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Rust is composed of iron oxides. In colloquial usage, the term is applied to red oxides, formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the presence of water or air moisture. Other forms of rust exist, like the result of reactions between iron and chloride in an environment deprived of oxygen � rebar used in underwater concrete pillars is an example � which generates green rust. Several forms of rust are distinguishable visually and by spectroscopy, and form under different circumstances. Rust consists of hydrated iron(III) oxides Fe2O3�nH2O and iron(III) oxide-hydroxide FeO(OH)�Fe(OH)3.
Given sufficient time, oxygen, and water, any iron mass will eventually convert entirely to rust and disintegrate. Surface rust is flaky and friable, and provides no protection to the underlying iron, unlike the formation of patina on copper surfaces. Rusting is the common term for corrosion of iron and its alloys, such as steel. Many other metals undergo equivalent corrosion, but the resulting oxides are not commonly called rust.
February 20th, 2013
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