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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.

  • Can you describe what you've already tried? – holroy Jun 23 '15 at 21:24
  • I did below. I asked the question because I thought other people might find it useful, and then answered it with one possibility. – cluemein Jun 24 '15 at 18:32
  • Didn't see your response as I was in the reviewing queue when I wrote my comment. :-) – holroy Jun 24 '15 at 19:44
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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.

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    Use copper or stainless scrubbers, or even plastic ones, e.g. amazon.com/LIBMAN-CO-00073-Libman-Scrubbers/dp/B002YLT5A4. They also have the advantage of not shedding little pieces of iron that rust on the sink, or embed into aluminum, leaving rust stains. Just toss them in a dishwasher now and then to reduce bacterial accumulation. – DrMoishe Pippik Jun 24 '15 at 4:20
  • copper oxidizes though. Also, steel is harder than copper or aluminum. – cluemein Jun 24 '15 at 18:34
  • I usually want something a bit softer than what is being cleaned, but harder than dirt, but you can use a stainless steel scrubber, as in the image at amazon.com/Update-International-SSP-100-Stainless-Scrubber/dp/…. BTW, copper does not oxidize appreciably, though it will develop verdigris over years of use. – DrMoishe Pippik Jun 24 '15 at 19:18
  • DrMoishe links to a better tool for washing dishes. Steel wool is best for doing things like polish metals. – Carl Jun 24 '15 at 22:56
  • Well my answer is about extending the life of steel wool in general. Not what to use it for. Though I do appreciate the info. – cluemein Jun 25 '15 at 2:48
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I've never tried this, but you could dry it thoroughly with a blow dryer before you put it again. That should remove all the water from it and limit or prevent rusting.

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  • It will limit rusting, but oxidation will still occur. I think though it would work well when combined with my answer though. – cluemein Jun 23 '15 at 19:47
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    @cluemein I think your answer is brilliant! I just didn't want to "borrow" your ideas in my answer. But I think the combination of the two is a winner. – BrettFromLA Jun 24 '15 at 19:22
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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.

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