Information – What is the difference between Rust and Corrosion?

Difference Between Rust and Corrosion

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Rust vs Corrosion

While growth is a natural process affecting everything on Earth, its opposite, which is death and disintegration, are also as certain as all the changes that take place. It is evident in all things especially in living things.

Take man, for example. He exists the moment he is conceived by his mother, and then he is born into the world and grows into a child, a teenager, and an adult. After some time he will grow old, and his body functions will disintegrate. In time, his body will no longer be able to carry on and he will die.

Just like living things, even non-living materials disintegrate in time. This may be caused by chemical reactions or by natural reactions to the elements in the environment. Rust and corrosion are two processes that cause the disintegration of materials.

Corrosion is the chemical or electrochemical reaction that causes an engineered material to disintegrate as a reaction to its surroundings. Metals are the usual materials that undergo corrosion. It is a gradual process with the elements eating away at the materials making it deteriorate and break up because of the oxidation of the metals as a chemical reaction to an oxidant, usually oxygen.

While it is common in metals, it can also happen to other materials such as ceramics and polymers, but it is called by another name which is degradation. Exposed materials are prone to corrosion, and they can be just a crack in a small area, or they can be concentrated in a larger part. The discoloration of painted materials, when paints fade due to neglect, is an example of corrosion. Even without a visible oxidant, materials can still corrode when left in the open air.


Rust, on the other hand, is a type of corrosion which happens to iron and its alloys. When iron reacts to water or the moist air, iron oxides are formed and cause the material to corrode and rust. It is caused by oxidation and moisture and not by chemicals. This happens when impure iron comes in contact with water or moist air and oxygen or other oxidants, such as acids, and forms rust.

Other factors or oxidants that can cause rust are salt, sulfur oxide, and carbon dioxide. Rust comes in different forms, the most common of which is the red rust which is formed by red oxides. Chlorine in water causes the formation of green rust. Like most corrosive processes, rusting is a gradual process. After some time, if the material is not treated, it will disintegrate, and everything will turn to rust making it unusable.


1.Corrosion is the disintegration of materials due to chemical or electrochemical reactions while rust is a type of corrosion.
2.Corrosion is the disintegration of all types of metals as well as materials such as polymers and ceramics while rust is the corrosion of iron and its alloys.
3.Corrosion is caused by a material’s reaction to chemicals while rust is caused by water or moisture and oxidation.

Read more: Difference Between Rust and Corrosion | Difference Between | Rust vs Corrosion


They’re very close in meaning, but rust specifically refers to the oxidation of iron (either in iron itself or in steel), or to the iron oxide that is produced.

Corrosion is a more general term, which technically refers to the wearing away of a metal through a chemical reaction. In most common cases, this chemical reaction is oxidation, just like rust, but the metal isn’t necessarily iron.

Aluminum corrodes, and forms a thin layer of aluminum oxide over the surface of the metal. This actually acts as a protective barrier, because it doesn’t flake off like rust does, which prevents further corrosion of the aluminum. That’s why aluminum cans will last so long.

Copper corrodes as well, producing the green color known as patina. It’s actually desirable, because like aluminum, it forms a protective barrier to further corrosion, and it looks nice.


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