How to Remove Rust on Tools
Have you been neglecting your tools? If so, you may have noticed rust beginning to form. Unfortunately, rust can lead to corrosion so it is very important to care for your tools properly to ensure their longevity. The good news is that you do not have to throw away your tools if you notice rust. You can easily rehabilitate them by removing rust from the surface as long as they have not begun to corrode (holes in the metal). Follow our easy tips to ensure that your tools are ready to use when you need them.
There are a few different methods for removing rust on tools and the one you use will depend on the severity of the rust. To get you started, here is a list of items you may need to begin:
- Clean cloth
- Coarse-grit and fine-grit sandpaper
- Steel wool
- A penetrating oil product such as WD-40
- White vinegar
- Containers for holding the tools
- Oxalic acid (commercial rust-remover)
- Protective eye gear and rubber gloves
You may not need all of these items to remove rust from your tools. You can start with one method and move onto the next until you achieve your desired results.
Method #1: Penetrating Oil and Steel Wool
Spraying a penetrating oil, such as WD-40, and scrubbing the rust vigorously should be enough to take off rust that has only lightly penetrated a metal surface. Make sure to thoroughly wash and dry your tools after applying the oil.
Method #2: Sanding
If there is still rust on your tools after using method #1, move on to sanding. To begin, wipe away any grease, debris, or dirt with a clean cloth. Allow the tools to dry and then use the steel wool to clear away any dry rust that may be loose on the surface. Next, use the coarse-grit sandpaper to sand away thicker rust patches. Follow up with the finer grain sandpaper if spots of rust remain. Rinse and dry the tools thoroughly.
Method #3: White Vinegar and Salt
If your tools are covered in large amounts of rust, you may be able to move onto this method without needing to use acid. After degreasing, cleaning, and drying the tools, place each tool in a container that is large enough to contain the entire metal portion of the tool. Fill the container with enough vinegar to submerge the tool and then sprinkle the entire surface of the tool evenly with salt. The ideal amount of salt and vinegar is ¼-cup salt per liter of vinegar. Next, allow the tools to sit in the solution long enough to soften the rust. This could take anywhere between 24 hours and three days. Check-in on your tools from time to time, and if you notice the rust is softening, use the steel wool to scrub it away. Thoroughly rinse and dry the tools once you have removed all signs of rust.
Method #4: Commercial Rust Remover
If you have exhausted all other methods but the rust is proving to be extra stubborn, oxalic acid should do the trick. This commercial rust remover is designed to remove rust rapidly but can be dangerous if used improperly. Always read the label and use caution when working with it. Wear protective eye gear and rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area when using this method. After degreasing, cleaning, and drying the tools, place the tools in containers. Carefully mix 3 tablespoons of oxalic acid per one gallon of water in each container. Be sure to avoid splashes and spills. Place the tools into the containers and allow them to soak in the solution for up to 20 minutes, or as the product label directs. After soaking, remove the tools from the container and rinse away the softened rust and acid residue in water and dry thoroughly.