Best Rust Converters and Removers: Rid the Iron Oxide
Top 8 Best Rust Converters and Removers
Before you get bent out of shape, know that this post isn’t about those infernal gadgets that late-night television tries to sell us. You know the ones – they promise to send an electric charge through the body of a vehicle to allegedly neutralize conditions in which rust normally forms. The less said about those, the better.
No, this post is about product for the person who’s tackling body repair on their vehicle. Knowing the average TTAC reader (and writer), it’s likely a vehicle with copious amounts of rust, not to mention several hundred yards of increasingly sketchy wiring repairs. These products are intended to remove surface rust without excessive scrubbing or sanding, thereby making it fit for paint prep.
And, before you go out and thrown down money on items like these, use patience and common sense with this stuff. Read all the warning labels and use gloves if recommended.
Table of Contents
Editor's Choice: Evapo-Rust Original: Shop Now
Rust-Oleum Automotive Rust Reformer: Shop Now
JENOLITE Rust Converter: Shop Now
Loctite Extend Rust Neutralizer: Shop Now
Rust Converter ULTRA - Pro Grade Rust Repair: Shop Now
Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter: Shop Now
VHT Rust Convertor Can: Shop Now
Rust Kutter- Rust Converter: Shop Now
1. Editor's Choice: Evapo-Rust Original
Despite its dollar store-style brand name and anonymous packaging, Evapo-Rust seems to be one of the most popular options on Amazon. It is an environmentally-safe water-based product that removes rust in minutes, without scrubbing or sanding.
Critically, it is non-toxic, said to emit no odors, and is safe on skin and eyes. Best of all, the seller claims it requires no special equipment (gloves, protective eyewear, masks) and will not harm unrusted steel or affect plastic, PVC, and most paints. It's even claimed to be reusable, with one gallon de-rusting up to 300 pounds of steel. That's about the same amount of steel remaining on Mr. Tonn's personal Mazda MX-5, by the way.
- Checks all the boxes for safe use, toxicity, and reusability
- Requires soaking of the affected metal
- Science is a wonderful thing
2. Rust-Oleum Automotive Rust Reformer
If Mr. Miyagi taught the Karate Kid to 'wax on, wax off', this product teaches us to, well, spray on, at least. Rust-Oleum has been around since approximately five minutes after metal was invented, so there's little doubt they know what they're doing. In the grand scheme of things at Rust-Oleum, this is technically one of their most recent products.
This product instantly bonds with rust and transforms it into a non-rusting, flat-black paintable surface and prevents future rust. It saves the user all that infernal effort of sanding rust down to the bare metal. Use a wire brush to get rid of large rust flakes before applying.
- Well-known, easy to use
- Hope you like black paint
- Quick n' easy
3. JENOLITE Rust Converter
Evoking a sense of British pride while making the jar look like a tub of Marmite? That's a sure-fire ticket to inclusion on this list. Its claim of being a quick and simple one-stop solution for dealing with rust on any iron or steel object doesn't hurt, either.
According to the seller, just one application of Jenolite Rust Reformer converts a rusty surface into a smooth and stable ready-to-paint finish in 3-4 hours. Simply brush onto rusted areas and leave the product to dry. The water-based formula converts rust into a stable hydrophobic complex that seals and transforms the surface into a smooth protective polymer coating.
- Actually attempts to back up its claims with science-y words
- May attempt to make British tea at break time
- Available in 8oz or gallon tubs
4. Loctite Extend Rust Neutralizer
Loctite apparently makes products beyond ones that make engine disassembly impossible for the next mechanic. This rust neutralizer is a solution to mild surface oxidization, chemically converting the rust to a neutral black surface that's ready to paint.
To use, simply apply Henkel Loctite Extend Rust Neutralizer on the rusted surface and follow up with a coat of oil-based or lacquer-based paint to protect the surface from future exposure to moisture. Like Rust-Oleum, Loctite has been around forever which gives some peace of mind when splashing out your hard-earned money.
- Majority of reviews are very positive, great for tackling small jobs
- Tiny bottle, light duty
- Eight ounces of prevention
5. Rust Converter ULTRA - Pro Grade Rust Repair
A gallon of this stuff apparently covers 500 square feet of smooth metal, or roughly the size of one engine cover on a Dodge Challenger. It converts rust to an inert coating that seals out moisture to prevent further corrosion.
Like others, it recommends to Remove large rust and scale particles with a wire brush or sandpaper and then clean the area to remove dust and dirt. One can apply the product with a brush, roller, or pump sprayer. Oddly, it exhorts in ALL CAPS to shake or still this stuff well before using.
- Dries to a finish in 20 minutes
- Costly, surface temp must be +50°F
- This jug should last for ages
6. Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter
Using a brush, roller, or spray, users are directed to apply a thick coat of Corroseal to the offending metal after removing large pieces and flakes of rust. According to the company, the thicker the coat of product, the better. It will be white when first applied, then begin to turn black as it converts rust.
After leaving it to sit for 15 minutes, check for brown or gray spots peeking through. If any are present, apply another thick coat. A second coat is encouraged to get all rust covered with no seepage. While this might sound like a ruse to sell more product, real-world reviews seem to support this application procedure with some users recommending three or more coats depending on the surface.
- Large fan base of satisfied customers
- You'll probably need lots
- Apply profusely for best results
7. VHT Rust Convertor Can
This is a product designed to be sprayed directly on rusted areas to help prevent future rust from forming. It sprays on clear and turns to a black metal protectant coating. The seller states that it can be sanded to a smooth and even finish.
The ad says it is specifically formulated for application over metal, body filler, or fiberglass. While the last two definitely don't form any rust, it's good to know those surfaces can handle a bit of this stuff on overspray. According to reviews, a couple of cans will be enough to coat the underside of a midsize car.
- Convenient can, easy to apply
- More than one can will likely be required for many jobs
- Allow 24hrs dry time before applying a top coat
8. Rust Kutter- Rust Converter
The spellcheck-vexing Rust Kutter is yet another liquid spray that is intended to eliminate rust and prime metal to prevent rust from forming again. Ready to use the minute it shows up on your doorstep in an Amazon box, it comes in a plastic bottle complete with sprayer.
Based on feedback, it would seem this stuff is best used in light-duty applications and not for wholesale car repair. Also be aware that, while it isn't mentioned in the ad, some buyers said using gloves is essential with this stuff; make sure to read the label.
- Easy-peasy spritzing application
- Might be more irritable than similar products
- Good candidate for small jobs
What is the most effective rust converter?
Usually, rust converters comprise two major ingredients, namely organic polymer and tannic acid. When applied to the affected area, the two compounds of these water-based solutions interact with the rust and convert the iron oxide (the chemical term for ‘rust’) into an adherent layer that works as a strong protective shield against moisture, thus preventing the metal from any further corrosions.
When talking about the most effective rust converters, some commercial solutions have additional acids that help expedite the process of conversion. Therefore, while buying one, you may want to check what kind of ingredients does it have, and whether will it be able to speed up the chemical reaction of turning iron oxide into moisture-resistant armor.
Should I use rust remover or converter?
Honestly, it depends on the object you want to treat. According to the basic characteristics of the two, rust removers use concentrated acid to strip iron oxide from the iron, whereas the converters use a chemical process to turn rust into a moisture-resistant protective shield that prevents the metal from future corrosion, and the effect is long-lasting. Considering this, you may want to use:
If you want to restore the metal to its original state, and no repainting or further polishing is required. Some of the good examples could be the interior of a gas tank, screwdrivers, etc.
If the affected area needs to be repainted after the treatment for finishing looks and future protection, and want the iron to stay safe for a longer time. Some examples include the exterior of a gas tank, external body parts of your vehicle, etc.
Furthermore, removing rust with a rust remover is a slow process as it may take a while for the chemical to loosen up iron oxide before it is stripped off from the surface. On the other hand, rust converters can be applied as paint and work comparatively faster, thus saving a decent amount of your time.
What is the best rust removing product?
Because rust removers have concentrated acid formulation that attacks iron oxide deposited over the base material, it is imperative to pick a quality solution from a trusted brand. Some of the top products reviewed by the users include:
Rust 911 Ultra Concentrate ( https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008HS4OZ4/)
Available in a concentrated formula, Rust 911 is mixed with water in the 16:1 ratio (8oz per gallon) while applying to remove rust from the metal. Because the product is a water-based solution, it is pocket-friendly as compared to its competitors.
POR-15 Rust Remover ( https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NRDPRR3)
Although POR-15 contains phosphoric acid along with some other hard chemicals, this reusable and biodegradable solution still doesn’t do any harm to the objects with PVC or Viton as base material, and is safe for the paints as well.
WD-40 Rust Remove Soak ( https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00631GZEU/)
This solution is the cheapest on the list and offers good value for money as it works pretty well on threaded rods and metal sheets. For best results, the only thing that the manufacturer suggests to do before its application is to remove oil and grease from the affected area.
Depending on your usage and budget, you can pick any of the above to restore the iron in your vehicle to its original and pure state.
Do rust converters actually work?
A short and quick answer would be, yes, they do. Because rust converters comprise tannic acid and organic polymer along with some other acids to expedite the process, they convert iron oxide into a strong moisture-resistant black adherent layer that safeguards the metal from further corrosions, thus offering longer life to the body part of your car.
From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.
(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘
90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)
[Main photo credit: Boophucket / Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]
Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.
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