Rust removal differences - see results

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lgrinnings

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Dec 31, 2010
741
Newburyport, MA
Howdy folks! My son just completed a science project on some different forms of rust removal and their associated results after 36 hours of soaking and wire brushing. I figured this may help some of you as the results are different and may help with patina matching in some cases. Oxalic acid worked the fastest and the best followed by lemon juice, whereas vinegar left a little rust/discoloration, and molasses and water worked the slowest leaving the most rust/discoloration (which may be a preferred result depending on the project). Here are some pictures of his results along with the materials and procedure. I hope this helps!

-Lester

IMG_1332.jpg


IMG_1326.jpg


IMG_1328.jpg


IMG_1329.jpg


IMG_1331.jpg



Materials:
  • 4 small containers or jars with lids (make sure they are completely dry)
  • Labels or tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Rusty steel objects
  • Water in varying amounts depending on solution
  • Oxalic acid (2 Tbsp)
  • Molasses (1:9 water)
  • Lemon juice (1:1 water)
  • Vinegar (¾ jar)
  • Steel brush

Procedure:

Set up Jar 1
  1. Add a rusty steel object to the bottom of the jar.
  2. Pour in water up to the three quarter mark.
  3. Add powdered oxalic acid and mix.
  4. Let soak for 36 hours
  5. Wire brush to remove loosened rust

Set Up Jar 2
  1. Add a rusty steel object to the bottom of the jar.
  2. Pour in water up to the three quarter mark.
  3. Add molasses at a 1:9 ratio with the water and mix.
  4. Let soak for 36 hours
  5. Wire brush to remove loosened rust

Set Up Jar 3
  1. Add a rusty steel object to the bottom of the jar.
  2. Pour in vinegar up to the three quarter mark.
  3. Let soak for 36 hours
  4. Wire brush to remove loosened rust

Set Up Jar 4
  1. Add a rusty steel object to the bottom of the jar.
  2. Pour in lemon juice and water in equal amounts and mix.
  3. Let soak for 36 hours
  4. Wire brush to remove loosened rust

Controls:
  1. Metal pieces
  2. Each a liquid
  3. Same amount of time in
  4. Steel brush used on each

Independent variables:
  1. Oxalic acid solution
  2. Molasses & water solution
  3. Vinegar
  4. Lemon juice & water solution

Dependent variable:
  1. Rust on object
 

then8j

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Oct 6, 2010
718
Walnut Creek CA
This is great! How old is your son? Did he have to write a report to explain how they worked, and what the active ingredients were?
Thank you for posting this.
 

TieDye

I live for the CABE
Aug 24, 2015
1,135
Henderson, MI, United States
Now take the still rusty one and put it in Evapo-Rust. You will be amazed. It might take a couple days, but remove it, massage it a bit, and you'll know when it's done.
 
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OldSkipTooth

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Aug 6, 2015
3,407
56
Sebastopol, United States
Good info! Thanks
Back in the late 1970’s when Taco Bell still sold their taco sauce in those little plastic containers, we use to show people what an old dirty copper penny looked like after leaving it in the hot sauce for an hour, came out brilliant shiny copper every time.
 
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Sven

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Dec 24, 2017
2,685
55
Mechanicsville, MD, United States
Never tried Oxalic acid, not opposed to using it. I bought 5 lb tub of Citric Acid about 10 years ago, when I was collecting beer and soda cans. I've used it on bike chrome...works well.

Very cool school project. Its great when a father and son can work on things together. My dad and I built a mini moonshine still when I was in 6th grade.
 

JMack

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Nov 23, 2013
914
Albuquerque, NM, United States
Howdy folks! My son just completed a science project on some different forms of rust removal and their associated results after 36 hours of soaking and wire brushing. I figured this may help some of you as the results are different and may help with patina matching in some cases. Oxalic acid worked the fastest and the best followed by lemon juice, whereas vinegar left a little rust/discoloration, and molasses and water worked the slowest leaving the most rust/discoloration (which may be a preferred result depending on the project). Here are some pictures of his results along with the materials and procedure. I hope this helps!

-Lester

IMG_1332.jpg


IMG_1326.jpg


IMG_1328.jpg


IMG_1329.jpg


IMG_1331.jpg



Materials:
  • 4 small containers or jars with lids (make sure they are completely dry)
  • Labels or tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Rusty steel objects
  • Water in varying amounts depending on solution
  • Oxalic acid (2 Tbsp)
  • Molasses (1:9 water)
  • Lemon juice (1:1 water)
  • Vinegar (¾ jar)
  • Steel brush

Procedure:

Set up Jar 1
  1. Add a rusty steel object to the bottom of the jar.
  2. Pour in water up to the three quarter mark.
  3. Add powdered oxalic acid and mix.
  4. Let soak for 36 hours
  5. Wire brush to remove loosened rust

Set Up Jar 2
  1. Add a rusty steel object to the bottom of the jar.
  2. Pour in water up to the three quarter mark.
  3. Add molasses at a 1:9 ratio with the water and mix.
  4. Let soak for 36 hours
  5. Wire brush to remove loosened rust

Set Up Jar 3
  1. Add a rusty steel object to the bottom of the jar.
  2. Pour in vinegar up to the three quarter mark.
  3. Let soak for 36 hours
  4. Wire brush to remove loosened rust

Set Up Jar 4
  1. Add a rusty steel object to the bottom of the jar.
  2. Pour in lemon juice and water in equal amounts and mix.
  3. Let soak for 36 hours
  4. Wire brush to remove loosened rust

Controls:
  1. Metal pieces
  2. Each a liquid
  3. Same amount of time in
  4. Steel brush used on each

Independent variables:
  1. Oxalic acid solution
  2. Molasses & water solution
  3. Vinegar
  4. Lemon juice & water solution

Dependent variable:
  1. Rust on object
D
google electrolysis works every time ,earth friendly waste""
google electrolysis works every time ,earth friendly waste""
Oxalic acid is also environmentally friendly. I would like to see results before and after of electrolysis anyone? How does it fair with paint and decals and cadmium and galvanized parts? WITH OXALIC DO NOT DIP CADMIUM OR GALVANIZED PARTS AND EXPECT POTENTIAL LOSS OF OLD DECAL PIGMENT IF HIGHLY OXIDIZED AT SURFACE. Here’s an example after oxalic bath and Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound and tired hands...
1088845

1088842


1088844
 

Balloonoob

I live for the CABE
Jan 24, 2019
1,058
35
Longmont Colorado
D


Oxalic acid is also environmentally friendly. I would like to see results before and after of electrolysis anyone? How does it fair with paint and decals and cadmium and galvanized parts? WITH OXALIC DO NOT DIP CADMIUM OR GALVANIZED PARTS AND EXPECT POTENTIAL LOSS OF OLD DECAL PIGMENT IF HIGHLY OXIDIZED AT SURFACE. Here’s an example after oxalic bath and Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound and tired hands...
1088845

1088842


1088844
I've never used oa but it seems that although it really cleaned up the red nicely on the tank some of the green decal and even little bits of the white paint was removed. I might use that compound in the future on my bikes but hold off on oa for painted areas unless there is heavy surface rust that won't wash off. Thanks for the post and pics.
 
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GiovanniLiCalsi

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 29, 2012
3,936
Alameda, California
Oxalic acid is an organic compound found in many plants. These include leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, cocoa, nuts and seeds. In plants, it's usually bound to minerals, forming oxalate. The terms “oxalic acid” and “oxalate” are used interchangeably in nutrition science.
 
Last edited:

t.c.815

On Training Wheels
Jun 16, 2019
5
76
roscoe,il
electrolysis is fast for rust removal large or small parts,if there is paint on the same item in the solution say good by to the paint lol,
if you are going to remove rust from a fender why worry about the paint ,you are going to refinish the fender correct,this method and others are all good you must decide,
not to change the subject i went from building 400 h.p. chevy motors to THREE wow , nice talking to you guys , i needed a change""
 
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TheWindrider

Look Ma, No Hands!
Dec 25, 2019
47
62
Michigan
A fine project with good memories with your son. Thanx for posting your results. I have used OA found in various products such as Bar Keepers Friend and a product sold at Dollar General. They both work well for smaller objects.
 
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