I carry a package of hooks in my vest's lower pocket. They come in a little plastic tub like package that has a tight seal. That pocket is often underwater when I wade and the hooks have stayed dry in their package. Except once when apparently I didn't get the seal complete. Water got inside and by the next day rust was forming.
There are about 50 hooks in the package, size 8 short shank, mustad, bait-holders. For me that's a small hook to handle. I've got big fingers and I'm not a brain surgeon with extraordinary dexterity. In fact I may be a bit on the clumsy side. I put the hooks aside for a rainy day project and of course forgot about them for months. When I came across them a couple of days ago they were still rusty, no little genies had come out at night to clean them. The rust covered the hooks, the hooks all being in a connected pile that was now connected even better by the rust. But it didn't look like real deep rust, although it was hard to tell.
I went on-line and researched rust removal and found some interesting ideas. I love youtube, I can become lost and amused for hours just going from video to video. I watched a few on rust removal and settled on one particular technique. I settled on this one because I already had the stuff to do it, and it was pretty simple. Soak the hooks in vinegar for 24 hours.
So I did. After a few hours a cloud of tiny little bubbles was rising up from the hooks. I used distilled white vinegar because that's what I had and it's as clear as water, making observation easy. Next morning there were rust particles scattered around the bottom of the drinking glass the hooks and vinegar were in - and the bubbles were still going.
Around noon I noticed that the vinegar had begun turning dark, a black stain was now being created. A few hours later the vinegar was almost black. I poured the vinegar off and dumped the hooks out on a paper towel - in a clump as they were still very much tangled together. But they were absolutely rust-less now, and a shiny black color. The hooks looked like they were painted black. I picked one up and there was a bit of sludgy like residue on it. I didn't want to polish fifty tiny hooks to get the sludge off. I thought about it a minute, and then...
I put the hooks into a small tupper-ware bowl that has a sealable lid. I poured about three tablespoons of salt on top of the hooks, sealed the lid, and shook vigorously for a few moments. I opened the lid and the salt had turned black from the stuff on the hooks, and the hooks were black and shiny clean. Using a tea strainer I separated the salt from the hooks, put the hooks back on the paper towel and gave them a squirt with WD40 to keep them from rusting again. Especially after being salted.
I looked a few of the hooks over with a magnifying glass in strong light to see if they were pitted, they didn't look pitted or diminished in thickness. I tested some of the points on my thumbnail, they were still very sharp. I bent one back and forth with needle nose pliers and it didn't seem any weaker than it should have. I put the hooks back in their package and then did the smart thing that I should have done in the first place - I put the package in the upper pocket of my vest - the one that doesn't get wet because I don't wade that deep.
Now if the river will just go back down I'll do a real world test on the hooks. For a few penny's worth of vinegar and salt and a few moments of my time I think I salvaged these hooks. It's not that they are all that expensive, it's that they are difficult to get hold of when you live in the boonies.
And, well, who doesn't like to do experiments like that?