Does Oil Help With Rust?

Most items used in metals maintenance contain oil—even materials used in painting cars, machines, and bicycles. Despite the popularity of oil in some of the items we use on metals, some claim it has the weakness of rust. So, does oil help with rust?

No, Oil is a fossil fuel, and it doesn’t help with rust. The oil prevents rust in the same way that it prevents squeaks from engine parts. It does so at two different levels: physically and chemically.

Oil-based formulas are designed to form a thin, low-wicking film that shields metal surfaces from moisture and oxygen, thus minimizing rust. Even though oil-based products provide superior protection, they don’t remove rust.

Therefore, applying oil to a rusty bumper will temporarily help it look good, but it won’t stop the rusting process that’s going on underneath. Rust needs to be removed, then steps taken to prevent rust in the future by using a protective coat such as oil, paint, or wax.

Read further to find out if oil helps with rust and other methods you can explore to handle rust.

How Does Oil Help With Rust?

Oil helps with rust by preventing moisture from getting to the item. For rust to take place, there must be water and oxygen. If liquid water comes in contact with metal items, the item will rust quickly. Also, if you leave a metal item outside and it gets wet from moisture or is exposed to air, an oxidation reaction will occur, and the item will corrode.

How Does Oil Help With Rust

To prevent moisture from reaching metals, it is advisable to rub them with oil. Oil is water-resistant. This explains why most shooters coat their firearms with oil to keep them from rust. Machine parts are also oiled to prevent corrosion.

What Are The Advantages Of Coating Metal Materials With Oil?

Aside from the obvious advantage of preventing water or moisture from reaching metal materials and preventing rust, coating metal items with oil also has other advantages, including:

  • Oil makes metal materials function properly. Applying oil to the parts of a machine, for instance, will make it work smoothly with less friction. This is one reason why firearms are usually protected with oil. Items like sewing machines are also oiled from time to time to keep the parts moving without friction.
  • It improves the functionality of the item. Applying oil to metal items will improve the functionality. Metal items are meant to be practical and suitable for the purposes they are made. One way to make the machines meet the target is to keep them smart and functional. And oil helps you achieve this.
  • Oil makes it easier to clean metal items. Coating metal items with oil makes them easier to maintain. If dirt or dust falls on the material, it will stay on the oil. To keep the item clean, simply wipe off the oil and the dust from the surface and rub in another oil coating.

Applying oil to metal materials also has some challenges. An oily material is not easy to handle. The oil makes it slippery and can come off one’s hand quickly. Oily materials also accumulate dirt easily. Dust falls on the oily surface and makes it messy to use. Additionally, coating metal materials with oil is a repetitive process. Due to dust or other reasons, you have to wipe off the oil coating and replace it. This can become a tiresome routine for some people.

What Are Other Ways To Help With Rust?

Aside from protecting metal items from rust with oil, there are other ways to keep metal items from corrosion. Some of them are:

What Are Other Ways To Help With Rust

1. Keep metal items properly

Properly storing metal items will prevent them from corrosion. It is advisable to keep items made of steel, iron, or other metals in dry places. Since moisture is a significant agent causing rust, it is helpful to keep items away from environments with moisture. Keep metal items in an environment with controlled humidity. This is why it is not advisable to leave items like firearms, bicycles, and machines out overnight to prevent dew from falling on them.

2. Galvanized items

Galvanizing steel or iron involves coating them with zinc. Applying zinc on the surface of metal items will protect them from moisture. If water comes in contact with the surface area of the item, it will remain there and not penetrate the underlying metal of the material. Galvanizing makes steel and iron materials corrode slowly. Galvanizing will buy you a lot of time and let you use your material for a long time before worrying about corrosion.

Galvanized items

3. Paint the metal items

Painting metal items, especially with oil paint, will prevent them from corrosion. It will take a long for corrosion to occur. If the item will be used outdoors and will come in contact with moisture or dirt, it is advisable to use oil-based paint to achieve your aim. While painting, you should take note of hidden areas like places where bolts and nuts are and hidden and edges. Ensure that the paint gets to every exposed area of the metal. Areas that are not painted will start rusting and spread to other areas of the metal.

Paint the metal items

4. Coat the item with powder

Another way to prevent rust from reaching metals is by coating them with powder. This is a protective layer over the material and prevents moisture from sinking in. Powder coating has to be uniform and intact to prevent gaps that can introduce rust.

Coat the item with powder

Other methods for preventing metal items from rust are blueing, dry coating, using alloy. These materials will protect the metal from moisture and prolong your usage before worrying about corrosion.


All forms of a protective layer over metal materials can resist water from reaching them. If water cannot get to the material, it will likely not rust. Even if the item corrodes, it will take a longer time.

Evan Cooper

Evan Cooper

Hi, I’m Evan Cooper, the founder and an editor of this site, Doesitrust. I’m a chemical engineer and working in a rust-eliminating paint manufacturing company. Besides this profession, I’m a researcher and blogger.

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