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Today for our Chemist Solutions Series is a tutorial for how to remove rust from tools PLUS steps for repairing and preventing further rust.
This is a unique spin on some homemade options we use that really preserves and brings your tools back to life. All with one kit, you can prepare all your garden tools, regular tools, or anything else made of steel for winter.
Believe it or not, this affordable little kit is made for gun metal, but it has proven to be just as effective for household tools, even outdoor knives. This how to remove rust from tools tutorial is great for anything made of steel.
Since this is part of our chemist solutions series, we talk a little about the chemistry behind this process along with a tutorial so you can easily do this at home. Before we start in on that, I know we will have some readers wonder about my homemade rust removal.
There are numerous rust removal processes out there. In fact, the upcoming Chemistry Cachet book full of AWESOME chemistry hacks (should be out next month!) has a great home rust removal recipe in it. I have used this particular one for years, and it is great for removing basic rust on your tools. Plus, it is so easy. More details on that will be in the book though.
This method is exceptionally effective on those tools that are pitted, scarred, and corroded in addition to rusted. Using this kit not only cleans the tool and removes rust, but it repairs and coats the metal to make it almost as good as new.
Stay tuned after the tutorial for a little science behind this process and some FAQs.
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What You Need For the Complete Process:
- Liquid Metal Blue Kit (This is the one we always purchase)
If Using This For Multiple Projects Overtime You May Need Additional:
- Fine Steel Wool
- 260 or 320 grit sand paper
- Soft Cloth
If You Already Removed Rust and Want to Re coat the Metal You Can Purchase the Perma Blue Separate:
Before you read through this tutorial, I want to mention that this kit contains everything you need. It has the wool, sponges, cloth, etc. If you use this for multiple projects overtime like we do, you can purchase additional items if needed. I have them listed just in case you want to reference it again.
ALSO, if you have removed the rust and cleaned your tool already you can actually skip to step three below and just use the perma blue. This will darken and re coat the metal, preserving it for you. If you are starting with rusted tools in bad shape, purchasing the kit should be all you need.
STEP ONE: Clean the Metal
This kit does come with instructions, but these are the layman’s terms for it. First, you will want to prepare the metal by cleaning it really good with the cleaner-degreaser bottle. If you really want to complete repair a tool like sheers, you can also take them apart. Wash the metal well, then rinse completely with water.
We do this step over a bucket or jar so all the leftover cleaner will go into the jar and you can dip the sponge in again to keep using it.
STEP TWO: Rust Removal
Now, with the steel wool and one of the round applications, apply this rust remover on the metal and scrub really hard. This is probably the longest process of this kit. You want to make sure to really scrub deep, especially if your tool has pitting or corrosion. You can apply more of this rust remover during this process and scrub with the wool until the rust is removed.
You can also use the fine sand paper for dip pitted areas to remove more rusting.
After you get the rusty gunk off, rinse well with cold water.
Step Three: Perma Blue Application
Now it’s time to apply the Perma Blue. This is what is going to re coat the tools with a protective layer and prevent further rust.
You will need to work fast on this process and make sure to not leave this on the tool for longer than 60 seconds.
Apply the liquid blue with the applicator, making sure to coat all of the tool that was clean and scrubbed. Let it sit for 30-seconds, rinse under cold water while scrubbing with the fine steel wool. You don’t need to scrub hard, just rub it around and into the tool. Once that is rinsed you can check out how well it is coated. Obviously, if you use this for actual gun metal, you need to reapply this step to make sure it is nice and dark.
For tools, we usually just need this one application of liquid blue to get a nice finish.
Step Four (Last Step): Rub Oil, Let It Sit Overnight
The oil pads are included in the kit, but you can also use a rem oil or mineral oil for this step.
This is an IMPORTANT step to remove any lasting moisture and will help the blue work and set properly without having oxidation effects.
With a cloth, rub the oil all over the tool where the blue was applied. Make sure it is a nice thick coat. Let this sit overnight and the next day your tool will be good!
As a chemist, I always like to check out the chemicals behind products to see why they work. I inspected the MSDS on these products to see what chemicals were included for each product.
The step one cleaner contains a mixture of surfactant (like dish soap), borax, acids, and isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). I can see how this cleans tools and metal so well, making sure to get off any grim or grease. The step two rust remover is a mixture of stronger acids that work together to really scrub off any rust that is on the tool. Acids are the ultimate rust removers.
Step three, the liquid blue, is the important step in this process. It contains selenious acid which is the key to re coating and darkening the metal. It also contains culpric sulfate which enhances the blueing effect, further protecting the metal. This step not only colors the tool, but is the ultimate protector.
Using the oil in the last step is important to keep out moisture and air which allows the blue to keep working overnight.
Are all steps necessary?
To do this correctly, all steps are important. We mentioned at the top that you may just want to use the liquid blue. If you cleaned and removed the rust via another method, you can always purchase the perma blue on it’s own and coat the tools with that. Make sure to use the oil too.
Do you have another chemist method to remove rust?
Yes! The upcoming Chemistry Cachet book has a no scrub rust remover that we use all the time. It is full of easy household chemicals and is SO simple. HOWEVER, this is the best method for tools in very bad shape that have pitting and damage.
Is this dangerous to use?
No, just make sure to use gloves.
This seems like a lot of work, is it?
It was very easy and took about 15 minutes total for the entire process (minus letting it sit overnight). The only part that can take longer is scrubbing off the metal. That will depend on how bad the tool is.
Do I have to buy this kit online?
We usually buy it online here because it is always available. Other places you can find it are gun stores or outdoor places like Academy. Online is usually cheapest.
How many tools will this work on?
We have used one kit for many tools. It obviously depends on the size, but the actual bottles last for a long time. We have to purchase additional steel wool and sponges since we keep using it for so long.
How long will this keep?
If stored properly, it will keep for a long time. We try to do a bunch of tools at once, but if you don’t have many, just store the rest of the bottles in a cool dry place.
Will this work on everything?
It will work on any type of steel which most tools are made of. It does not work on aluminum or anything with a coating. This is best for tools that are in very bad shape, corroded, and rusted past the typical varnish they may have. Anything you have that is made of steel will work with this.
What if I mess up?
It is almost impossible to mess up. Since we are using this for tools instead of a gun stock, it is easier to use. Just follow my easy steps and your tool will be good to go!
Now you can clean up and repair all your tools for winter, so next spring everything will be good to go!
If you have any other questions contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org