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Nails rusting science project, page 3

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December 6, 2009

Which would make a nail rust quicker: soda, saltwater or vinegar? I'm putting nails in soda, saltwater and vinegar but which would actually make it rust faster. I'm in the 3rd grade needing help thanks.

ashley vdeleted
student - Tampa Florida


December 7, 2009

Hi, Ashley. Don't ask what the results will be. That will sway you to not notice things that actually happened, and to talk yourself into "seeing" things that weren't really there to get the result you "should". That is called "junk science" and it is poison that you don't want to drink at your tender age. Resist junk science until you are a starving climatologist desperately in need of a grant :-)

Step 1 is to ask mom or dad for help in putting nails in the three liquids, and writing down everything you see.

Then your questions will be about things you actually did and actually saw;. Right now they are probably words that you are parroting without even quite understanding what you are asking :-)

Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Earth Science for Every Kid


December 9, 2009

I'm a 8th grader that has to do a science project, and I need a foundation to start on.

I have nails rusting in different types of substances, but other than that, I was wondering which substances can conduct electricity faster.

I was thinking about trying vinegar, lemon juice, salt with water, and borax. Please recommend more liquids so I can try it out.

Roze Cdeleted
student - California


December 10, 2009

Hi, Rose. Before you seek an answer to a question you need to truly understand the question you are asking. Are you sure that you have a very clear picture of what you mean by "conduct electricity faster"? The more ions in solution, the more charge the solution is capable of transporting.

As a general but not ironclad rule, stronger acids and alkalies will therefore conduct electricity better than more neutral solutions like salt water or borax.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

December 30, 2009

What would be a good name for my science project about rusting metal with varieties of liquids?

Eunice Sdeleted
- Illinois


December 30, 2009

Hi, Eunice. How about "A special theory about rusting metals with liquids". Your special theory will be limited to your metals, your liquids, and your exposure conditions. Your teacher may appreciate the play on Einstein's work, but either way it's still a proper title if you do in fact come to any conclusions.

Years from now you may go for "A general theory about rusting metals with liquids" :-)

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 5, 2010

For my science project I am seeing what type liquid would corrode nails over a course of ten days. I am using coke, vinegar, water, and orange juice. I am putting one cup of each liquid into clear glasses and placing a nail into each glass. Then I would leave them on the counter but the coke would go flat and the orange juice would rot. So am I supposed to change the coke every day and keep the orange juice in the fridge? But then wouldn't the results be inaccurate?

Chelsea Mdeleted
- New Port Richey, Florida


January 2010

Hi, Chelsea. Good thinking! And what else will happen over a long period of time is the acidity of the vinegar will evaporate into the air (that's why the smell is so sharp), and the water will evaporate.

I think the best routine is to cover the bowls with plastic wrap to try to minimize the effect of exposure to the air, and to note in your analysis of the project that you covered the bowls to tried to minimize the aging of the liquids, but recognize that it can't be prevented and is likely to have an effect when the exposure runs to 10 days.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 6, 2010

For my science project my teacher wants me to record the data for my project. How am I supposed to measure or chart how much a nail corrodes? I am testing what type of liquid would corrode a nail the most over a period of time but I am not sure how to make a data table or how to show my results on a graph.

Jasmine Ldeleted
- Orlando, Florida


January 6, 2010

Hi, Jasmine. You didn't say what grade you are in, and this project would obviously be very different for a 2nd grade student vs. a senior in high school, as the difference is well over half of your whole education.

To make a graph, you need some sort of quantitative measure of corrosion. The best way would be to weigh the nail before the start of the test and at each interval.

If that is too advanced for your grade, then rub the rust off onto a coffee filter and pour the liquid through the filter and decide how to gauge the rusting based on the amount of rust on the filter. Good luck.

Regards,
pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Earth Science for Every Kid


Kids Guide to Research


January 8, 2010

I did a science fair experiment on which liquid rusts a nail the fastest. Tap water rusted the most and I was wondering why. I used a steel non-galvanized nail. What causes the rust and why does only water do the most?

Michael Rdeleted
- Lexington, Kentucky


January 8, 2010

Hi, Michael.

You didn't say what the other liquids were, so nobody can answer your question :-(

But the general question was already addressed on this page; please try your best to phrase your question in terms of what you did not understand rather than running in circles by repeating already answered questions. Thanks.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


January 18, 2010

I have to make a graph for my science experiment, but I really don't know how. I can ask my teacher that, but I don't understand. I put one nail in tap water, another in coca cola, and another in Apple Juice. The thing is, that the nail in the coca cola rusted, but the nail in the apple juice turned black. Why is that? I know there is a different acid in apple juice, but what are the different chemicals that make the iron nail black?

blair pdeleted
student - kitchener, Ontario, Canada


February 10, 2010

Hi, I am helping my son with his science fair project on rusting nails, and as I see there is an awful lot on this topic and a lot of ways to do it. we did it two ways
1. was with nails that were supposedly rust proof. and
2. with just regular nails that we used sandpaper on.

we put them separately into 5 different liquids , leaving half of the nail out of the liquid and half in. What we found on the first day was that bleach rusted it right away. Our question is why? and also it is now the 3rd day and it also looks like some type of metal is growing or silver or something silvery looking on the nail. What could that be? Oh and both the nails rusted right away even the rust resistant in the bleach. Also, we used tap water, melted snow, Gatorade, orange juice and soda (Coke). We noted that one of the nails that was in the Gatorade rusted, but only the part that was above the liquid not the part in it. Is there something in the gatorade that stops it from rusting? If we covered the cups the nails were in would that cause a different reaction? Does the temperature have an effect on rust? any help would be appreciated. Oh by the way my son is in 3rd grade this is his first science project. so I really want him to get into it. thanks.

Tammy Sdeleted
- Brooklyn, New York


February 16, 2010

Hi, Tammy.
Your son could browse the page even if parts of it are beyond him, because it already explains why bleach is so corrosive. He should not ask whether temperature has an effect unless/until he has done an experiment with different temperatures and made observations; nor should he ask whether covering will make a difference unless/until he tries it. Having an answer to shoot for corrupts the experiment :-)
Gatorade is a secret formula, so it would just be a guess whether it contains something that retards rust, but as mentioned a couple of times on this page, acidic (low pH) liquids dissolve rust rather than creating it.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

February 17, 2010

ok ted hopefully you get this by tomorrow morning but can you tell me some books that are good to look at for like what makes rust and why does rust happen. please hurry thank you

Jordan Mdeleted
- milwaukee,Wisconsin


February 17, 2010

Hi, Jordan. Sorry, but I have no expertise or experience in recommending children's science books. Your library probably has a librarian who has been trained in just exactly that. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


February 25, 2010

I am in 5th grade and doing the same experiment mentioned by others, I placed steel wool in 5 different liquids: salt water, tap water, coke, orange juice and vinegar. The vinegar produced the most corrosion above the surface but no rust under the surface. The tap water and salt water produced the most rust under the surface. The orange juice and coke have produced no rust. I am wondering if there is less oxygen in the coke and orange juice?

Jesse Fdeleted
student - longmont, Colorado


February 2010

Hi, Jesse. The answer is near the beginning of this very long page. Vinegar, orange juice, coke, and other mild acids dissolve rust faster than they dissolve the iron. So you will not see any rust. But let the liquid evaporate and the dish will be plenty rusty since the rust will no longer be dissolved in the liquid.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


March 16, 2010

Hello,

I am trying to help my 6th grader with her science fair project. She did the experiment to find out which liquid will rust a nail faster. She used tap water, salt water, bleach, and hydrogen peroxide. We have found that water will rust a nail faster than hydrogen peroxide. How is this so? Perhaps it's because the hydrogen peroxide has 2 oxygen atoms? I cannot find anything to help me explain this to her.

Thank you for your help!

Kerry Sdeleted
- Indianapolis, Indiana


March 24, 2010

hey I have the problem statement which type of liquid (vinegar, coke, orange juice, and water,) would rust a nail the fastest? and I just can't think of a title please help me out the science fair is in 2 days!

AMY Rdeleted
- ORLANDO FLORIDA


March 2010

Hi, Amy. What's wrong with: "Will Vinegar, Coke, Orange Juice or Water Cause Fastest Rusting"?

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


March 29, 2010

I am in the 3rd grade and doing a science project on which liquid rusts a nail quicker. I used salt water, tap water, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and bleach. I watched the nails for 2 hrs and in those 2 hrs bleach started rusting the nail at the tip and end. I went to sleep and after 12 hrs the tap water had the nail completely rusted, I took out the liquids and opened my jars waiting on more results. I would just like to know why did the results I got happen and why did the tap water rust the nail completely?

G Jones
- Jacksonville North Carolina


March 2010

Hi, G. You made some useful observations: good work! But I would not try to explain all of this chemistry based on your two simple and very short-term observations. I would continue the experiment for several more days, then make a hypothesis, then re-do the experiment at least once more and preferably twice more.

There is simply too much random variation in the world, and too many possible factors that are uncontrolled, for you to make a definitive statement like "nails rust fastest is tap water" based on one solitary observation. And if we can't say with surety that something is even true, we certainly don't want to try to explain why it is true :-)

Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


March 31, 2010

I'm in 9th grade. I'm doing experiment to see which chemical accelerates the speed of the rusting of a nail. What's in lemonade that makes the nail rust?

Aleksandra Sdeleted
student - sydney nsw australia


March 31, 2010

Hi, Aleksandra. Water for one thing. But sorry to say you're doing this experiment wrong in at least three ways :-)

1st - You either mixed the lemonade from lemons yourself, so you know what's in it, or you bought it in a can, which says what's in it. Asking someone else what is in it can only give you a non-reliable answer.

2nd - It is "junk science" if you conduct an experiment already knowing what result you are looking for because you'll interpret what you see through the filter of what you want to see.

3rd - Any attempt to assign causality is nothing more than a guess until you have done experiments that demonstrate that causality.

Good luck!

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


April 21, 2010

Hi, I'm in 12th grade right now and I really really need help. I've been googling for a long time and I haven't found anything good.
Could you please explain to me:
1. Why is iron rusting exothermic? It releases heat , but why?

2. Why does acid make iron rust faster? More acidic = more rust? Please clarify.

Thank you so much.
Also, if you know any good websites (can't use Wikipedia), please recommend. Thanks.

Cathy Cdeleted
- Seattle, Washington


April 22, 2010

Hi, Cathy. You are probably not allowed to use Wikipedia for the same reason that I wasn't allowed to use encylopedias way back when I was your age -- and that is because someone else has done all the research and compilation, and you'd just be grabbing the answer rather than actually learning to do the research. In the same way, if you just ask the questions and I answer them for you, what practice have you gotten in doing research? The right way to do this is probably to have your librarian guide you to the right shelf for appropriate science books, but by 12th grade you should be able to find the shelf yourself.

1. You don't find chunks of iron in nature because metallic iron is at a higher energy state than corroded, reacted iron. To make iron, you need to add energy (by heating the iron ore) while excluding oxygen. Over time the metallic iron you created will slowly react with oxygen to return to that lower energy state, slowing releasing energy (heat).

2. Acid doesn't actually make iron rust. As mentioned several times on this page, industry uses acid to remove rust from iron and steel, not to make it. But acid does dissolve iron into iron salts, so it does corrode iron. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 22, 2010

Hello again,
Thanks so much for answering my question .
Although, the real reason my teacher won't allow us to use Wikipedia is because its "unreliable". Anyone can edit it, you see.
We're allowed to get information from ehow, for example.

Could you please explain to me how, exactly, does the acid dissolve iron into iron salts?
Thank you!

Cathy C [returning]
- Lilburn, Georgia


April 23, 2010

Hi again, Cathy. I see that your family moved cross country yesterday. Glad that it didn't interrupt your school work :-)

Please ask your teacher to research what ehow is about before s/he claims that it is more reliable than Wikipedia. In the opinion of many, ehow is nothing but an insulting "gaming" of google's Adsense program. They use machines to determine what the most popular search terms are, then assign someone from a pool of freelance writers (sometimes with no qualifications) to write an article for a pittance that is simply stuffed with those search terms so it will rank high on google.

An example of acid dissolving iron into iron salts would be:

2HCl + Fe => FeCl2 + H2

What drives it is the same thing as previously mentioned: things following their natural tendency to release heat and move to a lower energy state.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 22, 2010

Thank you website!
I read this JUST before I did my experiment and it really helped and right now I'm writing out my experiment and yeaa
thanks again this website is mentioned in my bibliography!
xxxx

Saveena Sdeleted
- Sydney, NSW, Australia


August 13, 2010

Hi I'm in grade 8 and I'm doing a science project on which liquids make a nail rust faster. I'm using vinegar tap water coca cola. How should I record my observations everyday? week? or what I'm not sure! Also should I test the pH levels?

Dina C
student - New jersey


August 16, 2010

Hi, Dina.

I would record something daily even if there isn't much to see. It certainly can't hurt to test the pH levels unless you feel that they are irrelevant to your hypothesis. What is your hypothesis?

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

September 10, 2010

Hey there I am doing this project but what is the control thnx
Relora
oh and I'm in 8th grade physics(its called physical science but I think that's the same lolz)

Relora Sdeleted
- Melrose, Florida

September 30, 2010

Hi I am a grade 10 student and we have a huge science project to be done by the end of the year, I am doing it on what type of water will rusts nails the fastest, the different types of waters I am using are purified water, fresh water and salt water.
i am wondering how this can be put into real life situations for my discussion?
thanks in advance

Mike Ddeleted
- Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

October 4, 2010

Hi, Mike. If you have a boat, or a model boat, or a fishing reel, you might be concerned about whether it is necessary to wash it after you've taken it to a fresh water lake or a salt water bay. If you have an overheating car you might wonder whether to carry a jug of fresh water, salt water, or purified water to top up the radiator. If you have steam or hot water heating in your home, you might wonder what kind of water is best to put in it. You can think of more.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

October 5, 2010

Hey I'm having a hard time doing research for my background knowledge. in my experiment I'm rusting steel nails in vinegar, tap water, salt water, sprite, and lemon juice. I was thinking maybe about acidity and pH levels? but I don't know. my research paper has to be 3 pages long and I don't have enough information! I'm in 8th grade physics. PLEASE help! thank y'all [:

Chloe M
- Panama City, Florida, USA

October 8, 2010

Hi!
I am doing a science project on rusting nails, and I will be doing it for 10 days. I am having trouble writing a report, because It needs to be about 5 notebook pages long... And All I have is what happened to the nails.

Please help me, Mr. Ted!

With Love,
Kasandra
A 7th Grader

Kasandra M
- Northern Florida, Florida, United States

October 11, 2010

Hi, Kasandra. You should describe your methodology, and that can take a lot of words. By that I mean: how big were the bowls; where did you get the nails and what do you know about them, if anything; did you do the experiment indoors, and what was the approximate temperature. Where does your tap water come from; how much salt did you put in the salt water; were the jars covered or open. Did you attempt to clean the nails first with sandpaper, or detergent of anything?

Then there are observations: Did you look at the nails at all between the start of the experiment and the time you removed them from the jars? If so, what did you see? Could you smell the vinegar or lemon juice? Did the Sprite appear to go flat over time? Did you arrive at any conclusions? Did you do any research? 5 pages isn't too much to describe in detail everything you did, saw, and learned. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

October 17, 2010

Hi my name is Alexa and I'm in 7th grade and I was wondering if you could help me with 2 things.First, I need help coming up with a title to my project because my old one seems to long. It is, what substances remove rust the best? Second, I'm having trouble finding resources any ideas ?

Alexa Jdeleted
student - Yuma, Arizona US

October 21, 2010

Hi,Alexa. I would not worry about the title being too long, but I would be worried about it being worded too strongly. For example, there might be a dozen things that remove rust better than anything you will try (probably some of them are too toxic for a 7th grade science project). "The Effectiveness of Some Household Liquids Towards Rust Removal" might be a more modest title.

If you are looking for resources, you really should be at a library, and the librarian will probably be glad to help. But if you and your teacher are satisfied relying on the far less reliable and credible internet, what's wrong with the page you're looking at?  :-)

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 11, 2010

I've seen many helpful ideas regarding the liquid and nails project on this thread. My 3rd grade son saw this site and wanted to do a "optional" science fair project regarding which liquid causes a nail to rust the quickest. Like everyone else water was the answer. Now my question to you is-how do I explain to him the why of it in a 3rd grader's term? I am stumped trying to explain the water's conductivity and allowing the corrosion current to flow. Do you have any ideas that would help explain to him why this happens? If you wouldn't mind offering any suggestions as quickly as possible that would be great!

Jill Privette
- lakeland, Minnesota usa

November 11, 2010

Hi, Jill. I've never been in education and it's been decades since my boys were in 3rd grade, so I'm not sure I have a good feel for what 3rd-grade level is :-)

A librarian or teacher would probably be a lot better at it than me. Plus, although I think Poppy Anne is right, I've never researched it and don't know it for a fact. So I don't want too concoct a 3rd grade level analogy to explain something that may only be urban legend in the first place.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 15, 2010

hey ted I did a test to see what water out of fresh salt and purified water would rust a nail the fastest and I found that fresh water rusted it the fastest, y would this be because many people say that after fishing in salt water you have to rinse it with fresh water (as an example)

thanks in advance

Mike D
- Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

November 15, 2010

C'mon, Mike. I just finished answering that to the best of my ability. When you get an assignment to do a book report, do you read the book or do you call the author and say "What's your book about?" :-)

I'm really not trying to be mean or difficult, but teachers write to us asking us to "just tell the students to do their own homework". Asking me a question when you've looked hard and can't seem to find an answer is fine; but when the answer is already on the page, I'd be doing a disservice to your science education to pretend it isn't :-)

Regards and good luck,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

December 4, 2010

Hi,

Very interesting discussion. My daughter is doing the nail rusting experiment with water, vinegar, bleach, and oil. We have been spritzing (recommended in this thread)_ and photo taking for about 4 days. But teacher wants a chart of "data" (and she means a chart on Excel). Any clue on how to go about this (Measuring data)? Estimate rust coverage? -- as difficult as that is to do with little spots and so forth. Any ideas?

RAR

Rollin Ramsaran
- Johnson City, Tennesee USA

December 6, 2010

Hi, Rollin.

The corrosion is probably going to be too little for her to be able to measure the weight change with a scale, or impractical depending on your daughter's age and the equipment available at the school. So you are going to proceed according to your "qualitative" feel for the amount of rust. It is obviously difficult to turn qualitative feel into real "quantitative" data -- so take a lesson from TV commercials on how to "sort of" do it. One commercial claims that their product "reduces the appearance of fine lines by 78%" . . . really, what does that even mean? They invented their own scale, and that's what you need to do :-)

Don't beat yourself up, just give it a shot. I'd probably either go by the percentage of the surface covered by rust, or by rubbing any rust off the nails onto a coffee filter and estimating the relative darkness or size of the rust stains on the filter.

Then you can pick the rustiest one and say the next rustiest seemed to have about 50% (or whatever) as much rust, the next had 25% as much rust or whatever, and the best preserved had no rust. Now you have numbers that you can chart.

Hint: the oil covered steel parts in an engine do not rust significantly or the engine wouldn't work very well. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

December 9, 2010

I did a project on the rusting of nails in liquids and put them in orange juice, vinegar, diet coke, salt water, and water. The water, salt water, and diet coke rusted. The orange juice and vinegar didn't. Why didn't they rust?

Nick K
deleted - Warwick Rhode Island USA

December 9, 2010

Hi, Nick. First, what is your level of confidence that your results are right, and not a fluke that happened due to some small random thing? If you are not positive that your results were right, you certainly don't want to double-down and compound the problem by offering a scientific sounding explanation that makes you twice as wrong :-)

Did you repeat the experiment multiple times and always get the identical result? if yes, reread this thread, paying attention to why acids are used in industry.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 3, 2011

hi, I'm doing a science project for the first time and I'm in 8th grade. I'm doing a project on dissolving a nail in liquids using vinegar, salted water, Sprite and tap water, though the ones I'm using are stainless steel and Zinc, and I'm testing it out and it's taking a long time. I was wondering is there are certain nail I should use for this project? Will these nails ever dissolve?! P.S. I love your website!

Susana Tdeleted
science project - Dorchester, Massachusetts,USA

January 3, 2011

Hi, Susana

Stainless steel is a special alloy of chrome, nickel, and iron carefully designed so it won't rust. Galvanized nails are coated with a layer of zinc in order to deter rust. Unfortunately, neither of those nails are helpful for your test. See if you can get your parents to find "bright finish" nails or "masonry nails" (these look more like long flat skinny wedges than nails). Use some sandpaper on the nails to try to scrape off any finish that might remain, and then they should be in a condition where they can rust fast. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 17, 2011

hi I am in grade 7 doing a science project on what rust a nail the fastest. I noticed that water has rust in it the vinegar turned the nail black and brittled it up. the coke made it black and the clorox corroded the nail to look like the old ships in the ocean. My question is why did water rust the nail and is corrosion the same as rust, or is it different. I think that corrosion is rust more advanced but I am not sure. please help I need to come up with my conclusion.
thank so much
Alex

alex Gdeleted
student - ssf, California

January 18, 2011

Hi, Alex.

Corrosion is any chemical reaction of the nails with the environment. Instead of having a steel nail or brass nail or aluminum nail, you now have a nail where some of the metal is gone and has been converted to a metal oxide or other corrosion product. Rusting is similar but is restricted to steel because rust is defined as iron oxide. Even pure water will cause rust because one of the mechanisms is the dissolved air (rich in oxygen) reacting with the steel (iron) of the nail to form iron oxide. I'm obviously not looking at your nails, but perhaps the one in bleach could be described as "pitted"?

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 2, 2011

My son is in the 4th grade and is working on a similar science project with nails, water, sand and rust.
My question is: How do you graph this?...

DOLLY ESCUADRA
mother - Dallas, Texas, USA

March 3, 2011

Hi, Dolly.

You need numbers in order to graph anything. What numbers, if any, do you have? Give us those numbers and we'll try to help you graph them. If you have no numbers yet (most people probably don't), what results do you have? Maybe I can help you figure out how to put those results into numbers in order to graph them.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


April 3, 2011

I was doing a project on how to remove rust the best but I couldn't get the nails to rust so I changed it to what prevents rust the best and just left nails sitting in groups of 4 in vinegar, baking powder, water, and lemon. now its one day before science fair and looking back I realized my project doesn't make sense why would anybody leave nails siting in these liquids for 4 weeks to prevent rust. Can you please help me find a good new title for my messed up project?

Alexis J
student - Yuma, Arizona, USA

April 5, 2011

Sorry, Alexis, but this is just a public forum, not a homework hotline, so there's no way you'll get real help in time. But maybe your project title could be "Serendipity Rules!" or "Serendipity: Fail!"

There is a school of thought that says serendipity is an essential part of progress in science (another school of thought says that there is no such thing; that what appears to be serendipity is actually a prepared mind making careful observations).

You threw nails into four liquids with no particular forethought or logic, so here we are. Is there anything you can learn or postulate by looking very carefully at these 4 sets of nails and thinking real hard? Best of luck!

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 10, 2011

Hi, I'm in the 7th grade and I'm currently working on a science fair question and the question is "What liquid rusts a nail the fastest?" I'll be using 4 types of liquids they are vinegar, milk, water, and nail polish remover. So my question for you is what kind of graph should I construct for my data? Also what kind of nail should I use and can it be a normal one?

Diana S
- LYNN, MASSACHUSETTS

May 10, 2011

Hi, Diana.

The best nails would be hardened masonry nails if available, but lacking that, common nails will be okay (try to avoid "roofing" nails as they are galvanized to deter rust).

I think you should ask your teacher exactly what s/he means by "rust" so there is no conflict later. Then you can graph the four liquids against a scale of least rust to most rust.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 11, 2011

The nails that Ted is referring to are rectangular nails and are frequently called "cut nails". What ever nail you use, you need to sand it till it is a shinny steel color. The cut nails have a heavy oxide coating and most other nails have a galvanized or plated zinc coating. You need to get rid of the oxide and the zinc.
Next, you need to have about half of the nail out of the liquid as iron needs oxygen to rust. There is some dissolved oxygen in most water, but it is not uniform.
Finally, all 4 samples need to be at the same temperature.

Milk is a poor choice as it will sour in a day or two and your test needs to be a couple of weeks long. Also, it is no longer truly "milk".

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


May 11, 2011

Very well thought out reply, Jim.

Thanks.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 17, 2011

hey I am in yr 9
and I have to complete a science assignment which is over a period
of 7 weeks and goes toward my yr 10 school certificate! I have
chosen the topic : What makes a nail rust faster ?
I think I will do it out of soft drink, vinegar, and tap water.
you have to make a project log-book , this means you basically
journal your process along the way of finding the answer, then you
have got to present you research and answers on a poster or something..
does anyone have any tips for me because I really want to do well in this
project because it is really important! the sheet says I have to submit
a plan that consists of :
- Aim
- Hypothesis
- Materials to be used
- A risk assesment of the materials and method
- Method
AHH I don't KNOW WHAT TO DO FOR THAT PART!!
P.S I also have to write my results in a table or graph I don't know how to ! !!!

PLEASE HELP ME SOOON ! thank so much everyone :)

Carly B.
student - Sydney, Australia

August 24, 2011

What books did you cite for this project?

Tracy B.
- Staunton, Virginia, United States

October 25, 2011

Hi. My name is Destiny and I'm doing a science fair project and was wondering what kind of nails would rust faster in different liquids. Liquids I'm using are Sprite, Coke, tap water, salt water, vinegar, vegetable oil and squeezed juice from a lemon.

Destiny W.
- Chicago Illinois

October 26, 2011

Hi, Destiny.

Plain steel nails would be best. Either masonry nails or "bright finish" nails. They will rust faster if you use wear gloves and use sandpaper to rub away any finish on them, but it will be necessary to sand the samples equally or you'll corrupt your comparative test.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

December 12, 2011

Q. Hi, well I'm in 7th grade and I'm doing a project. My topic is 'which liquids makes a nail rust faster?' I was wondering which liquids should I use? And since I have to write a research paper, what should I include in that research paper?
Please help. Thank you.(:

Breanna H
- Illinois

December 13, 2011

YOU SHOULD USE IRON NAILS AND YES THE WATER WILL RUST FASTER AND MORE THAN ANY OTHER SUBSTANCE

Amy L
- Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.


March 4, 2012

Q. I'm doing a science project on rust and what rusts an iron rod best, I used salt water, Sprite, tap water, and vinegar, and I have two questions about the outcome. one, the iron rod that was in the vinegar the part of the iron that was supposed to dissolve moved to the top of the rod that wasn't submerged in vinegar , why did it do that? and my second question is why didn't the rod in the salt water rust? I tested my project for ten day

PLEASE AWNSWER ASAP!

Megan S.deleted
- Upland, California

March 6, 2012

A. Hi. Your first answer is on these pages if you read slowly and pay close attention: vinegar is an acid and acids dissolve rust, so you don't see any in the liquid. But above the liquid level, there were splashes of the acid, acid fumes, perhaps the liquid climbing the nail a bit by capillary action. In short there was acid there that dissolved iron and/or rust, and now that the wetness has evaporated, the iron can't stay dissolved, but appears there.

Regarding the second question, are you sure the rod was iron? I would have expected some rust in 10 days.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 26, 2012

Q. I am doing a science experiment about what kind of Pepsi will help to take the rust off the nail best just for an insight. Can you help me

stephanie mdeleted
- atikokan, ontario, canada


March 27, 2012

A. Hi Stephanie.

No one should try to answer that until you do the experiment, or you will just be reinforcing exactly how NOT to conduct science, because you will surely jury rig your observations to match your expectations, consciously or unconsciously. Just do the test and honestly record your observations. If and when you see a pattern, you recheck a couple of times to make sure it is not a random variation, and nothing else is causing the difference. Only then do you start looking for causality.

I could probably tell you that I'd expect little if any difference in rust removal, but that too might influence your observations.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

June 4, 2012

Q. Good day, I'm in Grade 11 and have been working on a corrosive based experiment on iron nails for the past few weeks. The original aim of the experiment was to find which type of coating would rust the most in a certain period of time (14 days, which wasn't long enough in retrospect). The four types of coating were: Crude oil, rust-guard paint, galvanised and a control.

This has, of course, thrown me for a loop, (otherwise I wouldn't be crawling to a forum! Hah) as the galvanised has given the most amount of rust. I've been skimming through google and asked my Chemistry teacher about this, and so far, the answers I've gotten have been half-hearted. Does anyone know why it is that the galvanised nails ended up exhibiting the most rust? Is it because the zinc that coats the nail weighs more than the iron, and it simply ended up weighing more than the iron rust from the other nails?

Any and all replies would be appreciated, I have another week to finish my report and anything I can add to the Discussion would be excellent.

Andrew Hdeleted
- Bowen, Queensland, Australia


June , 2012

A. Hi Andrew.

I'm not quite following your description; remember, we readers weren't looking over your shoulder as you did the experiment :-).

The nails rust, not the coatings, of course. Crude oil isn't quite a "coating" in the same sense as rust-guard paint or galvanizing: are you saying that you dipped a plain steel nail into crude oil and used the dripping nail? I also want to make sure what you mean by "a control" in this context. Are you saying that your control was a plain steel nail with no coating?

Next, I don't know what you did for the exposure: immersed the nails in plain water, salt water, or acid -- or just left them in the air. Finally, I don't know what you mean by "exhibiting the most rust": looked brownest, had the most weight gain, the most weight loss, or what?

It is not uncommon for galvanized articles to get a brown stain, because the surface has a small amount of iron on it due to the way a bit of iron diffuses into the coating while it is molten.

In the end, you need to state your original hypothesis, explain the experimental setup you used to try to prove it, note the results that you got, state how the results supported or contradicted your hypothesis, and explain (to the degree that you can) why things happened the way they did. One other thing you need to do, and it's especially important in very small scale and limited experiments like this, is to explain the limitations of your experiment. Sometimes those limitations are the explanation for most or everything you saw; but if your report can then suggest a better way to do the experiment next time, to limit the influence of extraneous issues, you can count your experiment a success even if it didn't quite prove or disprove the hypothesis.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 31, 2012

I am in 7th grade and doing a SRP on What is the fastest method of cleaning rusted nails in a can of coke or bottle of coke. Thank you.

jayden [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Barraba, NSW, Australia


April 20, 2013

Q. Hey,I'm in 3rd grade and I want to know which household liquid rusts nails the quickest.

Amaya [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- East Orange, New Jersey


April 23, 2013

A. Hi Amaya. Probably laundry bleach. Ask a parent to help you test it.

Nice to get a question from my home town! I lived in E.O. until 23 years old when I got married: North Maple Ave., then Rutledge Ave.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


June 18, 2014

Q. Hello, I am an 8th grade student from Singapore.

My project's aim does not involve rusting, but I will require nails that have been rusted as much as possible beforehand. I am considering submerging them in saltwater every 6 or 12 hours and leaving them out to dry till the next time they are submerged for about 2 weeks.

I have a few questions that I hope can be answered (apologies if they have already been answered; you can just tell me they've been answered if so):

1. Is 2 weeks enough time for the nails to completely rust?

2. Is there a noticeable change in mass of the nail after rusting?

Thank you! :)

Clarine S deleted
- Singapore


June 2014

A. Hi Clarine. I spent a week in your beautiful and interesting little country 25 years ago and always like to hear from Singaporeans.

Please pick "bright finished" nails or "masonry" nails, and preferbly apply a little sandpaper to them first. And be careful to avoid hot dip galvanized roofing nails (which were carefully corrosion-proofed) ... and then I'm confident that they will significantly rust in less than two weeks.

As for the mass, what happens is some of the iron (steel) in the nail reacts with oxygen in the air and forms iron oxides (rust). So, in one way, the mass actually increases since the mass of the iron oxide that is formed from the iron in the nail plus the oxygen in the air will be greater than the mass of the iron only. But in another way, the rust is usually poorly adherent and brushes off; after the rust falls off or is brushed off, the mass of the iron left in the nail is less than you started with. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


July 7, 2014

Q. What would the aim be for an experiment like these be called??

Trystan Au
- Chinatown San Francisco, California


July 2014

A. Hi Trystan. "Scientific Education".

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


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