Produce a Rich Rust Patina on Iron and Steel, Safely and Quickly, Using Common Household Chemicals


Step 5: Rust the Metal

Now for the step you just can't wait to do. This is the exciting part.

Wearing your safety goggles and gloves, mix up a batch of rust accelerator adding ingredients in the order given:

  • 16 oz Hydrogen Peroxide (use a fresh bottle)
  • 2 oz White vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp Salt

You can use any of the pickling vinegar that is left over from the previous step. You can mix this accelerator solution directly in the spray bottle if it has a wide mouth or you can mix it first in the measuring cup, making sure to dissolve the salt, and transfer it into the bottle with a funnel. By the way I did see recommendations of up to 8 oz of vinegar but I tried that and it didn't really work as well as 2 oz. You can experiment with the proportions but this worked well for me. Same with the salt. It won't hurt to add a little more but again, this worked for me. Tighten the spray bottle cap and shake well to dissolve the salt.

I assume you have placed your awaiting object in a safe place away from people, pets, and things you don't want to get rusted and by now you are dying to see some rust. Are you ready? OK. Let's go.

Spray some solution onto your object, soaking it from top to bottom all around. Now sit back and watch the magical transformation. It will start foaming and begin to rust before your eyes. Is that something or what? If it doesn't rust then you didn't degrease it enough or you didn't pickle it enough and will have to repeat one or both of those steps. Another possibility is the temperature is too cold. This works best at elevated temperatures. It is best to let the object sit in direct sunlight and heat up a little. Let it dry and repeat. I only had to let it dry for 5 minutes but YMMV (Your mileage may vary) depending on the ambient temperature. The rust patina should deepen each time you repeat the spraying and drying cycle up to a point beyond which there is no noticeable change. Keep spraying and drying until you are satisfied with the degree of rusting. I repeated the cycle about 6 or 7 times but again, YMMV. The pictures show the progression of the rusting process.

Congratulations! You have greatly accelerated a natural process and now have a piece of metal with an attractive aged-looking patina.

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I am wondering if at stage 5, if you rinse off the rust accelerator at anytime. I cannot get my spray bottle to spray it on, so am applying with a large paint brush. The rusting process is happening, but leaves quite a residue on my work.
My first attempt i washed it off and the rust came off with the water.
Any suggestions?? I wish to rust a steel item quickly, and finish it with a polyurethane spray.
Laral (author)  wroughtirondesigns1 year ago
You should not rinse it. Let it dry. Don't touch it. It is very delicate at this stage. Once dry, you can spray it with poly. Work on getting your spray bottle to work. It gives much more even and controllable results.
Did you strip the paint off of the bell or did you apply the solution right to the painted steel?
Laral (author)  Zeppelinfreak3 years ago
See Step 3 - Degrease the Metal.

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