This is the second article about removing rust from garden tools. As you can see be the photo below, I have placed a little shovel (garage sale) and 5 shears (close gardening friend) in a bucket. All of these tools were severely rusted. The liquid is a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water. When I removed the tools after a couple of days, they were covered by a thin black coat of another form of iron oxide. My power washer easily removed that coat, but you may wish to leave it be. You can get an idea of the severity of the rust problem in the second photo where the acid did not cover the entire shovel blade. I am currently soaking that shovel in a plastic tub to get rid of the rest of the rust. The 5 shears came out great and I coated them with WD-40 and let them dry so oxygen couldn’t get to the expose iron. The shovel will get a spray paint application.
Now, I have sharpened hundreds of tools, and most of them have some degree of rust on them. For the most part a little rust doesn’t affect the function of a tool. What is more detrimental is the accumulation of dried plant juices and an application of oven cleaner and a brush makes quick work of that. So, you may not give a hoot about rust on your tools. But if you happen to leave a tool outside for while where moisture can get to it, why not turn it into a fun chemistry experiment. For 3 dollars you can buy a gallon of vinegar at Target, and you are ready to go. If you want to try other experiments, google “removing rust from tools” and you will find various other techniques.
Stan, The Experimenting Man