plating, anodizing, & finishing Q&As since 1989
How to make stainless steel rust
March 28, 2012
Q. What if I want to rust stainless steel in a hurry, what can I use on it?Caryn Brestel
Production engineer - Mesa, Arizona
March 29, 2012
"Stainless steel" is not a single type of metal; it's a generic name for any steel alloy that tends to resist rust. Some of these alloys are carefully designed for use in chemical plants to not rust even when immersed in very powerful corrosives, so there are no promises that you can make an unknown stainless steel alloy rust :-)
But spritzing stainless steel with muriatic acid and allowing it to dry three or four times should work, or spritzing with bleach (never mix bleach and acid), or with ferric chloride. Even scrubbing with steel wool will hasten the rusting. Good luck, and be very careful with strong chemicals -- assuring good ventilation and always wearing gloves and goggles (as a minimum).
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey