Rust is a type of corrosion (the wearing-away of metal), and to put it simply, aluminium does not rust, but it does corrode. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they are fundamentally different.
As with any metal, when it comes into contact with oxygen, an oxide layer will form on aluminium. Unlike with other metals such as iron or steel, the layer of aluminium oxide is actually protective – it’s hard, thin and fairly transparent, and is tricky to remove, unlike rust. As it’s not very noticeable and actually protects the metal, aluminium oxidation isn’t a big problem.
How To Protect Aluminium From Corrosion
Corrosion, however, is a problem. Storing aluminium away from moisture will help protect it from corrosion. This is because corrosion occurs when moisture triggers a chemical reaction in the aluminium.
Additionally, you could apply a protective clear coat to your aluminium to help prevent corrosion, or pick a particularly corrosion-resistant aluminium alloy.
What About Iron?
Unlike aluminium, iron does rust. As iron corrodes, the colour changes and it expands, so rust occurs when the iron oxidises and flakes fall off. The flakes will continue to fall off and expose the metal to further corrosion, so unless a barrier is added, the process will continue.
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