What Household Liquids Make Steel Nails Rust?

Shannon Johnson

Making steel nails rust requires using substances that affect the oxygen and moisture level to create the reaction needed to promote rust. The type of steel nail involved affects which household liquids rust unprotected steel nails.

Steel Vs. Stainless Steel

The carbon and iron used to make steel makes it vulnerable to oxygen and moisture exposure. Steel can be manufactured into more than 3,500 different grades so there is no single type of steel substance. Stainless steel is an enriched form of steel often coated with nickel or other substances to become resistant to corrosion.


Water is one of the most common liquid substances rich in oxygen. Exposure to a significant amount of water can cause traditional steel to rust over a period of time. When you expose steel nails to a mixture of sea salt and water it will increase the speed of rusting.


Citric acid can remove and cause rust depending on the method of exposure. Orange juice, vinegar and certain carbonated beverages, such as soda, can speed up the rusting process making nails more vulnerable to the effects of oxygen exposure.

Household Chemicals

Hydrogen peroxide is another substance commonly found in your home that can rust steel nails with a combination of salt. When the nails begin to dry, they will start rusting. When exposed to household bleach, nails will noticeably begin to rust due the chemical reaction in its decomposition.