Try nail polish. We used to paint pop tabs and lace them on our shoes in middle school and nail polished seemed to do the trick! It's a good way to use up old polish or old colors, plus you get a nice glossy finish! Or use clear or a "natural" finish!
If you are afraid of them rusting, go to Walmart in auto paint section and buy a spray can of clear Rustoleum and spray on it when done making. Hang on a clothesline to dry. It will dry in about 10 minutes. My hubby uses this on car parts so I know it will work. Make sure the cap on can is clear.
Not all tabs are aluminum. Only way to make sure it is would be to take a magnet and see if it is magnetized.
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I wanted to make a soda can tab belt. But then I was thinking, what should I put on them so they won't rust?
Aluminum doesn't rust. Just use the ones from aluminum cans. My daughter made one--really cute!