How to Make Metal Rust in Less than 10 Minutes

I don’t know about you but my heart skips a beat when I come across reclaimed wood, rusty metal, and forged iron. There’s something to be said about pieces that speak their history through their old age and rusty patina, and it’s one of the reasons I’m so drawn to mountain homes and log cabins. However, there are times when those reclaimed materials are out of budget, or even just difficult to find. Luckily there are ways to make new items look old, and today I’m sharing how you can make metal rust in less than 10 minutes!

Ever wondered how to make new metal look old with a rusty, antique patina? See how you can make metal rust in less than 10 Minutes using items you probably already have on hand! MountainModernLife.com

There’s a project we’ve had in mind for our RV, all we needed was some antique horseshoes. I can’t tell you how many times I came across rusty horseshoes while we were living in Georgia, but I wasn’t quite ready for my project so I kept telling myself I’d get them later.

Fast forward several months and now that we’re ready for the project I can’t find old horseshoes anywhere! Well, that’s only partially true, I did find some online but wanted them NOW because I’m impatient. I did find a couple at a local antique shop but there were only two (I wanted at least three), and they didn’t have holes in them which we wanted to make it easy to attach to our reclaimed wood. Oh yeah and they were suuuuuper heavy.

In case you didn’t know, traveling in a RV means you have to be extra careful about how much weight you add to the motorhome, and every little thing adds up. Naturally I’m drawn to overly heavy wood and iron. Go figure.

Even something as small as a horseshoe all of a sudden seems to weigh a whole heck of a lot more than I ever realized. Anyway, since my mission to find antique horseshoes was a fail I decided it was time to fall back on plan B, buy new horseshoes and make them look old. I was able to pick up this 4 pack of horseshoes for $8 at a local tractor supply store. There were different kinds so we picked up the ones that are supposedly “lightweight”.

How to Make Metal Rust in Less than 10 Minutes - See how easy it is to create a rusty patina for an antique finish, using items you probably already have on hand. MountainModernLife.com

Gather Your Supplies

I gotta tell ya, making metal rust in fast forward was even more fun than I anticipated. Plus you probably have everything you need to try this out right now. The only thing we had to buy was salt. We had Himalayan salt, which may work, but I wasn’t sure how much I’d use so we just grabbed a big container of table salt for $1.

How to Make Metal Rust in Less than 10 Minutes - See how easy it is to create a rusty patina for an antique finish, using items you probably already have on hand. MountainModernLife.com

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Supplies Needed to Create Rusty Patina on Metal

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I have to admit that I didn’t really follow any specific recipe for this. I originally came across this post on how to make metal rust and planned to follow it to a tee, but then I became all impatient and excited and just did my own thing. The good news, is that it worked 🙂

Safety First!

Don’t forget about safety – while these are household items you want to be extra careful when mixing, and wear proper eye protection and gloves. Be sure to do this away from kids and pets and keep in mind that if this mixture gets onto any metal it will rust it. I recommend doing this outside so you have good ventilation, and don’t risk ruining anything.

My New Horseshoe:

Here’s one of the horseshoes I photographed during this process:

How to Make Metal Rust in Less than 10 Minutes - See how easy it is to create a rusty patina for an antique finish, using items you probably already have on hand. MountainModernLife.com

Step 1:

The first thing you will want to do is grab your steel/iron/metal and place it into a container or bucket. I just used a small, plastic storage container. 

After I placed my horseshoe in the container I poured some white distilled vinegar on top. I didn’t measure but I poured just enough so that it covered the horseshoe and then I sorta swished it around on top. You could pour some of the vinegar into a spray bottle and spray your metal objects instead.

How to Make Metal Rust in Less than 10 Minutes - See how easy it is to create a rusty patina for an antique finish, using items you probably already have on hand. MountainModernLife.com

Step 2:

Let your metal objects sit in the vinegar for as little or as long as you want, then drain the vinegar from the container.

For this specific horseshoe, I let it sit in the vinegar for about 5 minutes before I emptied the vinegar from the container.

Step 3:

At this point you’ll want to add peroxide on top of your metal objects. You can mix it with vinegar and salt inside a spray bottle if you want.

I had pre-mixed roughly 5 oz of peroxide with 2 oz of vinegar and started spraying that onto the horseshoe while it was still in the container. My spray bottle wasn’t working that well and I became impatient so I just took off the spray cap and dumped the mixture onto my horseshoe. This is where it starts to get fun because the peroxide starts to bubble on the metal and you can see the rust color coming on.

Step 4:

Add salt.

I then sprinkled …err dumped… a bunch of salt on my horseshoe and the rusty color started to come out even more. Ooooooooh! #EasilyAmused

How to Make Metal Rust in Less than 10 Minutes - See how easy it is to create a rusty patina for an antique finish, using items you probably already have on hand. MountainModernLife.com

Then I called Eric over because I was all excited to show him, but I wanted more bubbles and fizz so I poured a bit more hydrogen peroxide on top. I didn’t measure.

How to Make Metal Rust in Less than 10 Minutes - See how easy it is to create a rusty patina for an antique finish, using items you probably already have on hand. MountainModernLife.com

Step 5:

Remove from mixture and let air dry.

After a few minutes I swished the horseshoe around in the solution to sort of rinse off the salt and then patted it dry with a paper towel. You don’t want to wipe it too hard or it could remove some of the patina. You’ll see that it’s a bit rusty but don’t worry if it doesn’t look exactly the way you want, it actually rusts more as it dries. This is what mine looked like right after I removed it from the mixture – I did this all in less than 10 minutes.

How to Make Metal Rust in Less than 10 Minutes - See how easy it is to create a rusty patina for an antique finish, using items you probably already have on hand. MountainModernLife.com

It was getting dark outside so I just let it sit overnight and the next day this is what my horseshoe looked like, next to metal that’s been rusting for years:

How to Make Metal Rust in Less than 10 Minutes - See how easy it is to create a rusty patina for an antique finish, using items you probably already have on hand. MountainModernLife.com

I like that some of the bluish-grey color of the iron is coming through the rust.

How to Make Metal Rust in Less than 10 Minutes - See how easy it is to create a rusty patina for an antique finish, using items you probably already have on hand. MountainModernLife.com

I made a few more horseshoes prior to this one and let some of them sit for about an hour because I wasn’t noticing the color change right away. I later realized that they get rustier as they dry. So I would just say to experiment. If you don’t like how your metal looks after 10 minutes and air drying, you can always repeat the process and keep them in the solution for a longer period of time 🙂

How to Make Metal Rust in Less than 10 Minutes - See how easy it is to create a rusty patina for an antique finish, using items you probably already have on hand. MountainModernLife.com

Step 6:

Spray with clear sealer.

You’ll want to spray your metal objects with a clear sealer to prevent them from staining anything they touch.

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That’s it! Now we have some rusty, antique looking horseshoes that are perfect for our project, which we’ll be sharing with you next week.

How to Make Metal Rust in Less than 10 Minutes - See how easy it is to create a rusty patina for an antique finish, using items you probably already have on hand. MountainModernLife.com

This is just one way to rust metal, but I’m definitely a fan. If you decide to try this out we would love to hear about your results in the comments below. I’m curious how it works on different types of metals. And if you have a specific technique that you prefer when it comes to making new metal look old, we would love to hear about that too!

Update: Don’t forget to check out the rustic bathroom shelf we created using these horseshoes.

Rustic Bathroom Shelf with Horseshoes | MountainModernLife.com

20 Comments
  • Megan VanBuskirk
    Reply

    Thank you for posting this, worked very well on my welding project. I wanted a rustic feel and I got just that. Wondering how you disposed of the liquid after your horseshoe was adequately rusted?

    March 6, 2017 at 2:50 pm
  • Jeremy Myers
    Reply

    What clear sealer do you like to use?

    March 29, 2017 at 9:21 pm
    • James Koenig
      Reply

      Use silicone lube in the spray can…. Don’t use a clear coat paint…cause that looks tacky

      July 21, 2017 at 8:16 pm
  • Betty
    Reply

    This is a great and simple idea. Too many recipes called for “acid” no way I’m handling that stuff or having it around my animals. This is actually household items. I have an old metal birdcage from Europe that was painted black and I think I’m going to try this. It is going onto my screened in porch. My initial idea was to make it look like pewter but way too involved. I’m not a DIYer so if it has a lot of steps I keep looking.

    April 4, 2017 at 5:03 pm
  • Virginia Rohde
    Reply

    Love your shelves. I’m going to try this later today for tags that look like the stuff buckets are made of. I have tried bleach, leaving in rain, nothing happened. I want to put my name on them but I want the tags rusty. Will let you know if it works with this type.

    April 19, 2017 at 12:58 am
  • Turbs
    Reply

    Happy days ! This is a great way to rust your project ! I’ve just finished a set of old skool roof racks for my 64 ” super snipe car ……it looks rockin ….thanks……

    May 30, 2017 at 4:35 am
  • Would this work with a tricycle that is already a tiny bit rusty?

    June 26, 2017 at 8:41 pm
  • Daz-UK
    Reply

    Wow I want to weather a plastic robot , but I want to use authentic ingredients (rust) not faux paint … so I’m gonna get some old nails n follow ur recipe, hopefully the remains dry ingredients will brush onto my Figure – I’ll let I know how I get on –

    August 5, 2017 at 6:06 pm
  • Diana Crandall
    Reply

    They turned out great. Wondering if this would work on aluminum horseshoes which are really very lightweight. I have some old spurs that I’ve used as drapery tie backs before that looked pretty neat. Also a beautiful bit that will never be used on a horse again. My vet is opposed to the use of all of these items on equines, and told me the only good use for a bit is for making a toilet paper holder. And, this would make a really cool looking one, at that.

    September 2, 2017 at 6:05 am
  • Jennifer
    Reply

    Can I do this on painted horseshoes? And will it work

    September 15, 2017 at 5:44 pm
  • Sallie Wysocke
    Reply

    We just used your solution on a large chain that will be exposed to hang a pallet wood picture. Looks awesome.

    September 18, 2017 at 8:42 am

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