How to Prevent Rust

The unsightly orangy-brown mess that accumulates on metal is a highly unattractive feature that plagues many different objects, especially cars, trucks, screws, bolts, and tools. Under the appropriate conditions, rust may strike rather quickly or take its time slowly eroding your belongings. When oxygen and moisture come into contact with exposed metal, rust is unfortunately the result. While the corrosion is removable in most cases, it is much better to prevent rust rather than deal with its aftermath.

How to Prevent Rust

What is Rust?

When the open-air oxidation of iron takes place, rust is the oxide that forms. While the chemical composition of rust (Fe2O3.nH2O) means nothing to the average homeowner, it is the resulting hydrated iron oxide that gets all of the attention [1]. Rusting is the general term used to describe the corrosion of iron and its alloys, such as steel.

The process of rust involves the way various materials react with oxygen, which results in the chemical compound of rust. When iron combines with oxygen, iron oxide forms. Since iron oxide is larger in size than iron, the oxidation process causes it to “puff up” and sometimes flake. When a great amount of rust accumulates, the buildup may create a powerful force that can actually separate adjacent parts. This occurrence is referred to as “rust smacking.”

The Negative Effects of Rust

One of the first things an individual affected by rust will notice is the sight of unattractive burnt orange/brown that clearly indicates corrosion. The dismal appearance is especially disturbing when it attacks the outside of a car, where speedy attention is needed to avoid further damage and the spread of rust. Once rust begins to develop, it can spread like an infection, until before you know it – you have a worthless item on your hands.

Rust damage on personal possessions (like a set of golf clubs), ruins the integrity of such objects. When rust strikes items and immediate attention doesn’t take place (such as the case of woodworking tools), they are often rendered useless and ineffective.

Not only is the sight of rust an unappealing aspect, but also more seriously, rust damage can threaten overall safety and health, as it can completely eat away at vital equipment and machinery parts used on a daily basis. Rusted bolts and other affected parts may cause an object to malfunction, break, or facilitate bodily injury. Rust damage in an automobile can create unseen dangers that affect the overall performance and security of a vehicle.

It is also possible to suffer from minor sickness and skin irritations when rusted pipes or affected water mains cause the water in a house or building to turn brown, red, orange, or yellow in color [2]. Rusted pipes also create a damaging tint and condition in the water that affects clothes washed at home.

Contributing Factors of Rust

When it comes to rust damage, there are contributing factors that cause steel or iron to rust faster than others. For instance, water is a common culprit responsible for the development of rust that attacks iron and steel. Dissimilar metals will also rust faster than single metals because of the electrochemical reactions that take place. Therefore, steel may rust faster than iron, but the joints between the two will rust much quicker [3]. Salt water also causes rust to develop quicker than fresh water because salt is a better electrical conductor. Heat also causes an increase in the rate of rust development.

Common Victims of Rust

In order for an item to suffer the damaging effects of rust, a few factors must be present to facilitate the process. Common victims of rust are mostly objects that contain a lot of iron and steel parts – something made completely from plastic will not suffer rust damage. Common victims of rust also come in contact with heat and moisture (the combination of both is much more damaging). Often, objects that spend a great amount of time in the outdoors are also susceptible to rust, especially if they are located within a rainy or humid climate. Some of the most frequent victims of rust include:

a) Cars and Trucks:

One of the most common victims of rust and corrosion is a car or truck, where damage occurs on the exterior, under the carriage, and beneath the hood of a vehicle. Rust is often known to strike the paint job, tailpipe, fender, bumper, doors, hood, and braking system of a car or truck.

b) Boats:

Since boats come in contact with extreme moisture in the air, they often become prime targets for rust. Boats suffer the heightened risk for rust accumulation because they not only spend most of their time in the water, but also sometimes travel through saltwater, which causes a higher rate of rust damage.

c) Tools:

The hammer, screwdriver, and wrench in your toolbox are quite susceptible to rust because of all the outside factors that threaten its appearance and function. The constant contact with hands, humid conditions, and moisture all contribute to the formation of rust on tools, especially those used on a frequent basis, such as woodworking tools.

d) Guns:

The proper procedure regarding the maintenance of a gun is to clean it after use, but the big threat occurs when the gun is not being used and poor storage conditions create the perfect environment for rust and corrosion to develop.

How to Prevent Rust

Rust has the potential to form on anything that is made out of iron, meaning any piece of farm equipment, automobile, house, railroad, ship, bridge, or any other personal item may suffer from its damaging effects. To protect your belongings, you should consider the following rust prevention techniques that have helped many people keep their tools, cars, and other rust-prone possessions in good condition:

a) Car Rust Prevention:

The corrosion that takes place on your vehicle can be prevented through frequent cleaning and waxing. Spraying the undercarriage is also a must in order to keep it free of dirt and debris that is often responsible for the collection of moisture [4]. Once a car is washed, sitting it in the sun for a few hours is one of the best techniques of drying to follow. During the winter season, it is important to note that the rise in salty conditions produce a high amount of sodium chloride, which is known to speed up the rusting process [1].

Sometimes, factories will soak the body of a car in chemicals (usually electrically charged) to create layers of rust protection [5]. Some places galvanize (add a coating of zinc) car bodies, which is done before the primer coat of paint is added to the vehicle. Cars possessing a body-on-frame construction may undergo rustproofing techniques to the frame and its methods of attachment. There are also aftermarket kits sold as sprays to add further protection to cars after a new purchase.

b) Blueing:

To prevent rusting of small steel items, such as firepower, bluing is a technique that offers limited protection. Successful application includes the use of water-displacing oil rubbed onto blued steel.

c) Metal Coating:

The control of corrosion may take place when metal is isolated from the rest of its environment, such as paint. In large structures, the process may include the use of a wax-based product (sometimes called a slushing oil), which is injected into sections of objects that poses concern. The oil often contains rust inhibiting chemicals that works to form a protective barrier.

d) Rust Prevention Products:

Investing in highly recommended rust prevention products is a good way to protect the integrity of your car and other metal-containing possessions. Some items come in an aerosol can, while others are applied as gels and liquids. Application wipes are also a common product to consider. A few suggestions to keep in mind include the Boeshield T-9 12 oz. Aerosol Can; Bull Frog Heavy Duty Rust Blocker Gel; and the Sentry Solutions TUF-CLOTH (and the MARINE TUF-CLOTH option).

e) Gun Protection: To prevent rusty guns, the use of a specially made cabinet or safe that provides just the right environment for your firepower is highly suggested. Some people also utilize the latest technological advancements to protect their guns, such as a Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors (VCI), which promotes an atmosphere that deters rust and corrosion.

f) Rust Inhibitor Coating:

There are plenty of products on the market that work against the accumulation of rust. These include selections that are scientifically tested to control rust and corrosion. Sometimes, they work before the process of rusting has taken place, while others can be applied over rusty metal to prevent further damage.

g) Immediately Repair Rust Spots:

At the first sign of rust, one may prevent further damage by attending to problem spots, including small bubbles. It is important to react quickly because light rust damage could indicate a higher level of unseen deterioration. This is especially true when it comes to car protection. One of the first ways one may repair a rust spot is to remove loose pieces of rust. The use of a razor blade is a common tool that carefully scrapes loose paint and rust away. After removing loose rust, additional traces of grime should be removed using warm water and soap. The application of a metal conditioner and primer is suggested, which helps to stop further rust. When applicable, touch-up paint should follow.

h) Tool Rust Prevention Products:

The market offers a selection of cream waxes and pastes (such as Automobile Paste Wax), which treats tools, such as woodworking equipment. Some individuals prefer paste-based products, since cream options contain a certain amount of water in their composition. Smaller tools respond well to commercial products aimed at displacing moisture and preventing rust. A few common choices that leave behind a film of light oil-based product includes WD-40, Sprayon Corrosion Supressant, Rustlick 631, Starrett M1, Boeshield T9, Birchwood Casey Sheath, and Rust-X (all of which prevent rust by keeping air and water contact off of the metal surfaces).

i) A Good Wipe:

Since the sweat (salt) and oils that come with hand use causes rust to develop, wiping down tools after use is a great way to reduce the amount of rust and moisture that gathers on your metal-based equipment.

j) Dehumidifiers:

Installing this type of equipment in a garage, shop, closed room, basement, or cellar will help prevent rust by controlling the moisture in the air.

k) Prevent Boat Rust:

Routine boat maintenance is a great way to prevent rust, which often includes regular habits of washing off the boat with clean fresh water and a mild detergent after each run out on the open sea. Before storing, it is important that all of the metal and glass parts, as well as flat surfaces are well dried. Boat covers also protect vessels from the harshness of sun and rain. The use of a commercial protect that fights against rust is also suggested.

Products, such as Boeshield T-9 forms a thick waxy film on metal parts that prevents rust formation on inboard and outboard engines, electronics, deck hardware, and wiring. The use of rechargeable silica gel packs also helps to control the storage moisture that causes rust to form.

l) Homemade Rust Protection:

To make your own rust prevention product at home, you may combine 1 part Anhydrous Lanolin with 5 parts Paint Thinner [3]. While a brush is often used for application, some people will dip their metals into the concoction.

Resources

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rust
[2] http://www.mass.gov/dep/water/drinking/color.htm
[3] http://www.metalwebnews.com/howto/rust/rust.html
[4] National Motorist; The Steering Column, Winter ’97
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rustproofing

15 Responses to “How to Prevent Rust”

  1. Taylor Phillips
    August 20, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

    I live in the tropics where everything manages to accumulate rust. To keep my kitchen appliances rust free, I polish my fridge, stove, etc every two weeks with Mr. Sheen. It has a high wax content and keeps the rust away.

  2. shashi
    January 20, 2010 at 5:31 am #

    to prevent rusting on burnt metal

  3. larnie
    August 31, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    Don’t have anything that is metal is one of them

  4. Sue Wallace
    September 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    A great way to clean and protect lawn and garden tools is to recycle oil from an oil change by pouring it into a bucket of sand. Tools such as hoes and shovels can be cleaned with the sand, and the oil coating protects them from rust.

  5. Shotstopper
    October 14, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    To stop rust don’t buy anything iron

  6. darryl
    November 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    i need to find out how to prevent iron from rusting text me bak

  7. khairy
    January 17, 2011 at 5:18 am #

    any information about corrosion

  8. Kandy
    April 3, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    well, try to avoid direct contacts with water or moisture. like painting the metal or iron substances with durable acrylic paint. or you can use oil or grease, which acts as a protective layer. or, in a more simple way, just buy stainless steel.

  9. Kalyani
    August 12, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    Rust is a chemical reaction to the surfaces of iron and steel becoming damp. When iron and steel get wet, the surface reacts with oxygen in the air and the water (usually rainfall). An acid is then formed by dirt and dust mixing with the chemical reaction caused by dampness and this acid eats away at the steel and iron, thus creating rust.

  10. rust?
    August 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    Try to apply water with oil, a simple way for rust temporary immunity.

  11. Anti
    August 27, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    Good job guys anybody knows how to prevent rust from a horse?

  12. vaibhav
    October 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    save iron always use stainless steel

  13. troy
    December 9, 2011 at 3:57 am #

    A good quallity car wax is good for painted or powder coated metals as i use on my gates as i live by the sea,and havnt had a problem since with rust or sea corrosion

  14. Ariba Mukaty
    January 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Can you tell me what rust fastest other then iron please?

  15. Hailey
    June 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    You need a rust inhibitor product, something like HinderRUST, that guarantees success versus just applying a household oil or osmething.

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