What Causes Rust and Can It Be Dangerous?
We’ve all seen rust before – maybe at the playground, on old pipes, or a metal hammer. But, what exactly is rust? Today, we’ll answer just that! Below, we will cover what causes rust, and if rust is dangerous to metal and humans.
What Causes Rust?
We all know the reddish-brown flaky coating on metal and refer to it as rust. That’s correct, but technically, rust is Hydrated Iron (III) Oxide.
Rust is formed by the corrosion and oxidation of iron and its alloys, such as steel. Iron reacts with oxygen and water in the air, and this reaction is known as oxidation. When iron reacts with oxygen and water for long enough, it will inevitably rust. Rust is very common for metal.
Depending on the intensity of the exposure to oxidation, rust can take just days or as long as years to start forming. There are, however, preventative methods that can be used to treat rust and keep metal from rusting.
Can Rust Be Dangerous For Metals?
Rust is not an immediate threat for metals, but rust should be managed in a timely manner. When enough rust builds up, that’s when problems occur for metal. These problems include:
- Weakening of metal – When rust gains enough traction on your metal, it can promote further damage. Flaky rust replaces strong iron, and makes your metal more brittle and susceptible. Weakened metals will eventually corrode and leave dents and holes all over too.
- Hindered electrical conductivity – Electricity flows better when passing through metal conductors. Rust has the opposite effect, and acts as an insulator. This is especially a problem when rust is present on battery coils. Electronic devices may be perfectly fine, but not run because of this issue.
- Loss in functionality – Rust takes all the good things about metal, and flips them upside down. For example, rust can reduce a metal’s overall magnetism. Or, make certain components sticky. These factors can make metals lose their functionality as more rust builds up.
Can Rust Be Dangerous for Humans?
Know that rust – when left alone – isn’t inherently dangerous to humans. In particular, touching or getting rust on your skin isn’t associated with any health risks. Contrary to popular belief, tetanus isn’t caused by rust, but instead, by a specific form of bacteria.
Still, health problems may occur when rust is inhaled or ingested. If either of these happen, it is important to consult a doctor or find emergency assistance.