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How To Rust Metal Fast With These 3 Household Ingredients

If you like the look of a rusty tin can for rustic decorating, you’ll love learning how to rust metal faster with these simple ingredients. Tin can’s, and other metals will rust naturally when exposed to moisture and oxygen. However, the process isn’t fast, but you can quickly turn a new metal piece into a vintage-inspired treasure with this technique.

I wanted to use rusty tin cans for fall decorating but only had a couple that had rusted naturally over time.

I decided I needed to speed up the process, and here’s what I did.

Rusty Tin Can Project - How to rust metal faster with 3 household ingredients.

Why Rust Tin Cans?

Y’all know I’m all about recycling tin cans, and I’ve used them for many projects.

A few of my cans had been left outside over the summer and had aged naturally. When I noticed the patina, I knew they would be perfect for fall decorating. I had a few ideas for projects but would need several rusted cans to achieve my desired results.

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How to Rust Metal Supplies

How to rust metal faster with 3 household ingredients.

How To Mix Ingredients To Create Rust On Tin Cans

  • Add 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide to your spray bottle.
  • Next, add three tablespoons of vinegar.
  • Two tablespoons of salt.

Place the cap on the bottle and shake until the salt is dissolved.

Be sure your metal is clean, and if there are any oils, they have been neutralized.

At this point, you want to break up the surface of your metal with steel wool. I only scratched the surface, and the rusting process was slow to take effect.

How To Set Up A WorkSpace

I recommend taking your metal outside and placing it on a protected surface.

I used a simple piece of cardboard and set it on the gravel drive.

Be sure the area around your workspace is open, and nothing that could potentially be damaged is close by.

How to rust metal faster with 3 household ingredients. Safety precautions.

You also want to protect your hands and eyes because the spray will splatter. Wear protective goggles and gloves.

In addition, wear old clothing that you don’t mind damaging. The ingredients can stain or bleach fabric colors.

Spray To Create Rusty Tin Cans

In order to create rusty tin cans, you will need to completely cover your metal pieces or tin cans with the spray mixture.

Leave the cans to dry in the sun if possible. The heat from the sun will help to speed up the process.

After One Application

This is what my cans looked like after the first application. I was less than impressed.

Metal cans after one application

However, I knew it would be necessary to repeat this process several times.

I was more impressed after the second application, and you can see the results below.

How to rust metal faster with 3 household ingredients.

After 4 applications, I was getting somewhere, but not all tin cans are created equal, and you can see what I mean below.

All 3 cans have received the same treatment, but two are slower to show the results. It would have been a good idea to use more steel wool on these cans.

Next time I will know better.

Rusty Tin Cans tutorial.

Because I plan to use most of these cans for an outdoor project, I didn’t continue to repeat this process.

I did apply one additional coat to the cans that showed less rust.

Because we had some rain, it took 4 days to get these results, and I applied 4 to 5 applications to the cans to get these rusty tin cans.

Rusted Tin Cans - How to Rust Metal Faster

I also left the cans out in the rain, which also slowed down the process as the rain most likely washed away the mixture I applied.

Insider Tip

Here’s what I learned about rusting metal.

First, I want to say that all metal will not rust as fast as others.

Especially items like tin cans, which may have a protective coating, and if so, you will want to break the surface with sandpaper or steel wool.

Note: I barely scratched these cans, and therefore, my first application was a slow start.

I also learned that all tin cans are not created equally and, therefore, some will rust much quicker than others regardless of your process.

My Rating For How to Rust Metal Faster

I believe that I made some mistakes in my judgment, and if I had taken additional extra time, this method would have been a simple and cost-effective way to accelerate rusting of metal.

Rusted tin cans quickly.  See step by step tutorial to rust metal quickly.

Rusty Tin Can Projects

I love how the cans look alone but wait until you see what I did with them for a DIY Fall Wreath. Scroll down for a preview.

Rusted tin cans quickly.  See step by step tutorial to rust metal quickly.

Here is a preview of the DIY Rusted Tin Can Wreath project.

How To Make a Rusty tin Can Fall Wreath.

Other Tin Can Projects

Thanks so much for stopping by today! I look forward to sharing my next adventure with you.

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Rusted tin can quickly.  See step by step tutorial to rust metal quickly.

Wendy McMonigle

Monday 7th of August 2023

Super cute Rachel. Love the wreath.


Tuesday 8th of August 2023

Wendy, Thanks for stopping by.


Monday 7th of August 2023

This is great. I will have to try it.


Tuesday 8th of August 2023

Renae, It's super easy.


Wednesday 17th of August 2022

Love this, I found a couple things that help in the rust process. I first put the items through a cycle in my dish washer. If they are small I soak them in a jar with apple cider vinegar and a rustyold steel wool pad or sos pad.


Friday 19th of August 2022

Marianne, Thanks so much for these additional tips. Anything to speed up the process.

Kim | Shiplap and Shells

Friday 10th of September 2021

What a great idea. I want rusty cans everywhere this fall!

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Sunday 12th of September 2021

Kim, Thanks so much.

Kippi Ohern

Tuesday 7th of September 2021

What a great idea! I love those rusty cans for fall. Happy Fall, Kippi

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Tuesday 7th of September 2021

Kippi, Thanks so much.