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Question about oils and acid - rusting on tools

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Forum topic by Thuzmund posted 09-29-2015 02:47 AM 1280 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Thuzmund

130 posts in 1088 days


09-29-2015 02:47 AM

Hi,

I have a weird question for those with encyclopedic knowledge. I’ve had some tools rust from neglect and non-use over the humid summer. Always a sad thing. So I went to oiling some with plain old vegetable oil, which I heard somewhere is all that’s needed.

I proudly told my dad about my cleverness, putting vegetable oil on tools for low-cost protection. Anyway, he said as many older folks do in just the right tone, “I just use my tools, and they don’t rust.” Thanks pops! :)

OK on to my question: As my mind wandered I remembered hearing that oils are sometimes called fatty acids. Vegetable oils seem to be made up of a bunch of acids. Wikipedia tells me fatty acids are all very similar in pH, in the range of 4-5 (a pH 7 is neutral). Vinegar is at 3 on the scale. So these common oils are not super acidic, but acidic nonetheless.

So I ask—why doesn’t this weak acid eventually corrode tools? How can it be better to put a weak acid directly on metal, rather than leave it bare? I would love to hear any real info, best guesses or beer glass wisdom.

Thanks!

-- Here to learn


26 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5764 posts in 946 days


#1 posted 09-29-2015 03:00 AM

As per your question, i think I’ve heard that lard was used?

I just wipe them down with johnsons paste wax every now and again and I have no problems. South Louisiana here.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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TheTurtleCarpenter

823 posts in 525 days


#2 posted 09-29-2015 03:13 AM

I tried Bacon fat but my cat would lick it off as fast as I would grease them.

-- "Tying shoelaces was way harder than learning to Whistle",,,,,member MWTCA area K. Kentucky

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Tim

3110 posts in 1421 days


#3 posted 09-29-2015 06:15 PM

I’m no chemist, but I can actually answer this one. Vegetable oils are made of triglycerides, not fatty acids directly. Triglycerids are made up of fatty acids, but the 3 fatty acids they contain are made into one molecule, so they aren’t acidic anymore. For practical purposes the ph of vegetable oil is neutral, not acidic.

I may not be doing a better job explaining than just sending you to this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetable_oil
or this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triglyceride

Most vegetable oils will either go rancid or will dry eventually into a sticky varnish. The reason camellia and jojoba oils are sold for tools is that they are non drying. Other oils (like regular vegetable oil) aren’t as good for wiping on tools as camellia or jojoba or mineral or petroleum oils and waxes.

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

1470 posts in 2098 days


#4 posted 09-29-2015 07:08 PM

You should try your Dad’s suggestion – in the interest of science – and let us know how it turns out. ;-)

View Rick M's profile (online now)

Rick M

7902 posts in 1840 days


#5 posted 09-30-2015 05:28 AM

Try coming at the question from the other direction—what causes rust and what is required to prevent rust? Rust is the result of a reaction between iron, oxygen, and water; remove any of those three things and rust will not form. Oil is hydrophobic, it repels water.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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oldnovice

5721 posts in 2827 days


#6 posted 09-30-2015 06:05 AM

WD40 contains fish oil and repels water just as dead fish do on fishing boats.

However, WD40 doesn’t smell to good so I typically only use that on my gardening tools.

I use Johnsons Paste Wax on my hand tools and stationary power tools. It smells good too.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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TopamaxSurvivor

17654 posts in 3135 days


#7 posted 09-30-2015 06:35 AM

WD40 does not prevent rust.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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oldnovice

5721 posts in 2827 days


#8 posted 09-30-2015 06:56 AM

Bob, I hate to disagree with you!

From the company itself and from the Toolmonger it, WD40, has been shown superior in rust prevention.

If you don’t want to follow the link, here is the leading paragraph from the Toolmonger:

We recently found something interesting at Brownells gunsmithing supply — they tested how well a number of substances prevented rust. The results surprised us: Plain old WD-40 was the most successful in keeping rust from forming on a mild steel surface, outperforming many other substances engineered specifically the job.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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TopamaxSurvivor

17654 posts in 3135 days


#9 posted 09-30-2015 08:08 AM

Hans, Maybe I have ancient info? A friend who was a machinist tested it on freshly machined steel over night. The next morning, he had rust starting. That was probably 25 years ago now. Maybe they have changed the formula? I use it all the time as a lubricant, but not when I’m concerned about preventing rust.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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Rick M

7902 posts in 1840 days


#10 posted 09-30-2015 06:38 PM

In before someone tells us what WD stands for.

If you want to know if something is true, test it for yourself. In general I don’t like using oil of any kind as a rust preventer because I don’t want a mess.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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TopamaxSurvivor

17654 posts in 3135 days


#11 posted 09-30-2015 09:51 PM

Not trying to spill the beans, but the common knowledge among muzzle loading shooters is to use it to displace any remaining moisture after cleaning with soap and water. Of course if you don’t want a rusty barrel, follow up with a good gun oil. Not sure how that relates to tool steel, but it is my story and I’m sticking to it ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View MC's profile

MC

147 posts in 1807 days


#12 posted 09-30-2015 11:15 PM

I live in the humid south and use WD 40 on all of my tools. FWW did aa rust prevention test a couple of years ago. WD 40 did well there as well.

View Thuzmund's profile

Thuzmund

130 posts in 1088 days


#13 posted 10-01-2015 04:07 AM



I m no chemist, but I can actually answer this one. Vegetable oils are made of triglycerides, not fatty acids directly. Triglycerids are made up of fatty acids, but the 3 fatty acids they contain are made into one molecule, so they aren t acidic anymore. For practical purposes the ph of vegetable oil is neutral, not acidic.

I may not be doing a better job explaining than just sending you to this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetable_oil
or this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triglyceride

Most vegetable oils will either go rancid or will dry eventually into a sticky varnish. The reason camellia and jojoba oils are sold for tools is that they are non drying. Other oils (like regular vegetable oil) aren t as good for wiping on tools as camellia or jojoba or mineral or petroleum oils and waxes.

- Tim

Nice!

-- Here to learn

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2410 posts in 1974 days


#14 posted 10-01-2015 11:13 AM

I live in the humid South and I never use WD-40 for rust protection. I do use it to loosen up padlocks, bearings, etc. that have dried grease in them. I use paste wax against rust and it works great, where WD-40 has a tendency to evaporate over time and let in moisture.

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2187 posts in 940 days


#15 posted 10-01-2015 11:58 AM

Yes, the oils on your fingers are acidic and can potentially cause metal to rust, but I don’t thinks it something to worry about.

I use WD40 for water displacement (WD). I do not use it for lubrication or rust prvention.
I mainly use it to dowse the metal after using water stones.

Could be wrong but the reason I don’t rely on it for prevent rust is because I think once the volatiles evaporates there isn’t enough oil left, PLUS its the wrong kind of oil to be using on ww’ing tools.

As for paste wax, I know lots of guys use it but IMO when it comes to rust prevention, it fails – at least where I am (swamps of Florida). It may repel moisture, but it also traps it. I’ve had many a machine rust after wax application. But if I keep them oiled or sealed, they do fine.

I apply jojoba oil to my tools just before putting away every time. I keep them in a sealed cabinet with a jar of Damp Rid and even still, have to stay vigilant about rust forming.

I think Boeshield is by far the best rust preventive out there and you could use it in place of Jojoba oil.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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