The Detroit Post
Thursday, 21 October, 2021

How To Rust Iron

Brent Mccoy
• Wednesday, 21 October, 2020
• 9 min read

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. 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.

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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.

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.

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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. You can mix it with vinegar and salt inside a spray bottle if you want.

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.

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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.

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. The second time I did this I went ahead and sealed the horseshoe after about 2 hours, but you can always wait overnight.

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.

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With just a little cast iron skillet care, they'll be back to the amazing kitchen tools they're touted to be. You may have heard that cleaning cast iron is difficult, because of water and rust and how soap isn't good for it.

But for cast iron with a thick layer of rust, you'll need to remove the seasoning entirely. To do so, submerge your entire pan in a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water.

Allow the pan to soak, checking on it frequently to see if the rust has been removed (this could take up to eight hours). It is important that you remove your pan as soon as the rust is gone, or else the vinegar could cause irreversible pitting.

For tips on day-to-day regular care, check out this step-by-step guide for how to clean and season a cast iron pan, which includes tips for everyday washing and care of your re-claimed cast- iron pan. This instructable will show you a fast, safe method, using common household chemicals that you probably already have, to produce a rich rust patina on iron and steel to give it a weathered, aged appearance.

I've had this Maine 'buoy bell' wind chime for about eight years now. It has the haunting melancholy sound of a bell buoy at sea being tossed by wind and waves.

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It came painted black on the outside and was supposed to develop this rich rust patina naturally over time. Well, the unpainted inside did rust completely after about a year, but the outside only rusted slightly, near the bottom, even after exposure to the sun, rain, and snow of the northeast for eight years.

I wanted it to have a nice rust patina that looked like it had been hanging on the eaves of a lobster shack, at the end of a pier, for many a year, being splashed and buffeted by nor'Easters and sudden gales. I searched the net and found mostly dangerous methods to induce rust on steel using highly caustic or acidic chemical solutions.

However, I finally did find a simple safe method, using on-hand household chemicals, buried deep within a thread on the subject at a metalworking forum. I got spectacular results which have not only withstood the wind and rain of the southwest but have actually improved with the help of mother nature.

I like the results so much, and there is so little practical information on the subject that is accessible to the public, I thought I'd share this simple method with the intractable community. Judging by the number of posts on forums asking how to do this, I see I am not the only one who wants to actually promote, rather than prevent, rust on iron and steel objects.

I found out the basic information for doing this at the very cool Metal forum: rust _promoter. I'm guessing that there are more than a few intractable members who have a similar desire to prematurely age some iron /steel artifact, so I encourage people to post pictures of their result in the comments and add tips on how they did it, so we can all learn.

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First the usual disclaimer : I will not be held responsible or liable for what you do with this information. You are ultimately responsible for using this information in a safe, conscientious manner and for not using it irresponsibly.

This information is for instructional purposes only, in the spirit of sharing, and is not intended to be misused by wise guys for practical jokes, or used by people who shouldn't be handling chemicals in the first place. Young children should always have adult supervision when using any chemical.

Never use chemicals when medicated (legally or otherwise) or under the influence of alcohol. These instructions are intended for, though not necessarily limited to, people with an artistic bent who just might want to rust something made out of iron or steel. You will be using an acid, vinegar, and an oxidizer, hydrogen peroxide, so do wear the safety goggles and gloves.

It is mildly corrosive and will rust anything made of iron or steel. Do this outdoors preferably in a place sheltered from the wind and away from people or pets.

I am assuming you already have a clean iron /steel object that is free of any paint or other protective coating. Nasty stuff. Once you have clean metal you need to degrease it so chemicals will penetrate the surface.

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Again wearing goggles and gloves, apply degreased according to instructions on the bottle. Don't touch the metal with bare hands or you will make oily fingerprints which might show up on the final finish.

Now take your objet d'art to the outdoor place where you will spray it with chemicals. Picture below shows clean degreased metal ready for the next step.

At first, I didn't do this and several areas would not rust because the solution could not penetrate the surface of the metal. I simply hung up the degreased bell and sprayed it with solution.

Placing the object in direct sunlight will speed drying. The acid in the vinegar will etch the surface of the metal so chemicals can penetrate.

This is the exciting part. Wearing your safety goggles and gloves, mix up a batch of rust accelerator adding ingredients in the order given: You can mix this accelerator solution directly in the spray bottle if it has a wide mouth or you can mix it first in the measuring cup, making sure to dissolve the salt, and transfer it into the bottle with a funnel.

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Tighten the spray bottle cap and shake well to dissolve the salt. I assume you have placed your awaiting object in a safe place away from people, pets, and things you don't want to get rusted and by now you are dying to see some rust. Spray some solution onto your object, soaking it from top to bottom all around.

I only had to let it dry for 5 minutes but YMMV (Your mileage may vary) depending on the ambient temperature. The rust patina should deepen each time you repeat the spraying and drying cycle up to a point beyond which there is no noticeable change.

You have greatly accelerated a natural process and now have a piece of metal with an attractive aged-looking patina. I would advise you to dump the remaining accelerator solution from the spray bottle and rinse the bottle and spray head well with clean water.

You can save the solution in a jar with a plastic, not metal, top if you like, or just dump it in the toilet, flushing immediately, or in the sink, flushing it down the drain with lots of water. Now you have several options. The last picture shows the bell after a torrential downpour and subsequent drying by the sun.

Other steels are probably different in the speed at which they rust and may require more or fewer spray/dry cycles. I hope people will report their experiences in the comments section.

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