The Detroit Post
Monday, 25 October, 2021

How Do I Rust Metal

David Lawrence
• Wednesday, 30 December, 2020
• 7 min read

Whether you wish to rust hinges and hardware to further disguise the age of distressed wooden chest or you prefer the look of older metal candlesticks atop your farmhouse table, follow these easy steps for how to rust metal and you can transform any object around your home. Plus, hydrogen peroxide and vinegar can give off a moderate level of fumes, so you’ll want to work in a well-ventilated space anyway.

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Lightly sand the entire surface of the metal with a fine-grit sandpaper to shed any protective coating present that might prevent the object from rusting. Place the sanded object in the center of a plastic bin that’s rested on either hard ground or a flat work surface in the garage.

As it dries, the acid of the vinegar will begin to corrode the surface of the metal and you will start to see rust appear. Pour two cups of hydrogen peroxide, four tablespoons of white vinegar, and one-and-a-half teaspoons of table salt into a plastic spray bottle.

Once the salt has dissolved, spray the solution over the object to coat it partially or completely, depending on the desired effect. It will set the rust and preserve the aged appearance for years to come while providing an acrylic barrier that keeps it from inadvertently staining any other metal or wood with which it comes into contact in the future.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase we may earn a commission. I don’t know about you but my heart skips a beat when I come across reclaimed wood, rusty metal, and forged iron.

There’s something to be said about pieces that speak their history through their old age and rusty patina, and it’s one of the reasons I’m so drawn to mountain homes and log cabins. There’s a project we’ve had in mind for our RV, all we needed was some antique horseshoes.

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I was able to pick up this 4 pack of horseshoes for $8 at a local tractor supply store. I have to tell ya, making metal rust in fast-forward was even more fun than I anticipated.

Update: If you watch the video at the top of the post you can see how using a small spray bottle or one with a misting option makes this method even easier! After I placed my horseshoe in the container I poured some white distilled vinegar on top.

I didn’t measure but I poured just enough so that it covered the horseshoe and then I sorta swished it around on top. At this point, you’ll want to add peroxide on top of your metal objects.

I then sprinkled …err dumped… a bunch of salt on my horseshoe and the rusty color started to come out even more. Then I called Eric over because I was all excited to show him, but I wanted more bubbles and fizz, so I poured a bit more hydrogen peroxide on top.

After a few minutes, I swished the horseshoe around in the solution to sort of rinse off the salt and then patted it dry with a paper towel. You’ll see that it’s a bit rusty but don’t worry if it doesn’t look exactly the way you want, it actually rusts more than it dries.

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It was getting dark outside, so I just let it sit overnight and the next day this is what my horseshoe looked like, next to metal that’s been rusting for years: I made a few more horseshoes prior to this one and let some of them sit for about an hour because I wasn’t noticing the color change right away.

If you don’t like how your metal looks after 10 minutes and air drying, you can always repeat the process and keep them in the solution for a longer period of time You’ll want to add a clear sealer to prevent the rusty patina from flaking off and staining anything they touch.

After receiving a lot of comments and emails about this not working on certain objects I wanted to add that not all metals will rust. I believe it has to have iron in it in order to rust, and if it’s galvanized, stainless steel or some other type of metal that doesn’t corrode then this process won’t work.

I learned this the hard way by trying to rust some galvanized buckets I had on hand and read up about it here. If you watch the video at the top of this post you’ll see the difference in the spray vs. dunk method.

Basically, the spray method will allow more of the contrast of the original metal to show through and it is easier to work in layers and add more rust if you want. Although you’ll notice a few of my “dunked” horseshoes still have a decent amount of contrast.

rust metal

A sterile-looking metal chest or a rustic wood cabinet with shiny new hinges and knobs, for instance, transform into items you could swear have character and history you can feel with a little rust. But rust forms naturally when metal is left exposed to moisture, heat and air.

Carry the item outside or set up your work area in the garage instead. Open windows and the garage door to ensure plenty of ventilation.

Fill a spray bottle with regular-strength hydrogen peroxide, such as you buy in the drugstore. Experiment with the salt, scattering it randomly or coating the metal, for instance, to achieve different rust effects.

Finish with a cold water rinse to smooth the surface. Place the metal in a glass or plastic container large enough to hold it.

Immediately pour vinegar over the metal and shake in a handful of salt. New galvanized steel has a bright shiny coating and a reflectivity over 70%.

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As the zinc patina forms, reflectivity decreases as the hot-dip galvanized coating weathers. Vinegar acts much like the acid Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) does in the atmosphere; the pollutant that determines the rate of galvanized steel corrosion.

Take the galvanized product and scuff it up sandpaper, steel wool or whatever abrasive you have handy. If the piece to be dulled is too large to be submerged, put the vinegar in a spray bottle, or soak paper towels in vinegar and lay them on the galvanized metal.

If using the paper towel method, make sure to replace the vinegar as it dries to get the desired effect. Using disposable gloves spray the galvanized product liberally and scrub again with the steel wool.

The photo on the left shows what the galvanized metal buckets looks like distressed with toilet cleaner. To corrode new galvanized buckets yourself: Combine 1/2 cup of salt with 1 quart of warm water.

Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake it until the salt dissolves. Leave the salt solution on the bucket until you achieve the look you want, then rinse it off with a hose.

rust metal

Using either gray or white paint to give the bucket a weathered look is an excellent idea. Aesthetically placed dents give the product a one of a kind look that shows a rustic, rugged style.

Nuts, bolts or even wood that are strategically placed wherever the dent is to be located. Metal Wall • Rust Labs A sturdy building piece, able to take around double the damage as a stone wall, and much less vulnerable to melee.

×200,000101 hours 51 min 4 sec-×4,000,000 Pump Shotgun ×250,000127 hours 18 min 49 sec-×2,500,000 Pump Shotgun ×55,55628 hours 17 min 30 sec-×277,780 Pump Shotgun ×47,62024 hours 14 min 59 sec-×476,200 Pump Shotgun 12 Gauge Incendiary Shell 2Another tip for using metal walls to hide your loot room is honeycomb.

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