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How to remove rust using chemicals

borax citric acid gel rust remover oxalic acid phosphoric acid rust removing sodium chloride white vinegar

How to remove rust from metal?


Before we present possible ways to remove rust, we need to explain what rust actually is and how it is formed.

Rust appears on various metals, destroys not only objects but also structures. We check what rust is and why it does not attack stainless steel.

Rust is the result of the oxidation of iron and iron alloys due to the presence of moist air, soil or direct contact with water. The rust layer consists mainly of iron oxides and hydroxides. This entire oxidation process is technically known as corrosion. Rusty elements lose their strength and resistance to chemical factors. Colloquially, it is said that rust "eats" an object and it's hard to disagree with it, because it simply oxidizes and loses its mass and surface.An interesting fact is that salt water accelerates the corrosion process.

The secret to rust resistance is that stainless steel alloys contain chromium and nickel additives to protect the alloy from corrosion.

Rust is a corrosion effect on iron. - All metals corrode, i.e. deteriorate under the influence of the environment. When iron, steel or cast iron are destroyed, rust appears on their surface.

Metal is a solid material that looks good until it is covered with rust. Its appearance does not look anything good - not only does it negatively affect the appearance of metal surfaces, but also reduces their strength and resistance to environmental factors. Learn how to remove rust from metal so you don't damage it, but keep it in good shape for years!


Mechanical rust removal

You need hand tools to remove rust mechanically. Usually it is a wire brush, sandpaper or even a grinder. With the help of a grinder, the work progresses much faster, but you have to be careful not to scratch the surface. A special cap should be placed on the grinder. The grinding wheel will help remove rust, but may not reach crevices and other hard to reach areas.

rust removing tool

What method to use?

Use a grinder to remove rust from a large area of metal. Sandblasting will also be appropriate, as it will allow you to effectively get rid of persistent, caustic contaminants. You can buy or rent a grinder, but operating it requires at least basic knowledge of the tool. So remember about safety! Treat smaller corrosion centres in hard to reach places with sandpaper or a small hand grinder. A wire brush will also be suitable. Adjust their angle and pressure to remove rust but not damage the metal. The method is quite laborious, but relatively cheap. Cleaning the surface of metal it is not enough to simply sand the surface of an element to get rid of rust. You still need to thoroughly clean the metal from dust particles, grease stains or residues of previous varnishes and paints. Washing and degreasing agents like acetone or toluene will do the job best.


When choosing a rust remedy, it is worth checking its consistency. The fluid is often more efficient, but on some elements (for example vertical ones) it is better and more convenient to use a gel rust remover.

rust removing gel

HD Chemicals LTD as leading chemical supplier offers a ready to use gel rust removers perfect for removing rust from vertical surfaces. It is a very efficient gel based on phosphoric acid as an active ingredient. The use of phosphoric acid in our product makes it safe for all metals and makes it very universal in use.


Of course, apart from the ready made rust agent, we present you with other chemicals for removing rust.


Vinegar (Glacial Acid / Cleaning Vinegar)

You can clean the surface covered with corrosion with Cleaning Vinegar. Rub the smaller fires with a cloth soaked in vinegar. If corrosion is more extensive, soak the component in a vinegar bath for several hours. After this time, scrub the rusty parts with a brush until the tarnish disappears.

cleaning vinegar

Baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)

Cleaning rust with baking soda is an effective way to fight corrosion. It is enough to prepare a solution with water - thick enough to make a paste. Rust is removed by spot-applied solution. After about 2 hours, it can be rubbed off with a wire brush or sandpaper.

sodium bicarbonate

Citric Acid and Sodium Chloride

Citric Acid in combination with Sodium Chloride - this is the answer to the question of how to remove rust from metal. Home remedies are reliable in this case, and they consist of making a mixture and applying it to a corrosion point on a metal surface. After about 2 hours, you can try to remove the rust - it should soften enough that a regular sponge or cloth is enough to clean the rust.

Oxalic Acid

Mix Oxalic Acid with water in a ratio of 1:10, and then immerse the corroded element in the resulting solution for about 20 minutes. After this time, remove the rust with a cloth or brush. If necessary, the treatment can be repeated in the same way.


For best results, mix 1 tablespoon of Borax powder with 1/4 cup of lemon juice. We put the resulting solution on the place that we want to clean and leave it for about half an hour

borax powder uk

Phosphoric Acid

Rust removal with Phosphoric Acid can be carried out by dipping the products into an acid bath, or by lubricating rusty steel surfaces with a specially prepared solution of phosphoric acid. It's best to start with a 30% Phosphoric Acid concentration. If this does not work, we can increase the concentration of 45% Phosphoric Acid.

The main advantage of this method is that phosphoric acid does not digest as much as sulphuric acid, and therefore it is safer for more delicate and precisely machined parts. Sometimes it is advisable to clean the ground steel surfaces from rust with a chemical method.

Hydrochloric Acid

Hydrochloric Acid attacks metal oxide in the same way as rust coatings and is therefore too risky to use at normal concentration. If you decide to remove rust with hydrochloric acid, we recommend using a smaller 10% hydrochloric acid solution

hydrochloric acid HCL


We must remember that when using pure chemicals to remove rust, we must remember to protect our health and life. Protection of the eyes, skin and respiratory tract is very important and let's not forget about it.


It is worth remembering that the mere removal of rust from the metal surface is not sufficient to protect it from further destruction, and the regained former glow will disappear in a fairly short time, if the object is not properly protected against subsequent corrosion. If your goal from the beginning is to remove rust and re-paint the surface, it is best to take a look at the wide range of topcoats that combine anti-corrosion functions with a colourful finish. Some of them are extremely comfortable to use, because they only require a rough surface cleaning.


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    we need to remove rust from seamless tube ID how can you help.

  • Aldrin Louis on

    How do you dilute 85% Phosphoric Acid – 85% H₃PO₄ down to 45% for rust removal on a shipping container? Will use a garden chemical sprayer.

  • renato on

    among the acids you enumerated, which is the best?

  • Kev on

    Thanks for this article ! I have read it all and now I know exactly how to and what to do to remove rust from my tools.

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