Preventing rust corroding your metallic valuables

A rusty chain with a padlock.
At this very moment rust is sabotaging your home reducing its value and corroding away your metal belonging. Like a saboteur it works silently unobtrusively and usually behind the scenes where it is difficult to observe."

This public enemy lurks in the shadows usually doing its dirty work in dark, damp and humid places like the cellar or beneath your house.

It attacks the strongest of materials iron and steel, and slowly and relentlessly reduces them to powder.

In a matter of time, pipes, tools, machinery and other metal objects are returned to the earth from which they came from.

Undoubtedly you have at some time come to grips with this saboteur and perhaps you felt helpless before its stealthy onslaught. Many people do.

Effects of rust on us

A pickup with a rusty body.
You may recall being stranded on the road because the bolts on your car had rusted so that they could not be removed to change a flat tire. How frustrating!"

It is no less disconcerting to find one’s car frame rusting through or to note the reddish brown or pale orange blotches that advertise that rust has been attacking the metal lawn mower, outdoor metal furnitures, garden tools or farm machinery.

Right in the home, women also often have to contend with rust. Metal containers leave rust stains on the kitchen sink.

And come washing day, rust in the washtub or on the clotheslines threatens to contaminate the washing.

Rust constitutes a threat to even life itself. On occasions a mysterious explosion will be traced to leakage of a combustible gas.

The culprit responsible for the explosion – a rusted pipe!

So to protect ourselves and our property it is good that we become better acquainted with rust and how it works. Just what is rust and what causes it?

Such information will help us wage war a more effective war against it.

What is rust? What causes it?

A roll of iron wire full of rust.
Rust is a term that in common use is applied only to the corrosion of iron and steel, which develop the familiar reddish or brown color as they rust."

However corrosion also takes place in other metals although not all of them produce highly colored corrosion products that call attention to the condition.

Aluminum for example takes on a chalky white appearance when it corrodes.

Chemical action is responsible for such corrosion of metals. Hence rust can be also defined as the destruction of metallic substance by a chemical action.

When non-metals such as oxygen, sulfur and so forth combine with a metal surface degradation of metal takes place.

Why oxygen combines with metals, with the resultant rust formation, can be better appreciated by considering where and how these metals are obtained.

Not all useful metals occur as such in the earth; there are mainly found in the form of ore.

Iron ore is essentially an oxide a chemical combination of iron and oxygen that has the appearance of earth and stones.

The pure iron is obtained from the ore by a smelting process that separates the oxygen. Rust is the process in reverse when the oxygen again combines with the iron to form iron oxide.

So rust is basically the turning of the metal back to its original form by chemical reaction.

It has been found that the more difficult it is to separate the iron from its ore the more readily it will return to its natural state.

And on the other hand iron with less difficulty, requiring only simple smelting, is more stable and thus has better corrosion resistance.

That is why iron used in early times which occurred naturally or need only simple smelting was so rust resistant.

Therefore for rust to occur it is necessary that the iron or steel be exposed to oxygen, which makes up 21% of every air we breathe of air.

 It along with moisture apparently controls for the most part the amount of rust that will form.

However, other factors such as abrasion effect of wind and dirt, corrosive industrial fumes and the salt spray of the sea can also contribute to the formation of rust.

How to combat as well prevent rust?

Painting metal container to prevent rust.

To combat rust effectively you have to remove the circumstances causing it." 

Since oxygen and moisture are the main culprits,  protect your metallic possessions from them.

But to do this, it will mean searching for the affected metal parts, for rust works like a saboteur quietly and usually in hard to be observed places.

For example, moisture on the back of your refrigerator or on the underside water pipes may have already invited rust in your home.

This is because a condensate is usually created by the differences in temperature between the warm air outside and the cold water in the pipes.

Check rain gutters and downspouts for they are frequently attacked by rust.

Other places are the insides of galvanized steel garbage cans, screens and any exposed metal in damp basements or where it is hot and humid. And remember in your car its underside, radiator and exhaust systems that are especially vulnerable.

Once affected areas have been identified, the use of rust preventive coating is the key line of defense.

There are improved ones now available that are more effective in sealing out moisture and air than conventional paints.

It is important to use a coating that will penetrate and fill the smallest apertures of the metal surface and maintain that close adherence under all conditions to which the metal is exposed, otherwise rust is bound to set in.

To protect tools or other metal items that are stored in damp atmospheres for extended periods, use a special powder or impregnated paper.

If tools are slightly rusted, you can clean them thoroughly with a rust remover before storing them.

Ordinary machine oil is also a good rust preventative agent if carefully applied to all exposed metal surfaces.

The lawn mower, farm machinery or other equipment subject to rusting can have its useful life extended by giving it such care when it is not in use.

Rust can also be combated by employing material that is more rust resistance. For example fiber-glass awnings and polyethylene garbage cans have proved successful.

Stainless steel an alloy containing chromium and nickel is highly rust resistant. It added expense may be justified by its rust free service.


Constant vigilance is necessary to keep your belongings from disintegrating before the stealthy attacks of rust.

When buying or installing new fixtures always check materials in terms of the long range trouble free services they will provide.

 It will pay off in money saved besides giving your belongings a clean bright appearance.