SILVER

BUST THE RUST

My project is called Bust the Rust. My Big Question is: Can you stop rust from forming on steel wool? Rust is made by a chemical reaction it is created by oxidization. I am testing what rust inhibitor works the best.
Max Mullen
Grade 5

Hypothesis

I think the Rust Inhibitor will do the best job at preventing rust . The reason I think this is because it is made for this purpose. When it was applied to the steel wool it was very foamy. I thought it would form into a thick rubbery layer which would stop the electron transfer needed for happen to happen.

Research

What Causes Rust?

Rust is caused by a chemical reaction called oxidization. A chemical reaction happens when one thing turns into something else. Rust is an example of this and happens when iron (Fe) breaks down. Iron (Fe), water (H2O), and oxygen /air (O) are needed to make rust. Iron (Fe) turns into Iron Oxide (Fe2O3).

When something rusts, it happens because there is an exchange of electrolytes between iron and oxygen. The electron movement happens by the electrons traveling through the water /solution.

Some things make metal rust faster. The liquid the metal is in can be more or less conductive (i.e.  faster/slower). If the solution increases the movement of electrons it is a strong electrolyte. If it does not allow the electrons to move quickly it is a low or weak electrolyte.

Some things like salt and acid are strong electrolytes relative to water and increase conductivity so the metal will rust more quickly in these solutions than fresh water.

The electrical environment created by the liquid the metal is in can make it rust more quickly.

Variables

I changed the product and the inhibitor

Procedure

Procedure

Experiment #1 – How to Make Rust

  1. Place a steel wool pad on a plate, pour 2/3 cup of regular distilled water over top.  Label plate “Plain Water”.
  2. Place a steel wool pad on a plate, pour 2/3 cup of salt water over top.  Label plate “Salt Water” (How did we make salt water)
  3. Place a steel wool pad on a plate, pour 2/3 cup of acid water over top.  Label plate “Acid Water”. Acid solution was made by mixing 1/3 cup white vinegar with a 1/3 cup water. 
  4. Place a steel wool pad on a plate. Do not pour water over.  This is the control.
  5. Inspect the steel wool pads at 15 hours, 23 hours, 30 hours, 40 hours, 100 hours make observations and take pictures. What steel pad rusts the fastest?
 

 

Procedure

Experiment #2 – Can we stop steel from rusting?

  1.  Treat 6 steel wool pads, coat one of each in:  Rustoluem Spray Paint, Krylon Spray Paint, Rust Inhibitor, Chain Wax, Canola Oil and WD-40.
  2. In this experiment we only used acid water to soak the steel wool. Each pre-treated steel wool pad was placed on a plate and dampened with “Acid Water” made from mixing 1/3 cup white vinegar with a 1/3 cup distilled water. Plate was labelled with the name of the pre-treatment coating.
  3.  A control plate was made by dampening an untreated steel wool pad with the acid water.
  4. Inspect the steel wool pads at 15 hours, 23 hours, 30 hours, 40 hours, 100 hours make observations and take pictures. What steel pad rusts the fastest?

Observations

Feb 8th 2021 Experiment #2 12:00PM

I coated 7 SOS pads in solutions I thought would prevent rust.

  • Canola Oil
  • WD-40
  • Krylon spray paint
  • RustoleumSpray Paint
  • Chain Wax
  • Rust Inhibitor

 

Feb 9th 2021 Experiment #2  8:00AM

  • I put 7 treated SOS pads on a labelled saucer and poured
  • acid water (1/3 cup water + 1/3 cup white vinegar) over top.
  • I put 1 untreated SOS pad in a saucer and poured the acid solution on top – this was my control variable.

 

Feb 9th 2021 Experiment #2 10:00AM (Lapsed time 2 hours)

Krylon spray paint – SOS pad looks normal, but there is a slight rust tinge to the water, more than the WD-40 water.

WD-40 – Looks pretty much the same; tiny bit of rust on the pad the water has a slight tinge of rust but looks almost clear

Chain Wax - SOS pad looks ok, a small amount of rust is visible. Water is fairly clear Not as clear as WD-40

RustoleumSpray Paint – SOS pad looks normal but there is a slight rust tinge to the water. More rust color in the water than the Krylon paint.

Rust Inhibitor – SOS pad looks good. Water slight tinge of rust, similar in color to the water in the chain wax dish.

Canola Oil – SOS pad looks ok but the water is rust colored, comparable to the water in the control dish.

Control – Looks perfect, water is clear

NOTE: because the control subject looks normal I think the brown rust color in the other dishes might not be from rust but from another chemical reaction with the ingredients we used to coat the SOS pads.

Feb 9th 2021 Experiment #2 9:30 PM (Lapsed time 13 hours)

Krylon spray paint –  Looks the same as the morning. SOS pad looks normal, but there is a slight rust tinge to the water, more than the WD-40 water. There is a slight deposit of rust color around the plate noticeable from where the water evaporated.

WD-40 – Looks pretty much the same from this morning: tiny bit of rust on the pad the water has a slight tinge of rust but looks almost clear

Chain Wax -  Looks the same -SOS pad looks ok, a small amount of rust is visible. Water is fairly clear Not as clear as WD-40. There is a light deposit of rust color around the plate noticeable from where the water evaporated.

RustoleumSpray Paint –  Looks similar to this morning; SOS pad looks normal but there is a slight rust tinge to the water. More rust color in the water than the Krylon paint.   There is deposit of rust color around the plate noticeable from where the water evaporated.

Rust Inhibitor –  Not much change from the morning; SOS pad looks good. Water slight tinge of rust, similar in color to the water in the chain wax dish.  There looks like an oily patch in the water. It is probably the Rust Inhibitor dissolving off.

Canola Oil –  Looks similar to the morning: There is noticeably less soap in the Steel Wool. Also the  water color is less rusty than this morning.

Control –  Biggest change since the morning. We can see some rust forming and there is rust color in the water.

 

Feb 10th 2021 Experiment #2 9:30 AM (Lapsed time 23 hours)

Krylon spray paint – Change in water color for worse, but the SOS looks decent spray paint looks like it might be starting to come off?  Rust deposit around the plate is getting larger.

WD-40 – Still looking pretty good; there is some rust on one side of the pad. There is some rust color around the edge of the pad.

Chain Wax -  Big change in water color, more deposit around the plate. There appears to be rust forming inside the SOS pad in places.

RustoleumSpray Paint –  Pretty big change in the water color, the SOS still looks similar to this morning; the deposit of rust color around the plate is about 2X as large.

Rust Inhibitor –  Big deterioration, water is a lot darker, we can visibly see rust on edges or underside.  There is a big deposit of rust color around the edge of the plate.

Canola Oil –    There is rust on the steel and the water is looking very yellowish/brown rusty.

Control –  Rust is staring to take over the SOS. Rust deposit on plate.

 

Analysis

What I Learned

Why did the steel wool in acid rust first?

Rust is a chemical reaction. It changes one thing to something else when electrons move between atoms. Some chemicals can make rust happen faster because they increase the electrical activity between iron and oxygen. Things like salt and acid increase the conductivity of the moisture or liquid around metal- that makes rust happen faster.

  • The chemical reaction between vinegar and steel is exothermic that means is creates heat.  Usually heat speeds up chemical reactions so metal that is hot will rust faster than if it is cold.
  • Dissolving salt in water is an endothermic reaction.  This means the reaction absorbs heat from the environment.  This creates a cold environment so the rusting process would be slower.
  • The vinegar/acid water seems to have its own chemical reaction with the steel wool.  I think it eats away at the protective coating.  This made it easier for the oxygen in the air to react with the steel and create rust.

Conclusion

Conclusion

The Rust Inhibitor did not work best. It did not create a thick rubbery coating like I thought it would.  It seems like the acid water was able to seep into the SOS pad.  The steel on the outside of the steel pad that was well coated with the product did ok but the material inside rusted out.

The canola oil and WD-40 seemed to do the best job.  I think the oil was probably able to seep into the wool pad and coat each fiber.  Oil and water separate so a layer of oil on the steel fibers kept the oxygen in the air from moving in the water to the steel wool. Without oxygen rust can’t from.

Application

If you don’t want stuff to rust here’s what’s important to know:

  • Don’t leave things outside or in a place where there is lots of moisture. 
  • Washing with clean water to remove salt and acids helps prevent rust -this is why it’s a good idea to wash your car especially in the winter when they use salt and chemical to melt ice and snow!!
  • Drying– Helps remove moisture, water is needed for rust so without it rust cannot form.
  • Maintenance is important!  If you notice rust – have it cleaned and coated to stop the rust from continuing.  If the protective coating is broken/scratched the moisture can get to the metal and rust more.
  • If you live somewhere where there is seawater even with good practices it might not help.  The salt and moisture in the air create the perfect environment for rust to form.  That is why things like air conditioners near ocean front homes rust more quickly.
  • Because heat increases the rate of rusting things that are hot will rust faster than those that are not.  For example, your muffler will probably rust faster than your bike.
  • A turbo engine is more likely to rust if not properly treated because it injects air into the motor to increase speed.  The introduction of more oxygen can speed up the rusting process.
  • The iron can be painted or coated with oil to stop/slow oxygen and water from coming into contact with the metal.  This will slow or stop rusting.
  • Galvanization is a process where the steel is covered in a zinc coating.  It protects the metal from reacting with water molecules.  This is probably the best protection for things but it is also more expensive and can’t be done at home.  

Sources Of Error

Sources of Error

  • The protective coating may not have been evenly applied.
  • The amount of coating applied to each piece of steel wool may not have been equal.
  • The way the water was poured over the steel wool wasn't "exactly" the same. So some pieces of the steel wool might have had more exposure to moisture.
  • The SOS pads contained soap, this may have acted as a protective coating or may have reacted with the solutions and had its own chemical reaction that might have changed the overall outcome.
  • Sometimes while observing I flipped the steel wool but I did not control this variable and it could have affected the moisture the steel wool was exposed to.

Citations

Acknowledgement

I want to thank my mom and dad for giving me tips and buying all the supplies I needed. I also want to thank Mrs. Van den Eynden for helping me get all the information into the science fair website. I also want to thank my grandparents for ideas for my science fair.