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Author Topic: Rust removal from blades - experiments  (Read 239 times)

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Offline Bill_S

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Rust removal from blades - experiments
« on: July 31, 2017, 04:45:40 PM »
Because of a recent thread, I became curious about which common household product could do the best job removing rust. I tried three non-abrasive products - Lime-A-Way, Bar Keepers Friend, and Naval Jelly. There was one clear winner - Bar Keeper's Friend.



Bar Keeper's Friend is a non-abrasive powder meant for cleaning metal cookware. The active ingredient is oxalic acid. This acid is naturally present in bitter greens, i.e. rhubarb contains it.

The other two products are in liquid form, and are more dangerous to handle. Lime-A-Way contains sulfamic acid, and Naval Jelly contains phosphoric acid as active ingredients.


The Experiments

I started with an old pair of skates stored in my basement. The rust was a bit more than just surface rust, and had slightly pitted the hollows of both blades. The rust followed the pattern of the hard guard in which they were stored, and areas of contact rusted. Here's a shot of one of the blades used for testing before application of any treatment...


One of the untreated blades showing rust

(sorry for the slightly fuzzy picture - this was a rush job!)

The Naval Jelly is a product for removing rust in marine and automotive uses. I dipped a Q-Tip into the thick liquid, and applied it directly to a couple of the rust areas. After application, I waited 5 or so minutes per instructions, then wiped it off. While it was an improvement, it didn't remove some of the rust, but more worrisome, it left a dark stain where it had been in contact with the metal.


Naval Jelly treatment.

Next I tried the Lime-A-Way. I wetted the Q-Tip with it, and rubbed for about a minute over an area of rust. The rust clearly was transferred to the Q-Tip, but the result still wasn't as good as the Bar Keepers Friend described next.


Lime-A-Way treatment

The last product, Bar Keeper's Friend was applied using a damp Q-Tip to which the powder was applied. I did about a minute of vigorous rubbing on a couple of rust spots. Even the spot that remained after using Lime-A-Way was subsequently improved by using Bar Keeper's Friend. It took care of fresh spots quickly too, and left the best finish.


Bar Keeper's Friend treatment

By feel, it left the smoothest surface. I had feared some minor pitting would remain, and it did, but the BKF treatment left the smoothest surface of the three products tested.

It was a clear win for Bar Keepers Friend.

Of course a good sharpening would beat any of these products, but there are times when this may come in handy.
Bill Schneider

Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: Rust removal from blades - experiments
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2017, 05:44:16 PM »
I use a gummi stone. I suspect a jeweler's emery would work as well.

Yes I'm in with the 90's. I have a skating blog. http://icedoesntcare.blogspot.com/

Offline Query

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Re: Rust removal from blades - experiments
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2017, 11:32:39 PM »
BTW, Bar Keeper's friend is abrasive.

https://www.barkeepersfriend.com/cleaning-products/cleanser-polish says

Quote
Ingredients

mineral abrasive, oxalic acid, surfactant, water-softening agent

Interestingly enough it only says to use it on stainless steel. It doesn't explicitly mention non-stainless steel.

I have used it on stainless steel cookware. Much better than Ajax and Comet, because they have a larger grain size, which leaves obvious scratches, that bacteria could get into. It's great stuff for removing stains and slight burns from stainless steel from pots and pans.

Be careful not to rub or scrape at the edges, if you can - I think anything like this could dull them a bit.

Did you try vinegar? As a mild acid, it does react with rust, and remove the oxygen, to an extent. But, because it isn't an abrasive, it may not leave a smooth surface, so at least on cookware, I like Bar Keeper's friend better.

Offline fsk8r

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Re: Rust removal from blades - experiments
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2017, 11:53:40 PM »
Glad to hear Barkeepers friend works. I'm currently trying to hunt for some.
I've had a brand new set of blades which have gone very rusty after only a couple of hours skating and then some long storage.

My own experiments have been with citric acid and cream of tartar (tartaric acid for the chemists). This mix has taken a lot of rust off, but not finished the job. Adding a little hydrogen peroxide has also helped the rust removal.

Vinegar would probably work, but the barkeepers friend has a stronger acid so is likely to work better.
I'm currently debating using some limescale remover as that should be a strong acid, but I'm not sure about it's concentration.


Offline Query

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Re: Rust removal from blades - experiments
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2017, 11:58:42 PM »
Try Walmart, or many grocery and hardware places. It's very common.

The manufacturer website has a "where to buy" link.

Offline Bill_S

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Re: Rust removal from blades - experiments
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2017, 07:43:49 AM »
Query: Thanks for pointing out that Bar Keepers Friend contains mild abrasive. The term "polish" on the front of the can hints at that. It is a very mild abrasive as you describe, and I use it everyday on my cookware without abrasive scratches forming. It's good stuff.

Going further, I remembered that some of the woodworking forums that I frequent discuss rehabbing old, rusty tools. Some of them are career restorers who bring back to life some really rusty basket-cases.

They praise liquid Evapo-Rust as a good overnight soaking treatment to remove rust. The MDS sheet doesn't reveal the active ingredient (must not be toxic - good!). Further searching found that it could be  ethylenediaminetetraacetate or EDTA.

I wish that I had some Evapo-Rust on hand to try. It sounds promising, but because a long soak is suggested, either the blades would have to sit in a shallow dish, or removed from the boots for treatment. Either is easy enough to do though.
Bill Schneider

Offline sampaguita

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Re: Rust removal from blades - experiments
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2017, 08:05:03 AM »
I used petroleum jelly with a Scotch Brite scouring pad to remove a very thick layer of rust from my old skates. It worked rather well, but I had to be careful not to dull the actual edges. It was manageable.

Using oxalic acid is interesting. Would you know what concentration BKF uses?

Offline Bill_S

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Re: Rust removal from blades - experiments
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2017, 08:37:41 AM »
The MDS sheet lists the Oxalic acid at 7.5 to 9.5% by weight.

There are two other ingredients listed, Feldspar (% is proprietary, and I suspect that this is the mild polishing agent), and Linear Sodium Dodecyl Benzene Sulfonate (DDBSA) -  essentially detergent.
Bill Schneider

Offline tstop4me

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Re: Rust removal from blades - experiments
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2017, 08:47:07 AM »
If there's moderate to heavy rust on skate blades, you'll want to remove the rust before you have them resharpened so the rust doesn't foul the grinding wheel; and a clean, uniform initial surface will make it easier to achieve uniform edges.  A careful sharpener will probably remove the rust first anyway, but he may charge you extra.  Since you'll probably want them resharpened, however, I don't see the need to be super-meticulous about abrasives in the rust remover, as long as they are not too coarse, and potential dulling of the edges. 

If it's just superficial staining, then, as Bill mentioned, it'll probably be gone in the course of a session or so anyway, without any deliberate rust removal action.

Offline tstop4me

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Re: Rust removal from blades - experiments
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2017, 09:55:55 AM »
I used petroleum jelly with a Scotch Brite scouring pad to remove a very thick layer of rust from my old skates. It worked rather well, but I had to be careful not to dull the actual edges. It was manageable.
I tend to stay away from acid-based rust removers, and use a method similar to yours for general purpose rust removal.  Except I use Liquid Wrench Penetrating Oil, instead of petroleum jelly, with Scotch Brite.

Offline tstop4me

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Re: Rust removal from blades - experiments
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2017, 09:56:42 AM »
//entered in error; can't delete//

Offline lutefisk

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Re: Rust removal from blades - experiments
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2017, 10:51:38 AM »
Query: Thanks for pointing out that Bar Keepers Friend contains mild abrasive. The term "polish" on the front of the can hints at that. It is a very mild abrasive as you describe, and I use it everyday on my cookware without abrasive scratches forming. It's good stuff.

Going further, I remembered that some of the woodworking forums that I frequent discuss rehabbing old, rusty tools. Some of them are career restorers who bring back to life some really rusty basket-cases.

They praise liquid Evapo-Rust as a good overnight soaking treatment to remove rust. The MDS sheet doesn't reveal the active ingredient (must not be toxic - good!). Further searching found that it could be  ethylenediaminetetraacetate or EDTA.

I wish that I had some Evapo-Rust on hand to try. It sounds promising, but because a long soak is suggested, either the blades would have to sit in a shallow dish, or removed from the boots for treatment. Either is easy enough to do though.


I've bought Evapo-rust at Auto Zone stores.  Some stock it, others don't.  One can check with the company's website to find a place to purchase the stuff.  In my experience, Evapo-rust works well on ferrous items that you can submerge in a plastic tuperware style tray of the stuff and lock a cover on to limit evaporation.  Be aware that the process tends to make the rusty areas change color.  Since Evapo-rust works via chelation, it removes a tiny bit of iron from the rusted (iron oxide) areas rather than converting the iron oxide to iron phosphate as is the case of most other products.  So at bit of polishing with a mild abrasive might be in order apres treatment.  (Aside:  toothpaste contains a very mild abrasive).   Also, after treatment with Evapo-rust and the polish of choice, one should probably take steps to prevent further rusting--which could start as soon as the Evapo-rust is washed away.  In most cases of rust abatement this means painting the metal object with a protective coating.  In the case of skate blades this is probably not the most desirable option, although there may be a clear coat that could be applied.  In theory Evapo-rust should work on skate blades.  I've used it to de-rust small auto parts and rusty tools which were small enough to submerge for a couple days in a plastic tub.  It works well.