Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to Remove Rust from Metal

As mentioned last week, we're excited to try out our new-to-us vintage hand-crank ice cream maker, but wanted to make sure it was completely rust free and clean before using for obvious safety reasons - even though we've both had our Tetanus shots, we'd rather not take that risk...

So we set out to remove the rust on all fittings inside the main metal canister barrel that will house ingredients for churning the ice cream. The churning component or "dasher" came clean with a simple soak, scrub, and rinse with warm soapy water - no problems there:

The inner barrel posed a little more effort. We decided to go ahead use chemical CLR solution to ensure removal of all rust. I've read several tips for using lemon juice and/or baking soda solutions as eco-friendly alternatives but this is just one of those cases where I went with a more chemical based wash. Here's how it went down:
  • I washed the barrel in a warm soapy water, rinsed and dried.
  • I poured a 50/50 CLR solution in the bottom of the barrel, covering all rusted areas, then "swirled" it around according to bottle's directions and rinsed out thoroughly.
  • While there were some improvements, I wasn't completely satisfied so I poured a more concentrated amount of solution back in the barrel, let it sit for 30 seconds, swirled again and rinsed. Tip: use protective gloves when using CLR - it's some pretty tough stuff.
  • With a paper towel and a little elbow grease, I was able to literally wipe up all surface rust right out of the bottom of the barrel.
    After wiping the rust out of the barrel, I took to using a fine metal brush and steel wool to finish the job. Again, I've read over and over NOT to use these types of tools as they might damage the metal, but that's just how I roll. The brush lifted all remaining surface tarnish and the steel wool provided a clean and polished sheen inside the barrel with no scratches, fancy that. The steel wool also helped clear away any remaining chemical residue the CLR solution may have left behind.

    While there is some residual staining in the creases of the metal canister, the rust was completely removed and we're now ready to get down to business! Thanks to all who left us advice for crowd sourcing during the crank-process of using the freezer and for the ice cream recipes we're looking forward to trying.


    1. Our hand-crank ice cream freezer has some rust spots, but I'm less worried about them than I would be about rust-removal chemicals in my dessert. Be sure to wash it out well.

    2. Camille,

      You make a great point - the good news is we haven't had the chance to use it yet so we'll still have time for another cleaning to make sure all chemical residue is gone. Thanks!

    3. Tetanus is not caused by rust.

    4. How do you fix an ice cream canister that has some spots that are rusted through? There are about 3 or 4 spots on the bottom that are about 1/2" holes.

    5. You'd probably have to cut them out and weld on metal strips to patch the holes.

    6. I get a black residue in my ice cream, can I fix?