What dissolves rust?

What dissolves rust? - Fix It Cape Town

Rust is a common problem that metal surfaces face over time due to exposure to moisture and oxygen. It can be unsightly and can even weaken the structure of the metal. However, there are effective rust dissolving agents and chemicals available in the market that can help you remove rust and restore your metal surfaces to their former glory. In this article, we will explore these rust removers and learn how to apply them safely.

Rust Dissolving Agents – What are They?

Rust dissolving agents are chemicals specifically designed to break down rust and facilitate its removal from metal surfaces. They work by chemically reacting with rust and converting it into a more soluble form, making it easier to wipe or rinse away. Some common types of rust dissolving agents include:

  1. Phosphoric Acid – Phosphoric acid is a popular rust dissolver that effectively reacts with rust and converts it into iron phosphate, which can easily be washed off. It is safe to use and does not harm the metal surface.

  2. Citric Acid – Citric acid is a natural rust remover that is environment-friendly and less toxic compared to other chemicals. It dissolves rust through a process called chelation, where it forms a soluble complex with iron oxide, making it easier to remove.

  3. Oxalic Acid – Oxalic acid is another effective rust dissolving agent, often used in commercial rust removers. It works by forming a water-soluble complex with iron, allowing the rust to be easily wiped or rinsed away.

Effective Rust Removers – What are They?

In addition to rust dissolving agents, there are several rust removers available in the market that are formulated to effectively remove rust from metal surfaces. These products often combine rust dissolving agents with other ingredients to maximize their effectiveness. Some popular rust removers include:

  1. Naval Jelly – Naval jelly is a widely used rust remover that contains phosphoric acid. It is highly effective in removing rust from metal surfaces and is often used on large areas such as car bodies or outdoor metal furniture.

  2. Rust Converter – Rust converters are unique rust removers that not only dissolve rust but also convert it into a stable compound that prevents further rusting. They contain tannic acid or other corrosion inhibitors, which create a protective coating on the metal surface.

  3. Vinegar – Vinegar is a household item that can also be used as a rust remover. Its acetic acid content helps break down rust, making it easier to scrub away. While effective on light rust, it may not be as potent as dedicated rust removers for heavy rust.

Applying Rust Removers Safely – A Step-by-Step Guide

While rust dissolving agents and rust removers can effectively remove rust, it is essential to follow proper safety guidelines to ensure their safe use. Here’s a step-by-step guide to applying rust removers safely:

  1. Read the Instructions – Always start by thoroughly reading the instructions provided by the manufacturer on the product label. Different rust removers may have specific application techniques and safety precautions.

  2. Prepare the Surface – Clean the metal surface to remove any loose debris or grease. This will ensure better contact between the rust remover and the rusted area.

  3. Protect Yourself – Wear protective gloves, goggles, and a mask to avoid direct contact with the rust remover and to protect yourself from any potential fumes.

  4. Apply the Rust Remover – Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the rust remover. It may involve brushing, spraying, or soaking the affected area. Ensure even coverage over the rusted surface.

  5. Wait and Observe – Allow the rust remover to sit on the surface for the recommended duration specified by the manufacturer. This will give the chemicals enough time to dissolve the rust effectively.

  6. Scrub or Rinse – After the recommended waiting period, use a brush or sponge to scrub away the loosened rust. Alternatively, for larger surfaces, you may need to rinse off the rust remover using water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for rinsing and disposal.

  7. Repeat if Necessary – In some cases, heavy rust may require multiple applications of the rust remover. If needed, repeat the process until all the rust is effectively removed.


Q: Are rust removers safe to use on all types of metals?
A: While most rust removers are safe to use on various metals, it is advisable to check the product label or manufacturer’s instructions to ensure compatibility with the specific metal surface you are treating.

Q: Can I use rust removers on painted surfaces?
A: Rust removers can damage paint surfaces, so it is essential to avoid applying them directly on painted areas. However, if the paint is already damaged by rust, you can use rust removers cautiously while avoiding contact with the unaffected painted areas.

Q: Can I use homemade rust removers?
A: While some household items like vinegar or lemon juice may act as mild rust removers, they may not be as potent or effective as dedicated rust removers. It is advisable to use commercial rust removers for heavy rust or stubborn stains.


Rust can be a nuisance, but with the right rust dissolving agents and rust removers, you can easily restore your metal surfaces to their former glory. Remember to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the specific rust remover you are using, and always prioritize safety by wearing protective gear. With proper application and precautions, rust removal can be a straightforward task, allowing you to enjoy the beauty and durability of your metal possessions once again.

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