Why does metal get rusty?

Metal can be defined as a material that is generally lustrous in appearance when made freshly or polished recently. It is a good conductor of heat and electricity. It is malleable and ductileas well. Some common examples of metals include iron, copper, silver, mercury, lead, etc.


What is rusting? How does it affect the metal?

  • Rust is a yellowish-brown flaky covering of iron oxide that can be sometimes found on the surface of metals.
  • Metals can be chemical elements such as iron or mixed with another metal or a non-metallic suitable material to form an alloy such as stainless steel which is an alloy of iron and non-metallic carbon. Molecular compounds such as polymeric sulfur nitride are also metals.
  • The characteristics of metals include malleability, ductility and lustre.
  • Malleability is the property of an element that allows it to be beaten or modified into a particular shape without breaking or destroying the material. Even after being formed into a thin sheet, the material bears its original properties.
  • Ductility is the property of the metal to be converted into a thin wire without losing its toughness and structure. This is very useful in allowing metals to be used as wires for conducting electricity.
  • Lustre is the characteristic of all metals that make them appear shiny, especially once they’ve been polished or freshly made.
  • Some examples of metals are gold, iron, copper, silver, lead etc.
  • The process of rusting occurs mostly in iron made things.
  • When iron particles are exposed to moisture they tend to get oxidized.
  • Basically, when iron comes in contact with water and oxygen, a reaction takes place between the iron, oxygen and water resulting in the oxidation of iron.
  • This oxidation reaction creates a layer of yellowish-brown coating on the iron material.
  • An example of rusting of iron is when a door lock made up of iron gets rusted due to the exposure of the material to water and air, particularly in the humid monsoon seasons.

How we can prevent rusting?

We can prevent rusting in multiple ways.

  • The most effective way is to protect the material from moisture and air by colouring it with paint.
  • Oil can also be applied on a metallic surface as it prevents any sort of contact with air and moisture.
  • Galvanization is a tried and true method for rust prevention that involves applying a layer of zinc on steel or iron materials.

Fun Facts:

  1. Rusting can cause a change in the material due to prolonged oxidization of the material.
  2. Rust is a type of corrosion.
  3. Iron alloys rust more slowly as compared to pure iron.

Related Questions:

  1. What are the properties of a metal?
  2. What is an alloy?
  3. How can rusting of metal be prevented?

True or False:

  1. Metallic substances have a characteristic dull appearance.
  2. Rust occurs when metals are exposed to moisture and air.
  3. Fluorine is an example of a metal.
  4. Ductility is a property of metals.
  5. Metals are good conductors of heat.

Objective Quiz:

  1. Metals are good conductors of _______.
    1. Heat
    2. Electricity
    3. Both 1) and 2).
    4. None of the above.
  2. Metals are materials that usually appear_________.
    1. Lustrous
    2. Dull
    3. Dusty
    4. None of the above.
  3. _______ is the ability of a metal to be drawn into a thin wire without losing its toughness.
    1. Malleability
    2. Ductility
    3. Shine
    4. All of the above.
  4. Rust can occur only in the presence of ________.
    1. Oxygen
    2. Water
    3. Both 1) and 2).
    4. None of the above.
  5. Rusting occurs by the ________ of iron.
    1. Oxidization
    2. Reduction
    3. Both 1) and 2).
    4. None of the above.

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