Globally, rust is a major problem. The United States Navy alone calls it a $6 billion problem. The National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) put the cost at 276 billion dollars annually. It affects governments, businesses, and consumers alike. The best approach is to stop rust before it starts using one or multiple approaches such as rust inhibitors, corrosion inhibitors, VCI papers, VCI bags, VCI films, desiccants, sacrificial coatings, paints …there are literally hundreds of different ways to prevent it. However, what happens if you already have rust and want it gone? There are several approaches to remove rust from steel surfaces.
Generally they come in two forms, chemical and physical rust removers. Physical rust removers like sanding, grinding, sand/grit blasting work fast, but can be hard on the part, leave a messy environment, and can’t get into small crevices and holes in parts. Chemical rust removers have the advantage of working on many different surfaces and types. They can range from harsher, fast-acting to gentle slower working. Generally, chemical rust removers come in three different formulations. Zerust®/Excor® provides chemical rust remover options of all different types.
The tried and true, and oldest method is to use fast-acting acids (AxxaClean™ 3048). These products are highly acidic and work great for quickly removing medium to heavy surface rust, however, they are not safe for all metal types. Once cleaned, the surfaces should be neutralized and rinsed with AxxaVis™ PX-05-AN and coated or packaged with an oil (Axxanol™) or water (Axxatec™) based rust preventative, or placed into VCI packaging.
Another approach is to use mild acid (AxxaClean™ 2048) for rust removal. These are safer to handle and allow for a wider range of metals to be in contact with it (each should be tested in an inconspicuous area first). These are generally slower acting, but are much gentler on the part. Once the surface rust is removed, there is generally no attack on the underlying substrate. These are generally good for light to medium levels of rust. As with the others, once the part is clean and free from rust, it should be neutralized, rinsed with AxxaVis PX-05AN, and protected with a rust preventative or packaged with VCI.
The last approach are neutral rust removers (AxxaClean™ ICT®620-RR). These types of product are for light to medium rust levels. They have a near neutral pH making them much safer to handle, and are much gentler on parts. They do require more time to remove rust than the other, but make up for it with the safety profile. Cleaned parts should always be protected with some form of rust inhibitor.
What is the best rust remover?
There is no right or wrong choice for rust removers. The best choice is a balance of what works for the health and safety of the individuals working with the rust removing chemicals, the speed of removal needed, and the amount of corrosion present. For more information contact Zerust®/Excor® at +1 (763) 404-8701 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.