How to Remove Rust

Ever tried removing rust? The thing puts up a real fight, doesn't it? Not any more! Check out these really good ways on rust removal and perhaps your job may become a lot easier.
What is rust? If you own an iron-made product, the chances are you know really well what this accursed little chemical reaction is. It is this unsightly blemish on your otherwise wonderful iron work. Where did it come from? You'll find the answer as you work your way down this article on rust and removing rust.

Easy Rust Removal

How does this horrible looking rash form on the surface of the metal? Rust is a chemical reaction caused due to the reaction between iron and water. Or the oxygen in water, to be precise. When you leave the iron in or on a damp surface, the element iron reacts with the oxygen molecules. So? You may ask that if iron in a dry area reacts with the oxygen in the air anyway, how come that doesn't cause rust? This is because the water acts as a catalyst in this reaction and speeds up the process of rusting. And there you have it. Your precious iron is now iron oxide/ferrous oxide. A terrible looking, spoiled and pretty much useless piece of scrap metal.

Or is it?

Well not anymore. Removing rust can be a fairly irritating bit of work, but it can be done and you can still continue to use your metal.

Now whether you want to know about removing rust from a bike or from a car, the way to do so is quite simple. Before I tell you the stuff you'll need for this little exercise, let us see if this work can be done at all.

Let me classify rust stains into three broad categories here. The first one, the bad-ass corrosion, the ultimate rust, is where the metal is gone and a mild tap will blow the thing into bits. No point in wasting your energies over this one. Just suck it up and throw it in the garbage. You might not even get too much out of it from the scrap-dealer.

The second one, is heavy corrosion, but under the oxide there is still the ferrous and something can be made out of it. The best thing to do here is to get a potent rust remover and spray it on. Scrub it a bit and the rust comes right off. But it is important to take the necessary precautions while using commercial rust removers as they can be toxic and can cause bodily harm. So when you're using these rust removers, make sure that you cover your hands and eyes.

The third one is mild rust, just a small little ugliness on the metal. It is easy to remove and can be done by most homemade rust removers. Most mild rust can be removed using this method. For this little exercise you'll need
  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Wet Cloth
  • Lemon Juice
  • The Rusted Metal
Now the vinegar as we very well know contains acetic acid which can help loosen the stains. With the baking soda working as an abrasive, and the wet cloth and your hands to assist its motions, I expect the rust to come off in no time! And if it doesn't, add a bit of lemon juice to the mix, and there you have a potent concoction to get that pesky little rust out of your tools.

Removing Rust Stains

Often, if you've left your tools to rust on some surface, that surface too will get smudged with rust stains. And rust stain removal can be another bit of work to get out. Here are some ways to get rust stains off clothes.
  • Get that rust-stained piece of cloth and some lemon juice and salt.
  • I guess it's pretty clear from the above experiment that lemon juice has something which is clearly very effective against rust. So apply the lemon juice, water and the salt to the stained area.
  • Let the two react with the rust for 24 hours. Mind you, do not scrub the surface as it will only worsen the stain and spoil the fibers of the fabric.
  • At the end of your anxious 24 hour wait, you will find that the stains have lifted and you only need the splotch the stained area with some more water (I repeat, do not rub) gently and the stains ought to be off in no time.
After you clean rust off metal it is important that you apply a coat of rust-preventive substance so that you don't have to go through the trouble of un-rusting your metal again!
By Arjun Kulkarni
Last Updated: 9/19/2011
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