Rust is one of the main enemies of metals. Cleaning rusty iron, or any other metal, is essential, both for aesthetics and to ensure the durability of these pieces over time.
The use of metals in all kinds of tasks is something that has helped us to enjoy everything necessary to better control our environment. From our car to our garden furniture, street lamps or even window frames, the different ways of working with metals and their applications are very interesting.
However, there is an enemy that can seriously affect metal and poses considerable risk. We are talking about rust. This element is as characteristic as its ocher orange color and can appear where it is least expected. That is why it is so important to know how to remove rust stains and how to avoid the future appearance of this residue on our metals.
How rust forms
In chemical terms, oxide is a residue that forms when an oxygen atom combines with an atom of any other chemical element. However, when it comes to metal oxides, it is obvious that the main source of problems arises from a combination of any metal, such as steel or iron, and a large amount of moisture.
This is also influenced by temperatures, which accelerate the process the higher they are, as well as the presence of the sun, which also accelerates oxidation in case of directly affecting the affected area. Worst of all, the rust spreads over the entire surface and destroys the metal completely. You can also remove the protective greases present in that metal. This can damage moving parts, such as parts of engines and other machines.
How to remove rust from iron at home
To eliminate this residue at home, we can use commercial iron oxide removal products, which we can find in any hardware store, or bet on some homemade tricks, which can be very useful.
Among these options we have the possibility of removing the rust with vinegar. This remedy does not require more than applying this ingredient on the rusted surface and waiting a few minutes or submerging the objects in this liquid and waiting. We can do something similar with the baking soda, previously mixed with a little water, until it forms a paste. This mixture is applied to the oxidized area and, after allowing it to settle, it is removed and rinsed. These two options are very useful to clean rust from screws and regain mobility. It is also a good remedy if you don’t know how to remove rust from tools or other small objects.
As an alternative to these two methods, it is also possible to use other common household products, such as Coca Cola or a mixture of lemon juice and salt. By the way, the latter is suitable for removing rust stains from clothing. With any of them you can remove stains and concentrations of rust from any object, so you no longer have to buy new bottle racks at Ikea or change your new garden chairs or your tools ahead of time, if they are rusty.
How to clean other oxides
For now we have focused on iron, but there are other metals that also rust. So, for example, you might want to know how to remove rust from chrome metal. To proceed, simply clean the affected area with aluminum foil dipped in water, and it is also a good idea to use the lemon mixture that we mentioned before. In both cases, after cleaning the area, it is essential to polish it with a suitable product that protects the metal.
Another common question is how to clean rusted aluminum. In this case, the best option is to use vinegar or a mixture of lemon and salt. We apply these ingredients on the aluminum, then cleaning the area with a soft bristle brush, which does not damage the surface. Don’t forget to rinse the piece well once you’ve finished cleaning.
These same tricks can be used to clean rusty sheet metal, although if you can know the exact material with which it is made it will always be much better. In any case, the different methods that we have discussed, the least aggressive, perform adequately on almost any material. To be sure, you can test a small area before fully treating the rusted area.
How to avoid the appearance of rust
So far we have seen how to remove rust, once this residue has appeared. But if you are one of those who prefer to prevent than repair, then you will be interested in knowing how to avoid the appearance of rust on any metal.
The first thing we must do is properly protect that metal, using suitable paints or enamels. In the past, one of the most common solutions was lead. This mineral, once treated, becomes an efficient protective paint, with which to prevent the appearance of rust on any metal. Luckily, all the leads for sale today are lead-free, which makes their use safer.
Another interesting proposal are specific enamels and paints for humid environments, in which there are generally more problems with oxidation. These protectors have a greater capacity to stop the process of deterioration of the metal, being key that all the exposed metal is covered.
On the other hand, in those cases where it is possible, it is advisable to take care of the surrounding conditions. For example, if we have a storage area where we keep the metal garden furniture during the winter or our tools, it will be very interesting that the conditions of this room are cool and dry, to prevent the oxidation of the metal from being present.
Finally, we cannot forget the importance of lubricating moving metal elements well, such as hinges, engine parts and other similar things. Inadequate lubrication causes considerable friction on the metal, which can expose the metal and cause rust to appear.