The Detroit Post
Thursday, 21 October, 2021

How To Rust Gold

Elaine Sutton
• Sunday, 20 December, 2020
• 7 min read

Prized for its beautiful yellow shine, soft malleable nature, and useful chemical properties. Many people choose to invest in gold for various reasons, as it has been proven as reliable and safe protection of wealth.

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The term rust is used to describe a lot of different metal reactions, so the true definition of the word is often lost in translation. Rust is a form of corrosion, which is simply defined as irreversible damage to tissue or material due to a chemical or electrochemical reaction.

Some forms of oxidation provide protection to the underlying metal, however, rust offers no such barrier. As we mentioned, other forms of corrosion are called different names when the metal in question is not iron; in this case, tarnish.

Tarnish is a thin layer of corrosion that happens on the surface of some metals, due to a reaction with oxygen in the surrounding air. This oxidation can cause a thin layer of discoloration on the surface of these certain metals, dulling the shine and polish.

Many metals are subject to the process of tarnishing, including brass, copper, aluminum, and silver. One form of tarnish, called patina, actually provides a protective layer.

Patina can preserve the underlying metals when they’re used outdoors, protecting deeper layers from corrosion and damage. However, cleaning silver coins can be done easily using baking soda and aluminum foil, creating a simple reaction to reverse the tarnishing process.

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This doesn’t reduce the amount of pure gold in your coin, it’s just to protect the precious metal. This could potentially mean that some metals containing gold could rust, but this doesn’t apply to bullion.

There is no oxidation process that happens between gold molecules and oxygen in the air, to create a dull and lusterless outer layer on the metal. Don’t worry if a piece of your gold jewelry tarnishes; it doesn’t mean it’s not real.

Avoid exposing your gold to chemicals such as perfume, hairspray, deodorant, and cleaning supplies. Add a silica gel packet to your jewelry box (or bullion safe) to absorb additional moisture in the environment.

Rust and tarnishing are two different forms of corrosion, which can be used to refer to any breakdown of metal into an oxide, hydroxide, or sulfide. On the other hand, gold is also commonly alloyed with base metals such as copper, making it far less corrosion resistant.

You will rarely have to worry about gold bullion corroding, as coins and bars are generally of incredibly high purity. The fact that pure gold cannot rust, tarnish, or corrode is one of the elements which has made it so valuable throughout human history.


Gold serves an important purpose in various industries because it doesn’t suffer the damage over time that other metals do. Other metals are as good or better, but after the tiniest exposure to the elements, they can tarnish, corrode, and render electronics useless.

This is why gold is used in so many of the devices we use every day, including cell phones, computers, and larger appliances. The reliable non-reactivity of gold means the circuits will remain in good condition, and devices will function for much longer.

Gold of high purity can remain in an unchanged condition for centuries, without losing any color or shine. This is one aspect that has historically attracted human beings to the precious metal since ancient times gold has been used as piercing jewelry.

Without any chemical reactivity, the body won’t reject piercings, and they can remain in place for decades. There are plenty of instances where gold is alloyed with another metal to make it stronger or give it another useful attribute.

While this process won’t damage the gold content of your item, it will affect its visual appearance. Gold jewelry items of less than 14 carats are more susceptible to this, as they have a higher content of other metals that could oxidize.

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Cleaning gold jewelry is a simple process, using only mild dish soap and warm water. Carefully place one piece of gold jewelry into the bowl and leave it to soak for at least 5 minutes.

Use either clean hands or a cotton swab to gently rub the metal’s surface, focusing on any areas where discoloration or buildup of dirt has occurred. Rinse the item under warm running water to remove any remaining soap residue.

Gold is malleable enough for just 1 gram to be hammered into a sheet 1 square meter in size These items might require a little more care and attention to prevent tarnishing from occurring, but a few easy steps are all it takes to keep your jewelry in the best condition.

Firstly, most tarnishing and oxidation needs moisture for the chemical reaction to occur, so make sure your jewelry is always stored bone dry. An airtight container will help keep unwanted moisture out, while packets of silica gel can absorb any water which might get in.

For example, it’s a good idea to remove your gold jewelry before showering, as soap can build up and dull the metal over time. Swimming can also be an issue, as exposure to chemicals like chlorine can also alter your gold jewelry.

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Gold ’s incredible level of non-reactivity means few things can cause it damage, or affect the useful attributes of the precious metal. Again, it is not possible for gold to tarnish as it doesn’t react with chemicals in the air, causing oxidation to occur.

As a noble metal, pure gold is not subject to any sort of corrosion, and will not degrade due to reactions with the environment. Over time, different properties of gold have led it to hold incredible value, making it one of the most expensive metals in the world today.

Gold jewelry is often a sign of wealth, and there is a good reason for this. You might find some useful information that can help you take care of your gold items.

Some people might think that the terms rust and “tarnish” are interchangeable, but the truth is that these describe two different chemical processes. It’s formed by a chemical reaction between oxygen and iron, typically taking place when there is moisture in the surroundings.

Tarnish is a type of corrosion that forms on metals that do not contain iron, such as brass, magnesium, copper, and aluminum. It’s usually a product of oxidation, similar to rust, but it’s not always oxygen that the metal is reacting with; it is often sulfur dioxide.

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This is because gold is among the least reactive chemical elements in the periodic table; it is considered to be an inert or noble metal. Pure gold is too soft and too malleable to be molded into jewelry.

This is why in order to make items such as jewelry, gold is typically alloyed with base metals. In contrast, if they allow it with copper or another base metal, it will be less resistant to corrosion, as is the case with rose gold.

It is the other base metals in the mixture that have been reacting to the sulfur dioxide, oxygen, and moisture in the surroundings. In the cases where items have a gold finish and base metals underneath, the tarnishing process can happen if the gold finish has pores that expose the base metals.

As you know, metals other than gold and iron are capable of tarnishing when exposed to air. Typically, tarnishing occurs when the metal reacts with oxygen and sulfur compounds, in addition to moisture.

However, there are certain agents in the surroundings that can make the tarnishing process happen more quickly. Examples include onions, pickled items, fruit juices, and spices.

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There might be tiny pores on the surface of metal items that can leach acid and other chemicals to cause local corrosion. Gold items, even the lower karat ones, are generally very expensive.

Don’t let your gold come into contact with sulfuric vegetables or chemicals in sprays. Adding a packet of silica gel would also be a good idea so that there is less moisture in the air for the gold jewelry to interact with.

Even though items that contain mixtures of gold and base metals can tarnish, there is some good news. In order to do this, mix a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid that does not contain phosphates with warm water.

You can use either your finger or a cotton swab to wipe the tarnished part of the item with this liquid. Make sure you are using something soft, rather than toothpaste or baking soda since these are too abrasive and can damage your item.

However, the owners of these items might still have to deal with tarnishing when the gold has been alloyed with other metals. There are certain tips that you can follow to prevent or minimize this; your items should be fine as long as you know how to take care of them.

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