5 Ways on How to Get the Rust Off Tools: Tried and Tested!

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how to get the rust off tools

Rust is a scourge of both your tools and your time. It’s frustrating to spend hours in the garage polishing that stubborn rust by hand, but you don’t have to!

In this post, we’ll show you how to get the rust off tools quickly and easily so you can return to the fun part of DIYing!

How does rust build up?

Rust is a substance that forms when iron reacts with oxygen. It can form on any metal, but it’s particularly prevalent around water and air.

For rust to build up, there need to be two things.

  • Iron
  • Oxygen

Iron rusts when it comes in contact with oxygen, which is why you’ll notice rust on the side of your car that gets the most exposure to oxygen.

When you live in a humid climate or near a body of water, like an ocean or lake, you’re more likely to see rust forming on your metal items. This is because there are more water droplets around than in dry areas like deserts or high altitudes where there isn’t as much humidity in the air.

Types of rusting

There are several different types of rusting and before you learn how to get the rust off tools, you need to know what are you dealing.

1. Bronze-sulfate/sulfuric acid (H2SO4)

This rusting occurs when copper oxidizes at room temperature or higher temperatures and forms copper sulfate from dissolved sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide gas.

2. Chromium/saltwater

This rusting occurs when chromium reacts with saltwater at high temperatures over a long time.

3. Copper/battery acid

This rusting occurs when the copper reacts with battery acid in humid conditions over an extended time.

Why should you learn how to get the rust off tools immediately?

Rust on tools is something you should remove as soon as you see it. It can lead to a lot of problems down the road, and it’ll make your tools look unprofessional and uncared for.

Here are a few reasons why you should learn how to get the rust off tools as early as possible.

  • Rust on metal makes it more brittle, which means that it will break easier.
  • Rust can spread quickly, especially if your tool is old or damaged. If you don’t act as soon as possible, it could cause more damage than just a little rust spot!
  • Rust makes it difficult to work with your tools, as it can make them slippery or difficult to grip
  • Rust spots are unsightly, making your tools look dirty and uncared for. You want people to feel like they’re getting top-notch quality when they buy from you, so keep everything looking nice!

What tools are prone to rust?

There are a few tools that are more prone to rust than others. Here are some.

1. Wrenches and sockets

Sockets, particularly those made of steel, can be susceptible to rusting if they’re exposed to water for extended periods. Wrenches are also vulnerable to rusting if left out in the rain or if your workshop isn’t properly ventilated.

2. Hammers

Hammers made from metal may rust if they’re left uncovered in a damp environment for long periods of time, but wood-handled hammers should be fine as long as they’re kept out of the rain or other sources of moisture.

3. Hand saws

Hand saws and other tools made from metal can be susceptible to rusting if left out in a damp environment for too long. This is especially true if the metal comes into contact with water regularly.

4. Files and rasps

Files and rasps are made from steel and are therefore prone to rusting if they come into contact with water regularly.

How to get the rust off tools?

If your tools start to rust, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Here are some ways we’ve tried on how to get the rust off tools!

1. Clean them using a wire brush or steel wool. 

Just scratch it using steel wool or a brush. You can also try sanding them down. Just be careful not to scratch it intensely and damage the tool itself.

2. Try electrolysis.

Submerge the tool in water and attach an electrical wire to it. Then get the other end of the wire and connect it to an earth ground like a metal pipe or lawn chair. You should see bubbles forming on your tool within a few hours. If they don’t, try increasing the applied voltage by adding more batteries in series or parallel.

3. Use vinegar

Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a bowl and let your tools soak for about 24 hours before rinsing off with clean water.

4. Try baking soda mixed with water.

Use the baking soda and water as a paste and rubbed onto the affected area while wearing gloves to protect against corrosive chemicals released during the process. Let this sit for 24 hours before scrubbing it off with steel wool or sandpaper again.

5. Use WD-40 or other lubricants.

Coat the affected area with WD-40 or similar lubricating oil. Let sit overnight, then wipe off excess oil before drying thoroughly with a soft cloth.

How can you avoid rust build-up on your tools?

Rust is a bummer. It’s always surprising and can be very hard to get rid of. So, how can you avoid rust build-up on your tools?

  • Wash your tools after each use. Even if you’re only using them for a short period of time, give them a quick wash with a soap-water mixture to remove any dirt or grease that may have accumulated during use. This will help stop rust from forming in the first place.
  • Dry them off after use and store them in an airy place where they’re not touching each other or anything else, like a shelf.
  • Clean off any existing rust before storing them away, like over winter break. If there’s already some rust on your tool before storing away, this can make it easier for new rust to build up over time because there’s already something there for new corrosion layers to latch onto!
  • Store your tools in a dry place. If you’re going to keep your tool covered in between uses, make sure that it’s not exposed to high humidity levels. These will increase the chances of rust forming. Store them somewhere where they won’t be exposed to rain or snowfall.
  • Don’t expose your tools to direct sunlight for long periods.
  • Sharpen your tools regularly.

Now you’re ready to become your tools rust-free!

So there you have it! The essential steps on how to get the rust off tools!

First of all, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! The process will be messy and time-consuming, but once you’ve finished it, you’ll have a tool ready for whatever job comes next.

Now all you have to do is pick a method that works for you and start getting those tools back in shape.

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