Do we lose metal forever when it rusts?

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If a piece of metal rusts before we can protect it or recycle it, do we lose it forever?

Would a piece of metal just rust away to nothing if just left outside?

What is the chemical change from [insert metal] to rust?

In: Chemistry

8 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Rusting is oxidation, oxygen gas is attacking the metal atoms and chemically binding to them.

Iron oxide specifically has an annoying tendency to crumble to dust so iron and iron-rich alloys can definitely rust away to nothing.

Some other metal oxides stick better and form a protective crust that shields the metal from furher corrosion.

Turning the rust back into pure metal is definitely possible (that’s likely where it came from in the first place), but usually not economically feasible once it’s highly impure and pulverized into orange dust.

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