Miracle Worker

You must have noticed that the cooler weather and recent rain has really slowed down gardening chores—that is other than trying to keep up with the constant deluge of fallen leaves. With extra time available, LaVille and I have resumed going to estate sales. Last Friday we went to a sale where I was able to purchase 5 pruners and 2 cans of spray paint for $2. One of the pruners was really encrusted with rust as you can see below. I couldn’t wait to work the magic of a vinegar bath. I know this is old news for those of you who read the “Fun For 3 Dollars” blog from earlier this year, but I just couldn’t resist a repeat performance. I used the old vinegar that is now stained a dark reddish brown and submerged the pruner for a day. You can see how the rust is now gone and has been replaced by a thin black coating. This is some kind of oxide that I have not been able to identify, but it serves as a barrier against future rust formation. Even if this layer is easy to remove with fine steel wool, it is best to leave it alone.  

So even though you are not willing to get out of bed on the weekend and venture out in search of estate and garage sales, why not check over your stash of garden tools, make that $3 investment in a gallon of vinegar and become a miracle worker? I’m sure your family and friends will be impressed!

Stan, The Miracle Man

Before rust removing vinegar soak         


After vinegar soak

Fun For 3 Dollars

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

Rusty garden tools soaking in 50-50 vinegar-water solution
Rusty garden tools soaking in 50-50 vinegar-water solution

Rust removed from shovel except where not immersed in vinegar solution.
Rust removed from shovel except where not immersed in vinegar solution.