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Rusting metal


I have a science project and I am doing rusting and I need help the metal objects I am using are: copper, stainless steel, aluminum wire. Is there a solution to rust them besides water.

Spencer [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Upper Marlro, Maryland, United States


The first and third material cannot rust because they contain no iron, and rust is iron oxide. The second material contains iron, but it also contains other materials decided to help stop it from rusting (staining). I think your project needs some rethinking :-)

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


Hi Spencer,

In a nutshell, NO.

Water + air (sic. oxygen) will rust things nicely, if they contain ferrous metals, and in time will probably cause a protective coating, a patina, to form on the copper and the aluminum.

With stainless steel (and there are el-cheapo and good grades), they can all eventually rust somewhat especially at welded areas and particularly in the presence of alkalies such as ordinary sea water..........

Other processes to cause copper and aluminum to fail or corrode would never be called rusting as that word only applies strictly speaking to anything containing iron. OK?

But remember the old adage ... 'Old soldiers never die, they rust away'.

Cheers !

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton [deceased]
(It is our sad duty to advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).


My nephew is also doing a science project on rust. He is using tap water and salt water (1 cup of water + 1 tablespoon of salt). He is using wire made of silver, steel, zinc, copper, and aluminum. Keeping each type of metal in water solutions for 10 days to see results.

Debbie Ledenbach
- Chicago, Illinois, USA

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