Considering that the places we typically store our tools — like basements, garages, and sheds — are often a bit damp, it’s not surprising when those made of metal start to rust. While there are ways to clean rusty tools, an even better (and more convenient) option is to prevent them from rusting in the first place. One way to do that is to store them with uncooked rice. Here’s what to know.
How to store tools with uncooked rice to prevent rust
Basically, the idea is that because moisture causes metal tools to rust, you can stop that from happening by storing them with uncooked rice, which acts as a desiccant, absorbing moisture. There are a few different ways to harness the rust-preventing power of uncooked rice — some messier than others. Here are three to consider:
Place about a handful of uncooked rice inside a bag that’s porous, but not so much so that the rice can fall out. A sachet — like the kind potpourri comes in — would work, as would making a little pouch using cheesecloth, using a small sock, or filling the foot of a pair of pantyhose or tights (as long as it doesn’t have any large holes), cutting them at the knee, and tying the material on the open end into a knot.
Put the sachet at the bottom of your toolbox, or in the drawers of a tool chest. When the uncooked rice feels moist, either replace it with a new sachet, or open the one you have, dump out the old rice, let the sachet dry completely, then (assuming it doesn’t smell musty) refill it with fresh uncooked rice.
Loose in a toolbox
Rather than taking a few minutes to make a sachet, some people opt to throw a handful of uncooked rice right into their toolbox. Technically, this should get the job done, but you’ll have to deal with the loose grains sticking — and potentially getting lodged inside — the contents of your toolbox. Plus, when the rice eventually gets moist, cleanup will not be fun.
Submerged in a vat
The final method comes to us from an article in House Digest: “If you don’t own a toolbox, try filling a canister with rice and placing the head of your tools inside, ensuring the metal is submerged in the grain.”
Though the science and end-goals are different, this setup is essentially a variation on the now-debunked tip for reviving a soggy smartphone by placing it in a bowl of uncooked rice. It’s not the most convenient way to store tools, and it uses more rice than the other strategies, but perhaps it could come in handy during a very specific rust-preventing emergency situation.