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6 Tips For Preventing Rust

Time to Read: 2 m 47s

Rust is the name for the orange-brown flakes of iron oxide that form on the surface of any iron-containing metal that is exposed to air and water. It is a type of corrosion that is unsightly and highly destructive to the integrity of the metal. This article will share tips on the best ways to prevent rust in all types of iron-containing metals, such as steel and stainless steel.

corrosion and rust on aluminum

Understanding the Rusting Process

When iron reacts with oxygen in water, saltwater, acids, or other harsh chemicals, the rusting process begins. As the iron oxide flakes off the metal surface, it exposes new iron molecules, which continue the reaction process. Eventually, large areas of rust form that may cause the entire metal structure to disintegrate. Whether it’s CA or AZ, IMS stocks a wide selection of Corrosion Resistant Metals.

Ferrous Metals and Rust Prevention

Only metals that contain iron can rust. All ferrous metals contain iron, so rust prevention is a primary concern among these metal types. Common ferrous metals include carbon steel (1018, 12L14), alloy steel (4130), and stainless steel (304, 316). Non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum and copper, contain little if any iron, meaning they cannot rust. However, non-ferrous metals are capable of corrosion. The following examples provide some of the best ways to prevent rust.Keep the Metal Clean and Dry for Proper Rust Prevention
Oxygen in water molecules combines with iron to form iron oxide. Iron oxide is essentially rust. To prevent iron oxide buildup, cars, gates, tanks, and other steel or iron containing metal forms must be properly cared for, especially in outdoor environments. By wiping down wet ferrous metals and keeping them as dry as possible, rust prevention is possible. Ferrous objects enclosed in humid environments, such as a garage or basement, benefit from installing a dehumidifier. Also, any mud or dirt adhered to the surface can hold water, so keeping metals clean is essential.

Reduce Scratching to Prevent Rust

Metal scratches or cracks hold water. When this occurs, the water remains in contact with the iron, causing rust. Cold rolled steel is more corrosion resistant than hot rolled steel; cold rolling creates a smoother surface without texture that traps and holds water. If you notice a deep scratch on your ferrous metal surface, it must be remedied as quickly as possible.

Prevent Rust with Protective Coating Applications

Dipping metal objects, such as clocks, into a bluing solution of water, sodium hydroxide, and potassium nitrate provides strong corrosion resistance. Commercially available rust prevention products in the form of aerosol sprays or cloth wipes also can protect metal objects, including tools, outdoor gear, vehicles, and large metal parts from rusting.

Utilize Stainless Steel for Enhanced Rust Prevention

Stainless steel alloys contain iron. However, stainless steels resist rust due to the high percentage of reactive chromium content, which is even more reactive than iron. The chromium in the alloy oxidizes quickly to form a protective layer of chromium oxide on the metal surface, preventing oxygen from reaching the underlying steel.
Galvanized Metals Provide Superior Rust Prevention
Galvanization
 is a coating process used to preserve the substrate steel, providing rust-free protection for many years. In the galvanizing process, a piece of steel is coated with liquid zinc. The zinc protects the steel in three different ways. First, the zinc coating acts as a barrier preventing oxygen and water from reaching the steel. Second, even if the coating is scratched off, the zinc protects nearby areas of the metal through cathodic protection. Third, zinc is highly reactive to oxygen and quickly forms a protective coating of zinc oxide, preventing the iron from further oxidation.

Prevent Rust with Regular Maintenance

Because rust spreads quickly, it's crucial to scrape it off as soon as it appears. Following the scrape, scrub with warm water and soap, and apply a metal conditioner or other protective coating to prevent further oxidation. If necessary, use a new coat of paint for the area.

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. Our experts will assist you in finding the metal that’s right for your specific application.
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