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"Nails rusting science project"



An ongoing discussion beginning back in 2004 ...

2004

Q. Hey, PLEASE HELP US!

We are doing a project for science fair. We are in the 8th grade at North Marion middle school.

We were wondering what liquid would rust a nail the fastest?

Plus what nails should we use?

thanx ya'll

later (Meg), (Hay), (Ash)

Megan, Hayley, Ashley [last names deleted for privacy by Editor]
students - Donald, Oregon
^


2004

A. Use the search engine at this site for letters on the subject. It will water your eyes how many times it has been asked. So, do your homework first and then ask some specific questions.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida
^


"Earth Science for Every Kid: 101 Easy Experiments That Really Work"
by Janice VanCleave
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"Kids Guide to Research"
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"Pop Bottle Science"
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"Award Winning Science Fair Projects"
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2005

Q. I did a science fair project on the effects of rusting nails. I used tap water, salt water, Sprite, and vinegar. after 14 days the tap water had rusted the nail entirely within 10 days. The salt water rusted the nail entirely within 12 days. both the Sprite and vinegar did not cause any rusting on the nail. Also the tap water was first to sprout signs of rusting within 3 hours of the submerging of the nail. Why did the tap water work most effectively?

Ryan C. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
student - Columbia, Pennsylvania
^


2005

A. Well done, Ryan! Actually, though, vinegar and Sprite are much more corrosive than plain water.

You have probably seen action movies or science fiction movies where acids dissolve metals. But most acid used in the metal industry is actually used to remove rust from metal rather than to dissolve metal. If you put a rusty piece of metal into a strong acid, the rust will disappear almost instantly but it will take quite a long time for the metal to dissolve. So acids are actually used primarily to remove rust not to make rust.

What probably happened is that the vinegar and Sprite dissolve rust because they are mild acids--so if you try to judge the corrosion by the amount of rust that has been formed, rather than the amount of metal that has been removed, the result is misleading. The iron that was dissolved by them stays dissolved in the solution, and invisible rather than precipitating out as rust.

I'll bet that if you spritzed the nails with the four materials each day, instead of immersing them, (so that the liquid, including the dissolved rust, evaporates) you would see more and quicker rust on the vinegar nails and salt water nails.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


2005

A. In response to your question on nails rusting, I am in yr 8 as well and I am doing the same research... but I am doing an experiment, out of the six containers, tap water, vinegar, metholated spirits, bicarbonate of soda in water, lemonade, and salt water, the tap water over 1 night has significantly rusted the nail. then the salt water. the vinegar has completely cleared the nail of any existing rust, putting all the remaining rust on the top of the nail, which is above the water, the lemonade has corroded the nail above the surface again, the bicarb hasn't done anything and the "metho" hasn't done anything but smell disgusting. it would be a good idea to check these results by doing the experiment yourself, but remember to leave some nail over the water line, and don't use coated nails, because they are designed NOT to rust, so nothing will happen.
ta,

Morgan E. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Taree, NSW, Australia
^


2005

A. I am in the seventh grade and we had a science fair so I decided to do it on ways to cause rust I used:

1. 5 plastic cups or containers
2. 5 nails make sure the steel and can rust
3. 1 cup bleach 1 cup vinegar 1 cup water 1 cup salt water and 1 cup sugar water in both of the sugar and salt water I used 2 tsp of each sugar and salt
4. and 2 days to do this
I put the nails in each cup and let them sit 4 a half an hour the one that had the most affect was the one with the bleach and the tap water. In the end the best way to cause rust is to use Clorox bleach.

Cheir A. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- N.Lauderdale, Florida
^


sidebar 2005

To be clear, Cheir is saying that the bleach and vinegar were separate experiments. Never mix bleach with anything! You can generate poisonous chlorine gas.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


2005

Q. I am form 2 and am doing a science fair on rusting nails and the water has gone green in the saltwater and orange in the rest. Will it turn to rust or have I failed?

Hanna B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
student - Auckland, New Zealand
^


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2005

Whoa, Hanna. I think about the orange it is okay, if there is rust on your nails. What type of liquids did you use? I have just started a project on rust, and in less then 12 hours my zinc nail has rusted in the tap water, and the salt water. I have to use 3 different types of metals, but no store had any so all I had was zinc, brass, and aluminum. I know that brass doesn't rust, but I have no clue about aluminum! If I only do one nail that rusts, it will look very lame. Help!

Mon B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Vancouver, BC, Canada
^


2005

Q. Umm I'm in 8th grade and I had to do a science fair project. my project was too see what liquid rusted a nail the most...I used vinegar, lemon juice, and tap water...tap water does rust it the most....which is kinda odd cuz its not very acidic. and vinegar rusted only the top of the nail in huge chunks..(it was gross)I think you should use non galvanized nails and non galvanized steel bits but its kind of hard to real steel. you could just get it from a hardware store or ask your parents to take you to a like car fixing place and maybe ask them if they have and unused bits of steel that hasn't been coated with anything to protect from rust.

Macy [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Chicago, Illinois
^


2006

A. Use salt water it rusts the fastest.

Marie S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Palm Beach, Florida
^


2007

Q. I am in 5th grade and doing an unusual science project. I have searched the web and can't find the answer to these two questions. My project to see what effect different types of salt - such as kosher, pickling, water softener, etc. have on the creation of rust. I have a short time to do this and want to know 2 questions. 1) is it better to use a nail or a steel wool pad as the item to be rusted - which will rust faster? and 2) should I spray the salt solution on the item, immerse it (then remove it), immerse it and keep it in solution - which will cause rust faster? Thank you in advance for helping me, Alyssa H.

Alyssa H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
5th Grade Student at Oakridge - Villa Park, California
^


A. 0000 steel wool [affil. link to info/product at Rockler] will rust faster, Alyssa, because it has more surface area to react with the salt.. It will probably rust fastest if you periodically spray it.

But what you might think about is . . . the point of this effort. I mean suppose you find that Kosher salt rusts steel wool faster or slower than water softener salt -- so what? The reason I ask is not to pooh-pooh the project, of course, but in hopes that you will think about what you are supposed to get from this effort that is valuable.

Here's what I mean. Suppose you have two piles of match sticks with 301 in one pile and 203 in the other. One way to know the total number of match sticks is to memorize a table of every possible 3-digit number added to every other possible 3-digit number -- but to do it that way you would need to memorize one million combinations. But I was able to do this addition in my head, and I think you were too, because we learned useful, flexible concepts in arithmetic class like adding the digits column, then the tens column, then the hundreds column. You should be trying to learn similar important concepts from your science experiments, not just a million individual one-at-a-time facts like whether kosher salt rusts steel wool faster or slower than water softener. So the real question is what are the concepts that you think you are learning from this project :-)

We have an FAQ: What Liquid Cleans Pennies Best; although that question is a little different than what liquid rusts nails best, I think you will find it interesting and helpful for your project because it explains the purpose of these experiments and a standard way to approach them. Good luck.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


"Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes: Unforgettable Experiments that Make Science Fun"
by Steve Spangler
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2007

Q. I just did an experiment on rusting nails and did salt water and then distilled water. The distilled water rusted the fastest and took off the metal in sheets. Why did the distilled water rust the nail so fast versus the salt water? I would have thought the opposite!

Drew B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Hamburg, New York
^


2007

Q. Wondering how long naturally it takes to rust nails nailed in wood?

Pammy S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Phoenix, Arizona
^


A. How old is your house, Pammy? How old is your grandmother's house or the oldest house you know of? What is holding the pieces of wood together in that house? Nails that are nailed into wood last a long time.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


2007

Q. Does water make the nail rust more b/c water has more oxygen in it? B/c I learned that iron rusts faster if it is exposed to oxygen, and we all know that water is made of oxygen and hydrogen. So am I right about my theory?

David D [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Locust Grove, Georgia
^


A. Not quite, David. The water helps speed up the rusting because it is electrically conductive, allowing corrosion currents to flow. Although water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, the two elements are bound together in a way that gives water much different properties from hydrogen or oxygen.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


sidebar 2007

Okay where the hell do I get research for this? I'm doing a science fair project on which substance rust nails the fastest and I can't find anything. I don't know where to get the stupid info! ugh! I HATE science fair! This is my second year doing this and I hate just as much! And my 8th grade science teacher is on my back about this because I'm supposedly her "best student" and she expects me to win the freaking contest! WHAT THE#^%~#%$^&*!

Kristin B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
student - Cape Coral, Florida
^


thumbs up signMaybe your teacher feels that you would be wise to hone your science skills for success in life, Kristin. I can't imagine why she might think your people skills aren't sufficient to get you by though :-)

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


2007

thumbs up sign I'm a 10th grade girl doing a project on which nail will rust the fastest in coke, water and tea. It takes about 3 hours and it"s fun so do it and see the results.
You need:
3 cups
3 rustable nails
and TIME!

sophie ann [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
designer - lake charles, Louisiana
^


2007

Q. I did all of the above and I wrote it on a piece of paper but I lost it and I've got to put it on a poster board. My teacher is asking what the independent variable is and what the dependent variable is and I forgot; can anyone help me?

Christina [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Florida
^


Try to understand (rather than memorize) the difference, Christina. A 'variable' is something that changes or varies. And you know the meaning of dependence and independence. So an independent variable is something you choose to change, and a dependent variable is the consequence.

If you decide to skip breakfast, you're likely to be hungry in school. "Skipping breakfast" is one of the variables and "being hungry" is the other. Which of the two variables was an independent choice and which was the dependent consequence? Good luck!

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


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