Best Welding Rod For Rusty Metal

For a strong weld, the surface of the metal should be clean and rust-free. That’s why every welder should always have a grinder in the toolbox that they can use to adequately prepare the metal surface before stick welding.

Rust can really affect the quality of the weld: it can contaminate the puddle and make the weld too fragile to withstand pressure. But fear not – there’s a solution. If you’re dealing with rusty metal, it’s recommended that you use a welding rod that’s rich in silicon or manganese, as they create thicker slag that takes the contaminants to the surface. A commonly used electrode with these properties is the 7018.

Electrodes that have high cellulose potassium or high cellulose sodium levels are also good for welding rusty surfaces. They don’t create a thick slag, but they have the ability to penetrate more deeply than most welding electrodes, thus melting the clean metal underneath the layer of rust.

Electrode 7018

First off, I will explain what the numbers in the name of the electrode actually mean. The first two numbers, in this case, “70”, represent the tensile strength of the weld, so “70” means that the tensile strength of the weld would be 70,000 PSI (pounds per square inch).

The third number, or in this case “1”, represents the positions in which the welding electrodes can be used. The number “1” means that it can be used in all positions, while “2” would mean that it can only be used on flat and horizontal fillet welds.

Although the 7018 can theoretically be used for any position, it doesn’t work great for downhill vertical welding because the puddle it creates is just too fluid and doesn’t freeze too quickly.

The fourth digit represents the type of coating that is used on the electrode and the type of current it can be used with. In the case with “7018”, the “8” means that the electrode contains a low level of hydrogen mixed with potassium and iron powder. The electrode can run on both AC/DC currents.

One of the main reasons why this electrode is good for welding rusty surfaces is the slag it creates; the second reason is the slow freezing puddle. Because the puddle is very fluid and freezes slowly, it takes all the contaminants to the surface, creating a thicker slag. The slow-freezing property also minimizes the formation of new rust.

The biggest issue with the 7018 welding rod is the storage requirement. Because the coating is made with low hydrogen levels, the rods have to be stored in a moisture-free environment. Ideally, the rods should be kept at a temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit, but for that, you would need a special welding rod oven.

Best Welding Electrode for Rusty Metal

Lincoln Electric Excalibur 7018 MR

Lincoln Electric is a serious brand when it comes to welding equipment, and these welding rods are a high-quality product that’s guaranteed to create a clean weld.

The MR in the name of the product stands for “moisture resistance”, so the electrodes don’t require very strict measures for storage. They meet the API 751 chemical compositions standard, and they exceed the AWS toughness standard. They run on AC and DCEP.

You will receive the electrodes in a sealed steel can so they’ll stay protected during transport. While this link will take you to the 1/8″, 10lbs package, you can usually find a 50lbs package in different sizes.

Hy-Weld 7018 Electrodes

Although Hy-Weld is not a high-end brand, their welding rods are in the same price range as the rest of the rods on this list, and they have the quality to support that.

These electrodes work on AC, DCEP, and DCEN perfectly fine. They’re excellent for welding high tensile steel, so they’re a great option for professional welders. The metal can they’re packed in will protect them during transport.

From the product page, you can choose between 1/8″, 3/32”, and 5/32” sized rods in 10lbs or 50lbs packages.

US Forge E7018 Rods

US Forge has been a go-to brand for welders for over 40 years now. The USA-based company makes very reliable welding accessories at a mid-range price.

The 7018 welding rods made by US Forge are great for both AC and DCEP current. They’re excellent for welding low-alloy steel, carbon, and mild steel.

The only issue about these electrodes is that they’re packaged in a cardboard box, so there’s a possibility of receiving damaged items.

This link will take you to the 1/8”, 10lbs package but you can usually find 5lbs and 50lbs packages in different sizes.

Forney 30681 E7018 Welding Rod

Forney is another well-known brand that manufactures reliable welding equipment, and these welding rods prove that.

This particular model runs on AC, DCEN, and DCEP. They run smoothly even with low voltage power outlets, so they’re a great option for hobbyists and general use around the house.

The electrodes come in a container sealed with plastic, which means it’s less probable that you’ll receive a damaged product. If you follow the link to the product page, you can choose between 1lb, 5lbs, and 10lbs packages from 1/8″, 3/32”, and 5/32”-sized electrodes.

Electrode 6010

Looking at the first two numbers of the name, we know the tensile strength of the weld for this welding electrode is 60,000 PSI. The “1” means that it can be used in all positions, but unlike the 7018, this electrode forms a fast-freeze puddle, so it’s also good for downhill vertical welding and overhead welding.

The last digit suggests that the coating of the 6010 has a high level of cellulose sodium and that it can only run on DCEP (direct current with the electrode being in positive polarity). This also slightly affects the penetrating power of the electrode. The 6010 is a tiny bit weaker than the 6011, but it’s still stronger than most.

It’s exactly the penetrating power that makes this stick electrode a great choice for welding rusty surfaces. The violent arc of the 6010 easily penetrates through the layer of rust, melting the clean metal underneath. That forms a puddle that’s fluid enough to take the contaminants to the surface and in the slag.

The fact that this is a fast-freeze rod is not ideal for welding rusty surfaces, but no electrode is ideal. The ideal scenario would be to remove the rust before welding, so this is pretty much as good as it gets. Most importantly, there are no special requirements for the storage of the 6010 welding rod.

Hy-Weld 6010 Electrodes

Exactly like with the 7018, the 6010 electrodes by Hy-Weld are a high-quality product worthy of being in the same price range as the other name brands on this list. The arc is violent but steady, with decent penetration power.

The electrodes are packed in a tin can that will protect them during transport. From the product page, you can choose between different-sized rods and packages of 10 and 50 pounds.

Forney 31610 E6010 Welding Rod

Like the rest of the products Forney has to offer, their 6010 welding rods really get the job done. They work great for welding galvanized steel, as well as for oily or oxidized metal.

The electrodes come in a container sealed with plastic, which will protect them during transport. Although this particular link is for the 1/8”, 10lbs package, you can usually find the same rods in all three different sizes in 1lb and 5lbs boxes.

Blue Demon 6010 Electrodes

This is a slightly cheaper option than the rest of the electrodes on this list. They seem to work just fine, the arc is violent but stable and it penetrates well enough.

You can choose between all three different sized electrodes, and between 5lbs and 50lbs sized packs from this link. They will arrive in a container sealed with plastic.

Lincoln Electric 6010 Electrode

Lincoln Electric’s 6010 electrodes have a very violent arc start, but hold a stable arc all the way through. They penetrate deep in the base metal and will burn through the rust with ease.

The electrodes are packed in a sealed tin can which will protect them from external influences. This link is for the 1/8”, 10lbs package, but you can usually find 5lbs and 50lbs packages in all the different sizes.

Electrode 6011

The 6011 is actually very similar to the 6010. The main difference, as you can see by the last digit, are the components of the coating and the current it runs on. Unlike the 6010, the 6011 welding rod can run both on DCEP and AC, and the coating is made from cellulose potassium.

There isn’t much of a difference in the arc of these two welding rods: they both burn very aggressively and reach a high temperature. However, the 6011 can penetrate slightly deeper into the base metal when they’re run at the same amperage, thus creating a cleaner weld.

There’s also a similarity in the drawbacks of these two welding rods. The puddle created by the 6011 also freezes very quickly, and the slag is not very thick, which means not all the impurities are collected in it. This is the only feature that the 7018 welding rod is better at when it comes to welding rusty metal.

Like the 6010, the 6011 welding rods can be kept in regular storage conditions, nothing fancy like completely dry or extremely hot environments.

Lincoln Electric Fleetweld 180 (6011)

A great set of 6011 electrodes, made by a highly reliable brand. They run a very stable arc that penetrates deep in the metal, creating a strong weld every time.

This is a link to the 3/32”, 5lbs plastic box. If you click here you can order the 1/8”, 50lbs metal can.

Forney 31205 E6011 Welding Rod

As I’ve mentioned before, Forney is always a safe bet when it comes to welding equipment. These 6011 electrodes are no different. You can always expect an instant arc start and stability all the way through.

This link will let you choose between three different sizes and packages of 10 or 50 pounds. If you click here, you can order a 1 pound box. They all come in boxes sealed with plastic.

Hy-Weld 6011 Electrodes

The 6011 electrodes by Hy-Weld work like a miracle. They have a very aggressive start and run a very stable arc. They also penetrate deep in metals, resulting in a strong weld.

Like the other electrodes by Hy-Weld on this list, these come in a tin can which will keep them safe during transport. You can choose between all three sizes and boxes of 10 or 50 pounds.

Buyer’s Guide

Consider these factors before deciding which welding rod is right for your work.


A deep-penetration rod is recommended for welding rusty surfaces because it will burn through the rust and melt more of the clean metal underneath it. If the electrodes you have don’t have deep-penetration power, you could turn the arc knob a bit higher than you usually would and that could help you burn through the rust.

Avoid a Fast-Freeze Rod

When a puddle freezes quickly, it doesn’t allow all of the contaminants to flow to the surface, leaving some of them in the weld itself. This means that you should avoid a fast-freeze rod for rusty metal.

Slag Type

The thickness of the slag is actually connected with the previous point. It’s the time it takes for the puddle to “freeze” or harden. The more contaminants that flow to the surface, the thicker the slag will be, leaving a strong weld underneath.

Package Size

You can usually find 1, 5, 10, or 50-pound packages when ordering electrodes. Depending on how much you actually weld, you need to decide which package you need.


If you need a stable, all-purpose welding rod, any of the 6011 rods on this list will do a great job. The only issue is that they won’t create as much slag as the 7018, thus leaving more of the contaminants in the weld itself.

The 6010 welding electrode is also a great option for general-purpose welding, but the only issue with it is that it only works on DCEP settings.

The 7018 is a stick electrode that’s very easy to work with. It doesn’t burn as aggressively as the 6010 and 6011, and it also creates less spatter. These electrodes will provide a cleaner weld because they will collect more of the contaminants in the slag.


What are 6013 rods used for?

Because these electrodes have a moderate burning arc, they don’t penetrate as deeply as other electrodes. That’s why they should be used for clean, thin sheet metal.

Which weld is the strongest?

TIG welding produces the strongest, most tensile welds.

What is a good all-purpose welding rod?

The E6011 is the most versatile electrode you can find. It’s a deep-penetration rod that runs on AC and DC (DCEP and DCEN). As I mentioned in the article, the 6011 handles dirty and rusty metals better than most electrodes.

What is the best setting for a 7018 welding rod?

Most manuals suggest that for welding with a 7018 electrode, the arc knob should be set at around 30. However, setting it a bit higher than that will allow you to use lower amperage, and that way, you can use it for welding thin sheet metal without blowing through it.

What is the hardest metal to weld?

That would be aluminum, because of the skill required to create a successful weld without actually blowing through it.

About Pierre Young

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Hey, I'm Pierre Young a qualified AWS Certified Welder. I got into welding in 2009 as a side hustle. Ever since then, I've been doing all kinds of welds - both for business and pleasure. While immersing myself in this wonderful hobby, I've learned from hands-on experience what welding gear works and what doesn't. Welding Headquarters is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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