Three common myths and misconceptions abound when it comes to rust remover products, such as:
1. All rust removers are the same.
2. All rust removers can be safely used for indoor as well as outdoor use.
3. There's no need to protect the unaffected areas since rust removers won't harm or damage them.
First of all, not all removal products are the same.
Each rust treatment works differently from the other products. It all boils down to the active ingredient used to remove rust from metal. Of course, the most common is oxalic acid.
Unfortunately, oxalic acid is a toxic chemical and should be handled with extreme caution. You should follow the manufacturer's instructions on the product label at all times. Always remember to use rubber gloves, goggles, and a face mask when using this removal product. When working indoors, you should make sure that you're in a well ventilated room to avoid accidentally inhaling the toxic fumes released during the rust treatment.
Don't be surprised if there's confusion among rust treatment products. For instance, phosphoric acid is often erroneously labeled as a rust removal product. In reality, phosphoric acid is a rust converter. It works by converting or transforming iron oxide - the chemical name for rust - into an inert and harmless phosphate compound. Rust converters are an entirely different class of rust treatment products.
Second, not all rust removal products can be used safely both indoors and outdoors. As mentioned earlier, most rust removal products are acid-based. And products containing oxalic acid shouldn't be used outdoors. Even in its diluted form, oxalic acid can pose a threat to your garden plants, pets, and children. So limit its use indoors where it can't harm anyone else as long as you take precautionary measures.
Third, rust removal products can damage the unaffected portions of the surface you're treating. Take the same precautions you often see when repainting a car. Cover the unaffected parts with masking tape to prevent the rust removal product from reacting to it. Your goal is to remove the rust and not damage or harm the unaffected parts.
The most advisable course of action to remove rust from metal is to use homemade ingredients first. These are ingredients that you'll commonly find on kitchen shelves such as white vinegar and lemon juice. Here's how to do it:
If the rusted item is small, you can soak it in undiluted white vinegar overnight. Then wash the treated item in warm water and dry completely.
Another method is to mix lemon or lime juice with salt to make a paste. Apply this homemade paste into the rusted area and then it set for a couple of hours. Then sand or scrub off with an abrasive cloth.
If these two methods aren't effective in removing rust from metal surface, only then you should resort to using commercial rust removal products.