The Detroit Post
Saturday, 16 October, 2021

How To Rust Carbon Steel

Elaine Sutton
• Friday, 13 November, 2020
• 9 min read

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.

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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 have to tell ya, making metal rust in fast-forward was even more fun than I anticipated. I originally came across this post on how to make metal rust and planned to follow it to a tee, but then I became all impatient and excited and just did my own thing.

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.

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You’ll want to add a clear sealer to prevent the rusty patina from flaking off and staining anything they touch. When I did seal them I just used some leftover Spar Urethane and a foam brush, but you can use any clear sealer and may prefer a spray-on kind.

And if you have a specific technique that you prefer when it comes to making new metal look old, we would love to hear about that too! 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.

In this article, you’ll learn about carbonsteelrust and how to get a rusted carbon steel pan performing good as new! Unlike stainless steel, carbon steel is capable of rusting if left in a moist environment for an extended period of time.

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Lightly coat the inside of the hot pan with a high smoke point cooking oil to form a very thin layer. In cases such as these, you’ll need to take extra precautions to shield your pan from this environmental moisture.

For example, seasoning the exterior of your pan to decrease the amount of surface iron. There are a number of ways to remove rust from your carbon steel pan.

This method involves using a coarse scrubber such as a scouring pad, steel wool, an abrasive sponge, or fine grit sandpaper to forcibly remove rust from your pan’s surface. Using a small circular motion, scrub at the rust with your coarse scrubber until removed.

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Read Now My Perfect Food Day: Lien Ta by Leah Baha For chefs, meals take myriad forms, from a spoonful of a dish in development to a ... 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. 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. A carbon steel pan is lighter than cast iron or copper cookware, has non-stick capabilities, and has the same high heat capacity that stainless steel does.

Keeping carbon steel clean isn't difficult, but it requires diligence to prevent any rust buildup. You especially want to avoid rust residue in a cooking utensil because it affects the taste of your food.

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Rust, or iron oxide, won't harm you in small quantities but you still don't want to have it in your food. It also lessens the likelihood that food residue will have a chemical reaction with the metal of the pan.

Take a paper towel or soft rag and gently scrape the pan to remove the food residue, and then make sure you dry it thoroughly. If you have any doubts about moisture being on the metal still, then place the pan on your stove eye and turn it to medium heat.

Next, place a teaspoon of mineral oil on the inside of the pan and work it in with the cloth. The oil acts as an insulator against moisture and helps to prevent potential rust buildup.

If you have sticky food on your pan, you can also use oil and salt to remove it without risking the accumulation of moisture. The best thing to use is kosher salt, which is coarse and acts as a mild abrasive compound.

When you're finished, rinse the pan with hot water in under mount sink and immediately dry it thoroughly. You can put it on low heat to evaporate any remaining moisture that the towel doesn't soak up.

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Preventing rust is the ultimate goal of cleaning, but what do you do if you have a carbon steel pan that someone has neglected? If you have more stubborn stains, fill the pan with equal parts vinegar and water.

The vinegar breaks the molecular bonds between the rust and the rest of the pan, so you should be able to remove it easily. The heat from the oven acts to bind the oil to the metal and create a coating.

Get rid of the notion of letting dishes soak; you can't leave carbon steel in water. It doesn’t really matter how it got this way, but know you’re left to deal with removing rust from a carbon steel knife blade.

To remove rust from a carbon steel knife, any material that is acidic enough to separate the oxidized iron from the steel of the blade will do the job. In almost all cases, an abrasive or something else will need to be used alongside the acidic material to help grind the rust from the knife blade.

After your knife is clean, mix a small amount of baking powder with a little water to form a light paste. Lay your knife on a surface and apply the baking soda paste to one side of the blade.

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Depending on how much rust is present on your knife, wait between five and thirty minutes before continuing on with the next step. Soak a paper towel in white vinegar and carefully wrap it around your knife blade.

If the knife that you want rust removed from is very special to you, is expensive or has a nice finish, I suggest using this version of the baking soda method instead of the original. While this typically isn’t a problem for most knives, if for any reason you don’t want to scratch your knife blade, using something less rough as an abrasive is necessary.

Follow the steps explained in the original baking soda method, but instead of using a scrubbing pad or steel wool, I recommend balled up aluminum foil or a wine cork. While I don’t have any degree in chemistry, from my research I have found that the simple answer to this question is water and oxygen.

Multiple different types of rust can form when steel is left out in the elements and comes into contact with water and oxygen. While it really doesn’t matter to the average person what type of rust has formed on their knife blade, just knowing the simple fact that leaving your knife exposed to water and oxygen for a period of time will rust your blade is enough information for most.

The rate at which your carbon steel knife will form rust on the blade depends on a lot of different factors. The temperature, weather, humidity, as well as a host of other environmental factors can influence the speed of rust formation on a knife.

rust steel

If exposed to salt as well as other materials that act as a sort of catalyst, steel will rust faster. Although if left for long enough a knife will lose some of its strength due to the rust sort of decaying the blade.

Rust forming on steel is a completely natural thing, and the main reason that people want to remove it in the first place is that it is sometimes unsightly and can contaminate food if you prepare it with a rusty knife. Many things could go wrong in the process of removing simple surface rust that could cause damage to your blade, especially using the vinegar method.

If you use steel wool, scrubbing pads, or anything that is rough to grind the rust from your blade, it could scratch and wear away at your knife. While it is possible to grind down scratches and imperfections in a knife blade, it is an extra hassle that many would really like to avid.

A solution to this is the careful baking soda method that uses materials that will not scratch your knife blade when you scrub it.

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