How to get rust off a pocket knife | Simple But Best 3 Ways

Fact Checked By Luna L. Rusk | Last Updated on January 20, 2021
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The other day I accidentally put my pocket knife outside on the porch, where it came in contact with moisture and caught rust. If you have ever used a pocket knife for an extended period, then I bet you have faced the same problem as mine.

It doesn’t matter if the knife was kept in a toolbox or left outside; a knife can catch rust and become dull if it comes in contact with moist air. And we all know a rusted knife is of no use. So, how to get rust off a pocket knife? In this guide, we will learn three ways on how to clean a pocket knife of rust. So let us begin.

What is rusting?

Before we start, we must understand what rusting is. To put it merely, rusting is an oxidation chemical reaction. When the iron of a blade reacts with the water and oxygen in the air, it forms Hydrated Iron (III) Oxide or rust.  Have a look at the simple chemical equation below,

Iron (Fe2) + Water (H2O) + Oxygen (O2) → Hydrated Iron (III) Oxide (Fe2O3)

Cleaning the rust off a pocket knife

If your pocket knife is rusted, then don’t worry about it. By following some simple steps, you can get rid of the rust, and your blade will be as good as new. Here are some methods on how to clean pocket knife.

1. Using Natural solvents to remove the rust

    Using white vinegar:

White vinegar is a commonly found item in every household. It contains acetic acid. The acid is a powerful way to get rid of rust.

First, clean the blade of the knife with a cloth. Then dampen another piece of cloth with white vinegar and apply it directly on the rust stains. Or, soak the blade in a bowl of white vinegar if there is too much rust. Clean the blade with fresh water and wipe it off with a dry cloth.

   Salt or baking powder and lemon/ lime juice solution:

The combination of salt or baking soda and lime/ lemon juice has proven to be an excellent cleaning rust method. The lemon juice, just like white vinegar, contains acid that can help remove rust. It works best with some salt or baking soda.

Take the rusted pocket knife and sprinkle some salt or baking soda on the rusted spot. Wait for a few seconds, then clean the spot thoroughly with lemon juice. Wash the knife with warm water and wipe off the water with a dry cloth.

Remember not to keep lemon juice on the blade for too long as it can damage the blade’s material. Two to six minutes should be enough.

   Using a potato to clean the knife:

I know this may seem unusual, but raw potato can help you remove rust stains from metals. Potato contains oxalic acid, and you might have guessed acid can remove rust.

Take a piece of raw potato and stab it with the rusted knife. Leave the knife just like that for 3- 4 hours. Then remove the blade from the potato, rinse with fresh warm water and dry it off with a cloth. Hopefully, the rust will be gone from your knife.

Remember to throw away the piece of potato. It is not good to eat that potato as it may contain pieces of rust in it.

   A mixture of liquid soap and vinegar:

If you are looking for a way of how to get rust off a pocket knife, then using a mixture of vinegar and dishwashing soap can be proven helpful. It is a simple in-house method of getting rid of tough stains like rust.

Take a bowl that can hold the blade of your pocket knife. Pour one part vinegar with one part dishwashing soap and soak the blade in the solution. Leave it for 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on the size of the rust.

Then put it out from the bowl, rinse with fresh water, and wipe with a dry cloth. Your blade is now as good as new.

2. Abrasive cleaners to remove rust stains

   Use a knife sharpener  (honing steel):

This is the best method of getting rid of dust, lint, and rust from a pocket knife. Using a honing steel or knife sharpener, you can remove stains and sharpen your dull knife at the same time.

Take honing steel and hold it firmly facing the steel part pointing to the ground. Place it on a table or a stable surface. Now take your knife and put the blade 450 on the grit. Then move the blade from the handle to the bottom of the table.

Push the blade when going up from down, covering the full surface of the blade. Repeat this on both sides of your blade. When done, all the rust will be gone and your knife sharpened.

   Using steel wool or sandpaper:

Using a piece of steel wool or sandpaper to scrub rust can help you to remove stains. Scrub off the rust when it is dry. Don’t use steel wool or sandpaper if the blade is wet or oily. Clean the water or oil from the surface of the blade before using sandpaper.

   Using a toothbrush:

 You can use a toothbrush to scrub off the rust from the knife. Take an old unused toothbrush and add a little bit of detergent or dish soap to it. Then scrub off the rust from the blade. This method will only work if there is a small amount of rust on your knife.

3. Chemical solvents

   Using oil to remove light stains:

Now, we will try to use coconut oil to remove light rust stains from the blade surface on how to clean an old pocket knife. Using oil to remove stains is an age-old method and has been used for a long time.

Spray the rusted surface with coconut oil, or use a rug soaked in oil to wet the blade with oil. Leave it like that for 24 hours.  Then wipe off the oil with a clean rug or tissue paper. You will see that the rust is gone from the blade.

   Non-toxic rust remover:

Using non-toxic rust removing product like Evapo-Rust can get rid of rusts instantly. You can try out other rust remover products available on your local market.

Take a bucket or bowl and pour some rust remover in it. Then immerse the knife that has been rusted in it. Leave it for 20 – 30 minutes or overnight if it has too much rust on it. Next, clean the knife with a dry cloth.

   CLR® calcium, lime, & rust remover:

CLR is a commercial rust cleaner used by industries to remove heavy rust. You can also purchase a small portion of it from your local supermarket. It can clean up the toughest stains from any surface, including pocket knives.

Take a metal bowl or bucket and pour half CLR and half warm water. Dip the blade of the knife in the solution, not more than 2 minutes. Do not touch the CLR with the knife handle if it is not made of metal.

Take out the blade, rinse it off with cold water, and dry it with a clean cloth. Never put the blade in CLR for more than two minutes as it can decay the blade.

Always use gloves when handling CLR and make sure the place is well ventilated. Avoid getting CLR on your skin.

Wrapping Things Up!

A rusty knife is of no use when needed. So a person must keep his blades rust-free. But if by any chance your blade catches rust and becomes dull, then what to do?

I hope that this article on how to get rust remove a pocket knife will help you to get rid of all kinds of rust. Always keep your knife rust free and sharpened. Remember, a dull, rusty knife can cause accidents.  

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