How To Remove Rust From Metal

When metal has rusted, throwing it away and buying a replacement isn't always an option. You can remove rust using household ingredients such as aluminum foil and a mild acid like white vinegar, or with special rust-removing chemicals. With any rust-removing method, it will take some patience and some elbow grease to remove the rust. But with some time and effort, you'll be able to remove rust from many metal surfaces.

Below you'll find some solutions to help you with the rust problems:

Removing rust with ingredients from your home

1Use white vinegar. The vinegar reacts with the rust to dissolve it off of the metal. To use, soak the metal in white vinegar for a few hours and then scrub the rusty paste off.
  • If the object is too big to soak directly in the white vinegar, pour a layer over the top and allow it time to set. You can also wipe it down with a rag soaked in vinegar.
  • Try dipping aluminium foil in the vinegar and using it as a brush to scrub off the rust. It is less abrasive than steel wool, but will still do the trick in removing the rust.
  • You can use regular vinegar and simply allow your rusty metal objects to soak in it for up to 24 hours before rinsing. This method should not require as much scrubbing.

2Try a lime and salt. Sprinkle salt over the rusted area so that it is thoroughly coated and then juice a lime over the top. Use as much juice as you can get, and allow the mixture to set for 2-3 hours before scrubbing off.
  • Use the rind from the lime to scrub the mixture off. It is strong enough to remove the rust without further damaging the metal.
  • A lemon can also be used instead of a lime.
3Make a paste using baking soda. Mix baking soda with water until it is thick enough to spread on the metal. Allow time for it to set and then scrub off.
  • Try using a toothbrush to scrub the baking soda off, and rinse with water.
  • The baking soda mixture can be watered down as much as you would like, there is no exact recipe.
4Try using a potato and dish soap. Cut the potato in half and cover the cut end in dish soap. This will make a chemical reaction with the rust, making it easier to remove. Place the potato on the metal and leave it for a few hours.
  • To reapply, simply cut off the used end of the potato and add more soap, letting it soak into the metal for more time.
  • If you don’t have dish soap, you can use baking soda and water instead with the potato.
5Use oxalic acid. Take protective precautions with this method––use rubber gloves, goggles and protective clothing. Do not smoke or directly inhale the fumes of the acid.
  • Wash the rusted item with washing-up liquid rinse and carefully dry.
  • Mix about 25ml (a teaspoon is 5ml) of oxalic acid with 250ml of warm water.
  • Soak the item for approx 20 minutes or clean down the item with a cloth or brass brush.
  • Wash fully and dry the item when rust removal is finished. Finished.Method2Removing rust with store-bought materials

Removing rust with store-bought materials

1Use a chemical remover. Many different types of chemicals can be purchased to help dissolve rust. They are typically made from phosphoric or oxalic acid and can be harmful to bare skin. Always take precautions when using a chemical to dissolve the rust.
  • Follow the directions for your rust-removal product, as application may vary between products.
  • These chemicals often need to set for a long time and require scrubbing afterwards, so be ready for a little extra work.
  • These products can be expensive and only work for small-scale projects, not larger rusted items.
2Convert the rust. Purchase a rust converter which works to stop rust from eating away any more of the metal. It is similar to a spray paint, and acts as a primer for a coat of paint over the top as well.
  • Although this stops rust from expanding, it may not be as effective as completely removing the rust from the metal.
  • This is only an option if you plan on painting over the metal. It will also leave a rough texture under the paint, as you are essentially just adding a covering to the rust.
3Use abrasive tools to scrape the rust off. This method requires a lot more elbow grease, but you can effectively remove rust by simply scraping it off. Use tools from your garage like a screwdriver, or rent tools from a local hardware store.
  • Steel wool is easy to use and something you may already have in your home.
  • Use an electric sander to remove rust on large pieces. Always start with the roughest grain and slowly move to finer grains to minimize the roughness of the metal.
  • Any metal tool can be used to scrape metal, but use a fine grain sandpaper afterwards to try to remove any marks the scraping may have made.
4Use citric acid. Buy a small box of citric acid in the powder form from your favorite supermarket in the baking/cooking goods area.
  • Put some citric acid in a plastic container and pour in hot water, enough to cover the item being cleaned. For fun you can watch the bubbles reacting!
  • Leave overnight then rinse and dry.
Rust stains on stainless steel

1Remove rust from stainless steel. Use a very fine grain sandpaper and rub down the stainless steel with it in a circular motion. Follow this by rubbing it down with a slice of onion, and rinse with hot water

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