This Common Cooking Ingredient May Be The Key To Removing Stubborn Rust

If you're dealing with rusty items around the home, dig into the back of your spice cabinet to reach for that jar of molasses you've kept stored away for gingerbread cookies or your famous barbeque sauce. Turns out you can use molasses in a recipe that will actually help to remove stubborn rust from some metal surfaces — i.e., those containing iron. Keep in mind that the chemical reaction that takes place to remove the rust will take some time and require soaking. For something large, then, you'll need a large enough tub to handle that process. Removing rust from gardening tools, on the other hand, is a bit easier.

Whether you have some tools that need rust removed from them or the surface of a favorite metal tray is discolored, this DIY molasses method could offer some significant improvement without the use of toxic chemicals. Rust can develop on any ferrous metal; that is, any metal that contains iron, which includes steel, cast iron, and, of course, iron. For example, that favorite pair of carbon steel shears in the shed? If it has rust, you can try removing it with molasses.

Why the sticky sweetness of molasses cleans away rust

Rust, or iron oxide (Fe2O3), is an indication of corrosion of a metal. It happens when an iron-containing metal interacts with water and oxygen. This leads to the onset of oxidation, which is a type of chemical reaction that's slow-moving, breaking down the surface of the metal over time. You'll notice discoloration forming first, often a browning of the surface, and, eventually, holes can form within the metal.

Molasses can stop that oxidation. The viscous substance is surprisingly capable of not only stopping the spread of rust — through a chemical process called chelation — but also removing signs of rust from the surface. What happens is the oxygen in the iron oxide latches onto the molasses. When placed and left for a period of time, this allows for the rust to actually loosen from the surface of the metal, making it easier to wipe away with the molasses.

How to use molasses to remove rust

To make this rust removal process work, you'll need to be able to submerge the rust-covered item in molasses. For this reason, this method works particularly well for metal tools, garden items, and cookware. You can also use any type of molasses for the job. Since you'll be keeping the item soaking for some time, use a bin or large enough container you can cover with a lid.

To get rid of surface rust, you may not need as strong of a mixture as you may for rust that's been there longer. Start with a ratio of 5 parts of water to 1 part of molasses. Again, you'll need enough of the mixture to cover the object fully, and that's likely to change based on what you're removing rust from. Place the item into the mixture and then cover and set aside. It can take a week to two weeks for the process to work (no one said this was quick!). Don't be alarmed if foam begins to leak out of the container from the top. That means the fermentation process that's occurring is working.

Using gloves, remove the item from the container and rinse off well. You can repeat this process with a higher concentration if you find that there's still some rust on the surface. This molasses method helps you avoid having to paint over rust or toss out your tools.