How can I prevent or reduce the rate of rusting for a piece of steel wool used for cleaning things like greasy pots and pans? If I use it once and then put it away somewhere, it is usually beginning to have rust the next time I take it out to use.
One way of extending the lifespan of steel wool is to put it in a ziplock bag and then put it inside the freezer. The ziplock bag reduces the oxygen it is exposed and prevents it from touching anything else in the freezer, while the freezer's low temperature reduces the rate at which it oxidizes further. Whenever you need to use it, just take it out of the freezer and the bag, clean it a bit after using it, and then put it back in the bag and in the freezer.
After shaking as much water as possible, you could bathe them in some strong alcohol like methylated spirits or isopropanol. In theory this should make them dry of water and the alcohol would evaporate quickly. If you keep the alcohol in a sealed container, it should be usable many time although it would become diluted very very gradually.