How do I easily remove surface rust from steel bars?


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Old 02-22-23, 09:58 AM
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How do I easily remove surface rust from steel bars?

Bought a stack of steel bars for a project.
Things got busy and they've been sitting.
Saw them the other day and noticed they developed a lot of surface rust, particularly at the edges where they were cut.
Soak them in a tub of vinegar?
 
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Old 02-22-23, 10:16 AM
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Mechanically removal is the fastest; sanding, wire brushing or sand blasting. You can use acids or an electrolysis treatment but with raw material it's almost always mechanically removed.

I know it bites but you've learned a lesson. Storage of raw steel is very important. Rust is expensive to remove and can quickly damage or destroy good material. If storing it in an uncontrolled space almost requires some kind of treatment if you don't use it quickly. If purchasing steel you can get the pickled and oiled version which comes with some corrosion protection baked in, but it's slightly more expensive than plain hot rolled steel.

It's hindsight but treating the steel before storage can be very important. WD-40, as much as some people rag on it, really works. It's used in my factory to coat raw steel. We usually soak a rag in it and wipe the steel. Over a day or two the lighter components evaporate away leaving a thin film that protects the metal quite well. If storing the steel outside or for long periods there are better treatments like Boeshield T-9 but it's expensive. It also leaves a waxy residue behind which will eventually need to be removed.
 
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Old 02-22-23, 10:26 AM
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it's a lot of bars so I'd prefer not having to manually remove the rust w steel wool (or polish)
I should be able to stick them all together in a small tub submerged in cleaning vinegar for a day or two, right?
 
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Old 02-22-23, 10:30 AM
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You can wipe them down with rust converter, that will protect them and it's easily painted over!
 
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Old 02-22-23, 10:40 AM
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a) any recommendations on a type of rust converter (I've only used the Rustoleum black spray underneath the car) that's a liquid?
b) eventually they'd be powder-coated (as opposed to painted) I assume the rust converter wouldn't prevent powder-coating?
 
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Old 02-22-23, 11:28 AM
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Do the work and properly remove the rust. Do not powder coat over converted rust.

If you don't want to do the work yourself look for steel prep/paint removal companies in your area. I use Carolina Chem-Strip in Burlington, NC but there should be someone similar in your area.
 
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Old 02-22-23, 01:09 PM
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if cleaning vinegar removes the rust, could I powder coat over that?
 
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Old 02-22-23, 02:17 PM
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Powder coating requires a clean surface, the metal will need to be blasted to bare metal. If your going to powder coat/blast then actually you don't need to do anything now.
 
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Old 02-24-23, 12:38 PM
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I'm going to soak the bars in cleaning vinegar and wipe them down with steel wool to get the rust off,
the tub I plan to use is a perfect size but I've already have acetone in there from a different project
I'm assuming washing out the acetone even though remnants will be left would not conflict with the cleaning vinegar?
 
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Old 02-25-23, 06:41 AM
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Another alternative is an electric angle grinder with a wire wheel or wire cup brush. It would be quick work since it's surface rust. (Eye and ear protection definitely recommended.) I've never been fond of chemicals because of the mess and disposal. Good luck with it!
 
 

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