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.
Finally, spray a thin coating of clear acrylic sealer to the dry rusted object. 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.
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.
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.
Given sufficient time, any iron mass, in the presence of water and oxygen, could eventually convert entirely to rust. Surface rust is commonly flaky and friable, and provides no passivation protection to the underlying iron, unlike the formation of patina on copper surfaces.
Rusting is the common term for corrosion of elemental iron and its alloys such as steel. Many other metals undergo similar corrosion, but the resulting oxides are not commonly called rust “.
Other forms of rust include the result of reactions between iron and chloride in an environment deprived of oxygen. Rebar used in underwater concrete pillars, which generates green rust, is an example.
Rapid oxidation occurs when heated steel is exposed to air Rust is a general name for a complex of oxides and hydroxides of iron, which occur when iron or some alloys that contain iron are exposed to oxygen and moisture for a long period of time. Over time, the oxygen combines with the metal forming new compounds collectively called rust.
Although rust may generally be termed as “oxidation”, that term is much more general and describes a vast number of processes involving the loss of electrons or increased oxidation state, as part of a reaction. Many other oxidation reactions exist which do not involve iron or produce rust.
Iron or steel structures might appear to be solid, but water molecules can penetrate the microscopic pits and cracks in any exposed metal. The hydrogen atoms present in water molecules can combine with other elements to form acids, which will eventually cause more metal to be exposed.
If chloride ions are present, as is the case with saltwater, the corrosion is likely to occur more quickly. As the atoms combine, they weaken the metal, making the structure brittle and crumbly.
Iron metal is relatively unaffected by pure water or by dry oxygen. The conversion of the passivating ferrous oxide layer to rust results from the combined action of two agents, usually oxygen and water.
Under these corrosive conditions, iron hydroxide species are formed. Unlike ferrous oxides, the hydroxides do not adhere to the bulk metal.
As they form and flake off from the surface, fresh iron is exposed, and the corrosion process continues until either all the iron is consumed or all of the oxygen, water, carbon dioxide, or sulfur dioxide in the system are removed or consumed. When iron rusts, the oxides take up more volume than the original metal ; this expansion can generate enormous forces, damaging structures made with iron.
O 2 + 4 e + 2 H2O 4 OH Because it forms hydroxide ions, this process is strongly affected by the presence of acid. Likewise, the corrosion of most metals by oxygen is accelerated at low pH.
Providing the electrons for the above reaction is the oxidation of iron that may be described as follows: With limited dissolved oxygen, iron(II)-containing materials are favored, including Few and black lodestone or magnetite (Fe 3 O 4).
High oxygen concentrations favor ferric materials with the nominal formulae Fe(OH) 3 x O x 2. The nature of rust changes with time, reflecting the slow rates of the reactions of solids.
Furthermore, these complex processes are affected by the presence of other ions, such as Ca 2+, which serve as electrolytes which accelerate rust formation, or combine with the hydroxides and oxides of iron to precipitate a variety of Ca, Fe, O, OH species. The onset of rusting can also be detected in the laboratory with the use of ferry indicator solution.
Cor-Ten is a special iron alloy that rusts, but still retains its structural integrityBecause of the widespread use and importance of iron and steel products, the prevention or slowing of rust is the basis of major economic activities in a number of specialized technologies. A brief overview of methods is presented here; for detailed coverage, see the cross-referenced articles.
Interior rusts in old galvanized iron water pipes can result in brown and black waterGalvanization consists of an application on the object to be protected of a layer of metallic zinc by either hot-dip galvanizing or electroplating. Zinc is traditionally used because it is cheap, adheres well to steel, and provides cathodic protection to the steel surface in case of damage to the zinc layer.
In more corrosive environments (such as salt water), cadmium plating is preferred. Galvanization often fails at seams, holes, and joints where there are gaps in the coating.
In some cases, such as very aggressive environments or long design life, both zinc and a coating are applied to provide enhanced corrosion protection. Typical galvanization of steel products which are to be subjected to normal day-to-day weathering in an outside environment consists of a hot-dipped 85 µm zinc coating.
Cathodic protection is a technique used to inhibit corrosion on buried or immersed structures by supplying an electrical charge that suppresses the electrochemical reaction. The sacrificial anode must be made from something with a more negative electrode potential than the iron or steel, commonly zinc, aluminum, or magnesium.
The sacrificial anode will eventually corrode away, ceasing its protective action unless it is replaced in a timely manner. Flaking paint, exposing a patch of surface rust on sheet metals formation can be controlled with coatings, such as paint, lacquer, varnish, or wax tapes that isolate the iron from the environment.
As a closely related example, iron bars were used to reinforce stonework of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, but caused extensive damage by rusting, swelling, and shattering the marble components of the building. When only temporary protection is needed for storage or transport, a thin layer of oil, grease, or a special mixture such as Coastline can be applied to an iron surface.
Such treatments are extensively used when mothballing a steel ship, automobile, or other equipment for long-term storage. Special antiseize lubricant mixtures are available, and are applied to metallic threads and other precision machined surfaces to protect them from rust.
These compounds usually contain grease mixed with copper, zinc, or aluminum powder, and other proprietary ingredients. They are not effective when air circulation disperses them, and brings in fresh oxygen and moisture.
An example of this is the use of silica gel packets to control humidity in equipment shipped by sea. Rust removal from small iron or steel objects by electrolysis can be done in a home workshop using simple materials such as a plastic bucket filled with an electrolyte consisting of washing soda dissolved in tap water, a length of rebar suspended vertically in the solution to act as an anode, another laid across the top of the bucket to act as a support for suspending the object, baling wire to suspend the object in the solution from the horizontal rebar, and a battery charger as a power source in which the positive terminal is clamped to the anode and the negative terminal is clamped to the object to be treated which becomes the cathode.
The Kinda Bridge in Pennsylvania was blown down by a tornado in 2003, largely because the central base bolts holding the structure to the ground had rusted away, leaving the bridge anchored by gravity alone. It is one of the most common failure modes of reinforced concrete bridges and buildings.
^ Kermit, Bart; Griesser-Stermscheg, Martina; Sewn, Indie; Sutherland, Susanne. “ Rust Never Sleeps: Recognizing Metals and Their Corrosion Products” (PDF).
^ Ramsay, Hosahalli S.; Marlette, Michele; Pastry, Sudhir; Abderrahim, Khalid (2014-02-14). CS1 main: archived copy as title (link) ^ Gupta, Lorraine Mira, Krishnakali.