(Photo: Pixabay)

You can get rid of rust naturally. A couple of cans of cola will do the trick.

And this has nothing to do with the old story that the drink can dissolve a rusty nail.

The phosphoric acid and citric acid in the drink get rid of, or rather loosen, the rust, and honest elbow grease can then finish the task.

I put this and other natural rust removal methods to the test recently when my sister wanted to borrow my barbecue fish baskets.

Unused for years, they had turned rusty.

As these grill baskets hold food to be barbecued, that puts paid to any of the toxic commercial rust removers out on the market.

I had to rely on more homespun, less toxic solutions.

And the good news is, they work.

At least, the three methods that I tried did.

1) Plain white vinegar

First, I soaked a rag with plain white vinegar, then dabbed it all over the rusty areas.

I left it to sit for about an hour, before I started scouring away.

It would be ideal if you had a basin of vinegar to soak the entire rusty implement before working on removing the rust.

To scour the rust away, use a hard toothbrush, a scrunched-up piece of foil or those aluminium pads that are great for cleaning pans around the kitchen.

Like magic, the rust went away easily when I did this.

2) Coke

The same thing happened when the rusty implement had been soaked in cola, either regular or diet.

If either method does not work the first time round, repeat the procedure.

The third procedure that I tried worked less well, though it sounded practical.

3) Salt, and lemon or lime

You cover the rusty bits with plain salt, then squeeze lemon or lime juice over them and use the squeezed out fruit to scour the rust away.

This method was harder as I had to manoeuvre the squeezed-out peel round the grill netting.

4) Potato

I did not attempt one last homespun method that I read about, as I did not have a potato around. Yes, a potato.

The instruction was to cut the potato and dab it in dish detergent and then use this to scour the rust away.

When the potato gets mucky from the cleaning, slice the top layer off and continue cleaning with the fresh surface.

Apparently this method works because the oxalic acid in the potato helps to dissolve rust.

Regardless of whether it works as well as cola in cleaning rust, it certainly sounds as intriguing.

(First published in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times)