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I'm building a trash can trauma prop and want to weather the 31 gallon galvanized steel trash can, add some rust. I read somewhere that there is a youtube video on how to do this using muriatic acid. I can't seem to find that exact video.

Anybody have tips on precisely what I need to do? (Do I use spray bottle or sponge? Do I need to dilute it? Do I let it sit there or eventually wipe off?)
 

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I’ve done exactly what you’re trying to do on corrugated steel roofing for a development we work in. We sprayed the straight muriatic acid through a pump sprayer onto the metal. Be sure to use a cheap sprayer that’s all plastic. If it has a metal wand,the acid will eat it in seconds. Spray the metal until it eats through the zinc coating to the steel underneath. You’ll see the difference in the metal. When the acid is done we gave the metal a quick rinse in plain white vinegar through the pump sprayer again. Lastly, mix some salt into hydrogen peroxide in the sprayer and spray onto the metal and you should have instant rust. I’m sure you’re aware that muriatic acid is nasty stuff that can cause severe burns not only to your skin but your lungs as well if breathed in. Use gloves, glasses,a respirator and common sense when handling the acid. We used the acid straight from the container but if you want to dilute it add the acid to the water and not water to the acid.
 

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I’ve done exactly what you’re trying to do on corrugated steel roofing for a development we work in. We sprayed the straight muriatic acid through a pump sprayer onto the metal. Be sure to use a cheap sprayer that’s all plastic. If it has a metal wand,the acid will eat it in seconds. Spray the metal until it eats through the zinc coating to the steel underneath. You’ll see the difference in the metal. When the acid is done we gave the metal a quick rinse in plain white vinegar through the pump sprayer again. Lastly, mix some salt into hydrogen peroxide in the sprayer and spray onto the metal and you should have instant rust. I’m sure you’re aware that muriatic acid is nasty stuff that can cause severe burns not only to your skin but your lungs as well if breathed in. Use gloves, glasses,a respirator and common sense when handling the acid. We used the acid straight from the container but if you want to dilute it add the acid to the water and not water to the acid.
 

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I would HIGHLY suggest not spraying muriatic acid, use a brush and the proper protective gear.
With the proper precautions, you can safely spray the acid through a pump sprayer. If you’re uncomfortable with that you can put the acid in a plastic watering can and use it that way as well as with a brush.
 

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I would recommend sanding or vinegar instead of the muriatic acid. Vinegar will also remove the gavanized coating, maybe not as fast but not nearly as dangerous. For your project you don't even need to remove all the coating just enough in some places to allow rust.
 

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While it may seem a strange approach, using rust colored spray primer along with other rust colored paints might do the job without actually weakening the metal. Real rust means that your prop will be less structurally sound than if you actually faux rust it. There is almost no metal on any part of our haunt that doesn't look rusted, but they're all just spray painted to look that way. It actually adds a layer of additional protection while creeping out everything. A galvanized can would require a slightly special approach to rust, but as you can see from three examples below, a painted approach would not be that difficult. The rusty colored one is actually painted rust. The other two came by their rust more honestly. :)

download.jpg download (2).jpg download (1).jpg
 

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Thanks for all the tips. I think I'll take the safer, easy way out and let the can sit outside for the next six months! I can reassess in September, but mostly the prop will be experienced at night where any rust is of little consequence.
Brush it down with some white vinegar and let it sit outside, that will be a good start.
 

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Brush it down with some white vinegar and let it sit outside, that will be a good start.
The method I use that doesn't involve using toxic and potentially dangerous chemicals is this. Spray can with rust colored paint as the paint is still wet lightly sprinkle fine dry dirt. Dirt not sand. When it dries spray can with spray glue and again gently sprinkle dry dirt this will give the metal a advanced rusting feel and add texture which rust has. (If you don't have spray glue just keep using the rust colored paint and add as many layers as needed. Spray with a little black or dark brown spray paint and a lst coat of rust colored paint to give the color some depth. Make sure you use matte spray paint not any with gloss.

This is the method I used for my rusting iron fence and it and when people see it they always ask where I found all the old rusty fencing.
 

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If you are going to paint something and want to give the rust effect the best method is to paint it. While wet sprinkle with metal turnings from any garage that does brakes. They have all this fine metal dust that they need to clean and were more than happy to give me a coffee can full. A small amount goes a long way. After the paint dries spray with vinegar and it give a real rust coating.
 
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