Considering that the places where we usually store our tools, such as basements, garages and sheds, are often a little damp, it’s no wonder when the metal ones start to rust. While there are ways to clean rusty toolsAn even better (and more affordable) option is to keep them from rusting in the first place. One way to do this is to preserve them with uncooked rice. Here’s what to know.
Basically, the idea is that because moisture causes metal tools to rust, you can prevent this from happening by storing them with uncooked rice, which acts as a desiccant, absorbing moisture. There are several ways to harness the anti-rust power of uncooked rice, some messier than others. Here are three to consider:
Place about a handful of uncooked rice inside a porous bag, but not so much that the rice falls out. A sachet, such as the type of potpourri that comes with it, would work, as would making a small pouch using cheesecloth, using a sock, or stuffing the foot of a pair of pantyhose or tights (as long as they don’t have large holes), cutting them at the knee and knotting the fabric at the open end.
Put the sachet in the bottom of your toolbox or in the drawers of a toolbox. When uncooked rice feels dampeither replace it with a new sachet, or open the one you have, dump out the old rice, let the sachet dry completely, then (assuming it doesn’t smell musty) fill it with fresh uncooked rice.
Rather than take a few minutes to make a sachet, some people choose to toss a handful of uncooked rice right into their toolbox. Technically, this should get the job done, but you’ll be dealing with loose grains that stick and potentially lodge within the contents of your toolbox. Plus, when the rice eventually gets wet, cleanup won’t be fun.
The final method comes to us from an article in House Digest: “If you don’t have a toolbox, try filling a jar with rice and inserting the head of your tools inside, making sure the metal is immersed in the grit.”
While the science and ultimate goals are different, this setup is essentially a variation of the suggestion now debunked to revive a drenched smartphone by placing it in a bowl of uncooked rice. It’s not the most convenient way to store tools, and it uses more rice than the other strategies, but perhaps it could come in handy during a very specific emergency situation to prevent rust.