Can Rusted Metal Be Recycled? (And 6 Ways To Reuse it)

It is not uncommon to have metal around you. It can be in the form of tin cans, screws and bolts, dog chains and even metal doors and windows; your windowpane may be made of metal.

If you have ever had to clean out your garage, then you probably found a couple of rusted metals there. Of course, you didn’t intend to store rusted metals; it just happened that years of neglect led to these items rusting and wasting away.

And now, you want to dispose of them. You certainly cannot have a yard sale for rusted metals; random people don’t buy rusted metals. So how do you dispose of them? They are taking up space and now beginning to become a burden.

Well, if you are in a situation like that, then this blog post is for you. Here, we will answer all the questions you have regarding disposing of your rusted metals. Of course, we would not only enlighten you about disposing of them, but we will also enlighten you on how to carry it out in a manner that is regarded as environmentally sensitive. 

Dive in!

Can You Recycle Rusted Metal?

If you recently opened up your garage or storage room and decided to take out everything in it, we wouldn’t be surprised to find that you have several rusted metals in there. But, of course, you didn’t store rusted metals; it just happened that oxygen and water have carried out their job on those items.

And now, you need a way to dispose of them safely. You certainly cannot put them in the trash can because they may be too big to enter. Or, if you are an advocate of the green movement because it is just wrong and would harm the environment.

Metal certainly isn’t compostable or biodegradable. It offers no nutrients to microorganisms, so they won’t even attempt to break it down. Now, if you dispose of your metals the wrong way, you contribute to the danger our environment faces.

Why’s that? Well, metal indeed isn’t biodegradable. When you throw metal parts in the trash, they get taken to the landfills and dumped there. Microorganisms will not break them down; it will take several decades or even centuries before they finally get broken into smaller pieces.

The worst part is that these pieces never even really get absorbed by the soil. It also doesn’t help that these metals are very harmful to every living organism; plants, animals and humans.

So when you want to dispose of your rusted metals, be sure to do it the right way, usually by recycling, repurposing or donating. One or all of these methods will ensure that you don’t leave your metals just lying around, damaging the environment.

Now, you want to know if you can recycle your rusted metals. The answer is yes. You can recycle your rusted metals. However, before manufacturers can put it to good use again, the rust has to be removed from it.

Ordinarily, removing the rust should be done while recycling, but if you are looking to make some money from recycling your rusted metals, then you will need to find a way to remove the rust from it. You have to do this because your rusted metal would be weighed, and you would be paid according to the weight.

Now, rusted metals tend to weigh less than metals in excellent conditions, so be sure to find ways to remove the rust before you tote them to the recycling center.

Can Rusty Tin Cans Be Recycled?

If you are wondering if you can recycle rusty tin cans, the short answer is that you can. A tin can is just like every other metal, and even when it has rusted, you can still recycle it. You may choose to remove the rust on the cans yourself or take them down to your recycling center as they are.

Now, if you intend to make a few bucks off these cans, then you would need to remove the rust. Don’t fuss; removing rust from metals isn’t difficult. You can use things like baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice to remove the rust. You can also use chemicals to remove rust from metals, so you may opt for that.

However, if you have no intention of making some money off the rusted tin cans, just take them to the recycling center, and they will get the job done for you.

Can I Paint Over Rusted Metal?

If you have a piece of metal furniture, you are not ready to let go of just yet, of course, you would think about ways to revamp it. It’s a great idea; actually because it helps you save money and protect the environment. So if you are wondering if painting over your rusted metal will help salvage it, then you are absolutely right. It will!

Now, painting over rusted metal is an activity you have to put some effort into. But, first, you would need to prep the metal, and here’s how you do it. Scope out the metal and determine how bad the rust is.

If the rust has eaten into the metal, then that makes it a bit more complicated. However, if it is just surface-level rust, then you can work with it.

First, find sandpaper or an abrasive item that you can use to scrape the rust off the metal. Ensure you do this well because if you don’t, the rust will overpower the paint and push it off.

You also have to add a primer to the surface of the metal. The primer prevents discoloration after you paint, and it also makes it easier for the metal to absorb the paint you intend to cover it with.

Ensure that you use high-quality paint. It is essential, especially in a scenario like this. When combined with a strong primer, strong and quality paint will stay on your metal for a very long time. It will also help you prevent the rusting process, if not stop it entirely.

You can opt for spray paint or water or oil-based paint. However, you would need to apply at least two coats onto the metal.

You certainly can paint over rusted metal, and you should too. Of course, recycling is always a great option, but you may find that the items you sometimes recycle may have been quite useful to you in the long run if you had held on to them. So save yourself some money this time, and instead of buying a new piece of furniture, revamp your old metallic one.

Is Rusty Scrap Metal Worth Anything?

You may be wondering if you can sell the scrap metal you have dug out of your garage. Of course, you have to think about recycling because it helps protect your environment. However, selling your scrap metal is an excellent alternative to recycling in that it benefits you and your environment. You get to make some extra money while also correctly disposing of your scrap metal.

This begs the question – is scrap metal worth anything? Well, the short answer is yes. Scrap metal certainly is worth some money. Take them down to the scrap yard, and you’ll be sure to make some money off of them.

The best part is that scrap yards are pretty common these days, so finding one isn’t going to be an issue for you.

What to Do With Rusted Tin Cans?

Canned foods are pretty common these days because they are super easy to heat and consume, and you would do all that in just a few minutes. So if you consume canned foods regularly, one would expect that you would have your fair share of tin cans.

If you have been storing them to recycle them, then they must have become susceptible to rust. After all, tin cans are made from metals. So now, instead of recycling them, we have several tips we’d love you to try out. They are great alternatives to recycling, and you will enjoy every moment working on these projects.

Of course, you would have to follow the steps we have provided when you need to remove rust from your cans. Enjoy!

1. Stationery Holders

We bet it didn’t occur to you that you could revamp your rusted tin cans and turn them into stationery holders. Well, now you do. But, of course, you would have to first remove the rust following the instructions we have provided.

Then, you can paint over the cans using your favorite colors. You can place these cans at home and in your office. You can also gift these items.

2. Organizers

Tiny objects like coins, buttons, and office pins tend to hide away from us when we need them, and frankly, it can be pretty frustrating. Now that you have a couple of revamped tin cans, you can use them to hold these small objects. You can now find them whenever you need them.

3. Flower Pots

As always, being an avid gardener means that you can make anything that has depth into a flower pot. A perfect example is your tin cans. You can transform your revamped tin cans into flower pots. The catch is that you can transplant them whenever you want.

If you don’t have a garden, you can revamp the cans and gift them to your friends and family who do.

4. Makeshift Lanterns

If you aim to create a cozy ambience on a cold winter night, then you don’t have to go out to buy lanterns. Instead, you can simply make your own. You would need some candles for this project, though.

Revamp the rusted tin cans by following our instructions, punch tiny holes in them and attach cute ropes to the edges. Then gently place your candles in the makeshift lanterns. Please refrain from touching them when they have been lit for a while because they will undoubtedly be hot.

5. Measuring Cups

Now, this has to be the most common use for old tin cups. However, in this case, we would be using rusty tin cups, so you have to ensure that you clean out the rust entirely. In addition, we are taking extra precautions because we intend to use the cups to measure our food.

6. Cutlery Holders

Once again, you can revamp your rusty tin cups and turn them into cutlery holders. Paint them your favorite colors and place them in your kitchen or on your dining table.


Throwing our waste materials in the bin should stop being our immediate thought when we have to dispose of them. There are various ways to reuse and repurpose these items. We also have the option of recycling sometimes.

In the case of rusty materials, we certainly cannot avoid owning some. After all, it is metal; it tends to rust. However, now you know that there are various things you can do with your rusty metals, so please, don’t be afraid to get creative.


Share on:

About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.