How To Get Rust Off Traps: Quick And Easy

mink on tree stump

I was loading my traps and gear into the back of my trapping mentor’s pickup truck when he told me to stop. He said I wasn’t going anywhere with him today.

My shoulders dropped. I was looking forward to opening day and I had no idea what I did wrong. When I began to protest he simply said my traps are too rusty.

Without another word he walked to his barn and I followed along.

Derusting Steel Traps

Maintaining rust free traps is essential to being a successful trapper. I cannot overstate how important keeping your traps in working order is. Far too often I see trappers using traps so rusted over there is little chance they will harvest any fur.

Why go through the trouble of scouting your area and working your trapline if your traps aren’t going to be able to snap when you need them to?

How To Remove Rust From Your Traps

There are a number of expensive solutions available on the market but you can easily remove rust and breathe new life into your traps without spending a dime.

Important: Don’t use wire brushes on your traps.

Getting that nasty rust off your traps is almost as easy as digging a hole. First dig yourself a hole about twelve inches deep and wide enough to hold all your traps that need derusting.

Ideally, you will dig your hole near a black elder or white oak tree. The leaves from these trees should be put all around your traps within the hole.

If you do not have these types of trees in your area, the leaves of any hardwood tree will do as well.

Hardwoods tree leaves contain Tannic acid, which is integral to the chemical process that removes rust.

Once your hole is filled with your traps and leaves bury it. Pack down the dirt to remove as much air as possible, as air can cause further rust to set in.

Digging your hole in a wet area will also help keep air from your traps. While not required, definitely burry your traps in a low, wet, area if at all possible.

Leave your traps for three to four days before removing from the ground. The rust should be removed but if some still remains repeat the process until all rust has been removed from your traps.

More Ways To Get Rid Of Rust

If you do not have access to hardwood leaves, or the space to dig a hole you still can get the rust off your traps.

Take a few pounds of white oak bark and chip it up into small chunks. Place it in a large boiling pot of water. Around fifteen gallons should do the trick.

After boiling for about five minutes, put the mixture into a barrel and add in your traps. Leave traps in the mixture for a few days or until all the rust is removed. No need to cover the barrel or change the mixture.

One last option is to mix log wood chips into the same amount of water. Add traps and leave for a few days.


With any of these methods you can easily remove rust from all of your traps. Once your traps are free of rust you can move on to coloring them. Just be sure to prepare your traps during the offseason to avoid a missed opening day like I had.

For more trapping tips check out these articles

Written by Fred

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