There is no more important thing you can do to help you garden tools last and is also one of the simplest...oil your garden tools. With this simple step, you can prevent rust on the metal portion of the tool and when applied to any wood element, you’ll prevent drying and cracking.
While I will never be called a garden tool maintenance freak, the simple fact that I oil our tools makes up for my occasional neglect. Ultimately, if I had took the time to wash and dry my tools after every use, they would be better off. But, the reality is that after a long day of gardening all I want to do is shower and put my feet up…sound familiar?
Rust is caused by a chemical reaction that happens when iron (steel), water and oxygen come together...called oxidation. By coating the steel, you're blocking the oxygen and water and thus preventing rust.
For a lot of years motor oil has used as a rust preventative on garden tools and is still in practice today. You’ve probably read or been told to get a bucket of sand, pour some motor oil in it and poke your tools into it. Well, that will keep your tools from rusting, but what about the next time you stab that tool in your soil? You just transferred that oil from the bucket to the soil you’re trying to grow plants in.
So, which oil? Boiled Linseed Oil. Linseed oil is derived from the dried seeds of the flax plant and therefore a great eco alternative to any petroleum based oil. Gardeners have been using linseed oil for many, many years to protect their tools from the elements and at Garden Tool Co., we oil every tool that does not have a finish on it already, before it ships.
A cautionary note: The boiled linseed oil that is available today has a small amount of solvent added to it to keep it from hardening in the can, so after you apply it to your metal and wood, let it dry completely before using your tool, (about 24 hours) that way the solvent will have evaporated. Read and understand the direction on can. (Linseed oil is available in the paint dept. at Lowes, Home Depot and maybe your local hardware or paint store.)