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Why does steel rust without surface treatment?

November 24, 2023

Why does steel rust without surface treatment?

The reason why steel rusts easily is mainly because the iron element in it reacts with oxygen and water to form iron oxide, which is rust. This is an electrochemical process commonly known as corrosion.

Before surface treatment, the steel surface is easily affected by oxygen and moisture in the external environment, forming a thin layer of iron oxide, which is rust. Rust not only affects the appearance of steel but also gradually weakens the structural strength and durability of steel.

The purpose of surface treatment is to protect the steel from corrosion. Here are some common steel surface treatments:

Galvanizing: Galvanizing covers the surface of steel with a zinc layer to prevent the steel from being directly exposed to oxygen and water through the corrosion resistance of zinc. Zinc oxide forms a layer that is more stable than iron oxide and therefore provides better protection.

Paint or coating: Apply anti-corrosion paint or coating on the steel surface to form a protective film that isolates oxygen and water from contact and prevents rust.

Phosphating treatment: Phosphating forms a phosphide layer on the surface of steel to provide a protective layer and slow down the rate of corrosion.

Anode protection: This usually involves attaching a metal that is more prone to oxidation, such as zinc or aluminum, to the steel, making it a more active anode, thus slowing down the corrosion of the steel.

Stainless steel: Use stainless steel, which itself contains alloy elements such as chromium to form a dense oxide layer and has good corrosion resistance.

These surface treatment methods effectively prevent oxygen and moisture from direct contact with the steel, thereby slowing down or preventing the rust of the steel. Selecting the appropriate surface preparation method often depends on specific application needs and environmental conditions.

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