Best Rust Converters & Removers: Options for Corrosion Protection
Keep your vehicle corrosion-free with these top rust converters and removers.
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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON May 14, 2021
If you’ve ever faced years of rust and corrosion on metal parts, you know just how annoying it is to remove — and how damaging it can be. Rust may seem like a simple fact of life, but once it appears, it only keeps growing. Over time, rust can literally eat away at metal, leaving behind holes, damaging the appearance of different components and tools. It weakens and destroys wherever it’s present, meaning you can’t let rust continue to grow. You’ll wind up with deterioration that you just can’t fix. And when your car is involved, rust is an even bigger concern.
Unfortunately, rust isn’t easy to get rid of once it forms. However, there are solutions, like rust converters and removers. With a rust converter and remover, you can apply a chemical that actually takes oxidation — or rust — and makes it disappear. These products can even offer protection against future rust and corrosion, as they literally “convert” rust into a new, surface-protecting material. If you’re hoping to get rid of rust and keep your car and its metal parts, we’ve got the best rust converters and removers you’ll want to consider.
This easy-to-use metal primer solution is often regarded as the greatest brush on rust converter for both home and industrial use.
- Corroseal is easy to use, non-flammable, and can be cleaned up with soap and water
- Requires only one coat to get results and protects from future rust
- Corroseal is more expensive than some other options
- Doesn’t come in a spray
- Requires light prep work
This product removes rust and scale from the metal surface with the help of a sandpaper or wire brush.
- Packaged in an easy-to-use aerosol can that can be sprayed in any direction
- Works in less than an hour
- Creates a smooth, primed surface
- May take up to an hour to dissolve heavy rust buildup
- Needs to be constantly shaken to work properly
This 10-ounce aerosol can, made by VHT, is one of the best rust converter sprays available thanks to its versatility.
- This rust remover is user-friendly and perfect for auto body work
- Protects against future corrosion and can be applied to several types of materials
- This converter isn’t available as a brush-on product
- Requires sanding in order to be painted over
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Benefits of Rust Converter & Remover
- Restores vehicles, parts, and tools. If you’re disappointed by the damage rust and corrosion causes, you can use a rust converter and remover to eliminate it. These products are great for antique or classic vehicles, and they’re also helpful if you live in a region where weather causes rust to form easily. You can use a rust converter to bring your car back to life, removing any rust present and protecting against future corrosion.
- Saves time and energy. Trying to clean up rust and salvage corroded parts and pieces is incredibly time-consuming and energy-wasting. Aside from using a rust converter, your only real option is to grind or sand away the rust — which can cause a whole new set of problems. Instead of wasting hours slowly chipping away at years of corrosion, use a rust converter that applies in seconds and gets rid of rust quickly.
- Prevents future corrosion. In addition to cleaning up rust in very little time, a rust converter and remover also helps protect your metal parts, surfaces, tools, and more. Once applied, these double-duty products help coat your metal items in a protective layer of chemicals, keeping future rust and corrosion at bay. This will save you even more time, money, and effort down the line when you don’t have to fight back rust every single season. This can also stop corrosion in its tracks, preventing rust from spreading and taking over more of your metal.
- Saves money. With an affordable rust converter and remover, you’re going to save money by tackling the problem before it becomes bigger (and more expensive to fix). Instead of having to pay to replace entire parts, panels, or even tools, you can catch rust before it spreads. This helps you prevent costly problems and keep them manageable so you can save more of your hard-earned cash.
Types of Rust Converter & Remover
The most common type of rust converter and rust remover is liquid. While the individual products will have varying thicknesses, the application process is generally the same. After some prep work, the chemical can be painted on, submerged, or sprayed on with your own spray gun. The best and easiest method is going to depend on your specific project.
Rust converter also comes in a gel form. These products are thicker than the liquid removers, so they cannot be used with sprayers. One benefit they have over liquid is that you don’t have to worry about the product dripping if applied heavily. The gel can be painted or rolled onto the metal surface and allowed to dry for best results.
While some of the liquid removers can be used with a spray gun, some rust removing products come as an aerosol spray. Typically, this can be a faster application process. However, be aware that it might be hard to use a spray can for extensive restoration projects due to their smaller quantities.
Evapo-Rust is a chemical company headquartered in Arizona. It has a whole line of metal restoration products. This line includes the original Rust Remover and a GEL Rust Remover. The company is also notable for its customer-friendly website featuring user testimonials and how-to videos.
Perhaps one of the most recognizable names in corrosion protection, Rust-Oleum was founded in 1921. Its founder was a boat captain who merely wanted to keep his ship running and noticed fish oil stopped the rust from spreading. He then went on to produce this solution for consumers and growing the company by developing the Automotive 248658 10.25-Ounce Rust Reformer Spray.
VHT is a Sherwin-Williams brand of high-performance paints and treatments. While the parent company was founded in Cleveland in 1866, VHT is a spinoff of the paint division Dupli-Color, which was started in 1938. It makes a very popular aerosol rust converter with its VHT SP229.
Rust Converter & Remover Pricing
- Under $10: You don’t have to make a big investment in order to get a quality rust remover. These products are available for under $10, and you’ll get enough of the formula — in a convenient spray bottle, most often — to cover small, isolated areas of surface rust. The products in this price range are best for rust that’s newly or recently formed.
- $10 to $25: Step up to a slightly more expensive price point, and you’ll find an even wider array of rust converter and remover products. You’ll have more formulas and more types available to choose from, and you’ll also be able to select small or gallon-sized bottles. You’ll also find slightly stronger formulas within this price range, which are ideal for especially stubborn rust.
- $25 and up: For $25 or more, you’ll find primarily large-sized containers of rust remover. These are great options if you frequently deal with rust, or if you have an older vehicle that has quite a lot of rust you need to remove. You’ll also find specialized formulas meant to tackle more specific purposes within this price range.
Ease of Use
Your average rust treatment can be applied by brushing or spraying it onto the affected metal surface. It’s best to consider the application methods that a product requires and which approach will help you complete your project. The amount of rust, whether or not the corroded piece can be easily removed, and how large the affected area is will help determine the best application method for you.
The corrosion of metals is a chemical reaction; often another chemical reaction is required to convert rust. While each brand has its own way of formulating a good rust treatment, this also means each one comes with its own potentially volatile compounds, like phosphoric acid. It’s important to know whether or not a rust converter is safe to touch so you can keep yourself safe while using it. It’s also vital to understand how to dispose of and clean up these chemicals.
Whether you're brushing on liquid rust converter or using an aerosol can to get rid of corrosion, it all can make a mess. Before you use any corrosion removing products, you'll want to know what to expect in terms of keeping your workspace clean. Some of the best chemical rust removers will only require soap and water to clean up.
Rust converters come in different formulas, each with their own strength. Some products are formulated to tackle small spots of rust that have just started to appear. Others are tougher and harsher, made for rust that’s formed over years of exposure to corrosion-causing elements. The best rust converters are those that work on “medium” rust, or rust that’s been around for a bit but hasn’t yet caused significant damage. That should be enough chemical strength to tackle most rust. However, if you’re just starting to see the first signs of a potential rust problem, you can opt for a lighter-strength formula.
Because rust comes in all sizes and shapes — and levels of corrosion — it’s important to choose a rust converter that’s versatile. You don’t want to have to purchase multiple rust removers for different situations. Instead, look for a rust converter and remover that’ll eliminate small to medium rust on all kinds of metal surfaces or items. It’s also important to look for a formula that’s versatile in its approved materials; for example, you should be able to use the same product on auto parts and tools.
- Future Protection. The last thing you want to deal with after riding a part of rust is having it corrode again. Luckily, a lot of great rust converters add a protective layer to keep the part from further corrosion. If you plan on painting or priming the piece, then the added protection may not be necessary. Be aware of what the best plan of attack is for your metal pieces.
- Drying Time. Depending on your project, the amount of time a rust converter takes to give you the best results may be a determining factor. On average, rust removal products will suggest a day or two in order to free your part from corrosion completely. Some advertise that they only require a couple of hours to cure before you can sand or paint over them.
- Flammability. Keep in mind the environment you’ll keep the rust remover in, both for storage and during application. With aerosol cans and some liquid rust converters, keeping them in a warm storage space is a fire hazard. Also, if you're removing rust from a part of your vehicle where you need to weld, make sure you're using a non-flammable solution.
- Water- or Chemical-Based Formula. Rust converters are typically made with either a water-based or chemical-based formula. And each specific formulation is suitable for different applications. Water-based rust converters are usually non-toxic and non-corrosive, but they also tend to be weaker. Chemical-based solutions can be harsh, but they’re just what you need for especially stubborn or longtime rust.
- Application Method. Before buying any rust converter, consider how it’s meant to be applied. Sprays — either spray bottles or aerosol spray cans — make it incredibly easy, but they can also be a bit messy. For more spot-specific application, you may want to choose a gel or liquid formula that can be applied with a paint brush. Think about where you’ll be using your rust converter and which application approach is best.
Best Rust Converters & Removers Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- For best results, you will want to remove rust debris from the metal surface of your project. Depending on the state of corrosion, you may need to scrape off larger pieces, which can be done with abrasive sandpaper or a wire brush.
- Not all rust treatments are made to be used on bare metal. When working with bare metal or painted parts, make sure your rust removal product is compatible.
- Keep in mind the severity of your rust problem and how strong your removal product is. These will be the determining factors when it comes to prep work, sanding, and grinding.
- Be aware of your disposal method. As discussed above, different removers and converters have their own VOCs and toxicity levels. This could change your choice based on what your disposal options are.
- While converters add a protective layer to affected areas in order to keep them from further corrosion, it does not save unaffected areas. Using metal primers and paints are the best ways to protect your parts from further corrosion.
Q: What’s the difference between a rust converter and a rust remover?
Rust removers are used to completely remove rust from the metal surface of a corroded part. Rust converters chemically bond to the rust, which stops the corrosion from spreading and also conceals the existing rust altogether.
Q: What materials can I use rust converter on?
Rust converters can be used on multiple different metals. They work best with iron and steel, making them perfect for frames and other structural pieces. They are less effective on aluminum, which is becoming a more popular automotive material, so be aware of what your vehicle is made of.
Q: How does rust converter work?
Rust converters use phosphoric acids and polymers to create a chemical reaction with the rust. In doing so, it converts rust and changes the properties, making it an inert substance.
Q: Should I wear protective clothing when applying rust converter?
While the toxicity of your chosen remover is the real indicator, it’s always smart to wear some form of protection, since harsh chemicals are often used to convert rust. For liquid removers and converters, gloves should be enough, while aerosol sprays should only be used with eye protection and a paint mask.
Q: Is rust remover non-toxic?
Not all rust removers and converters are non-toxic. Be aware of products that use phosphoric acid and look out for FDC ratings. Using non-toxic chemicals to remove rust is safer for you and eco-friendly.
For customers looking to save their vehicle from corrosion, Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter makes the best rust primer for cars.
A more budget-friendly option is the Rust-Oleum Automotive 10.25-Ounce Rust Reformer Spray.