By Grant Spolander

If you enjoy restoring old cars, tools or antiques, there’s a good chance you’ve used a rust-removing product at some point, and may be wondering which formula works best. But before we get into the performance differences, let’s looks at the chemistry.


Typically speaking, most rust-removing products use an acid-based solution. Milder products tend to focus on citric acids, while the more potent stuff is generally phosphoric-acid based.

That said, you may have seen a few social-media videos where Coke Cola or vinegar are used to remove rust. The latter is a form of citric acid, while the former has phosphoric acid listed as one of its ingredients.

Naturally, the quantity of phosphoric acid in a soft drink is very low, but in concentrated form, the rust-removing properties of phosphoric acid are fast acting and highly effective.

Unfortunately, the downside to all this rust-busting performance is that the acid solution doesn’t discriminate between what is rust (iron oxide), and what is bare metal. Which is why many of these products should not be used on sensitive components, and/or on stainless steel or chromed surfaces.

In the case of this test, we’re comparing two completely different rust-removing formulas, Q12 and EVAPO-RUST.

Here are some of the pros and cons of each…


Q12 is an acid-based product with a 55-year old track record that delivers incredible results from its secret-sauce formula.


  • Fast acting with potent results
  • Jelly like consistency means it can be brushed onto vertical surfaces without completely dripping off
  • Only a small quantity is required
  • Can be applied accurately to specific areas


  • Protective gear should be worn when working with any acid-based solution
  • Careful storage is needed – keep the bottle upright and away from children
  • The solution should not be left on any metal surface for too long
  • Q12 will not discriminate between rust and bare metal
  • The used solution is harder to dispose of and must be rinsed with lots of water
  • Non-reusable


EVAPO-RUST is an award-winning and relatively new product that features a 5-parts water formulation, where the water itself acts as a depository for the oxide. This rust-dissolving process is known as ‘Selective Chelation’ where molecules within the EVAPO-RUST specifically bond to rust particles, without attacking the bare metal.


  • Won’t attack bare metal
  • Non-corrosive and completely safe on all metals and materials
  • pH neutral
  • Non-toxic
  • Safe on skin and eyes
  • Biodegradable and easy to dispose of
  • Can access hard to reach places inside fuel / water / storage tanks
  • Reusable – multiple times depending on extent of rust


  • Premium product with a premium price
  • Results work best when components are fully submerged
  • Result may take longer than an acid-based rust remover 


When I first came across EVAPO-RUST I thought the results were too good to be true. I’ve never known a product to do exactly what it claims to do, without any downside or risk. A product so powerful that it can restore an old rusted brake disc like new, but can then be poured down the drain without worrying about the environment.

There has to be a catch, right?

Well, some people will tell you that the “catch” is in the price. As far as rust removers go, EVAPO-RUST comes at a premium price. However, given that the solution can be reused two to three times depending on how deeply rusted your components are, the price does get cheaper with every use.

Q12 on the other hand, is a low-cost product that’s been trusted for decades. Personally, I’ve found that the jelly-like consistency of Q12 is much easier to use on specific locations, like a rusted patch on a classic car’s corroded body, or a threaded bolt / stud that can’t be removed or submerged into a rust-dissolving liquid.

In the end, I keep both products in my garage, but 90% of the time, I’m reaching for EVAPO-RUST when it comes to hand-tool restorations, vehicle components, and garden tools. All you have to do is drop the rusted item in a container, fill it up with EVAPO-RUST, and then get on with other things while the solution does all the work for you.

What’s more, because there’s no risk of damaging the bare metal, you can leave the component in EVAPO-RUST for as long as you like. Pour the used EVAPO-RUST back into its bottle through an old rag as a filter, and reuse the same solution when you need it again.

EVAPO-RUST is a highly effective product with very few limitations; fortunately, a low-cost bottle of Q12 covers all your other rust-removing needs.

Click here for more information on either of these products.

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