Can I remove rust?

Rust removal from metal - the 5 most effective measures


Metal tends to oxidize and the resulting rust can completely destroy it. It is therefore important to thoroughly derust the material.

Use acids to remove rust

Vinegar essence, hydrochloric acid and citric acid remove rust from iron, as metal oxide combines with acid to form a salt. With hydrochloric acid, for example, ferric chloride is formed, which dissolves in water. But the acids attack the metal at the same time, which leads to a new oxidation. It is therefore important to wash off the acids afterwards and apply rust protection immediately.

Caution: Toxic vapors are produced and effective acids are corrosive.

Mechanical removal of rust

Sandpaper and a steel brush are extremely effective at removing rust from metal. This method does not produce any vapors and the metal is not chemically attacked. It is not possible to just grind off rust, it will cause scratches on the surface.

For this reason, the process is unsuitable for reliefs or chased metal. The jewelry will be damaged too much.

Gentle rust removal with cola

Cola contains a small amount of phosphoric acid. This converts rust into iron phosphate. Due to the carbonic acid, this substance gets into the smallest corners and crevices in the metal. Since there is only a little phosphoric acid in the soft drinks, the method is only suitable for removing light rust film.

By the way: A cola bath is suitable for post-treatment after mechanical rust removal. It removes any remaining tiny rust particles.

Phosphoric acid as a rust converter

More heavily rusted iron can also be treated with concentrated phosphoric acid. However, the grate must not be too thick. Loose layers that peel off will not treat. It is best to remove thick rust spots with a metal brush and then brush on the acid.

Although phosphoric acid forms iron phosphate and is less sensitive to iron than other acids, thorough rinsing is required after treatment. Caution: the acid and fumes are corrosive.

Converting rust to electricity

Rust is metal oxide, i.e. a combination of metal and oxygen. The oxygen can be released from the compound through electrolysis and converted into water. The metal to be derusted goes to the negative pole of a voltage source, the positive pole goes to a piece of stainless steel. Both poles must not touch and must lie completely in a plastic tub containing three percent caustic soda. Hydrogen bubbles form on the grate, which bind the oxygen in the grate.

Caution: oxyhydrogen is produced, good ventilation is important. In addition, caustic soda is corrosive.