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Methods to Remove Rust

How to remove rust

It can be really frustrating to try to remove rust from an outdoor object or heirloom. It's common for things such as tools and outdoor furniture to get rusty over time, and it's important to make sure to remove rust to keep everything working. Coatings on steel products are designed to keep the item from rusting, but when they crack, then rust can bloom. There are three great methods that you can use to remove rust and then a few ways to keep it from coming back again after you've gotten rid of it.

Time and Elbow Grease

This is the best option to remove rust if you don't want to use any chemicals. It will take a while and will be a lot of work, but with enough time and effort you will be able to get the job done. You'll need a power tool that you can fit with sandpaper to remove the rust and the paint. Remember to keep your tool moving so that you don't damage the steel underneath the rust. For hard to reach areas and small tools, reach for a smaller tool such as an oscillating tool fitted with a carbide rasp. Start with the coarsest abrasive that you have and then work your way to a smaller grit to smooth out the surface. You can always end with wet-dry paper to get a very smooth finish if desired.

Conversion Method

This is the fastest way to stop rust in its track and can be cheaper than using chemicals to remove the rust. The issue that some people have with this method is that it will leave behind a rougher finish, so if you want the finish to be completely smooth you will need to use a different rust removal method. Rust converter comes as a spray or a brushable liquid. Apply it after you have removed flaky rust or paint with a wire brush. While this method is fast and inexpensive, it does have the downside that rust may come back faster than the traditional method of elbow grease or after you use a chemical.

Using Chemicals

This method of rust removal is harsher than just using hard work. You'll need to look for a chemical that contains phosphoric acid or hydrochloric acid to dissolve the rust on contact. This can get really smelly, and the fumes are dangerous, so it's important to do this in an open area with the correct safety equipment. You will apply the chemicals to the rust and then wait to scrape it off. Count on having to apply the chemicals more than once for this to work. Gentler products that are free of acid and nontoxic will also work, but may take a longer time. These products require your item to soak, so the cost may be prohibitive if you have a large item that you need to clean.

While these three rust removal methods will all work to remove rust from your steel items, you will need to decide which one is best for you. The time you have, money you are willing to spend, and the final product you're looking for will all play a part in which method you choose. Using primer and a rust preventing paint or topcoat will keep your items from getting rusty in the future!

Removing Rust Infographic

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