prevent tool rust on boats

3 Ways To Prevent Tool Rust on a Boat

With no hardware stores on the open sea, smart boaters keep certain tools onboard to ensure they’re prepared to tackle on-the-spot repairs while on the water. But it’s imperative to have a plan to prevent tool rust on your boat, otherwise your tool kit won’t be much good to you.

Must-haves typically include an emergency kit with with a waterproof flashlight/headlamp, jumper cables, tow line, flare gun, and fire extinguisher, but also handy extras like Phillips and Flathead screwdrivers, long needle nose pliers, locking pliers, ratchet and sockets with spark plug match, a rigging knife, hose clamps, multi-meter, wire stripper, prop wrench, and a moisture meter.

Many of these boat tools are made with rubber or plastic handles for easy gripping, but the metal elements are still at risk for rust and corrosion.boat tool rust prevention

Scientifically speaking, rust is referred to as iron oxide. It’s a chemical reaction that occurs when ferrous metals (those made of or deriving in part from iron) meet water and oxygen. Similar types of corrosion can happen with different kinds of metals. Certain elements can accelerate the rust and corrosion processes, namely salt and grit/grime.

Even if you keep your tools in a dry spot, there’s more moisture in the air in a marine environment. That can be enough to cause your tools to rust in a short window of time – particularly if your boat is on saltwater.

Fortunately, there are ways you can protect your boat tools from rust and corrosion, without much great effort or cost.

1. Wipe Tools After Use and Coat With Oil.

Anytime your tools have been in use, it’s important to ensure they’re free of dirt and grime, and there is no water left on or near metal parts. Once clean and dry, consider coating them with a thin layer of oil. Zerust Axxanol Spray-G is a spray-on light lubricant oil that offers advanced corrosion protection to prevent tool rust for up to 1 year outdoors.

2. Use a Toolbox Drawer Liner to Prevent Tool Rust.

Zerust toolbox drawer liners are made with heavy-duty, non-slip rubber, and our patented VCI formula to protect against rust and corrosion for up to 5 years. VCI stands for vapor corrosion inhibitor. The material releases a colorless, odorless vapor that settles in a molecule-thin layer that shields metal components from corrosive elements like moisture and salt. Liners can be cut to size, and they also prevent slipping, denting, and mold/mildew formation. They’re easy to wipe down with a damp cloth, and are fire retardant as well.

3. Use a Rust Prevention Vapor Capsule.

Rust prevention vapor capsules are an easy, inexpensive way to keep protect your boat tools from rusting. These capsules also use the VCI formula, and can simply be placed inside any stowage bench or locker. These come in different sizes, and are easily placed on the interior of your storage container with an adhesive backing.

Using these strategies, you can buy a relatively cheap storage system (plastic, etc.) – as long as it’s solid and sealable. Combine that with cleaning, drying, and oiling your tools after use, and incorporating at least one other VCI tool rust solution.

Contact Zerust for information on boat rust prevention by emailing us or calling (330) 405-1965.

Additional Resources:

Unprecedented detail on how rust happens, Feb. 4, 2019, DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Science Daily

More Blog Entries:

Battling Aluminum Boat Corrosion Off Saltwater Shores, April 14, 2022, Zerust Boat Tool Rust Prevention Blog