Does stainless steel rust in water?

This blog post will answer the question, “does stainless steel rust in water” and cover topics like does stainless steel rust, corrosion types in stainless steel, and frequently asked questions.

Does stainless steel rust in water?

No, stainless steel does not rust in water. When stainless steel is added to moisture, particularly seawater, there is a common fallacy that it will not rust or corrode. If stainless steel is left exposed to the elements for an extended period of time, it will rust and tarnish. For many uses, stainless steel is a significantly superior material over carbon steel or aluminum.

Does stainless steel jewelry rust?

Stainless steel jewelry does not tarnish in most cases. It is not, however, indestructible. Yes, you may use your stainless steel jewelry all the time each day, but the persistent wear and tear will ultimately develop cracks and spots. Stainless steel, like everything else, may corrode, although this is dependent on the atmosphere. However, stainless steel jewelry will rust more slowly than other types of jewelry, depending on a variety of factors.

Why stainless steel does not rust?

Stainless steel does not rust due to the following reasons.

  • Stainless steel is an alloy of nickel, iron, chromium, and carbon that is used to make jewelry. Even if the majority of these metals rust, stainless steel is more resilient because of the chromium that preserves it. 
  • Chromium works by preserving the metal from oxidation, making it less prone to rust or corrode, which is why most stainless steel jewelry contains at least 10percent of it.
  • There is another reason why stainless steel does not corrode or tarnish, in addition to the protective covering of chromium. 
  • This is also owing to the fact that when stainless steel is exposed to oxygen, it forms an oxide coating. As a result, the metal is protected from corrosion by this coating. 
  • What’s more remarkable is that the oxide layer will form even if the metal is scratched or nicked, preventing corrosion in stainless steel.

This does not, however, imply that your jewelry is completely protected. Even the greatest stainless steel jewelry may rust and discolor in certain situations. The chromium layer in your jewelry may get corroded or fail to safeguard your jewels. When this occurs, the other metals in this style of jewelry react with oxygen, causing your jewelry to lose its luster and begin to corrode.

Furthermore, the environment in which you expose your stainless steel jewelry will affect its longevity. Even though it has an insulating barrier, extreme circumstances will harm the metal and induce rusting if it is exposed to them. As a result, you should keep your stainless steel parts away from saltwater to avoid corrosion.

Corrosion of stainless steel may be caused by a number of factors:

There are a variety of reasons why a bit of stainless steel may begin to corrode. However, since there are dozens of distinct stainless steel alloys, what causes one to rust may not harm another. Here are five things that might lead stainless steel to rust, such as metal hampers and racks.

  • In Stainless Steel, Strong Chlorides Can Produce Pitting Corrosion
  • Welding Dissimilar Stainless Steel Composition Causes Bimetallic/Galvanic Rust
  • Stainless Steel Transplantation of Plain Iron or Steel
  • Experimenting with Stainless Steel at Extreme Temperatures
  • Environmental Factors That Aren’t Accounted For

I will now elaborate on them one by one.

In Stainless Steel, Strong Chlorides Can Produce Pitting Corrosion

When subjected to chloride-rich conditions, several kinds of stainless steel alloys will experience severe pitting corrosion (such as salt). When used in marine applications, for instance, grade 304 stainless steel may begin to hole as a consequence of contact with salt water (which is high in salt) or salt-rich sea breezes.

It’s critical to utilize a type of stainless steel that is immune to chlorides, such as grade 316 stainless steel, to prevent corrosion problems. To avoid direct interaction with chlorides in the atmosphere, a specific coating might be put on the steel.

Welding Dissimilar Stainless Steel Composition Causes Bimetallic/Galvanic Rust

When making a bespoke steel wire or sheet metal form, some producers may make the error of welding two different metals combined, whether by accident or intentionally.

What exactly is the issue here? Because there may be a passage of electrical charge from one metal to another when two metals with different characteristics are joined through a common electrolytic substance (such as freshwater or weld filler material). This causes the less “noble” metal (that is, the element that receives additional electrons more easily) to become an “anode” and erode more rapidly.

The rate of corrosion will vary based on a number of variables, including the kinds of stainless steel being connected, the type of welding filler used, environmental humidity and temperature, and the total surface of the metals in touch.

The easiest way to avoid bimetal rust is to prevent firmly combining two different metals in the first place. A close second is to cover the metals with a covering to seal them off and impede electron transfer from the cathode to anode.

It’s also worth noting that employing a weld filler that’s too different from the metals being connected might cause galvanic corrosion at the weld area.

Stainless Steel Transplantation of Plain Iron or Steel

Particle debris from a basic steel or iron workpiece may be deposited onto the top of a stainless steel component or basket in certain situations. These ordinary iron or steel fragments may damage a stainless steel workpiece’s protecting oxide coating, reducing its corrosion resistance and causing it to rust.

The difference between this and the above-mentioned bimetallic corrosion issue is that in this scenario, the interaction between the different metals is totally incidental and usually occurs without the awareness of the designer.

Machinery used to process one kind of material may be used to process another without being adequately sanitized between batches, which is a typical reason why basic steel or iron residue is transferred onto a stainless steel component or workpiece.

For example, suppose a wire bending robot bent simple iron wires for many hours before switching to stainless steel wires. On the manipulators of the bendable robot, some iron particles would most likely be left there, which might subsequently be transmitted to the stainless steel wires getting bent.

When switching to stainless steel, it’s essential to carefully clean and prepare machinery to avoid the transfer of plain steel or iron (or any other metal) to stainless steel workpieces. Metal brushes, for example, should never be exchanged across various metal kinds.

Experimenting with Stainless Steel at Extreme Temperatures

Stainless steel alloys have a melting temperature that is often much over 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. While the metal does not melt at extreme temps, it may undergo other modifications that compromise its corrosion resistance.

When stainless steel alloys are subjected to severe heat (such as those employed in many heat treatment/annealing procedures), scaling is a typical concern. Because the scales have a different composition than the base metal, when they develop on heated metal, the crumbly remaining material may induce bimetallic rust.

Extreme heat may also cause uncovered stainless steel alloys to shed their protecting oxide coating, raising the risk of rust until the oxide layer can be reformed.

Check the permissible operating temperatures for any specific stainless steel to determine whether the temps used in your production processes exceed those limitations to avoid corrosion from flaking or other difficulties caused by temperature fluctuations. This is why, before creating any bespoke wire basket or sheet metal form, Marlin’s engineering team routinely consults customers about their operating temperatures.

Environmental Factors That Aren’t Accounted For

Many times, a producer may construct a bespoke stainless steel wire basket or tray exactly to specification, only for it to deteriorate as a result of an unexplained environmental element. One example of ecological issues that could be overlooked in a design document is the existence of salt and water due to a factory’s seaside location.

It’s critical to examine as many environmental aspects as possible when choosing stainless steel for any bespoke wire or sheet metal form. This ensures that the stainless steel bin, pan, or item resists rust for as long as necessary rather than rusting immediately.

Types of corrosion in stainless steel

This metal is prone to six different forms of corrosion. Each one will be determined by the piece’s exposure to the environment as well as how it is cared for.

  • General
  • Galvanic
  • Intergranular
  • Pitting
  • Crevice
  • Stress corrosion cracking


The erosion of metal on the surface is uniform in this kind of corrosion. If your jewelry has a pH value of less than 1, this will happen over time.


This kind of corrosion is also known as bimetallic rust, and it happens as a result of electrochemical processes. When there are electrolytes present, one metal corrodes more than another. This one, on the other hand, is less likely to happen as a result of your regular activities.


Crystallite borders are more prone to erode than the internal surfaces of a component in this form of corrosion. If your stainless steel is subjected to high temps, between 842 and 1562 degrees Fahrenheit, it will corrode. However, this is a circumstance that is less likely to happen throughout your normal day.


Pitting is a kind of corrosion that happens in your jewelry’s crevices or openings. This happens when your stainless steel jewelry gets exposed to chlorine, so avoid wearing it around the pool.


Crevice corrosion is another kind of localized corrosion that happens when two connecting surfaces of your jewelry come together in a crevice. It may be created between two metals, as well as between metal and non-metal materials.

Stress corrosion cracking:

Stress corrosion cracking refers to the production of cracks in a corrosive environment. This indicates that tensile tensions cause cracking when paired with a corrosive medium.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs), “does stainless steel rust in saltwater?”

Does salt water harm stainless steel?

Abrasive pads, incorrect cleansers, and even commonplace items like seawater may harm stainless steel. Stainless steel, despite its public reputation, may discolor and corrode.

How do you protect stainless steel from saltwater?

SALT may be used to remove surface corrosion and rust and establish a strong barrier between metal and seawater by spraying, wiping, or applying it. For ultimate saltwater resistance, QMaxx SALT combines with metal surfaces at the cellular scale.

Does stainless steel rust if left in water?

Because of the interplay between its alloying components and the atmosphere, stainless steel stays stainless or does not corrode. These elements interact with o2 and air to generate a thin, stable coating of corrosion products such as oxides and hydroxide ions.

What metal is best for saltwater?

In hostile maritime settings, grade 316 stainless steel is recommended. There’s a reason it’s known as “ocean grade.” It has 18 percent chromium, more iron than 304, and 2-3 percent molybdenum added. This renders it more salt-resistant.

How do you keep stainless steel from rusting?

Corrosion Prevention As quickly as possible, wash away any standing water. If you’re hand-washing your dishes, clean stainless steel right away rather than allowing it to air dry. Stagnant water inhibits the stainless steel from generating a protective coating of chromium oxide, which inhibits corrosion from forming.

Is Salt corrosive to metal?

Metal may rust and be ruined by sea air, seawater, and highway salts. Our Everbrite Coatings seal and protect metal against corrosion caused by salt. In houses near the sea, salt erodes metal. However, salt air causes metal to corrode, tarnish, and pit.


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