How Quickly Does Rust Form?

May 15, 2020

Rust isn’t just an unattractive annoyance—it can form and spread quickly, eating away at your metal components, vehicles, boats and more. The rate of rust formation depends on a few factors, including the metal composition, presence of water and more.

Ultimately, it’s best to take measures to prevent rust whenever possible. If it does form, you can remove rust stains with Magica® Rust Removers, then improve your maintenance practices or add protective coatings to keep it from coming back again.

What is rust?

Rust is iron oxide, a compound that forms when iron and oxygen react to water or moisture in the air. It’s usually a reddish-brown color, but if it’s formed underwater, it can be a green color. Underwater rust occurs when iron reacts with chloride—that’s why underwater steel sometimes has green stains.

When iron corrodes, rust will form and start eating away at the iron or iron alloy. Eventually, if left unaddressed, the rust will cause the metal components to completely crumble. In other words, rust seriously harms the structural integrity of the metal object.

How fast rust forms

How fast rust forms depends on whether the metal is pure iron or an alloy. If water or salt are present, this can speed up the reaction and cause the object to disintegrate faster. That’s why metal rusts more quickly in coastal environments, but is slowed (or halted) in dry desert-like conditions. However, heat causes the rate of rust formation to speed up, which is why mufflers and exhaust manifolds are prone to rusting.

Some iron alloys, like stainless steel, are virtually rust proof. Stainless steel contains nickel and chromium, which prevent the iron atoms from rusting. Even if stainless steel is scratched, exposing more metal underneath, the nickel and chromium atoms bind to the iron and form a rust-proof “coating.”

Finally, electrical environments can speed up the rust rate—if an electrical current flows through salty water, the metal will rust much faster than it otherwise would.

Preventing rust

Preventing rust depends on keeping moisture and salt away from the iron content. This can be done by creating an iron alloy (such as stainless steel, which is iron combined with nickel and chromium). You can also coat your iron-rich metals with a protective coating, such as paint, powder coating or galvanization. Galvanizing metal involves dipping it in zinc, which functions in much the same way as nickel and chromium protect iron atoms in stainless steel.

Of course, if you can keep your metal objects away from water, salt and electricity, so much the better. Some industrial centers use dehumidifiers to protect equipment, while others opt for painting and powder coating. The more protective measures you take, the less likely rust will begin to form and eat away at your metal components.

Rust formation can leave behind unpleasant stains. If you’re looking for a quality rust stain remover, look no further than Magica® Rust Removers. Our rust stain remover is available in gel and spray forms. Contact Magica, Inc. today to learn more.

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