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Removing rust marks and stains


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What is the issue?
Accidentally leave a piece of ferrous metal on deck and it will quickly cause a rust mark to bond with your paint work. Small metal filings just collect over time and leave a rusty residual. Or in my case topside bolt heads, even thought they were stainless steel, just slowly bleed light rust marks down the gel coat. Once they appear the impossible to remove.

Why address this?
Rust stains look ugly.

How to address this?
Paint or sponge on a five percent solution of oxalic acid to the area and leave it to work for at least five minutes. The oxalic acid should digest the rust and turns it into a white powder that can be brushed off. Thoroughly rinse the applied area off afterwards. A spray of an alkaline based general household cleaner helps neutralize the acid while rinsing. This works like magic.

If a stain is particularly difficult and set well into the paintwork try several reapplications. This should work for most all cases but if you are still not able lift a stain you can also try a poultice approach. Add a small amount of water to dissolve the crystals and then add talcum powder to create a paste. Apply this poultice to the stain and leave it to dry. Then rinse off again as described above. This should resolve most any problem.

The word "acid" may sound daunting, but oxalic acid is easy to use and totally safe for use about the home and boat. It is available as a powder in most household hardware and marine-supply outlets.

However it should be treated with respect as it is both poisonous and an irritant. With all hazardous substances you should read the instructions carefully. Keep it stored safely away from children or animals. Always use rubber gloves and long sleeves plus eye protection when using it as it is a skin and eye irritant. It gives off a gas that is dangerous so all mixing and application should be in well ventilated areas.

Oxalic acid solutions can also be used to bleach woods that have turned grey from prolonged exposure to UV light. It is also an excellent deck brightener removing dirt, grime, tannin, fungi as well as rust stains from the surfaces.


With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession

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