"Solution for rusty tools. Soak overnight in vinegar and salt for good as new!"
I have a problem with moisture in my studio, which means if my tools don't get put away properly, rust happens. I found a cache of bits and burs I had left in a jar tucked away on my bench, and they were a mess of rust. I realized this would give me a great chance of testing out a pin I found awhile back, suggesting that vinegar could easily remove rust.
Having used up all of my white vinegar for egg dying, however (I mean really, what else were we going to do with dozens of eggs after our test of popular hard boiling methods?), I did have some apple cider vinegar on hand, and it has the same acidity level as white vinegar (5%) so I figured I'd go ahead and test this out. I bought a commercial rust remover just in case and decided to test them out side by side to see which comes out the winner. I was honestly a bit nervous about testing this out since these aren't cheap burs, and I know salt water is just about the worst thing you could introduce to your tools.
They both smelled pretty bad honestly and my kids were complaining, so I had to keep them stored overnight in my studio. After 24 hours I checked on the bits to see how they were doing.. The commercial rust remover in the forefront there, was looking pretty murky and dark. The vinegar salt combo in the back, on the other hand, just looked dingy and oddly foamy.
I washed them with a bit of dish soap and then patted dry with a paper towel.
Can you guess which is which?
The burs with rust still on them were the ones who got the vinegar salt bath, the blackened, yet rust free, burs are the ones who got the chemical bath.
Now I've since seen a few youtube videos on this, and it seems that yes, it does work, to a degree at least. You have to admit the bits do look less rusty compared to the before photo, but they aren't rust free. The videos recommend scrubbing the rusted item with a coarse bristle brush. However these bits are tiny. Something like this might be worth a shot on random tools you pick up at a yard sale, but when faced with delicate costly work tools (or burs and bits in this case) I'm going to reach for the chemical bath. Not only that, but scrubbing alone will remove the rust. So the vinegar might loosen the rust, but you still have to scrub - if that's the case, you might as well soak it in anything and go to town with a steel wool pad.
Though really, I'll work better at putting my tools away, so I hopefully won't have to test this out again any time soon.