Definition - What does Rust mean?

Rust is produced when water comes into contact with iron. Rust forms when the oxygen in water combines with atoms in iron. This reddish coating on the surface of metals is commonly referred to as rust.

Rust is also known as iron oxide (Fe2O3).

Corrosionpedia explains Rust

Rusting is an electrochemical process involving an anode, an electrolyte and a cathode. When metal corrodes, the electrolyte helps provide oxygen to the anode. When water droplets are gathered on an iron object, two things happen. First, the water combines with carbon dioxide to form a weak carbonic acid. As the acid is formed and the iron dissolved, some of the water begins to break down into its component pieces: hydrogen and oxygen. The free oxygen and dissolved iron bond into iron oxide, freeing electrons in the process. The electrons liberated from the anode portion of the iron flow to the cathode or to another point on the piece of iron.

Because iron and steel are used so often, preventing or slowing down rust is a major industry with many specialized technologies. Preventing rust may involve the use of:

  • Rust-resistant alloys
  • Galvanization
  • Cathodic protection
  • Coatings
  • Other inhibitors
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