Readers’ Letters: Best non-toxic rust remover; Taking care buying overseas


Non-toxic rust remover is hiding in the kitchen pantry

Is there anything that can remove rust from metal without ruining the paint underneath?
Thanking you in advance for your help. A happy subscriber.

Robert Scanlon
Wantagh, N.Y.

When metal reacts with oxygen, it oxidizes and rust forms. If your item is painted and yet has rust, it means the seal or finish was already damaged, allowing the oxidation.

You don’t mention what type of metal you are trying to remove the rust from, or the amount of rust, or the type of paint you are trying to preserve, but you may have a popular non-toxic rust remover right in your pantry: vinegar.

Try soaking your item (if it is small) for a few minutes in white vinegar. For added cleaning power, add baking soda and lemon juice. (Be judicious when adding baking soda to vinegar because it is very reactive.) If you are working on a larger piece that you cannot soak, saturate a rag in the vinegar solution and rub the rust stain to remove. (Don’t underestimate the amount of elbow grease that will be needed.) Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

After all the rust is removed, to prevent further oxidation, the item should be sealed with either wax or paint. (Source: Share your non-toxic antiques-related tips by emailing or mailing them to the address below.


Buying from overseas carries no guarantees

If you think you are covered by eBay Buyers Protection for an item bought overseas, please read on. In early April, I bought a fairly rare license plate from a seller in France for $244. A few weeks later I received a worthless piece of sheet metal from Texas with the guy’s French return address. There was also a delivery confirmation. This guy scammed four other people after the sale to me also.

Since this was an obvious scam, I went through the procedure to get a refund from eBay. I was told to mail the worthless piece of sheet metal back to France, USPS registered, at a cost of $28 out of my pocket. I was assured I would then receive a refund. I waited till May 30 and received an email from eBay saying that they could not verify that the package made it to the scammer in France, so the case would go in the sellers favor and I would not get a refund. I then talked to the boss of the resolution center at eBay. She said to go to the post office and see if I can get proof that the package made it to France.

The head guy at my post office said once a registered package leaves the U.S. there is no way to track it. I called the head person back again and told her this. She then said I should have used a carrier that had a way to track the item to the door. When I told her that I was told by eBay to do it this way, she just said there was nothing she could do about it. I have been with eBay since ’97 and have almost 3,000-plus feedbacks (not even a neutral). This person knew that I was the guy that was ripped off. It was like talking to a government bureaucrat that would not budge from their silly rules. So much for eBay Buyers Protection.

I then talked to my credit card company and got the whole thing straightened out in five minutes and will get a refund within 48 hours. (I made about 10 calls to eBay and was probably on the phone over four hours total). But it is good that I mailed the piece of metal back because they wanted that tracking information. I pay for everything on eBay with a credit card.

My advice to all buyers is to always use a credit card. You will have much better luck with them than with eBay. If this happens again, I will skip eBay and make a claim with my credit card company first.

Steve J. Kapp, USAF, Retired
Grove, Okla.

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