while you grind the old material off. Using a angle grinder with a sanding disk, carefully remove the older thin-set from the back. Take your time. Wear glasses and long sleeve shirt and gloves.
check this out
@Woodbridge Environmental, since I have over 100 16x16 tile to either be used or hauled off, I am going to try your suggestion. Are you saying make a frame to place the tile in with the sides and bottom exposed?
Sort of Theresa. The back of the tile is where the cement is stuck on. so you need to prevent the tile from moving around when you use the grinder. So you need to create a jig of sorts to prevent it from moving around. A rubber carpet mat will also work on tile that large. If the grout is on the edge of the tile then you need to figure out a way to hold it so you can grind those edges also. Perhaps if you have a 16/16 tile build a bench that is only 14x14 then use a rubber mat to hold tile from moving. This way the edge of the tiles will overhang and you can walk around the tile while you remove any edge cement or grout that still remains.
Sounds like it's one of those times that we live and learn. Sad that your relative would do this to you..