How to make steel rust

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rusty table
Rust turns ordinary objects into one-of-a-kind pieces
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Learning how to make steel rust lets you add character to your metal furniture

Believe it or not, rust can be a beautiful thing. You likely probably arenít thinking this when you see the reddish-brown stuff growing on your car, boat or bike.

However, when it comes to art, rust is actually quite pretty. If you have an antique piece of steel, or even a newer item that is made of the metal, you might be surprised at how rust can give the piece character and totally unique look. Rusted pieces look gorgeous as garden statues or even placed inside your home.

If youíre wondering how to make steel rust, you can do so with help from a few corrosive items.

Before you find out how to make steel rust, itís helpful to know about the rusting process. The scientific term for rust is iron oxide. Rusting is actually a fairly complicated process and is a form of corrosion. What you need to create rust is a piece of metal that gives up electrons, such as steel, a liquid that helps electrons move and a piece of metal that accepts electrons. When all three components meet, youíll get rust.

When water hits steel, it reacts to the carbon dioxide in the air. What you are left with is carbonic acid. This acid starts to dissolve and water begins to break down into hydrogen and oxygen. The water frees electrons from the metal and begins to cause rust on the steel. Although this is pretty complex stuff, the art of how to make steel rust isnít all that complicated. However, it is potentially dangerous, so use caution when creating the rust.

Start by dissolving copper into miruatic acid. The copper helps the steel rust beautifully. So place about two feet of copper wire into 2 ounces of miruatic acid and let it sit for about a week.

Remember, acid is extremely dangerous, so use gloves when working with the product and keep it away from children and pets. Diluting the solution helps it work better and makes it less dangerous, so try using 20 parts water to 1 part of the solution. Then pour it into a spray bottle that is free of any metal parts.

Spritz the solution on the object you would like to make rusty. Try to apply an even layer for more consistent results, or get a more natural, weathered look by spraying more in some areas and less in others. Once you are finished, allow the acid solution to work its magic on your piece of steel. After about an hour, the steel should look completely rusted and gorgeous as a result.

Just about anything, from flower vases to patio furniture, look vintage and beautiful when rusted. And now that you know how to make steel rust, you can create these stunning, one-of-a-kind pieces.


How Stuff Works: How Does Rust Work?

Metal Geek: How to Make Steel Rust Quickly

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