When you work with metal, rust can be a major problem. Rust forms when iron and oxygen react with water to form iron oxide, which eats away at metal until it eventually crumbles. Rust stains can also spread to clothing, upholstery, concrete and other surfaces.
When you’re working in damp environments, working with non-rusting metals is the best way to avoid problems with rust. Here are corrosion-resistant or rust-proof metals that can make rust prevention a lot easier:
- Galvanized steel: Galvanizing adds a protective coating to iron or steel, which helps keep moisture away from iron molecules. The metal object is dipped or electroplated with zinc. Zinc is highly reactive, so it forms zinc oxide over any exposed iron. This forms a moisture-proof barrier and makes this a steel that doesn’t rust.
- Stainless steel: Similar to galvanized steel, stainless steel is another type of non-rusting steel. Instead of being dipped in zinc, stainless steel is actually an iron alloy that contains nickel and chromium. Chromium has similar reactive properties as zinc, which forms a protective barrier of chromium oxide. Even if you scratch the surface, the chromium oxide will form over it and protect the iron molecules from moisture.
- Weathering steel: Weathering steel, also known as COR-TEN steel, contains chromium, phosphorus, nickel and copper. This alloy forms a “rust patina” that can reduce rust formation.
- Brass: Brass doesn’t rust because it has a relatively minuscule amount of iron in it. It can, however, form a bluish patina from oxygen exposure over time. This does not affect the structural integrity of the metal like rust does.
- Copper: Copper can corrode, but it’s not as destructive as iron oxide. This metal forms a bright green patina that is more like tarnish than rust. In fact, some people prefer the look of copper patina.
- Aluminum: Aluminum doesn’t rust because it has zero iron content—however, it can corrode. This popular metal is lightweight and relatively inexpensive, making it popular for outdoor structures like awnings and patio covers.
- Bronze: Similar to aluminum and brass, bronze also will not rust because it contains a minute amount of iron.
- Gold: Gold is a pure metal that contains no iron, so you don’t need to worry about your wedding ring rusting. What’s more, unlike copper and brass, it doesn’t react with oxygen. Gold can have a very slight tarnish, but nothing like you see with silver or copper.
- Platinum: Like gold, platinum is a pure metal with no iron content. It is much stronger than gold, making it suitable for everyday jewelry use.
- Silver: Finally, silver is yet another pure, non-rusting metal. Silver will tarnish over time, but that can be easily removed with silver polish. It’s softer than platinum and is an excellent electricity conductor.
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