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4 Types of Metal That Are Corrosion Resistant or Don't Rust

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Time to Read: 2 m 30s

We usually think of rust as the orange-brown flakes that form on an exposed steel surface when iron molecules in the metal react with oxygen in the presence of water to produce iron oxides. Metals may also react in the presence of acids or harsh industrial chemicals. If nothing stops the corrosion, flakes of rust will continue to break off, exposing the metal to further corrosion until it disintegrates.

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Corrosion Resistant Metal Options

Not all metals contain iron, but they can rust or tarnish in other oxidizing reactions. To prevent oxidation and breakdown of metal products, such as handrails, tanks, appliances, roofing, or siding, you can choose metals that are “rust-proof” or, more accurately, “corrosion-proof.” Four basic types of metals fall into this category:  

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel types, such as 304 or 316, are a mix of elements, and most contain some amount of iron, which quickly oxidizes to form rust. But many stainless steel alloys also have a high percentage of chromium – at least 18 percent – which is even more reactive than iron. The chromium oxidizes quickly to form a protective layer of chromium oxide on the metal surface. This oxide layer resists corrosion while preventing oxygen from reaching the underlying steel. Other elements in the alloy, such as nickel and molybdenum, add to its rust resistance.

Aluminum Metal

Since it’s lightweight and corrosion-resistant, many aircraft, car and bike parts utilize aluminum for manufacturing. Aluminum alloys contain almost no iron, and without iron, the metal will not rust, but it will oxidize. When the alloy is exposed to water, aluminum oxide film forms quickly on the surface. The hard oxide layer is resistant to further corrosion and protects the underlying metal.
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Copper, Bronze, and Brass

These three metals contain little or no iron and do not rust, but they can react with oxygen. Copper oxidizes over time to form a green patina, protecting the metal from further corrosion. Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin and small amounts of other elements and is naturally much more resistant to corrosion than copper. Brass metals are alloys of copper, zinc, and other factors, resisting corrosion.

Galvanized Steel

Galvanized steel takes a long time to rust, but it will eventually rust. This type is carbon steel that has been galvanized or coated with a thin layer of zinc. The zinc acts as a barrier preventing oxygen and water from reaching the steel, providing advanced corrosion protection. Even if the zinc coating is scratched off, it protects nearby areas of the underlying steel through cathodic conservation and by forming a protective layer of zinc oxide. Like aluminum, zinc is highly reactive to oxygen in the presence of moisture, and the coating prevents the iron in the steel from further oxidation.
Industrial Metal Supply carries a wide range of rust-resistant metals for various applications.

Your Local Metal Supplier Serving Southern CA, Arizona & Northern Mexico

Industrial Metal Supply is the Southlands largest supplier of all types of metal and metalworking accessories, including rust prevention products. All metals are manufactured from high-quality rust preventative materials, combined with premium metal finishes that provide extended rust protection to ensure the preservation of your metal for years of service.
For more rust prevention information, check out our blog on 6 tips for preventing rust.

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