Does metal rust in water?

This blog post will answer the question, “does metal rust in water” and covers topics like what causes metals to rust in water, how to keep metal from rusting, and frequently asked questions.

Does metal rust in water?

Yes, metal rust in water. When metal is exposed to water, the metal atoms dissolve due to the acidic ions in the water. After that, the iron particles are oxidized, resulting in the creation of Fe++. Rust is formed when the hydroxyl ions combine with the Fe++ to generate hydrous iron oxide (FeOH).

What Causes Metals to Rust in Water?

Metal rusts due to the following reasons:

  • Rust is a reddish-brown substance that is often referred to as iron oxide. 
  • It is created when iron and oxygen combine with water or air moisture. 
  • Rust is the result of the interaction of iron and chloride in water. Salt in the water, for example, accelerates the rusting process.
  • Rusting is unable to achieve without both h2o and o2. By splitting up the oxygen molecule, water aids iron’s reaction with oxygen. 
  • Iron loses electrons while oxygen obtains them during the early stages of rusting. Water reacts with ferrous and ferric ions to generate ferrous hydroxide, ferric hydroxide, and hydrogen. 
  • To produce even more iron compounds, the hydroxides lost their water. All of these chemical processes combine to form the rust granules, which then fall off the iron and reveal fresh iron, which may subsequently rust as well.

All metals don’t rust:

  • Rust does not occur in all metals. Aluminum, for example, does not corrode because it has an aluminum oxide protective barrier on its surface. 
  • This prevents the metal from getting into direct touch with water (or airborne moisture) or oxygen. 
  • Iron, on the other hand, corrodes when the metal comes into contact with water (or water vapor) and oxygen, forming hydrated iron oxide.

Fresh Water vs. Salt Water

Why do metals corrode more in saltwater water than freshwater?

In saltwater, current flows more freely than in freshwater resources. This is because electrolyte solutions, such as saltwater, have more soluble salts than freshwater, allowing electrons to travel more freely. 

Because rusting is all about electron flow, iron rusts faster in seawater than it does in freshwater. Boat engines and other metal things that spend a lot of time immersed in saline water corrode fast. 

Increased humidity in the air and salt spray may give the electrolyte’s cation (positive ions) and anions, therefore things do not have to be entirely immersed in saltwater for this to happen (negative ions).

Metal Rusting Prevention:

Zinc coating protects iron from rusting by inhibiting the interaction between iron and oxygen and moisture. Galvanization is the term for this process. Specially formulated paint may also prevent metal from rusting when exposed to saltwater or salty air.

How to keep bare metal from rusting?

There are several common methods for protecting bare metal from rusting:

  • Use oils on a regular basis
  • Apply powder coating 
  • Electroplating
  • Galvanizing
  • Store Properly
  • Cover the surface with a dry coat

I will now elaborate on the guidance given above:

Use oils on a regular basis

Benefits of applying oil

When oil is applied to metal, it provides a safety layer that prevents outside particles from penetrating. This involves the use of water. The rusting process does not begin because Water cannot permeate the metal. Oil repels both direct and indirect water, and also the water found in oxygen.

Here are some best oils I have found:

3-IN-ONE – 10038 Multi-Purpose Oil,
Cast Iron Seasoning Oil 

Benefits of recommended products:

  • Serves to protect from corrosion and rust by lubricating, cleaning, and lubricating. 
  • Its new package incorporates a fill level indicator strip that informs you whenever you’re getting low and enables precise application with no spatter.
  • Excellent for tires, rollers, doors, belts, machine tools, tiny engine exterior components, latches, screws, motorcycles, rims, blowers, and a variety of other mechanical parts.

Apply powder coating:

Powder coating metal surfaces can help prevent them from rusting.

However, while powder-coating offers long-term durability, it is not impervious to the effects of the weather. As a result, while powder-coated metal does not rust, it can deteriorate if the powder coating dissolves.

Benefits of powder coating:

  • The powder coating produces a layer that prevents rust and other sorts of deterioration. Powder coating creates a strong barrier that prevents the metal from rusting.
  • Powder coating on practically any sort of metal provides customers, organizations, and corporations with one of the most cost-effective and long-lasting finishes available. 
  • Powder finishes are more resistant to cracking, peeling, and discoloration.


Electroplating is the method of applying a metal coating to surfaces electrically. By adding a fine, extremely durable coating to a surface, electroplating acts as a protective barrier that reduces friction and prevents corrosion while also preserving it from damage.

Why Use Electroplating in the First Place?

  • Electroplating makes your element more immune to fading and rusting by covering it in a less conductive material. 
  • If the base metal is brittle, it can also boost heat resistance and make the component stronger against impacts and tremors.
  • By coating them with nickel, you can make your elements move more readily across neighboring surfaces without warming or scratching.
  • Electroplating is sometimes utilized as a transition between both the core material and the outer layer. This aids the outer coating’s adhesion to the substrate.
Materials Needed
Two different metals
An electrolytic solution


The procedure of putting a protective zinc layer to metal to avoid corrosion is known as galvanizing). The most popular procedure is hot-dip galvanizing, which involves immersing steel parts in liquid zinc metal. 

Galvanizing prevents rusting in several ways:

  • It serves as a deterrent, preventing corrosive chemicals from penetrating the steel or iron beneath.
  • The zinc acts as an anode material, meaning that if the covering is damaged, the bare metal is still shielded by the zinc that remains.
  • Because zinc corrodes earlier iron, it preserves its base metal.
  • The exterior of the zinc interacts with the environment to generate a dense, adhering varnish that is impermeable in rainwater. 
Materials required for Galvanizing
Molten Zinc
Bare Metal

Store Properly:

Why proper storage is compulsory:

  • The most obvious method of preventing corrosion is to protect the item away from moisture. 
  • Corrosion is formed when water reacts with iron, hence a dry atmosphere will not produce rust. 
  • Keep in mind, however, that even dry air contains moisture in the form of humidity. 
  • You’d need an air and water-tight seal to totally avoid corrosion. 
  • Of course, this would make the device impossible to use, therefore preventing rust during storage or shipping makes more sense.

Cover the surface with a dry coat:

  • Some chemicals are designed to keep corrosion away. A corrosion prevention dry coating is perfect for steel elements that need to keep clean or provide a good grip.
  • Dry coating corrosion preventatives, such as ARMOR’s Dry Coat Rust Preventative, can be applied in a variety of ways, including spraying, dipping, and washing.
  • The passive layer will be in place after they have dried. Because the material will not change in appearance and its applications will not change.

Here is some top-recommended dry coating:

T-9 Rust Inhibitor

Benefits of T-9 Rust Inhibitor:

  • Expels humidity, pushes out dust and obsolete oils and permeates moving components.
  • It dries to a fine, sticky coating that lasts months on the metal surface.

303 Marine Corrosion Coat

Benefits of 303 Marine Corrosion Coat:

  • Resistant To Moisture And Saltwater
  • Light, dry consistency
  • Corrosion is stopped and prevented when it comes into contact with it

Few tips for preventing the metal from rusting:

Some tips are given below to protect the metal from rusting.

  • Maintenance on a regular basis
  • Make use of galvanized metal
  • Make use of metal conditioners

Now I will elaborate on the tips given above:

Maintenance on a regular basis:

Apply lukewarm soapy water to the surface of the metal with a cloth for regular, cleanings. Gentle surfactants can also be used for this task. Special steel cleaners and polishes may be required for more severe spots.

Maintenance on regular basis is compulsory.

  • Because corrosion spread very quickly, scraping it off as quickly as it emerges is critical. 
  • To avoid additional corrosion, clean with hot soapy water, then apply a metal conditioner or other surface coatings. 
Materials required
Soapy water
Steel cleanser
A piece of Fabric

Make use of galvanized metal:

Galvanization is a corrosion-resistant coating that is applied to the metal to keep it rust-free for so many years. A metal object gets treated with liquid zinc during the galvanizing process. 

Zinc provides protection to metal in three ways:

  • The zinc coating, for starters, serves as a barrier, keeping water and oxygen from accessing the metal. 
  • Secondly, even if the covering is scraped off, the zinc persists to provide cathodic protection to surrounding metal regions. 
  • Finally, zinc is extremely reactive to oxygen, forming a protective layer of zinc oxide that protects the metal from further corrosion.

Make use of metal conditioners:

Because corrosion spread very quickly, scraping it off as quickly as it emerges is critical. To avoid additional corrosion, wash with hot water and detergent, then spray a metal conditioner or other surface coatings. Apply a fresh coat of paint to the surface if required.

Here’s a top recommended Metal Conditioner:

XADO Highway Atomic Metal Conditioner

Benefits of this product:

  • Increased oil pressure creates an effective protection scheme for parts against loads and excessive heat, which enhances oil lubricating properties and motor unit tribological features.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs), “does metal rust in water?”

How long does metal rust in water?

Steel is a metal that contains a lot of iron, and if it is regularly exposed to environmental variables like water and air, it may corrode in as fast as 4-5 days. At the same time, various varieties of steel corrode more slowly or more quickly than others.

Does all steel rust?

Yes. Mild steel, commonly known as carbon steel, may corrode over time unless it is protected with a protective layer. Mild steel has a low carbon content, which does not assist it to resist corrosion. 

How long does metal take to rust?

After just three to five days of contact, consumer-grade steel and other iron-rich metals may acquire rust (iron oxide). Of course, there are other elements that might influence the pace of rust development. To begin with, various steel grades corrode at varying rates.

Why does metal corrode in water?

Corrosion is a natural phenomenon in which metals interact with oxygen to produce metal oxides. Because all water includes some oxygen concentration, it is moderately corrosive. Metals dissolve when the water is very low in dissolved salts and in the existence of certain water-borne ions, in addition to rust.

Does rust eat away metal?

Rust is the term used when iron or steel corrodes. Corrosion initially emerges as unattractive spots on the metal’s surface. However, if left uncontrolled, it may nibble away at the metal’s structural integrity. This may result in significant property damage as well as potential safety risks.

What metals rust fastest?

Iron rusts quite fast when compared to other metals, particularly when subjected to water and air. Iron, in fact, may corrode in as little as a few hours when subjected to water and oxygen. If iron is exposed to high heat, it will rust fast.


Leave a Comment