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Types of Rust

Corrosion and more specifically, rust, is caused by one of three general


Process Related whether it is the cleaning process, the metal

fabrication process such as cold working, heat treating or machining
or the handling process, this aspect of producing a metal part is a
primary contributor of corrosion. Much of what is seen in terms of
corrosion problems, happen inside the manufacturing plant before
its even packaged. With so many variables inside of a
manufacturing setting, maintaining tight control of your processes is
critical to preventing rust.

Packaging Related the type of packaging used to package metal

parts is important. Acidic materials such as corrugated and nontreated paper can hold moisture and cause corrosion. Sometimes in
a companies desire to fix a corrosion problem they add more
packaging, when in fact the additional packaging can contribute
even more to the rust problem.

Environmental while the weather (temperature and humidity)

can certainly be the most obvious environmental factor, other things
such as contaminants in the air pose equal areas of concern.

As an industry leader in corrosion management products, Armor Protective

Packaging recognizes that offering a high-quality, effective product is
only half of the job. Providing unsurpassed customer service is just as
important and is the backbone of our companys oath To Serve and
As part of our service to our customers, weve developed a tool that helps
identify the typical types of rust that exist in a manufacturing process or
shipping. Knowing the type of rust helps in the identification of why it has

Red Rust
Hydrated oxide Fe2O3H2O
(high oxygen/water exposure)
Rust from Iron (III) oxides forms due to high oxygen and water exposure
resulting in red rust.

Red rust is the result of heavy exposure to air and moisture,

combined many times with a contaminate (salt).

This type of rust is most likely atmospheric because typically there

are no signs of rust runs or streaks on the metal parts/equipment
where the rust has formed.

With red rust, there is uniform corrosion, most often from a very
corrosive environment.

Yellow Rust
Iron oxide-hydroxide FeO(OH)H2O
(high moisture)
Rust from Iron (III) oxides that is a very soluble iron oxide results in yellow

Yellow rust is distinguishable in recessed areas of the metal

parts/equipment where the rust runs and drips (solvated rust).

Yellow rust forms as a result of very high moisture content. It

frequently found in settings where puddled/standing water has most
likely been present.

Brown Rust
Oxide Fe2O3
(high oxygen/low moisture)
Rust from Iron (III) oxides with high oxygen and low moisture results in
brown rust.

Brown rust is a drier rust than those mentioned above.

It is most likely atmospheric having formed as a result of water

and oxygen in the atmosphere and presenting as a reddish-brown
crust on the metals surface.

Brown rust is sometimes localized rust which appears as nonuniform spots or only in certain areas rather than over the whole
surface. It can be the result of a contaminate on the metals surface
often originating from the manufacturing process.

Black Rust
Iron (II)oxide - Fe3O4
(limited oxygen)
Rust from Iron (III) oxides with limited oxygen and low moisture results in
black rust.

Black rust can be visually identified as a thin, black film which is the
result of oxidation in a low oxygen environment.

Black rust has an appearance of almost a black stain. Most likely the
areas exhibiting the black rust had something covering them, which
prevented oxygen from reaching the surface.

This type of rust is a more stable rust layer that does not propagate
as rapidly as other rust forms.

Multiple Forms
multiple forms of corrosion can be present at once

Brown rust has a lower moisture content and is most likely the result
of atmospheric conditions.

Settings where black rust might form include wet paper resting
tightly against a metal surface.

Yellow rust has a high moisture content and can frequently be

attributed to an environment where water is most likely present.

Metal in its natural state is in the form of ore. It requires a great amount of
energy to make metal from ore. Metals are actually in a temporary state.
That is, at some point, they will revert back to their original state of ore.
This may take several years or it could take up to hundreds or even
thousands of years. The more energy required to transform an ore to
metal, the faster the metal returns to its original state. Corrosion is the
natural mechanism by which metal returns to its original state of ore.
Corrosion of metal is an electro-chemical process -the flow of electrons
from high-energy areas of metal to low energy areas through a solution on
the surface of the metal, capable of supporting corrosion. Corrosion will
not take place without a conducting solution. The solution is called an
electrolyte, caused by water, rain, moisture, and humidity. Only a small
amount of an electrolyte is needed to cause corrosion. Even 65% relative
humidity will form an electrolyte, which can cause corrosion. The highenergy area of a metal is called an anode. This is the area of metal where
current leaves to enter an electrolyte. The low energy area is a cathode.
Current leaves the electrolyte here and returns to the metal. The number
of pairs of cathodes and anodes are specific to each metal. Metals, which
have more pairs, are more susceptible to corrosion. For instance,
machined metal surfaces have more pairs. In some cases, corrosion can
occur within minutes.

The corrosion process results in the formation of oxidation on a metal

surface. If the metal layer is physically sturdy, the corrosion process can
be delayed while the layer acts as a buffer between the electrolyte and
the metal. If the layer is fragile or porous, the corrosion continues
unhindered. For instance, in the comparison of aluminum and steel,
aluminum is a high-energy metal. Atmospheric corrosion is slowed
considerably, but not permanently. Steel, likewise, is a high-energy metal,
however, it is a porous metal and has a fragile oxidation layer. To prevent
corrosion, it requires outside assistance.
Aluminum forms a stable protective oxide coating. As a result aluminum
corrodes extremely slow
Steel and other ferrous metals rust in various ways and due to several
factors. For further information about types of corrosion, visit the Types of
Rust page on the site.
An inhibitor retards or slows down a reaction. All Armor Protective
Packaging products utilize our proprietary ARMOR VCI nanotechnology.
ARMOR VCI (volatile or vapor corrosion inhibitors) decreases the rate of
attack on metals. VCI is class of corrosion inhibiting compounds which
have sufficient vapor pressure or energy to release molecules from a
compound into the air. Once released, the molecules are disseminated
throughout an enclosed air space to the metal surface by diffusion, i.e. the
normal flow of air caused by rising and falling temperature. ARMOR VCIs
retard the corrosive action. Electrical current attempts to flow from the
anode through the electrolyte into the cathode but cannot, because of the
VCIs presence. ARMOR VCI molecules passivate the surface and inhibit or
depress the electrochemical mechanism that triggers oxidation, i.e. the
current flow from anode to cathode. VCI molecules attach themselves to a
metal surface to form an invisible, thin film, only a few molecules thick, to
protect metal from attack.