Does Steel Wool Last Forever?

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Forum topic by Eric posted 07-11-2008 11:22 AM 1618 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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875 posts in 3780 days

07-11-2008 11:22 AM

Topic tags/keywords: steel wool

Okay, so I just bought my first bag of steel wool (grade 00000). It seems as if it would be hard to tell when you’d have to throw out the steel wool you’re using. Can you theoretically use one batch of steel wool your whole life? I’m also assuming I need to protect my steel wool from the elements and keep it in a dry place, to prevent rust.

Thanks for any tips you have!

-- Eric at

4 replies so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3818 days

#1 posted 07-11-2008 11:47 AM

The major problem with steel wool is moisture which causes it to rust. If you keep it dry then it has an indefinite shelf life.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3870 days

#2 posted 07-11-2008 05:13 PM

It will load up with residue with use. Depending on how you are using it, it works best with some kind of liquid medium (like WD40 to clean rust off steel) to carry away the particles. So it gets pretty gross after a few uses. It also breaks down very quickly with use and doesn’t “cut” as well after just a little while. It is just like sandpaper. It is a disposable product. Why do you ask, is it very expensive in your corner of the globe?

-- Happy woodworking!

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4214 days

#3 posted 07-11-2008 05:21 PM

Here is a steel wool fun fact:

When you were a kid, did you ever take a piece and touch both posts of a 9-volt battery to it? (Hint: be prepared for fire.)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View edp's profile


109 posts in 3956 days

#4 posted 07-11-2008 06:47 PM

I gave up with the steel wool about 3 years ago (for wood projects). The down side of the stuff is that it has a tendency to leave slivers behind, trapped in the wood. Not necessarrily a bad thing until that area comes into contact with moisture. When that happens, you have created iron oxide. Better known as rust. Not exactly the appearance most of us are going for in our woodworking. I purchased a carton of the purple scotchbrite pads instead. Now this stuff does seem to last forever. In the approximately 3 years I have been using it I have yet to consume the first half of the box. And….yes, I do use it constantly. It is my final prep before stain. My rub between coats of lacquer and my final rub out on the top coat when the gloss is just a tad too high.


-- Come on in, the beer is cold and the wood is dry.

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