How to Rust Shiny Metal in Minutes!

by @JagCagDesign
4 Materials
1 Day

Hi friends! Thank you for tuning in for another project post! This time, I am showing you how to easily rust shiny metal hardware and give it a timeworn patina! I start with pieces from the hardware store that look like this:

I have used this technique on screws, nuts, bolts, and L brackets. I think you can rust just about anything as long as it isn't aluminum. All you have to do is place your items in a container (I always use glass for easier clean up) with about 2-3 tablespoons of regular table salt. Then pour household vinegar over them and make sure they are just covered. Let them sit overnight; this starts the oxidation process.

When they have been sitting in the solution for at least 8 hours, take them out and place them on a paper towel. You will see that the metal is a little less shiny because it has started to oxidize. The next step is to wash out your glass container, and then add fresh salt (I used 2-3 tablespoons again). Place your metal pieces in the salt, just like you did before. This time, pour in hydrogen peroxide until they are just covered, and watch the magic begin!

Immediately after you put the peroxide in, your solution should start to bubble and the metal should start to rust. It is really fun to watch. If you'd like to see a full video of this process (instead of still photos), you can find that on my Instagram page here. After a few minutes, use tongs to remove your piece and see if it is rusty enough for you:

If you want it more rusty, just put it back in the solution and check it again in a few minutes. I finally rusted mine to look like this and it took about 7 minutes:

If you'd like, you can then seal the piece with matte or satin spray sealer. This is optional. I just like the way it makes the metal look. Here's another close up of what they looked like before I sprayed them:

I like to use Rustoleum sealer to seal all that rusty goodness in!

I screwed these into the top of an old window, for hanging:

Here's the finished look! I really think it is the little details that count. New, shiny pieces would have stuck out like a sore thumb against the patina of the chippy white window. Here it is, all hung up:

By the way, we completely redid this bathroom - new toilet, turnbuckle shelves, new sink (we built the wood base for an Ikea sink), slate tile, and the wood plank wall. All the wood pictured here was hand milled from the trees that burned on our property when we lost our home to the CA Valley Fire.

Thanks for tuning in, and if you try to rust some metal, let me know how it goes!

Happy DIYing :)



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  • Eugene Wagner Eugene Wagner on Feb 06, 2021

    Love the wall of wood. Sounds like you don't have a shower/tub in the room so moisture probably isn't an issue. But how did you finish the wood? How did you secure the wood to the walls, glue or stainless steel nails? I'm looking to do something similar with wood on the 30" of open wall above a shower surround.

  • Debra Debra on Feb 12, 2021

    Do you know the best method to remove rust by any chance I’ve tried so many things I heard beer that didn’t work rest remover that didn’t work trying to get rested tools clean

  • Mymkins Mymkins on Oct 24, 2023

    Does rusting the metal eyebolts compromise the strength? Thank you

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  • Sewtime Sewtime on Feb 27, 2021

    Many years ago, when I was a young kid my dad would stop and buy a Coke on his way home from work. I took the Coke and a brick and removed rust from his plows where they had rusted over the winter. Pour Coke over the plow blade, pour some on the brick and rub very hard. You can make the plows look brand new!

  • Janet Janet on Feb 01, 2023

    Sorry for your loss due to fire-just awful. Your wooden accent wall is a mindful and beautiful homage to so much. Great things to comtemplate if you are one of those who spend time on the throne.