Armor and Weapon Maintenance
In order to best understand what we are trying to achieve, we need to have some basic knowledge about metal.† To define the metal we encounter for armor and weapons we use, they would fall into the following two categories:
Steel is Iron with a low content of trace elements such as other metals or impurities, to which about .2% of† carbon is added.† Carbon Steel is the same as above, but with a higher carbon content about† .5% and higher.
Stainless Steel is steel to which other elements such as chromium and nickel have been added to reduce the effects of corrosion on the alloy.
The latter of the steels is for the most part maintenance-free, but the supportive parts of the items still present vulnerability, such as the rivets the leather the buckles or arming points.
Now plain steel and iron do not have the shielding properties of chromium and nickel, so the protection of these metals has to be provided externally. Failure to provide this protection will surely result in destruction of the object through corrosion, rust and eventually pitting over time.
What is Rust ?
Rust is a flaky, reddish brown deposit that forms on the surface of iron and steel. Rusting occurs because iron is a relatively reactive metal and combines readily with oxygen in moist air. The rusting process is actually quite complex. It requires not only oxygen and water, but also small quantities of dissolved salts that are present in water droplets on the surface of the iron; that is why you never touch a high carbon steel blade. The acid on your fingers will damage the steel if not cleaned shortly after contact. ( body oil has a high concentration of salts ). Chemically, rust is hydrated iron oxide of approximate composition Fe2O3.H2O (one water molecule per Fe2O3 formula unit).
The key element towards protection/preservation is to remove/minimize the contact with the air or any other form of water, moisture. The metal needs to be shielded, or a barrier needs to be placed between the source of the corrosive properties.
A light coat of HEAVY oil (30W or greater) is a good form of protection. But, that is not reasonable during the faire, no one wants oil on your garb. Never use WD40 or any other light oil, it will evaporate in a very short time and your steel is not protected. The best protection is offered by pastes or wax (paraffin). After many years of experimenting with various pastes and other forms of coatings, we found carnauba to provide the best form of protection. Carnauba swells and closes its pores when exposed to water.
Carnauba wax is exuded by the leaves of the Brazilian "Tree of Life" (Copernica Cerifera) to conserve the moisture within the tree and leaves. Unlike oils, carnauba will penetrate the surface of the metal and seal it from the elements.
The best / ideal condition to apply Carnauba:
1.) Clean the surface with alcohol to remove oils, acids and dirt.
2.) Heat the surface to about 100 degrees (F)
3.) Now apply the carnauba paste and let it soak in over time
4.) After several hours wipe down the remaining excess
When you touch the metal surface you should feel a slick soft layer over the metal. You can test the result by eyeing
over the surface, which should have a high-seal shine to it.
Now, if you already have rust on the item, use a very fine steel wool pad and softly rub it away in a small circular motion. Do not push too hard, otherwise you will place marks into the steel. Never use a wire brush on armor or you will leave marks and destroy the ambiance of the piece.† After a successful removal of the rust follow the application guidelines of the carnauba.
Lists of Doníts:
Never leave your steel/iron weapon in the sheath over an extended period of time ( leather retains moisture )
Never clean rust off armor or weapons with Naval Jelly ( It could oxidize and stain the surface )