Rust Dissolver

I LOVE this stuff.  The time it saves me, and the results it provides are FAR beyond what I had hoped for.
If you work on cars, and like things to look good when you are done, or are trying to reuse existing parts, then this product is a very cost effective must have.  I bought a gallon when I first started work on the Bonneville BAD CAT Jaguar project.
Virtually everything I removed from the car was rusted.  While not a restoration project, in order to maintain the ‘PRO’ category, all the lighting etc. must function.  So, all the brackets, nuts bolts screws must either be replaced, or made operable.  I was a little (lot) skeptical of the claims to ‘dissolve’ rust, what with all the ‘rust convertors’ and ‘rust encapsulators’ available on the market.  But, for under $40 from Eastwood, I thought I didn’t have much to loose, so I ordered a gallon.  This turned out to be one of the best purchases I have ever made.
Quite a while back, I stumbled upon a bunch of 1″ bolts at my favorite scrap yard.  As I had been planning on building some screw jacks  to use on the frame jig/hoist, I thought these would be perfect for the purpose.  Getting close to actually needing them, it was time to get them cleaned up.  Here’s a couple ‘before’ pictures so you will understand what they started out like.  Apart from having chased the threads with a tap, they are as found.   As you can see, kicking around a scrap yard, banged about by other steel and iron and exposure to the elements has done them no favours.
But, now knowing just how well this stuff works, I had no concerns about making them good for this purpose.  I have used several 1 gallon ‘snap lid’ tubs to use as dip tanks for the various chemicals I use to treat or clean various things  I use an old stainless steel deep fryer basket to contain the items to dip into the soutions.  With all the ‘tanks’ the same size, I can readily transfer items between tanks with minimal direct contact with the solutions.  The severity of the rust will determine how long you need to leave the item soaking.  Anything from a few hours, to a few days may be required.  The process can be accelerated by brushing off the rough stuff so that the solution can get into subsequent layers.  Here’s the basket just out of the tank with some of those rusted bolts.  The difference is remarkably evident.
Apart from the obvious benefit of not converting, but REMOVING the rust from parts, no intervention is required.  Just submerge and wait, I does help accellerate the process to slosh the parts around every now and then if there is a build up of rust.  This allows the softened and loosened rust debris to fall away accellerating the process.  Your time can be spent continuing to work on what ever that project is.  You can also eliminate the time standing at your wire wheel cleaning up parts, not to mention the occasional brushing you fingers will often incure.
A somewhat surprising characteristic of this solution is that it DOES NOT remove paint.   I pulled one of the rusted nuts out of the tank early to grab a picture, which clearly shows the paint  previously concealed by the layer of rust, completely intact.  The same is true for plastic components, which can be safely immersed in the solution.  I found this aspect a perfect solution for the headlight retaining/adjustment brackets.  No amount of time in the tumbler would get into some of the tight corners or the pitting in the brackets.
An overnight bath in this stuff, made them look like new.  Here are before and after images of the adjusters.  The before is after roughly 48 hours in the tumbler.  You can see the pitting caused by some heavy rust remains.  The plastic is completely unaffected by the solution

After the parts come out of the solution, you should run them through a quick rinse in water, to remove the chemical contaminants,  then a bath in metal wash to stop flash rusting, and ready the parts for painting, plating or what ever else you have up your sleeve.

I’ve cleaned a couple hundred various parts with the original gallon of solution, with very little loss using this method.  Keeping the lid on the tank when not in use, and placing the lid over the tank when I’ve got a batch in the tank keeps the evaporation to a minimum.
Naturally, all that removed rust had to go somewhere.  So, when the solution was nearing black, with substantial sediment on the bottom of the tank,  I decided it was time to clean things up  bit.  Passing the solution through a funnel, with a cone coffee filter in it, did the trick nicely.  I had to swap out filters a few times as they plugged up with crud and sludge pretty quickly.  But, after a few passes through the filter, the solution and tank are in pretty good shape again and ready to go.

 

UPDATE:  A few observations and discoveries of my own, and as a result of comments from others..

 

FLASH RUST is a real concern after anything has been derusted.  RUST DISOLVER, and several other similar products, are in fact a water based product.  While I have tried a few creative solutions as have others, the transition from wet metal fresh out of the rust disolver, to DRY rust free metal, is a little challenging.  The problem is, as you know, combine water, iron and oxygen and you create RUST.  A few, myself included, have tried wiping items down with lacquer thinners, thinking the fast evaporation of the thinners would solve the problem.  No such luck.  While this does remove traces of chemical contaminations, making the items clean for painting, it have minimal impact on flash rusting.
 Perhaps because the thinner doesn’t mix with the water base is the reason.  In which case, perhaps some isopropyl alcohol, which does mix, and evaporates clean would solve the problem.  I haven’t tried this yet, but have some hopes.  What I HAVE found is that using a metal wash, preferably designed to inhibit flash rusting gives you a shot at beating the flash rust.  In my case, as most of my items are dipped completely into solutions, I have submerged things for several minutes, then towel dried the items immediately on removal.  Interestingly, I found that a quick slosh in metal wash wasn’t enough.  I had to let it soak for a bit.  Perhaps a little scrubbing with a brush would improve the results.  Despite all this, I found that when I left a couple of towel dried metal pieces overlapped, which slowed the air drying between the pieces, they still showed minor signs of flash rust.  A quick brushing or scuffing with a scotch brite pad cleaned it up..  Perhaps a more complete drying by using a blow gun, or even a heat gun, would finalize the transition.

 

BRUSH ON coatings of Rust Disolver on the surface of items, even covered with plastic to impede drying, will NOT likely produce the desired results, and may in fact worsen the situation.  The product has been tried simply brushed on to the surface of an engine block, and onto a floor pan.  While it does start to disolve the rust, because it is only a coating, rather than submerged, it quickly enters the Air / Moisture / Iron ratio where it starts creating rust.
Again, RUST DISOLVER is a water based product.  The GEL version MAY solve this problem, although we have not tried it, nor heard from anyone who has.

 

Northern Tools markets a product called Evapo-Rust in 5 gallon pails for under $80.  While I have not tried this product, it appears to be essentially the same thing for a lower price.  If you try it, let us know how it works.
NOTE:  I have no affiliation with Eastwood or Northern Tools, and have not been compensated for this ‘review’
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27 Comments

  1. Tom Pfauth says:

    Seems like this might be useful when flushing a cooling system, in getting the rust out of the block. Probably flush the coolant out with water before adding a solution of water + RD, then let the engine run for a time. Drain, flush with water, then immediately put in the coolant. Any thoughts? Anyone tried it?

    • TMR says:

      Hi Tom..
      Interesting idea.
      We’ve all had those engines with a build up, but, usually deal with them doing a soda tank cleaning while rebuilding.
      Might be effective as a maintenance.
      But, could be a little pricey. That said, I’ve been having TONS of success using Phosphoric Acid, which is readily available in the concrete industry and is used to etch and clean concrete. I get great results using a pistol grip sprayer and just spraying onto what ever it is I want to remove rust from, such as surface rust in a wheel well, on suspension components, or even from a painted finish. It does leave a zinc phosphate coating as a result, which resists rust, and provides a tooth for a paint to attach to.

  2. glen mendyka says:

    After whatever rust remover you use, If metal is all clean of rust ( like new ) soak the parts in baking soda and water, a box of baking soda to a few gallons of hot or warm water is best , leave for ten minuts or so and remove and dry , the parts stay rust free for a long time

  3. bill says:

    I just began to work whit the xrust romover on the top of a 1966 nova very rusty
    I put a coat of remover and put a plastic on to cover all the aera to protect it, the plastic keep the liquid wet for 48 hours and the romover work like a part in a big tank

    it work fine

    bill

    excuse my english I am a french man from quebec canada

    Bye all

  4. Jeramy Dadamo says:

    Thanks very much for the info, nice post.

  5. Terry Cafferty says:

    Hey! Thanks ever so much All! It is these kinds of contributions that make everything so much better and better!

    OK, regarding resultant Flash Rust. For smaller parts wrap in group[s] with heavy paper like butchers wrap and place in one of those “Space Bags” the Mrs. has hidden from you [the paper wrapping should protect sharp edges for poking thru?] ; vac out air [after finding vacuum hiding spot since you last used it to “paint” those valve covers] and then you get to “hide” all until needed again or, ready to finish surfaces. Or, you get caught early on? At that time remember, silence is Golden!

    Did this for a motorcycle fuel tank and so far, so good!

    Good Luck!

    PS: fer as the Mrs. etal, yur own there bud, have enuff problems of my own in those areas !

  6. Chris says:

    tom thanks very much for taking the time to give me some advice. i sure need all i can get since this is my first restoration. i’ll try your system and get some feedback to you. i’ll be looking forward to your article. thanks again. chris falls church va.

  7. chris says:

    well, after reading all the comments, my head is spinning. i recently bought an old ford which has quite a bit of rust on the frame. what’s the best wasy to tackle this rust without doing a complete frame off restoration? any advice would be welcome.

    • admin says:

      Hi Chris.. I hear you. It’s all very confusing, and there are personal preferences, and variations for each situation.
      On the plus side, I have been playing around with Phosphoric Acid, which Eastwood sells under the name ‘Fast Etch’. I only mention Eastwood so often as it seems to be a common denominator that everyone is familiar with and can access. I’ve had trouble locating suppliers locally, despite the product being available at other locations.. I’ll consider it a work in progress..
      That said, I have been trying different ways of using the product. I have tried spraying it on using a spray bottle, I’ve tried using a scotch brite pad to scuff an area moistened with it, and using a power abrasive brush along with it. I do plan on doing a complete article on this product with photos, including various sources under different names. But, in short, this might be the solution for you. The main thing is to get it on. It disolves the rust, and leaves a zinc phosphate coating, which can be painted over. The thicker the rust, the more you will have to keep it moist to allow the product to act and disolve the rust, and/or, more abrasive action. I had some rust on the edge of a wheel well. Applied with a garden variety spray bottle, returning every so often to ensure I kept it wet. Then I used a little elbow grease and a scotch pad to speed it up. Didn’t take too long and I had grey metal staring back at me. I also tried spraying it onto the frame, wheels, axles, springs and rusty bumper of the travel trailer. That’s all I did with the exception of the bumper, which I sprayed 3 or 4 times over a few days.. What started out simply looking completely rusty brown, now essentially looks black in the case of the under carriage stuff, and more or less white in the case of the bumper.. In short, for awkward items, where trying to avoid a tear down, this seems a pretty darn good solution. Of course, following up with a good coating of chassis paint of similar is a must, or all you will have done is delay the rust a bit..
      A foot note on this is that I thought perhaps for large and awkward or hard to reach areas, a small pump up garden sprayer might provide a good application solution.

      If you are applying paint to the area afterwords, you can follow your normal paint prep proceedures to clean the surface.

      Remember, it takes 3 ingredients to have rust. Iron, Oxygen and moisture. Remove any one of these and rust stops until all three exist again. Don’t take that too literally as there is moisture in the air, and oxygen in water.. So, you have to get it sealed up..
      I think giving the phosphoric acid (or fast etch) a try, and sealing up is a great start.. Judge as you go, how much additional solution, or abrasive is required.. all dependant on the severity of the rust..

      A final comment on this is that I have picked up a borescope and plan to spray onto some structural locations such as rocker panels, and photograph both before and after. That my friend will be a part of the article when I get to it.. And, it’s dependant on how I make out in a battle with an insurance company on a convertable car that got a little wet. When I removed the carpeting, I found small specks of rust after a couple days. I sprayed the floor pan, and within 15 minutes, ALL signs of rust were gone, and after over a month, there is no sign of return. The nice thing is it’s consistancy is thin and water like, allowing it to soak in and penetrate seams etc.. Should be perfect for hiden areas like wheel wells and inside doors and other structural areas..

      If you give it a go, let us know how it works for you..
      All feed back is good..

  8. davenycity says:

    great blog thank you

  9. Steve says:

    Hey guys!

    I’ve found that muriatic acid will actually cause rust and if your not careful even dissolve your parts…dohhhh. I suspect suluric acid isn’t any tamer on metals or people.

    It sounds like Fast Etch is phosporic acid. I’ve used POR-15’s Metal Ready which is phosphoric acid but it’s quite diluted with water and doesn’t offer much longevity if any at all when used in tanks or tubs when submerging rusted parts.

    All your parts should be stripped of paint, loose and flaking rust free and then degreased BEFORE the acid dunk or acid spray or acid wipe operation.

    Here’s the secret to flash rust control. PHOSPHORIC ACID for derusting (rust converting) immediately followed by a hot water rinse then shake off the water and then towel (or paper towel paper) dry. That’s it, nothing more. Hot water because it warms the part and the water evaporates faster also meaning that the part can’t accumulate condensation as long as it’s warmer then the ambient air temperature. Don’t worry you don’t have to keep the parts warm for days on end till you treat them or paint them. The phosphoric acid leaves the parts etched and temporarily protected from rust. I forgot the name of the by-product left from the chemical reaction to the metal and the rust but it acts like zink does though not at all as effective as zink plating.

    You’ll know you soaked the parts long enough if after that hot water rinse and towel dry the metal will be tarnished dark gray, feel a bit rough to the touch and there will not be a hint of flash rust. If there’s any flash rust it’ll wind up occurring on area’s that have a bit of shine left…just give the parts another go around with the phosphoric acid and hot rinse and towel.

    From this point on you can start on your choosen end product finish. PAINTING NOTE: Don’t sand this treated surface before painting or even before applying body filler…all that elbow grease work should’ve already been done before the phosphoric acid step.

    Flash rust even in high humidity doesn’t show up in a split second so as a rule I pre warm parts and panels before painting even if I’ve primed them already. At the right angle you can see the slightest condensation evaporate right off the surfaces.

    Oh…I use PHOSPHORIC PREP AND ETCH by Kleen Strip. About 17 bucks a gallon at Home Depot (or maybe it was Lowe’s) and I’m guessing it’s 100% concentration or so it seems it is compared to METAL READY.

    I hope this all made sense.

  10. admin says:

    John.. I was reviewing a few things and noticed that Eastwoods “Fast Etch” solution (acid based), which leaves a zinc phosphate coating during the process, actually has directions which are the same as the process we discusssed and you tried. A rag, moistened with fast etch, and covered with plastic. Biggest difference is the time frame, which is suggested as 30 mintes, and an additional 30 minutes if rust remains.. Additional item of note is that they recommend using acetone to remove residue. So, now wondering if acetone might solve the flash rusting problem. Mind you, the zinc phospate coating should resolve that anyway.. Might have to do a little testing with fast etch and report back..

  11. Kevin says:

    I would be really interested to hear if the isopropyl alcohol would work or not. I’m not sure if the alcohol would displace the water enough to make a difference. My bets are that the alcohol will roll over the top of the water. I do like the heat gun idea, that would make quick work of getting rid of the water.

    I’ve also noticed that if you’re trying to use a brake cleaner type product in a humid enviroment, the part that you’re trying to clean will actually have water beads form on the product. That’s because the brake cleaner wlll lower the temperature of the product enough that’ll you’ll soon discover what the words “dew point” mean. Just a thought anyway.

  12. John says:

    Thanks Tom. Despite my depressing results, I do believe that
    1) it’s a learning experience and
    2) it’s fixable.

    I really wanted to tell EW about it, but I’m a loyal customer for 20+ years and I don’t want to just complain. At this point, the machine shop owner is intent on wire bushing off as much as we can, then painting it. BTW, I figured out that phosporic acid is one of the components of EW’s RD. My hands are pretty tough when it comes to “industrial fluids”: gasoline, kerosene, oil, paint, lacquer thinner, and just about everything short of battery acid (sulfuric acid) doesn’t bother my skin much – except the drying effect. When I worked EW’s RD with the towel, I did it bare handed. No issues there, but I dropped some on my leg (was wearing shorts) on the way out, that I just wiped off (didn’t rinse). By the time I got a quarter mile out of the machine shop, I had to stop at a McDonald’s to use the bathroom and wash it off. It hurt like hell and left a small burn

    Thanks for your help, your ear, and any suggestions on how to fix what I’ve done or do better next time.

    Best Regards,

  13. admin says:

    Aw Crap.. This sucks big time..
    There’s the down side to going off the beaten path.. Things don’t always work out despite what appears to be a great idea..

    OK.. Here’s what I have done.. I have a couple connections with Eastwood management, so I’ve sent off an email to get the tech guys involved.. I’ll let you know what I hear, or, they may contact you directly..

    I too discovered the flash rusting to be an issue in a major way.
    I tried thinners as well, with the same results. I, like you, thought the fast evap of the thinners would solve the problem of the drying.. In retrospect, I think because the thinners don’t mix with water, there is water remaining, and nothing to protect the surface.. Lately I’ve been wondering if isopropyl alcohol would take care of the problem being that it mixes. Haven’t tried it yet.. I have had success with the flash rusting using a metal wash. I have the Eastwood metal wash. Nothing fantastic, but, it’s not too bad and it’s a powder that you mix up with water as required, so it’s fairly economical… In my case I was able to just roughly dry using a rag and it pretty much solved the problem. Where I had a couple pieces of metal overlapping, resulting in delayed drying, sure as guns, flash rust again.. Speeding the dry time with a blow gun, or heat gun might help too..
    As most of the things I’ve been doing are dipped right into the solution, I end up with a whole different result than what you’ve ended up with.. I found that leaving parts submerged in metal wash for 5 mintes, pretty much eliminated the flash rusting..

    One of the guys that dropped a note in the zinc platting said..
    “Thoroughly degreased (water soluble degreaser) and derusted (Evapo Rust at Harbor Freight 1gal for $20).”

    As the rust dissolver is water soluble and presumably water based, there’s little question it’s providing one of the requirements for creating rust, ie. H2O.. Add oxygen and Iron and presto ‘rust’ No great surprise right..

    As a result of your less than stellar results, I’m thinking that the active ingredients in rust dissolver evaporate faster that the water base, which would leave mainly water, or, the active ingredient gradually neutralizes as it’s in contact with rust, again resulting in basic water in contact.. bad news right. I think the fact that you were able to use more solution to get rid of the new rust, sort of supports the theory.. Then it became a problem of the flash rust again. I guess our idea of coating on and wraping in plastic didn’t pan out so good (sorry about the pun) I still wonder what would happen if the time frame was shorter.. Is there anything on the gel version instructions regarding time frames etc?? How long does it remain ‘jelly’ if you just brush it on? Is there anything about recoating etc?

    Tom

  14. John says:

    Tom,

    OMG, what a disaster! Maybe you could tell me where I went wrong or more importantly what to do now.

    I bought a quart of the EW Rust Dissolver Gel, and a gallon of the RD liquid, went to the machine shop, and proceeded to coat the oil pan with RD Gel, using an old cheap paint brush. You may remember that the short block of my Boss302 is complete on an engine stand, but the pan and block had rust – which I was afraid was not a good surface to paint on top of. The pan was mostly clean metal with about 30% of the surface showing rust that was below the old paint. Because the pan has baffles, it could not be sandblasted. The hottank took off the paint, but not the rust.

    I was leaving for July 4th weekend on Friday, so I covered it up with a plastic garbage bag, after applying RD just laying the folded bag on top. Monday, I got back to look at it: the whole pan was covered with rust! A small amount dripped onto the block; it was orange with rust.

    I tool a small stiff plastic brush, got the RD liquid and worked the liquid onto the pan for an hour, keeping the whole pan wet. It looked like the rust was coming off and the clean metal was shining through. I wiped it down with some water on a rag, then lacquer thinner on paper towels, figuring I’d stop the remover action. I couldn’t get the rust off the block. Now I wished I had done this all before putting the oil pan on.

    Returning to the machine shop on Wed, I had turned my engine into a rusted block of iron. Some of the remover dripped on the machined head surface, leaving a stain across the edge. There was rust everywhere; all of the previously clean metal had flash rust on it.

    The machine shop owner said he never saw anything like it; I wished I had taken the old fashion route and just scotch brite-ed or wire brushed everything. He told me not to worry that we’d just scuff it up with scotch brite discs or wire wheel on a drill when the heads are complete, then we’ll paint it right away. But this is not the way I want to top off several thousand dollars of engine build!

    Any thoughts appreciated.
    John
    PS – send an email, I’ll show you the Boss
    I’m am Mustang guy:
    I also have a 67 GT conv, 86 SVO, 01 Cobra, and
    just lost a 67 Shelby GT350

  15. Thomas Brock says:

    Can this product be safely used on the inside of a gas tank and what would be the process before reinstall? Thanks

    • admin says:

      Hi Thomas..
      Well, I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t use it on a fuel tank.
      While I haven’t done this, my best recommendation would obviously be, remove the tank, flush thoroughly, pour dissolver in, and probably best to cap the tank off reasonably to keep air out. Your biggest challenge will be to get all or the interior wet and remaining wet for long enough to dissolve the rust. You might have to try setting the tank one way, until the job is done, then rotate it to submerge a different area of the tank and continue the process until all areas of the tank are cleaned. Drain the dissolver out, and use a metal wash, likely a couple times, sloshing about thoroughly. Drain this out, and allow to dry. I know there are some epoxy solutions out there specifically for coating the interior of fuel tanks. Here’s one that I’m aware of and have heard very good things about.
      http://www.canada-por15.com/
      I’d suggest contacting them for advice before proceeding. They may have some solutions specific to this application.

      What are you working on?
      Let us know what you end up doing and how it works for you.
      Cheers,

    • admin says:

      Hi Mark..
      Thanks for dropping us your feedback on it..
      Ya.. It’s pretty hard to knock the stuff isn’t it. Think I might have to snag a gallon of the new gel version to see how it works..

  16. Bruce says:

    HI, was wondering about QUOTE> “quick rinse in water, then a bath in metal wash to clean off chemical contaminents,>”
    Is the water Distilled??
    metal wash is? like acetone, or a final paint wash product? or wax and grease remover? Thanks !! great site!

    • admin says:

      Hi Bruce.. Great to hear from you..
      The water I’m using is just tap water as in this case, its just to remove the bulk of the rust disolver so as to not contaminate the metal wash that I keep in another of those plastic tubs. Unless you have really rough tap water where you are, I wouldn’t worry about the distilled for this purpose.

      I’ve been using a powdered metal wash concentrate from Eastwood. It’s dirt cheap, and comes in a really small container that you can just mix up as you require it.. It’s a degrease/wax remover type product. But, you’re going to be ok with most of the other things you’ve mentioned as well if you have them on hand.

      Keep us posted how you make out buddy..
      Cheers Tom

  17. admin says:

    No worries Alex.. Hope I helped a bit

    That’s the kicker with the convertors. While they do successfully stop the rust that they can make contact with, they convert it to a very hard coating, not dissimilar to a painted type surface. It can be sanded and painted, but, it is a coating none the less, thus the welding problem.

    Tom

  18. Alex says:

    Thanks Tom!

    I will use this new gel and also the rust converter in other parts but they told me that you can’t weld after you use the rust converter.

    Thanks again!!

    Alex

  19. admin says:

    Thanks for the comment Zane. Real glad to hear from you.
    Please drop back after you try it to let us know how it worked for you. I must admit, that to speed the process on HEAVILY rusted items, I’ll still knock the lumps off after the parts have soaked for a bit.. But, as long as you leave them in there long enough, it should do the job.

    I couldn’t agree more with you regarding the ‘Marketing’ which is what prompted me to start this area.. Don’t have enough money that I can afford to waste it on things that don’t measure up..

    GOOD LUCK BUDDY!

  20. Zane Owen says:

    Thanks for the info on the rust dissolver. I been wire brushing parts forever as you have. Wish I could dip my car in the stuff. Will be buying a gallon and giving it a workout. I, like you, am always wondering if the stuff advertised is going to work. A lot of it is puffed up beyond belief. Hope the Eastwood stuff is as good as you say.
    Zane Owen in Montana

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