Rust is a common problem that affects metal objects over time. Bolts are often among the first components to rust, as they can often be exposed to moisture and air. So, how do you loosen rusted bolts?
You can loosen rusted bolts using white vinegar, baking soda, or hot water. Other home remedies you can use include lemon juice, Coca-Cola, and vegetable oil. These substances can break down rust, helping loosen bolts.
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to loosen a rusted bolt and not being able to get it to budge. But before you go out and buy a pricey bolt loosener, try one of these home remedies. They might do the trick!
One of the best home remedies for loosening rusted bolts is vinegar. When the vinegar comes into contact with rust, a chemical reaction breaks down the latter. That’s because vinegar contains acetic acid, a weak acid that reacts with iron oxide to form iron acetate, which is easier to remove.
Here’s how to loosen rusted bolts with vinegar:
- Remove as much rust as possible. Use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove as much rust as possible from the surface of the bolt. That will help the vinegar work more effectively.
- Soak a cloth or paper towel in white vinegar and wrap it around the rusted bolt for 8-10 hours or overnight. You can also pour the vinegar directly onto the bolt if you don’t have a cloth or paper towel.
- Try to remove the bolt. Once the bolt has soaked in vinegar for some time, try to remove it using a wrench or pliers. If it still doesn’t budge, repeat steps 2-3 until the bolt loosens enough to be removed.
Pro Tip: Once the bolt has been removed, clean it off with soap and water. Then, apply a thin layer of oil to help prevent future rusting.
2. Use Lemon Juice and Salt to Break Down the Rust
Another household item that can help loosen rusted bolts is lemon juice. The juice contains citric acid, which reacts with the iron oxide in rust to form a soluble compound.
Here’s how to use lemon juice to loosen rusted bolts in 4 easy steps:
- Sprinkle a decent amount of salt in a bowl of lemon juice and mix until the salt is fully saturated.
- Dip an abrasive pad or wire brush into the mixture and scrub it onto the rusted bolt and surrounding area.
- Let the mixture sit for about 2 hours to give the acid time to break down the rust.
- Afterward, try removing the bolt with a wrench or pliers. If it still doesn’t budge, repeat the procedure until it loosens up enough to be removed.
For tougher rust, a baking soda paste can do the trick. Baking soda is slightly basic, and when mixed with water, it forms a paste that can help break down and dissolve rust.
For this project, you’ll need the following:
- Baking soda
- A bowl
- A spoon
- Some rags
Here’s how to use baking soda to loosen rusted bolts:
- Mix baking soda and water in a bowl to form a thick paste.
- Apply the paste to the rusted bolts. Use the spoon to apply a generous amount of paste to each bolt.
- Let the paste sit for 1-2 hours to give it time to break down the rust.
- Scrub off the paste and rust with a rag, then remove the bolt with a wrench or pliers.
Note: You may have to repeat this process a few times for stubborn rust.
4. Use WD-40 to Loosen and Protect
WD-40 is a household staple for lubricating and protecting metal surfaces, making it an effective solution for loosening rusted bolts. It’s also great for preventing future rust.
Here’s how to use WD-40 to loosen rusted bolts:
- Spray the WD-40 onto the rusted bolt and surrounding area, making sure to coat it fully.
- Let the WD-40 sit for a few minutes before attempting to remove the bolt with a wrench or pliers.
- For added protection, spray the bolt with a layer of WD-40 after removing it to prevent future rusting.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have WD-40 on hand, cooking oil or vegetable oil can also work as lubricants to loosen rusted bolts. Just make sure to clean off the oil and apply a layer of metal protectant afterward.
5. Apply Heat to the Metal Around the Bolt
Applying heat to the metal surrounding the rusted bolt can cause it to expand, making it easier to loosen and remove. Here are a few ways to apply heat:
- Use a blowtorch to heat the metal surrounding the bolt. Be careful not to get too close; you don’t want to risk melting or damaging the metal.
- You can also use a heat gun or hair dryer to apply heat. Just be sure not to hold it in one spot for too long.
- Boil water and pour it onto the area surrounding the bolt. Just be careful not to burn yourself as you do this.
Once heated, try removing the bolt with a wrench or pliers. If it doesn’t budge, let the metal cool before reapplying heat and trying again.
Pro Tip: Be careful when using heat, as it can cause the metal to become too hot to touch. Use gloves or another protective barrier to avoid burns. Also, be sure not to overheat the metal as it can cause damage, making the bolt even harder to remove.
Believe it or not, soda can also loosen rusted bolts. The carbonic and phosphoric acids in soda react with rust to dissolve it.
To use soda to loosen a rusted bolt:
- Pour the soda onto the rusted bolt, making sure to coat it fully.
- Let it sit for 1-2 hours to give the acid time to break down the rust.
- Scrub the bolt with a wire brush or abrasive pad, then remove it with a wrench or pliers.
If you’re still struggling to loosen a rusted bolt, you can try using a mixture of vegetable oil and acetone. The two ingredients will work together to create a solvent that can help to break down any rust that may be causing the issue.
Here’s how to use vegetable oil and acetone to loosen a tight bolt:
- Mix 90% vegetable oil and 10% acetone, and apply the mixture to the bolt.
- Let the mixture sit for at least an hour before attempting to loosen the bolt.
- After the allotted time has passed, try to loosen the bolt with your hand.
- If the bolt is still tight, repeat steps 1-3 until it becomes loose.
Caveat: While these home remedies can effectively loosen rusted bolts, sometimes it’s best to leave the job to the professionals. Call a handyperson or mechanic for assistance if you cannot remove the bolt or fear causing damage. In addition, remember always to exercise caution when dealing with rusted bolts and metal to avoid injury.
Loosening rusted bolts can be a pain, so it’s best to prevent rust from occurring in the first place. Besides, rust can weaken metals and cause damage to your equipment or machinery, so it’s best to take preventative measures. Here are a few tips for preventing rust:
A surefire way to prevent rust is to keep your metal surfaces clean and dry. Rusting occurs when metal is exposed to moisture and oxygen, so keeping things clean and dry can reduce the chances of rust forming.
Here are a few ways to keep metal surfaces clean and dry:
- Regularly wipe down metal surfaces with a cloth or paper towel, removing any moisture or residue.
- Store metals in a dry place, such as a plastic container or sealed bag.
- Apply a layer of wax or metal protectant to create a barrier against moisture.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals when cleaning metals, as they can break down the protective coating and lead to rusting.
Applying a metal protectant, such as WD-40 or rust converter, can also help prevent rust from forming on your bolts and metals.
For starters, check out this FDC Rust Converter Ultra (link to Amazon). It features a unique chemical oil that converts rust into a black polymer to prevent future rusting, making it a great preventative measure.
Make sure to reapply the protectant regularly, especially after the metal has been exposed to moisture or harsh weather conditions.
Here are a few tips for applying a metal protectant:
- Make sure the metal surface is clean and dry before applying the protectant.
- Follow the instructions on the product, as some may need to be sprayed or wiped onto the metal surface.
- Ensure that the protectant is evenly distributed on the metal surface.
- Allow the protectant to dry before using or storing the metal.
One of the most effective ways to prevent rust is using stainless steel bolts, which are less susceptible to rusting. However, be aware that even stainless steel can rust under certain conditions (such as high levels of chloride), so it’s still important to take proper care and maintenance of the bolts.
Additionally, be aware that stainless steel bolts can be more expensive and may require different tools for installation. Consult with a professional or do your research before purchasing stainless steel bolts for your project.
Overall, rust can be a pesky problem when loosening bolts. However, with the right tools and preventative measures, you can avoid dealing with rusted bolts in the first place.
And if rust does occur, try using white vinegar, lemon juice, WD-40, or other home remedies to help loosen those stubborn bolts. But remember to exercise caution and always call a professional if needed. Happy tinkering!