Iron vs. Rust Stains: Is There a Difference?

July 1, 2020

Is there a difference between iron and rust stains? If you’ve been looking at commercial rust stain removers, you might be confused by the terminology. Rust stain removers that use “iron” in the name or description make it seem like iron stains and rust stains are two different things.

There’s actually no difference between iron and rust stains. Iron is one of the compounds that reacts and causes rust to form, so every rust stain does indeed contain iron, too. If you’re plagued by invasive and unattractive reddish-brown stains on your metal objects, concrete surfaces, vehicles and even your laundry, read on to learn how rust forms and what you can do to remove rust stains.

Why rust forms

When iron and oxygen react with water (whether on the surface or contained in the air), it creates a chemical reaction. This process is called oxidation, and it’s responsible for creating orange or reddish-brown stains. Oxidation produces iron oxide—rust—which eats away at iron and iron alloys. If the problem is left unaddressed, rust will eventually eat away at the metal until it completely disintegrates.

Certain factors can cause rust to form even faster: salt, heat and electricity all speed up the oxidation process. If you have metal items in these conditions, whether they’re tools in a humid garage or exposed rebar in concrete, you can expect rust to rapidly spread.

To prevent rust, consider protecting your metal objects with a coating like paint, galvanizing or powder coating. This prevents moisture and oxygen from coming into contact with the iron, so oxidation cannot occur.

How to remove rust stains

Rust stains, whether on your driveway, upholstery, tools, boat or buildings, are unattractive at best and destructive at worst. They can also form in your sinks, toilets and bathtubs, which is common if your municipal water supply contains large amounts of iron. When the iron is exposed to air, the oxidation process begins, leaving behind stubborn stains.

If you’re dealing with rust, the most important thing to remember is that you should never use bleach on them. Bleach will set the stains on porous surfaces like fabric, concrete and more. Here’s how to remove iron and rust stains from your household or workplace objects:

  • Vinegar: You can either soak small objects in plain white vinegar, or pour directly on the stain and use a stiff brush to scrub the stains away. Rinse thoroughly with clear water and wipe all metal objects dry.
  • Lemon: Similar to vinegar, lemon juice can be poured on a stain and allowed to soak in, or mixed with salt, baking soda or borax to form a paste. Scrub thoroughly and rinse away with cool water.
  • Magica® Rust Removers: If you want to make rust removal even easier, try Magica® Rust Removers. Our product removes rust stains from virtually any surface, including delicate fabrics. Choose the gel or spray formulation depending on how large the rust stains are. It’ll be the easiest stain removal you’ve experienced.

To purchase Magica® Rust Removers, visit our online shop.

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