Rust is like cancer in the world of metal tools. It’s not just a simple surface-level, aesthetic problem. It can eat away at a tool’s structural integrity until it becomes completely worthless or even dangerous to use.
Fortunately, there are plenty of rust removal products available. One of the most popular choices is WD-40. With its reputation for being a rust-buster extraordinaire, many people believe that WD-40 is the best way to get rid of the pesky orange strain from their prized metal possessions.
But the question remains — does WD-40 remove rust, or is it just a gimmick? In this article, we’ll delve into the science behind rust and explore the effectiveness of WD-40 as a rust remover. We’ll also share some tips on how you can get rid of rust yourself and save some money in the process.
How Does Rust Occur?
Rust is a product of oxidation, a chemical reaction that occurs when chemicals in the air react with metal. When oxidation happens, it creates a reddish-brown film on the surface of your metal objects, which can lead to corrosion. This causes your items to become pitted and weak. The more oxygen there is around your metal, the faster it will rust.
Rust can form on any metal that has iron in its composition. It’s most common in areas where there’s plenty of moisture and high humidity levels. Your home’s plumbing is a prime example of this, as water is a key ingredient in rust formation.
The same goes for metal pipes and fixtures that are exposed to the elements, such as your faucets and shower heads. Besides that, it can attack metals that are exposed to air, such as your car’s exhaust system or your tools, including screwdrivers, pliers, scissors, and shovels, among others.
The process of rusting is usually irreversible, which means you can’t get rid of it once it starts happening. So if you notice your metal items turning rusty, be sure to clean them as soon as possible to prevent any further damage!
Now, this is where the story gets interesting. There are a few ways to get rid of stubborn rust, but most people swear by WD-40. So, let’s uncover the truth about WD-40’s ability to remove rust.
Does WD-40 Remove Rust?
WD-40 was created by industrial chemist Norman Larsen in 1953. It’s a widely-used spray lubricant and penetrating oil designed to protect metal surfaces from rust and corrosion. It’s also used to displace moisture and lubricate moving parts.
Did you know that “WD-40” stands for “Water Displacement – 40th Attempt”? This reflects how the formula was developed after multiple attempts. Interesting, right?
While the actual ingredients in WD-40 are proprietary, we do know that it’s primarily composed of various hydrocarbon compounds and other solvents. When applied to metal surfaces, it can help to prevent rust and corrosion by displacing moisture and forming a protective barrier against oxygen and other corrosive substances.
Though the effectiveness of WD-40 varies depending on the surface or material being treated, it can keep rust and corrosion at bay for up to a year. Since there are no harmful ingredients in the formula (at least not according to its makers), there’s no reason not to try it out for yourself!
Tips and Tricks for Using WD-40 to Remove Rust
While there are no hard-and-fast rules for using WD-40, it’s helpful to know the general process before you begin. This will help you avoid any mishaps or unnecessary steps. To use WD-40 as a rust remover, follow these steps:
- Spray the affected area liberally with the product and let it sit for several minutes.
- Scrub away any rust that’s loosened from the surface using a stiff-bristled brush or steel wool pad.
- Wipe away the WD-40 and any remaining rust with a clean rag or paper towel.
- Repeat this process as needed until all of the rust is removed from the surface.
Precautions To Take When Using WD-40 as a Rust Remover
As with any other chemical, it’s important to take precautions when using WD-40. These include:
- Always read and follow the instructions and safety warnings on the label of the WD-40 spray can.
- While using this spray, make sure to hold the can upright and away from your body.
- WD-40 can give off fumes that can be harmful if inhaled. It’s important to use it in a well-ventilated area or wear a respirator mask if you will be using it for an extended period.
- It’s also a good idea to wear gloves and eye protection when using WD-40, as it can be irritating to the skin and eyes.
- Before applying WD-40 to a large or visible area, test it on a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure it won’t damage the surface or cause discoloration.
- After use, store WD-40 in a cool, dry place away from children. Also, keep it away from heat sources, like radiators or fireplaces.
Other Uses of WD-40 Beyond Rust Removal
WD-40 is a multipurpose spray that can be used in different ways around the home, yard, and garden. It can be used to:
- Remove oil stains from concrete or stone,
- Clean vinyl siding and other surfaces that have been stained by motor oil,
- Lubricate locks on doors and windows,
- Protect tools from rusting in storage areas,
- and more!
You can also use it to remove dirt build-up from garage floors. If you have an old chainsaw or lawn mower that is difficult to start, spray some WD-40 on the blade before starting it up to help lubricate the machine and enjoy optimal power.
Other Popular Rust Removal Methods
Besides WD-40, there are several other methods you can use to remove rust from tools and surfaces. Although these solutions are not as fast acting or effective as WD-40, they will still help clean away rust and restore your item to its original state.
Vinegar and Steel Wool
One of the easiest ways to remove rust is by using white vinegar and steel wool. The acidity in vinegar reacts with the iron in the steel, thus removing the rust layer on it. The process is simple — soak a piece of steel wool in vinegar and rub it on your rusted area until all traces of rust disappear.
Baking soda is made of sodium bicarbonate, which can be used to remove rust from metal surfaces. The process involves mixing baking soda with water and then applying it to the rusted area.
After letting it sit for several minutes, use a wire brush or scrubbing pad to scrape away the rust. Baking soda can also help to neutralize the acidic properties of rust, which can help to prevent further corrosion.
Lemon and Salt
The lemon-salt method is an old-fashioned way of removing rust from metal surfaces. Lemon contains citric acid, which can help to break down rust, while salt acts as a mild abrasive to scrub it away.
To use this method, simply sprinkle salt onto the rusted area and then squeeze lemon juice over it. Let the mixture sit for a few hours, then scrub with a brush or cloth and rinse with water.
One of the easiest DIY hacks to remove rust is using aluminum foil. To try this technique, crumple up a piece of aluminum foil into a ball and dip it in soapy water. Then, use the wet foil to scrub the rusted area. You can also add a bit of dish soap to the water to help loosen the rust.
This method works best for hard-to-reach areas with nooks and crannies, like an antique vanity, a mailbox, or a bicycle chain. You can also use this method to remove rust from chrome fixtures and stainless steel appliances.
It’s important to note that some of these methods may not be suitable for certain types of surfaces or materials, so always test on a small, inconspicuous area first.
As we’ve discovered throughout this article, the question of “does WD-40 remove rust” has been the subject of much debate. While this product is touted as a rust remover, it’s not specifically designed for that purpose.
The interesting thing is that its unique formula contains different solvents that can help break down rust and prevent further corrosion. So the next time you’re faced with a rusty orange tool, reach for a can of WD-40 and witness the magic for yourself!