How it all began
Peter Spangler found a fist-size bolt in a box of odds and ends he bought for a buck at a farm auction. The journeyman machinist wanted to use it as a paperweight, but the 3-pound bolt was just too rusty to clean without damaging the delicate threads or its black-oxide surface.
"I found a treasure, but it sat on my workbench for 20 years," he said.
Then Spangler recalled once hearing about a folk remedy using beet molasses to clean metal. Now a couple years later, he has a perfectly restored bolt on his workbench and a new rust-removal business -- Rustbeeter™ -- on the side.
A byproduct of the sugar beet-refining process, Rustbeeter™ is an environmentally safe and easy way to remove rust. It seeks out iron oxide (rust) from steel and cast iron and, unlike sandblasting, wire brushing or treating with acids or caustics, does not degrade the base metal and, thus, the value of the treated part.
"My motto is that 'Friends don't let friends sandblast,'" said Spangler, of Fort Atkinson, Wis. "Sandblasting is an abrasive process, whether you use sand, glass bead, plastic media or even walnut shells. Likewise, wire brushing marks the surface, and acids don't stop at the rust; they continue to eat away at the base metal."
That is precisely why Rustbeeter™ has been catching the attention of car and tractor restorers, old engine and tool collectors, antique dealers and any other purists who wish to restore metal to its original patina minus the rust.
"The Smithsonian Institution does not allow sandblasting or the wire-brushing of its antiquities; that says a lot," Spangler noted, adding that Rustbeeter™ works into nooks and crannies as small as the threads of even the tiniest bolt, where other processes are unable to reach.
"Condition is everything, whether restoring an old Ford, a wrench or a railroad lantern," he continued. "You never want to do anything to an antique that is not reversible. Rustbeeter™ is the only product I know of that enables a collector to remove rust, yet retain an antique's original patina, thus increasing the artifact's monetary value and allure."
Since Rustbeeter™ is a food product, it is safe to use, safe to handle and poses no health issues. It is much less expensive than many other commercial products and processes. In addition, using Rustbeeter™ is a great deal less time consuming than sandblasting and wire brushing.
Rustbeeter™ is simply mixed with water to form a pudding-like slurry. The antique or metal artifact is submerged for up to seven days, depending on the amount of rust. Since it is a food product, it may be easily rinsed off with water. The artifact or part is then ready for paint, oil, wax or any other protective surface treatment.
"Leaving the artifact in Rustbeeter™ longer than needed for the rust-removal process will not affect the metal surface in any way," Spangler said, noting that Rustbeeter™ will not remove paint unless there is rust beneath it.
Because Rustbeeter's™ strength depletes very slowly, this product can be used again and again.
"I have tweaked my special recipe to improve its effectiveness," Spangler said of Rustbeeter™. "There is just enough acid in it to keep it fresh, but it is the sugar beet that does the work."
Spangler, who today is a high school metals teacher, has been selling Rustbeeter™ during summer car swap meets and antique engine, tool and tractor shows. His main goal is to spread the word that there is a natural, environmentally safe alternative available that will not compromise the value and condition of metal antiques and collectibles.
"I've been making the rounds at shows in Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and Illinois, introducing folks to a different way of thinking about restoring metal artifacts," Spangler said. "Once collectors try Rustbeeter™, I'm certain they'll brag to all of their friends about how great it works."
Rustbeeter™ is available by direct order in amounts to fill 5- and 6-gallon and 5-quart pails. To order or for more information, visit us on line at rustbeeter.com or send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.