I would like to remove rust from some old parts such as cassette, bolts, and nuts. Most of the rust is just surface rust, and I would think there would be a good technique for doing this.

Besides using steel wool, I have heard of either using ultra-sonic washer or an acid bath.

What is the best way to accomplish this? I would prefer to stay away from chemicals.

  • 4
    What do you mean by "chemicals"? Chemicals like dihydrogen monoxide can be dangerous in large quantities, but you can't avoid them entirely.
    – amcnabb
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 17:32
  • If I had a cassette with rust on it I would likely replace it. If I had nuts and bolts with rust on them I would definitely replace. But its a reasonable enough question since I can easily imagine you might get surface rust on your frame.
    – PeteH
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 17:32
  • 1
    @amcnabb Cute, but use some common sense here. Just looking for something that does not cause some sort of hazmat situation. Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 17:37
  • @PeteH Are you suggesting that any rust is a weakness in the part? Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 17:41
  • @CarsonReinke Chemophobia is a pretty serious problem in our society. When most people talk about avoiding chemicals, they're referring to whether they're "natural", not whether they're safe.
    – amcnabb
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 17:43

3 Answers 3


The best way to remove rust from steel or cast iron is by electrolysis, period!

See the links below, but a few points need to be emphasized first:

DO wear rubber, latex or other waterproof gloves

DO wear old clothes, cuz the solution will stain just about anything!

DON'T put the solution where it can be kicked or spilled, it will leave a killer stain!

DON'T hook up what you are removing the rust off to the positive (+) terminal!

And most critically important DON'T USE STAINLESS STEEL AS THE ANODE (+ electrode)!!!

Ok, now to the links that explain the method:



A few suggestions. Use no more than 6 volts, particularly if you don't want to remove paint. Use washing soda (sodium carbonate, aka NaCO3) as the ingredient, not salt or lye. Small quantities of NaCO3 can be made by heating baking soda spread on a cookie sheet for 300 degrees F (150C) for about 1 hr. Don't pour the old liquid on your lawn or garden, the sodium could damage the soil. The solution is safe to pour down a laundry or basement drain, but be sure to wash out the drain afterwards. At most only 1 tbsp per gallon NaCO3 is needed - using more is just a waste. If you use an old wall-wart, the negative is usually the wire bearing a white line or bead on it and is usually hooked to the outside ring on the outlet plug.

  • Oxalic acid accomplishes the same thing with much less mess. Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 19:28
  • Will chrome plated parts be affected by this process? Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 19:20

A simple trick that works to remove thin rust is to rub the rusty part with aluminum foil. It works with steel parts.


A common deburring machine used for mass finishing parts is a vibratory deburring machine, or vibratory tumbler, which utilizes abrasive media to deburr, clean or polish unfinished or dirty parts or objects.

  • Sorry what? Can you elaborate? Or possibly a link? Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 16:32

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