Corrosion vs. Rust: What You Need to Know

Is your equipment suffering from rust and corrosion?

While to most of us rust and corrosion can seem similar, there are important differences in the damage they can do, and how to treat them. But the differences can sometimes be hard to spot until it is too late.

Don’t worry; we’re here to help! Keep reading for our guide on corrosion vs rust, so you can spot the differences and treat it the right way, fast.

What is Corrosion?

Corrosion is where a substance deteriorates because of electrochemical, chemical, or other reactions. These reactions occur on the substance’s surface.

The basics of corrosion are it can happen on any metal and nonmetal surface. Corrosion will affect the structure of the surface material, often compromising its integrity.

If chemicals touch a nonmetal surface like the skin, eyes, or a countertop, corrosion can occur. These chemicals include strong bases and acids like HC1 and NaOH.

If a chemical can cause corrosion, it’ll often have a corrosive warning label on it. The damage they cause will be visible and will cause permanent destruction. That’s why it’s important to handle chemicals with care.

What is Rust?

Rust is a type of corrosion that causes a red or orange coating on iron and other metals. It happens after exposure to moisture and air. As moisture and air hit the surface, the oxygen causes a chemical reaction.

Steel and iron are the most common metals affected by rust. It’s important to note that rusting doesn’t occur because of chemicals being spilled. It’s a chemical reaction.

Some chemicals can increase rusting, though. With increased electrical activity between oxygen and the metal, rusting sets in faster. Another name for this process is metal oxidation.

Outside of chemical interference, the rate of rusting depends on several factors. Most of all, it’s the humidity level of the surrounding air and how much metal you expose. But in most cases, if you catch it early, you can remove it.

The Difference Between Rust and Corrosion

In summary, here are the main differences between rust and corrosion so you won’t confuse them.

Their Definition

Corrosion is where substances deteriorate after exposure to chemicals, electrochemical or other reactions. Rusting is the most common type of corrosion. Air and moisture cause a reddish-orange coating on a metal surface.

The Surface It Affects

Corrosion can happen on any surface that has exposure to chemicals. This includes wood, countertops, metals, your skin, and more. You will most often find rusting on the surface of steel and iron.

What Causes the Damage

Corrosion can occur due to exposure to the air as well as a chemical spill on a surface. Rusting only happens as a result of moisture and oxygen in the air reacting on the metal surface.

What It Looks Like

There are a variety of appearances for corrosion, depending on the surface it affects. On the skin, it will cause burns, blisters, and open wounds.

On wood surfaces, it can burn right through and leave a hole or a dent in the surface. Rusting is always a reddish, orange, brown color and forms a rough, grainy texture on the metal surface.

Corrosion vs Rust: Know the Difference

So, there you have it! Now you know the difference between corrosion vs rust; you’ll know what to look for.

Corrosion is the process of chemical reactions compromising the surface of a substance. Rust is a type of corrosion you’ll encounter, and that is the main difference. If you’re still unsure what you’re up against, it’s best to call in a professional repair service to check.

If you’re looking for a full-service industrial maintenance check, contact us today. At Rak Industrial Services Inc., we’ve got the skill and expertise for all your maintenance needs.

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