A comprehensive Guide to Remove Rust from Tools

Removing rust from tools is simple. When your metal tools rust, disposing of them and getting new ones doesn’t always have to be the first option.

With special rust removal products and even household ingredients like vinegar and aluminum foils, you can remove the rust and make the tools look shiny as new.

Keep in mind that efficient rust removal requires your patience. In the first section of this post, I will show you how to remove rust from DIY tools using household items and in the second section, I will guide you how to do it using store-bought products.

Method 1: white vinegar

White vinegar reacts with the rust and dissolves it off the tool. Just you need to do is soak the tool in white vinegar for several hours, and then brush the rusty paste out.

Is the tool too large to soak directly in the vinegar? Try pouring a layer of the vinegar over it and let it soak for a few hours. Afterwards, brush the tool and wipe it with a piece of cloth soaked in vinegar.

If the rust seems resilient and won’t come off easily, dip an aluminum foil in vinegar and use it to brush off the rust. In case you’re using regular vinegar, the process will still be viable, though it will take longer, maybe about 24 hours, to achieve the desired results.

The good thing is, after those 24 hours, you might not need to do much scrubbing to get rid of the rust.

Method 2: Lime and salt

Generously coat the rusted area with salt and sprinkle some lime over the coat. Use as much time as you can obtain, and let the blend set in for around 2 hours before scrubbing it off.

I suggest using a rind from the lime to brush off the blend. That way, you’ll remove the rust efficiently without causing further damage to the metal. Feel free to use lemon in place of the lime.

Method 3: Baking soda paste

Add some baking soda to water and blend them until you have a thick paste that can be spread over the metal. Let the dough set in before scrubbing off. You can use a toothbrush to scrub the paste off, then rinse the tool with clean water.

Method 4: Potato and dish soap

Divide the potato into two halves and rub the cut end of one of the halves with some dish soap. Then, rub the potato against the metal and let it sit for few hours.

The solvent, the potato, and the rust will react, making it easy to remove the rust. In case you don’t have dish soap, baking soda and water are an alternative. Mix them with the potato and use the same procedure you’d have used with the dish soap to remove the rust.

Method 5: Oxalic acid

You will need to be careful and take precautions while using this method. Get a pair of gloves, some protective clothing, and goggles. Don’t smoke or inhale gases from the acid directly.

The first step here is to wash the rusted tool with washing-up liquid, rinse it, and allow it to dry completely.

Next, mix five teaspoons of oxalic acid with around 300ml of warm water. Soak the tool in the acid mix for approximately 20 minutes and afterward, scrub the rusted parts with a brass brush. Lastly, wash the tool with clean water and allow it to dry.

#2. Using Store-bought Products:

Method 1: Chemical Remover

There is a dazzling array of chemicals that you can buy and use to dissolve the rust. Usually, they’re manufactured using oxalic or phosphoric acid and can harm the skin. That’s why you need to be very careful while using them.

Be sure to follow the product’s specific directions for use, as application procedures might differ among different products.

Most chemical removers need quite some time to set in and often require brushing afterward. Also, the products can be a little costly, and they usually work for small-scale rust removal.

Method 2: Rust Converters

Rather than removing the rust, converters work by reacting with the present rust and stopping further rusting.

They are like spray paints and function as a primer for a paint coat. For that reason, if you’re planning to paint over the tool, a rust converter is a great option.

Method 3: Abrasive Tools

This method will require lots of elbow grease; you will need to do quite some work with your hands. However, the technique is quite effective.

Abrasive tools include steel wool, which you likely find at the local store around the corner. If the tool is tremendous and the rust is widespread, an electric sander will be very helpful.

Start with the rougher grains, advancing to the more beautiful grains, to minimize damage to the tool.

Other metal tools, like screwdrivers, can help you scrape off the rust, but be sure to use fine-grain sandpaper once you’re done to get rid of scraping marks.

Method 4: Citric Acid

Visit your local supermarket and get a small box of powdered citric acid. Pour some of the acids into a plastic container and add some hot water, just enough to cover the tool your ridding of rust. Dip the tool into the mixture.

Watching the bubbles rising will be fun. Leave the tool in there overnight and rinse it with clean water in the morning.

Method 5: Diesel

Purchase a liter of actual diesel (not fuel additives). Pour the diesel into a container and place the rusting tool in there. Let it sit there for around 24 hours.

Remove the tool and scrub it with a brass brush. Use a clean rag to wipe down the tool. Don’t forget to preserve the diesel for future use. You’ve got to put it in a can and cover it with a tight lid.

How to remove rust from Stainless Steel tools

Get sandpaper with fine grains and rub down the tool in circular motions. Rub down the sanded parts with sliced onion and finally rinse the stainless-steel tool with hot water.

1. Keep your tools dry

Do you know how rust works? It’s the result of a chemical reaction in which iron gets oxidized and starts flaking away. The attitude needs moisture, and thus by keeping your tools dry, you minimize the chances of rusting.

Try storing your tools in a cool, dry place and dry them thoroughly each time they come into contact with water.

2. Apply a primer

Thinking of painting the tool? Apply a paint primer first to ensure the paint sticks. This will also prevent the metal from coming into direct contact with moisture.

If the tool’s surface is smooth, feel free to apply any spray-on primer. But, if the surface is rough, a filler primer is crucial for filling those little pits.

3. Paint a solid coat

Applying paint over a good primer will make it certain that no moisture reaches the metal. For best results, go for the best quality of paint you can find.

Keep in mind that though spray paint is great for metal, painting with a brush helps the paint stick better. I recommend sealing the paint with a clear top coat to minimize the oxidation rate.

Conclusion

Feel free to combine some methods to remove rust. For instance, if you’re removing rust from pliers, allow it to soak in white vinegar for several hours, and then scrub it with steel wool.

While using chemical rust removers or converters, ensure you’re outside in a properly-ventilated place.

Joseph D. Allen
 

Hi! This is Joseph. Over the last 7 years, I have been working as a deputy engineer of RS Engineering farm in Texas, US.

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