The Detroit Post
Thursday, 21 October, 2021

How Rust Forms

James Smith
• Sunday, 08 November, 2020
• 7 min read

Rust is a naturally occurring phenomenon when certain metals are exposed to oxygen and water for a length of time. It is an actual chemical change which takes place when metal starts to rust.

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Left in a totally dry environment, iron or steel will not rust. It is when moisture is added that the oxidation process starts to occur.

Because the air we breathe has moisture in it, oxidation will occur even if there is no water added to the metal. There is enough hydrogen and oxygen in the air to allow the atoms to bond with the iron.

There are things you can do to prevent rust from forming on your metal surfaces. This machine also decreases the moisture in the air, reducing your chances of rust forming.

Things which are normally stored outside, like bicycles and lawn mowers, can be covered or moved indoors. Silica gel packs help to dry out the air in small places like drawers or tool boxes.

The different colors reflect various chemical compositions of rust. Rust is the common name of the chemical called iron oxide.

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Rust forms when iron or its alloys are exposed to moist air. The oxygen and water in air react with the metal to form the hydrated oxide.

Cathodic reduction of oxygen that is dissolved into water also occurs: The iron oxide reacts with oxygen to yield red rust, Fe 2 O 3. H 2 O.

Rust occurs more quickly in saltwater than in pure water, for example. As the acid attacks the iron, water breaks into hydrogen and oxygen.

Once rusting starts, it continues to corrode the metal. Rust is brittle, fragile, progressive, and weakens iron and steel.

To protect iron and its alloys from rust, the surface needs to be separated from air and water. Stainless steel contains chromium, which forms an oxide, much like how iron forms rust.

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The difference is the chromium oxide does not flake away, so it forms a protective layer on the steel. This science fair experiments demonstrate the chemistry of rust and the oxidation process.

Do this simple science project using a plastic glass, rock salt and some water to learn about deposition. Do this free science fair project and watch the formation of icicles occur right before your eyes.

How Does Pressure Change Minerals? In this science fair project, students learn how pressure can make the minerals in a rock line up in the same direction and form bands and formation.

How does smell affect taste? Ready your taste buds--in this project, you'll gather some test subjects and do a taste test to see how much smell affects taste.

Kids will make a complete circuit and explore how voltage contributes to brightness with this science fair project idea. Kids will build their own compass at home to find the answers in this great science fair project idea.

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Learn about how the Earth was formed in this science worksheet that covers the early years of the Earth. The rate of how fast rust can form on objects depends on a lot of factors.

But a lot of people may be wondering how long it takes for rust to form on certain objects. Factors like heat, water, and oxygen play a large role in how fast rust can form.

Not only does the amount of iron contained within each metal object have a role, but the conditions it’s subjected to play a big part as well. Below, we’ll explore some ways that the environment can play a role, and if certain conditions will either speed up or slow down the rusting process.

The conditions that certain iron filled surfaces are surrounded by also play a large role in the amount of rust that builds up, as well as how quickly it forms. Below, we’ll explore multiple conditions surfaces may be subjected to and how they can quicken the formation of rust.

Temperature plays a large part in the formation of rust, and iron that sits under the hot sun all day is more likely to rust faster than iron that’s surrounded by colder climates for long periods of time. If your surface comes into contact with large amounts of water, this will definitely cause rust to form quicker.

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Saltwater actually rusts objects faster than surfaces subjected to pure water. Acid rain is known to make surfaces rust faster than normal rainwater.

Once again, it’s difficult to put an exact time frame on how long it takes rust to form on certain materials, but based on certain factors, it’s easy to say if it’ll take shorter or longer for rust to form. If a certain material contains two or multiple metals, and they come into contact with saltwater, a battery has essentially been created.

As was stated above, saltwater will allow rust to form faster than surfaces that are subjected to pure water. Conditions like these will have rust form faster than objects that aren’t surrounded by these kinds of factors.

It’s easy to see how certain kinds of environments can help rust form quicker on certain surfaces. When metal heats up, molecules are working faster and therefore quickening the rusting process.

While you might not be able to put an exact time frame on how long it takes rust to form, understanding how certain elements and conditions play a role is the first step. Factors like heat, water, oxygen, and electrical conditions can allow rust to appear and spread faster.

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Other elements like electrolytes, calcium, acid, or salt, by itself or as salt-water, can speed up the process. Given sufficient time, oxygen, and water, any iron mass eventually converts entirely to rust and disintegrates.

Such products or agents include, but are not limited to: rust -inhibiting paint, polymer coatings, zinc and tin electroplating, bluing, and dehumidification. With a little time and “elbow grease”, a shiny surface can usually be restored to its original luster.

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