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How to Stop a Wood Stove from Rusting: 8 Easy Tips

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Rust on a wood stove is a big problem. Not only is it ugly, but it can permanently damage your stove if you don’t deal with it. And as prevention is the best cure, you should be dealing with the rust before it ever appears on your stove. 

Here are 8 ways to stop a wood stove from rusting: 

  1. Apply stove polish to cast iron surfaces.
  2. Apply PAM spray to interior metal surfaces.
  3. Remove moisture with DampRid. 
  4. Use your stove regularly. 
  5. Run a dehumidifier near your stove. 
  6. Leave the stove door slightly ajar. 
  7. Install a chimney cap to keep rain out.
  8. Don’t place wet objects on or in the stove. 

Before we dive into these rust-preventing strategies, I want to give a brief primer on what causes rust. So let’s get started. 

What Causes Rust in Wood Stoves?

To make it simple and avoid getting into the specifics of chemical reactions, we can say that rust occurs when iron is exposed to moisture for a prolonged time. 

Wood stoves can be made out of a variety of materials, including cast iron, sheet metal, plate steel, soapstone, and ceramic tile. 

Of these materials, you can find iron in cast iron (duh), some types of sheet metal, and plate steel. However, even if your stove is primarily composed of soapstone or ceramic tile, there will often be some iron or steel components that are still prone to rusting. 

Therefore, it’s safe to say that almost every wood stove is vulnerable to rust. 

The key to preventing rust is to keep moisture away from the iron in your stove. There are two ways to do this: 

  • Remove the moisture from your stove’s environment. 
  • Create a barrier between the metal and the moisture.

Each of the strategies I’ll discuss in this article will do one of these two things. To fully protect your stove from rust, it’s best to use a combination of methods. This will enable you to remove as much moisture as possible and protect the metal from any moisture that remains. 

Apply Stove Polish 

If you have a black cast iron stove, applying stove polish is a great way to protect your stove from rust-causing moisture. 

I recommend using Rutland Stove Polish (available on Amazon). It’s affordable and very effective. The rest of this section will assume you’re using the Rutland polish, though other brands of polish should have a similar process. 

Here’s how you should apply your Rutland stove polish:

  1. Remove any dirt or rust. Dust can be simply wiped away, while rust can be removed with steel wool or a wire brush. If the rust is particularly hard to remove, try a rust removal spray. 
  2. Repair any cracks in the stove’s finish. You can do so easily using furnace cement — I recommend using Rutland Furnace Cement. Remember to protect floors and walls with plastic, newspaper, or painter’s tape before applying the cement. 
  3. Apply the stove polish using a damp cloth. You don’t need to use much; a very thin layer should protect your stove during the off-season. 
  4. Let the polish sit for about 3 days. It should be fully cured after that, and your stove should be protected from rust until next season. 

The first time you fire your stove after applying the polish, it will produce some smoke and a rather foul smell. If possible, open your windows when you first fire it up to prevent the smoke alarm from going off. 

Apply PAM Spray to Interior Metal Surfaces

PAM spray – yes, I’m talking about the cooking spray – creates a surprisingly good moisture-proof barrier on your stove surface. 

Using it is simple. After removing dirt and rust and repairing cracks in the stone finish (see the guide in the above section), apply a decent amount of spray to all metal surfaces inside of the stove. Once finished, your stove should be protected until next season. 

You can get PAM spray on Amazon or at your local grocery store. I recommend buying a few cans — you’d be surprised at how quickly you go through it. 

If you don’t have Pam spray, some solid alternatives include WD-40 spray and Marvel Mystery Oil

Remove Moisture with DampRid

No matter how many precautions you take to prevent moisture from getting into the stove, some will inevitably find its way inside. 

An easy way to remove this moisture is to place containers of DampRid inside every compartment in your stove. This includes the main compartment, pellet crib, ash pan, and anywhere else moisture can accumulate. 

I recommend using the DampRid with activated charcoal to remove odors as well as moisture. It’s essentially the same price as the normal DampRid, but it’ll leave your stove smelling cleaner and less musky when you use it again. 

Use Your Stove Regularly 

The easiest way to prevent moisture from building up is to use your stove regularly. 

Many of these strategies are meant to be used in the warmer months when you’re not using your stove. 

But if it’s cold enough to have a fire, then have one! Rust-causing moisture doesn’t stand a chance against a roaring blaze that burns for hours. 

Run a Dehumidifier Near Your Stove 

A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air, so it’s no surprise that running one near your stove will help prevent rust from appearing. 

As you likely have your stove located in one of the common areas of your home, you’ll want a quieter unit that doesn’t constantly remind you of its existence with gurgles and hums. 

I advise checking out our best quiet dehumidifier recommendations to find an option that doesn’t disturb the peace of your home. 

In that article, I cover options that span all of your potential space needs, from small room models to units that can dehumidify your own home. 

Of course, if you already have a good dehumidifier, that should do the job just fine. 

Leave the Stove Door Slightly Ajar

Simple ventilation is surprisingly helpful when it comes to preventing wood stove rust. And it doesn’t get much simpler than leaving the stove door ajar when you’re not using it. 

If you have pets or small children, this may not be an option. However, if it’s a possibility in your home, it’s a free way to prevent moisture from accumulating in the stove compartment. 

Install a Chimney Cap to Keep Rain Out

Letting rain get in your chimney is a one-way ticket to rust and corrosion. 

The best way to prevent rain from pouring into your pipe is with a chimney cap, which is a metal or ceramic cover for your chimney opening. It has grates on its sides to let smoke out, but has a solid top to prevent rain from getting in. Chimney caps also help keep animals and debris from falling into the flue. 

If you don’t already have a chimney cap, the ShelterPro Bolt On Single Flue Chimney Cover is an affordable and effective option. It’s not the prettiest cover cap around, but it’s easy to install and gets the job done. 

Don’t Place Wet Objects on or in the Stove

Moisture near the stove – whether it’s airborne, sitting in a container, or dripping down the side of a teapot – can contribute to stove rust. 

So take basic precautions like removing filled teapots from the stovetop and cleaning up any water that spills on or around the stove.

Final Thoughts 

If it’s still cold near you, using your stove regularly is the best way to prevent rust from forming. 

And if you’re closing your stove up for the season, a combination of stove polish, PAM spray, DampRid, dehumidification, and proper ventilation should keep your stove clean and rust-free until you’re ready to use it again.