How to Prevent Steel Screws From Rusting

Nothing is more frustrating than rusted screws that are locked tightly into place. Machinery that is exposed to the elements is particularly susceptible. But by preparing screws with a simple mixture, you can keep steel screws rust-free so they are easy to remove for maintenance and repairs. A small jar of this homemade rust prevention mixture will keep your workshop supplied for years to come.

  1. Place newspapers on a table top or working surface to absorb spills. Use other newspapers as blotters to place the treated screws on.
  2. Measure one part mineral oil to one part graphite by volume, using the measuring spoons. Pour the mineral oil into the glass jar first and wipe the measuring spoon clean with a shop rag before measuring the graphite.
  3. Slowly add the graphite to the oil in the jar, while stirring the mixture to ensure that the graphite mixes smoothly without forming lumps. Powdered graphite is the same substance that pencil "lead" is made of, so care should be taken to avoid spills that will mark or stain other items or surfaces. Work the mixture with the palette knife or mixing tool until it forms a fluid paste.
  4. Pick up a screw to be treated with the needle-nosed pliers. Grip the screw lightly by the head to avoid damaging the threads. Use the stiff bristle-brush to apply the mixture evenly over the screw. Place the treated screw on a piece of the newspaper to absorb any excess paste. Repeat with all of the screws that need treatment. Place the lid on the jar when finished and secure it tightly.
  5. Let the screws sit on the newspaper for about 15 minutes, then roll them a quarter-turn and let them sit for another 15 minutes. Then tip the newspaper to let the screws roll into the paper or plastic cup. Use the cup to carry the treated screws. Bring the jar of the rust prevention mixture and the brush with you when replacing the screws.
  6. Replace the treated screws and brush on a thin film of the mixture over the screw-head. The mixture will keep the steel screws rust-free for many years.

Things You Will Need

  • Old newspapers
  • Powered graphite
  • Mineral oil
  • Shop rags
  • Small glass jar with air-tight lid
  • Measuring spoon set
  • Palette knife or mixing tool
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Small stiff-bristle paintbrush
  • Paper or plastic cup


  • Clean tools and spills with warm soapy water.


  • The mixture will stain clothing and other items.

About the Author

Artist, author, musician and researcher—the contemporary equivalent of the Renaissance Man—David A. Claerr is a professional graphic designer and a certified Adobe expert. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and Bachelor of Art Education from Eastern Michigan University.