The Corten Steel Rusting Process and How To Speed it Up

So you got your corten steel fire pit, sculpture or any other product. It's beautiful, and you were told it's going to develop an even more beautiful rust patina with time, but, what does that mean?

And what can be done if you want it to appear faster? 

Let's dive in and learn more about the corten steel rusting process and how to speed it up. 

What is corten steel?

Corten steel is a group of steel alloys developed to form a stable rust-like appearance after exposure to various weather conditions such as rain, wind and sun. The rust patina eliminates the need for painting and additional care.

This means that you can leave corten steel products outside without worrying about corrosion or rusting; in fact, you want them to!

Corten steel rust patina creates a unique look and protects your fire pit, sculptures, garden pegging and everything else from corrosion.

The easy care, sturdiness, and durability make corten steel a popular architecture, decor, and landscaping material.

What is a rust patina?

A rust patina is a coating of dark brown oxidation that appears over the metal. It protects the metal, doesn't allow deeper penetration of rust, and protects it from moisture, pollutants and corrosion. 

The rust patina acts as a protective coating, so you don't need to paint, clean or in any other way maintain your sculpture or fire pit over the years.

The great thing is that the rust patina develops naturally, so you can leave your piece outside and have zero work involved. The patina also regenerates on itself.

How fast does the patina appear?

It depends on the climate you're in, the weather conditions and other environmental factors how quickly the rust patina develops.

The best conditions are to have both rainy, wet and dry periods during that time.

As a general rule, when kept outdoors, your corten steel fire pit or another object will start developing rust in a few months.

How long does corten steel last? 

Because it's sturdy and strong, corten steel can last from a few decades to a century and more. 

Can I get the patina to develop quicker?*

If you live in a dry area or simply don't have much patience to wait until your fire pit or other object rusts, you can speed the rusting process up! 

The beautiful nice orange patina colours can be achieved much faster with just some time and a few household items. 

Here's what you will need:

  • White vinegar
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)
  • Table salt 
  • Spray bottle
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Safety goggles
  • Chemical resistant gloves 
  • Work clothes

Safety first 

First, let's talk about safety. If you haven't handled chemicals before, be either very careful or ask someone with experience to help, and if you don't feel confident, simply don't do it.

Also, be very careful about where the solution goes and where you spray it. Because it has a corrosive effect, it will make anything made from steel or iron rust, so keep those items away (make sure that, e.g. iron staircase railing is not in the background etc.).

The best place for this job is an outdoor space away from the wind, people, valuables, and where you feel comfortable. 

It should go without saying, but don't spray the solution on people, pets, do not inhale the vapours and don't get it on your eyes or skin. If that happens, rinse out with water right away. 

Step 1: Pickle the metal

Pickling? Yes, just like the vegetables! And we do it with vinegar too. 

This process prepares the surface and helps the metal rust evenly so the chemicals we use later can penetrate. 

Pour some vinegar into a spray bottle and spray your corten steel fire pit, sculpture, or another object evenly. Let it dry and repeat it a few times, so it soaks the vinegar in very well.

If you do it on a sunny day, your piece will dry faster, so you can do a few layers.

Step 2: Rust the metal 

Now it's time to mix your solution. Make sure you wear your goggles and gloves and mix 480 ml of hydrogen peroxide, 60 ml of white vinegar and 1/2 tbsp salt. 

Mix it all in a cup or the same spray bottle and make sure everything dissolves well before using.

Now spray some solution onto your fire pit so that it covers every inch of it. Immediately it will start foaming, and the rust will form. Yes, it's that fast! 

Leave the object to dry (best - in the sun) and then respray it. The more you spray, the more noticeable the rust patina will be, so you can wait and see whether you like the results or want a little more. 

Step 3: let it stay 

After you're done with spraying, leave your fire pit or sculpture alone and do not touch the rust. If you do so, it might come off, and it will ruin your hard work. 

Even if you've speeded up this process, have in mind that the rust will change with the seasons and time. Heavy rains, sun and wind, will all affect how the object looks, making it special and unique. 

Cortel steel fire pits for your home

The Ember Range 

A metal fire pit is an excellent addition to your garden, backyard or other outdoor space. Out Ember Range heavy duty fire pit is made from a high spec 6mm thick Australian Bluescope Mild Steel, is exceptionally durable and will last you a lifetime. 

Don't worry about setting it up - this fire pit comprises five panels that slot together, so there's no need for welding. 

The Ember Range

X-Stack Firewood Stacker

So that you don't pile your firewood into a corner or keep it in a cardboard box, get our X-shaped metal firewood stacker with a contemporary and minimalist design. It's sleek and allows you to store your firewood without crowding the space. 


X-Stack Firewood Stacker
X-Stack Firewood Stacker


*We're not liable for any possible injury or damage resulting from following these tips.