How Rust Converters Work 

 August 24, 2019

By  Xion Lab


Rust converters are really popular chemicals that can help us clean rusty cars, trailers staircases, tanks, etc. Experts use it to covert the rust into an inert black substance that can be painted over. A rust converter contains an organic polymer and Tannic acid reacts with rust in order to convert it. It is a water based primer that can be used on any rusty steel or iron object to clean them up. 

In this article, we aim to analyze how rust converter worksso that you can use them more easily in daily life. It is important to understand the products you use on your expensive belongings before you use them. This will ensure the safety of the materials and limit the damage to them.

This means you won’t have to spend high costs in order to replace them. This is why it is important to educate yourself on how rust converter worksbefore you use them. 

Xion Lab offers one of the best rust converters on the market.  CLICK HERE for more information on Xion Lab’s rust converter & primer or click on banner below.  Our friends over at JC Extra Research have also added Xionlab’s Rust Converter in their picks of the top 10 Rust Converters….you can see their article in the following link. CLICK HERE.

banner to rust converters product page

What is a Rust Converter?

Before you find out how rust converter works, it is important to know what they are exactly. Rust converters are used to convert the rust into an inert, black polymeric coating. This coating protects the object and serves as a great primer for epoxy and oil-based paints. 

They are very different from rust removers as they convert the rust rather than remove it. They are preferred by experts since they create the perfect substance to paint over. This hides any signs of rust, as well as prevents corrosion in the future. 

How Rust Converter Works?

Rust converters are made from two main ingredients: an organic polymer and Tannic acid. Tannic acid chemically reacts with iron oxide, also known commonly as rust. This reaction converts the iron oxide into iron tannate. Iron tannate is a black colored, stable substance. 

Do not worry that the tannins may hurt your belongings. This is because tannins are actually alcohol and water-soluble materials that can be found naturally. They are organic materials that are extracted from grasses, trees, and fruits, which means they will not harm your belongings at all. 

The organic polymer in the rust converter is an active ingredient called 2-Butoxyethanol. This actually forms a protective primer layer over your belongings to prevent future corrosion and rust. This forms a perfect primer for paints, which makes it really easy to paint over. 

The protective layer and primer help make this one of the most popular substances to counter rust. This is because it doesn’t just remove rust, but rather it helps prevent rust in the future. Rust removers can also be really hazardous and corrosive.

They are made from a concentrated acid that is pretty dangerous and can take a long time to execute properly. For rust removal, you need to make sure the acid doesn’t begin to eat away at the metal surface and only works on the rust. This can actually be really harmful and damaging to the object if you make any mistakes. It is simply better to use rust converters since they are safer to use and less harmful. 

What Can You Use A Rust Converter On?

Now that you know how rust converter works, it is time to use it. Rust converters can be used on any steel or iron object that has developed rust. It doesn’t work on copper, stainless steel, aluminum, or galvanized metal. Rust converters are usually used on items that you want to paint over since they form the perfect primer for paint and leave behind a black substance. 

Rust converters can be used on painted or non-rusty surfaces; however, it does not provide any extra protection from rust this way. This protective layer only forms when it converts rust to a protective polymeric, black substance.

People mostly use rust converters for lawn equipment, mower decks, staircases, iron railings, vehicles, gates, fences, trailers, sheet metal, farm equipment, tanks, cast iron, tractors, and many others. 

Do Rust Converters Require Preparation?

Even though you now know how rust converter works, it is still not enough to actually use them. This is because they work better with good surface preparation. This allows the rust converter to work more efficiently and effectively. 

Most experts recommend that you remove larger scale particles and rust with a hammer, sandpaper, or stiff bristled brush. This will remove any flaking or lose rust that makes the surface uneven or unstable. You don’t have to work to remove all the dust, rather just the loose bits. This is because rust converters do need a layer of rust to work with so that it can react with it. 

Rust converters also cannot break through grease or oil. It is important to clean the surface of the object first to remove any grease. Let it dry before using the rust converter. There are also other contaminants that can slow down the process. A layer of salt water can make it harder for the rust converter to efficiently do its job. With salt water, it is important to rinse the surface with fresh water before attempting to convert rust. Make sure it is all dry before using. 

How to Apply Rust Converters?

Rust converters do not need to be thinned. You can merely use it as it comes out of the bottle. All you need to do is shake or stir it properly before use and you are ready to go. 

Experts recommend that for best results it is necessary to apply the rust converter with either a roller or a brush. Rollers can be used for larger surfaces like trailers and gates, but for smaller surfaces like iron railings a brush can be used. Many people also spray the rust converter on the surface, but it only works properly if an airless spray is used. This is because the tannins may react with the oxygen and the effect on the iron oxide (rust) may be limited. 

If you are covering a larger surface, then you may be wondering how much rust converter to invest in. One gallon of rust converter can actually form a nice protective coating over 500 square feet of rusted metal surfaces.

If you are using the spray-able rust converter, then please note that one gallon will only cover 300 square feet and aerosol spray on will only cover 24 square feet. If you have an irregular, texture or porous surface to clean, then you may need a lot more rust converter for a heavier application. 

Rust converters usually take up to 20 minutes to dry.  After that, you can touch it and add a second coating of the rust converter to ensure that all the rust has converted properly. Many professionals recommend that you wait at least 24 hours before applying the second coat, however. This allows the curing process to take effect effectively. 

To apply the oil or epoxy based paint coat on the surface, it is recommended to wait 48 hours after adding the second layer of rust converter. Before applying the paint, wipe the surface with a damp cloth so that any excess rust converter that hasn’t reacted is removed. No primer is needed since the reaction between the rust converter and iron oxide creates the perfect primer for the application. 

Is the Paint Necessary?

Painting the converted surface isn’t really necessary. However, if you want the object to be protected from future corrosion and rust, then it is recommended to paint it. Applying merely one coat of any oil-based paint can actually increase the overall safety of the object.

Most experts recommend a second coating if you actually want to make sure the coverage of the protective layer is proper and conversion has taken place completely. 

After educating yourself on how rust converter works, you are aware that the conversion process forms a protective coating over the surface. These protective qualities of the surface can actually create a barrier against salt mist, direct sunlight, and rain.

This is especially helpful if you live near coastal areas where the salty air makes it easier for rust to develop. This will protect the object and make sure the paint doesn’t crack or peel off over time. 

Make sure that you do not use water or latex based paints on the object after rust conversion has taken place. This is because they do not react properly with the black, polymeric substances to form a protective coating. The polymeric primer actually mixes really well with epoxy and oil-based paints. 

What Other Things Do I Need To Know?

There are a few other things that you should be careful about when you are using rust converters. Just knowing how rust converter works, doesn’t mean that you limit yourself. Other things that you might need to know are listed below. 

  • After using the rust converter, make sure you clean the application equipment properly. Since it is made from a water-based primer and uses organic water-soluble tannins, it can be easily cleaned with soap and water. 
  • Rust converters are not heat resistant. Do not use it on any surface that will be heated like grills, boilers, engines, cast iron stoves, etc. 
  • Galvanized steel is coated in zinc to protect it. Rust converters only work on iron oxide covered substances and do not react with galvanized areas. 
  • Rust converters do not work that well if they are exposed to water a lot since they are water soluble. This is why it is recommended to not use it inside water tanks; however, it is commonly used on the outside of the tank and works really well if painted over. If you apply it on the inside, make sure that you paint it as well to create a protective layer. 
  • Rust converters have a really small shelf life, as they only last for around 9 months. This is why it is important that you only get it if you are starting the rust-removing project soon. Aerosol rust converters can last 3 months longer. However, it is important to note that this shelf life is regardless of whether the bottle has been opened or not. 
  • Using the rust converter while it’s really wetor under direct sunlight will not work as effectively. They work best in temperatures between 50 to 100 Fahrenheit degrees. 
  • Any unused liquid should not be put back into the bottle. This is because once it is out and exposed to the air, it begins toreact to the oxygen in the air a little. This makes it less effective over time and should not be added back. 
  • While using the rust converter, make sure you wear goggle or safety glasses and chemically resistant gloves. It can sometimes mildly irate the skin and eyes, which is why it is recommended to practice some caution. 
  • It can stain clothes if it is allowed to dry on them. Make sure you wear clothes that aren’t expensive while using rust converters. 
  • Keep it away from children and pets since the tannic acid in the mixture is harmful if it is ingested. Seek medical help at once if it is ingested. Make sure to not place it near food or water.
  • Apply the rust converter in a well-ventilated area. While the vapors from the rust converter aren’t really harmful and are similar to latex paint, caution should still be applied when using them. 
  • Make sure that you store the rust converter in out of direct sunlight and avoid high temperatures about 100 Fahrenheit degrees. It is also important to not let it freeze since that can ruin the mixture. 
  • Powder coating is typically not used with primer coating that rust converter creates. Powder coating is usually used on bare metal which means that it would not really be effective with rust converters. It may begin to flake out and require more work at your end. 
  • Make sure you dispose of the rust converter according to the federal or state guidelines so that it doesn’t harm anyone or hurts the environment.

Xion Lab offers one of the best rust converters on the market.  CLICK HERE for more information on Xion Lab’s rust converter & primer, or click on banner below.  

Subscribe to our newsletter now!