• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

old rusty nails  RSS feed

 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just thought before I throw out this bucket of old rusty nails I picked up I would ask if they are good for anything.  They are not fit to drive and can go out with the trash pick up...but any other ideas?

In about 30 min with an old speaker magnet I picked up a half a small bucket worth from where a bale of hay, scrap wood, and some pallets, were burned. Next time I will attach the magnet to a stick though.
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
they might be good for the soil. iron oxides are a major contributer to soil. gives its color too I think. if they were placed somewhere you woudn't ever dig again maybe they will slowly benefit the surrounding vegetation.......or could hurt it.......I suppose a little research could turn up some types of plants that might tolerate or benefit from having some iron oxide leaching old nails in the ground near them. 
 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Leah Sattler wrote:
if they were placed somewhere you woudn't ever dig again maybe they will slowly benefit the surrounding vegetation.......or could hurt it


That is what I was kind of getting at.  Rather than fill the landfill, if they were good for some kind of plant I want to grow that would be a win win.

It is nice having trash service, something many take for granted but not out here, as I can send most anything away... but that doesn't mean I should.
 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How about putting them in the bottem of a watering can maybe?  Now to find the plants that would benifit from rusty water...
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
stick them in around the roots of your fruit trees, esp pears..they will really boost the fruit production and tree health.
 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Perfect!  Just the sort of advise I was looking for.
 
                    
Posts: 0
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i pound them into post and beams and then cob around using the nails as armature. also good for infill wall armiture in light straw claw construction.

 
                    
Posts: 36
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
we burn lots of wood with nails in them in our boilers!we  take the ash and nails and spread in a ring around fruit trees as brenda was saying, with a dose of manure on top.  has brought new life too our old trees !
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21425
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If the nails have been through a fire, and I know my soils were iron deficient, then I would probably be okay with this. 

But I have some concerns.

First, I think I would be wary of any treated nails.  Second, I kinda wonder about some of the newer alloys and what else might be mixed in with the iron.  I feel there is just a big space of stuff I'm not aware of there.

 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
paul wheaton wrote:
If the nails have been through a fire, and I know my soils were iron deficient, then I would probably be okay with this. 

But I have some concerns.

First, I think I would be wary of any treated nails.  Second, I kinda wonder about some of the newer alloys and what else might be mixed in with the iron.  I feel there is just a big space of stuff I'm not aware of there.




Stand back, everyone!  I'm a metallurgist!



Ordinary nails are made of cheap and non-toxic stuff.  The zinc plating could be an issue if something unusual is done (breathing zinc vapor isn't healthy, for example, so be careful welding), but galvanized products are out in many, many gardens with no harm done that I know of.  Some people even grow food plants in galvanized troughs, which shows more comfort than I have, but is still probably OK.

The zinc all probably evaporated in the fire, in the case of the nails in question.

Exotic pricy steels might have significant amounts of cobalt in them, and some alloys designed to be machined (e.g., cut on a lathe) have added lead.  Ordinary nails are worlds away from such alloys; the scrap from the one is sometimes more expensive than the finished product of the other.  Masonry nails are heat-treated to the hilt (like a Roman sword, only better), but this is a question of the ratio of carbon to iron and the subtle details of how they interact: involving other metals would be too expensive.

There is the occasional fastener that is plated with cadmium.  A quick search suggests that this is mostly makes sense for machine screws, but masonry nails get this treatment, too, as do some specialty "barbed" nails. 

The common alloying elements for steel are carbon, nickel, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, and tungsten.  Cerium, aluminum, and titanium aren't too uncommon, either.  I would be OK with any of these in my compost pile or fruit tree soil as part of a reasonable amount of steel alloy.

I don't think it's easy to put too much iron in soil.  I bet the first bucket of nails in a given orchard tends to help the soil ecosystem.  Interestingly enough, before photosynthesis was developed, most life lived off of dissolved iron; if I understand correctly, the bacteria that go to work when you put  a nail in the ground are ones that survived the "oxygen catastrophe" without much change.  What stories they could tell...

TL/DR summary: mind the plating.  Zinc in moderation, keep cadmium out of the garden.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just revived my lemon tree with (among other things) some old rusty staples.  I can vouch that it helps in the right circumstances.  The leaves of iron-deficient trees (like mine was) have a telltale veiny pattern of green on yellow.

The nails might also be good in concrete, if you plan to pour any, and there isn't much ash on them.

 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was hoping you would find this thread polypardigm! I knew you would be a great source for a question like that. thanks for the info!
 
Gwen Lynn
Posts: 736
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"Stand back, everyone!  I'm a metallurgist!" What a cool thing to be, Poly!

I think you need a super hero costume with your fave metal element initials on the front.  Titanium Man, perhaps?
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
ok question for mettalurgists and others..i do use nails to feed my fruit trees..and other rusty equipment..buried around them..however I have an extreme metal rash (evidently mostly nickel but possibly others as most have nickel so it is hard for the dr's to tell if there are others)

had to have a titanium and ceramic replacement hip put in.

sometimes i do get sick off of food and wonder if it could possibly have nickel in it..as well as t he spoons, forks, knives, pots and pans, etc..are all full of nickel

any possible advice here, does nickel leach out into the plants themselve would it be in the fruit?

my allergy to metals is extreme..i can tell sometimes i'm doing worse than at others..like right now i'm in a particularly susceptible state.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brenda Groth wrote:
ok question for mettalurgists and others..i do use nails to feed my fruit trees..and other rusty equipment..buried around them..however I have an extreme metal rash (evidently mostly nickel but possibly others as most have nickel so it is hard for the dr's to tell if there are others)

had to have a titanium and ceramic replacement hip put in.

sometimes i do get sick off of food and wonder if it could possibly have nickel in it..as well as t he spoons, forks, knives, pots and pans, etc..are all full of nickel

any possible advice here, does nickel leach out into the plants themselve would it be in the fruit?

my allergy to metals is extreme..i can tell sometimes i'm doing worse than at others..like right now i'm in a particularly susceptible state.


There are stainless steel alloys with no nickel at all in them, and thankfully they're cheaper.  Manganese (among my favorites, since Leah asked, because it's so cooperative...but for pure metals I guess I'd go with Mo) is used in place of nickel, and I like the stuff just as well, although it is marginally less resistant to corrosion.  Most products with that sort of alloy will be stamped with something like "18/0" as in "18% Chromium, 0% nickel."  My set of cutlery says so, and I think it's from Big Lots.

The ceramic hip sockets are the best kind, according to my old biomaterials professor.  And Ti and the body do a wonderful little dance together, where the body does its usual response to unfamiliar stuff and produces hydrogen peroxide, which maintains an impermeable, insoluble TiO2 layer on the metal surface, that is also compatible with bone minerals and makes corrosion impossible.  And the metal itself is uncommonly stretchy, so there isn't nearly as much of a mismatch between it and the bone as they both flex.  Hope that's working well for you!  It'll be so much better than the old Ni/Co implants, especially with your nickel sensitivity.

I looked it up, and plants don't tend to take up nickel much compared to other pollutants.  Judging by the study below and a couple other sources, the most likely problem foods seem to be meat, spinach, cabbage, oats, nuts, and beans.  My intuition is that adding iron to the soil would help, in the same ways calcium helps with lead: I've read that iron tends to keep nickel bound with it in insoluble minerals, and that living things might mistake nickel for iron, in which case they will take in less Ni the more iron is around (using Le Chatelier's principle).  Again, I think this would be more important around mineral-rich veggies like spinach.  And looking back on the list of problem foods, they tend to be good sources of iron.

http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=17319466

You probably know this, but dimes and quarters contain about as much nickel on their surfaces as nickels do.  Not sure what other rusty equipment you put in, but a good chrome plating often has several layers under the chrome, including one of nickel.

I hope you feel better from your susceptible state, and that this info helps.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well yes i did find the info informative, thank you  very much..i made a note of the things you suggestged that iron be put around..we are always saving things like the rusty nails and other rusty things..to put around fruit trees, but didn't think about the nut trees, and some of the crops.

hate to put too many "sharp" things in the garden but round rusty things would work..like bolts and washers..rather than nails.

we have often buried rusty antique broken farm implements near fruit trees..and the predecessors that lived here before we did buried rusty stuff around the pear and apple trees that were here..but died from ant infiltration after many years.

i am very careful of handling metal things as well as wearing anything with metals..but eating and cooking utensils are often a real problem..

I refuse to use uncoated aluminium as well most of my cookware is either coated or it is cast iron..don't know if there is nickel in the cast iron pans or not.

last job i had i was required to use metal tools and i complained about it and they replaced them for me..after my hands broke out terribly and i became ill.

i tend to absorb it very quickly.

i wear titanium or coated framed glasses and cannot wear my gold wedding ring cause of the prongs in the setting.

do you kmnow if other materials besides metals contain any nickel? If it is used in other things besides as an alloy to metals..i am just curious as to whether i'm getting it in other products..i do know there are metallic threads in some fabrics so i avoid them near my skin..was wondering about things like glass coatings..etc.??
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There shouldn't be any nickel in cast iron.  They add a trace of silicon to it, is all.

I don't see recently-made fabrics with metal threads often, and those tend to be made in India.

I can't think of any other things containing nickel off the top of my head, except that hydrogenated fats might contain a tiny trace of catalyst, which IIRC might be nickel.  They add in chelating agents so reactions don't continue on the shelf, but that might not be enough.

In a similar vein, I think "boiled" linseed oil has an iron catalyst in it, but I'm not 100% on that.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
great info thanks..never been fond of hydrogenated fats anyway..yuk !!
 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My father taught me from childhood not to drink out of aluminum cans, no diet soda, and later not to eat hydrogenated oils.  So many things are so bad for us.  Back then my mother pushed milk and did not allow any soda in the house.  No one thought about sunblock unfortunately.

As an adult I find I do not know how to eat, much less cook...a product of my environment despite the best my parents could do.  I do tend to pick the less bad...but it is still freezer to microwave for me.
 
Tirzah Schmaltz
Posts: 25
Location: NWA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Glad to find this thread. Did not find the answer to this specific question. Yesterday at friends', they were telling me their lemon tree bears so well because they pounded a couple iron nails into the trunk as a relative used to do. Is this safe to do to a tree? Further, Should it be a certain age or size before one tries it? (I appreciate the advice below but am wondering if anyone else has gone about this by pounding a nail or two.)
 
Blake Wheeler
Posts: 166
Location: Kentucky 6b
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tirzah Schmaltz wrote:Glad to find this thread. Did not find the answer to this specific question. Yesterday at friends', they were telling me their lemon tree bears so well because they pounded a couple iron nails into the trunk as a relative used to do. Is this safe to do to a tree? Further, Should it be a certain age or size before one tries it? (I appreciate the advice below but am wondering if anyone else has gone about this by pounding a nail or two.)


In moderation I don't see why it wouldn't be. Not familiar with the size of lemon trees, but I wouldn't do it to a young one. With that said, around here it's fairly common to use trees as fence posts, eventually the tree grows around the fence and they don't seem any worse for the wear. A giant maple in my backyard actually has grown around a t-post that's been there for no telling how long and it's as healthy as a tree can be.
 
Peter Ingot
Posts: 129
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm surprised no one has mentioned this one, but I found saving up old rusty nails, bottle caps, cans etc. and selling them for scrap could be surprisingly worthwhile (at least in the domestic budget of a virtually self sufficient household). The price of little bits of steel is not always great (it fluctuates), but while doing renovations, clean ups etc. the quantities of scrap which can turn up can be considerable, my local scrap dealer got to know me very well, many trips to town were paid for with a bucket of old nails, bits of sheet metal, stripped copper cable, aluminium, lead etc. As far as pollution goes, I would prefer to keep anything galvanised or soldered out of my soil, which was another good reason to keep a barrel for scrap metal.

I also noticed that antique nails while rusty seemed to be better quality steel than modern nails. When nailing hardwood, an old rusty nail, straightened out was often preferable to the modern ones. Nails which had passed through a fire though were useless.

As regards hammering nails into trees, I treat all trees as potential future firewood/timber, and nails or bits of wire can get buried in the trunk and damage tools or even you (never use a chainsaw on wood which might have nails in it). In my experience, trees often get sick and even die as a direct result of nails hammered into them (and this increases the likelihood of someone being tempted to use them for firewood). I have seen many trees dying at the point at which a nail has been hammered in. One of my plum trees gave good yields of fruit apart from one bough which had a piece of old cable (formerly a washing line) lodged in it

Alternatively, old nails can be used as ammunition for a blunderbus should you happen to have such a firearm. Could be useful for deterring burglars, scaring off predators, shooting wildfowl etc.
 
Chadwick Holmes
pollinator
Posts: 618
Location: Volant, PA
27
forest garden fungi goat trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I know at this point the nails in question are no longer a question, but I thought I'd add that nails devolved in vinegar makes a great aging stain for high tannin woods like oak, especially white oak.
 
Don't sweat petty things, or pet sweaty things. But cuddle this tiny ad:
2017 Homesteaders PDC (permaculture design course) & ATC (appropriate technology course) in Montana
https://permies.com/wiki/61764/Homesteaders-PDC-permaculture-design-ATC
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!