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Why doesn't stainless steel rust?

November 25, 2023

Why doesn't stainless steel rust?

The reason why stainless steel is not easy to rust is related to its special chemical composition and surface treatment. The following are the main reasons why stainless steel does not rust easily:

Presence of chromium: Stainless steel contains at least 10.5% chromium, which is the main source of its corrosion resistance. Chromium forms a thin, stable oxide film called chromium oxide. This oxide film prevents further oxygen and water contact, thereby preventing corrosion of the steel. Even if the surface is scratched, a new oxide film will form by itself under the action of oxygen, maintaining the corrosion resistance.

Other alloying elements: In addition to chromium, stainless steel often contains other alloying elements such as nickel, molybdenum, manganese, etc. These elements also help improve corrosion resistance.

Self-healing properties at high temperatures: When the surface of stainless steel is contaminated or slightly corroded, the self-healing properties at high temperatures allow the oxide film on the surface to repair itself and maintain its corrosion resistance.

Surface treatment: The surface of stainless steel may undergo further treatments, such as polishing, pickling, etc., to improve its surface smoothness, cleanliness and corrosion resistance.

Generally speaking, stainless steel can form a stable and unbreakable oxide film under certain conditions, which blocks the contact between oxygen and water, thus slowing down the corrosion process of steel. This allows stainless steel to maintain its appearance and performance over time in wet, corrosive environments. However, although stainless steel has good corrosion resistance, it is not absolutely stainless, and corrosion may still occur, especially under extreme conditions.

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