Chemical Substances That Accelerate Rusting in Metals

corrosion of metals

It is common knowledge that rust happens when there’s an exchange of electrons between atoms. It is a chemical reaction which can be accelerated by certain chemicals through increasing the electrical activity between oxygen and iron.

Let us determine these chemical substances that intensify the conductivity of moisture around metals, making rust occur more rapidly.

Bleach

One of the substances that accelerates rusting is bleach which acts as an oxidising agent that ionises other materials by removing electrons from them. It contains an active ingredient sodium hypochlorite, which is a chemical compound found to kill germs and remove stains from clothes. Compared to plain water, iron loses electrons easily in the presence of bleach.

Salt

Salt is another chemical substance that speeds up the rusting process by lowering down the electrical resistance of water. Rust occurs due to oxidation, a chemical process where metal atoms lose its electrons leading to the formation of ions. And the more the electrons freely flow from iron to oxygen, the more rapid the corrosion of metals. This is why in the winter season, when rock salt is being used to melt snow, steel car bodies rust quicker than in dry seasons.

Vinegar

Containing a dilute form of acetic acid, vinegar accelerates rusting by its positive hydrogen ions that remove electrons from iron, ionising it and making it receptive to rust. Compared to having water alone, vinegar in water conducts electricity better as it facilitates the movement of ions and electrons during the process of rusting. While both bleach and vinegar quicken rusting, combining the two chemical substances is discouraged as the mixture releases toxic chlorine gas.

Water

In damp environments, metals deteriorate quickly as moist air is an ideal medium for rust to form. Even a single droplet of water can in effect become a small battery that allows ions to flow freely between oxygen and iron. Somewhere near the point where the iron, water, and air meet, an electrochemical reaction occurs the pulls oxygen from the air, resulting in the formation of hydroxide ions in the water. The part in which metal is submerged in water, iron atoms lose electrons causing the metal to disintegrate gradually. The iodised iron then gets dissolved into the water to react with the hydroxide ions in the water to form rust.

Water, salt, vinegar, and bleach are just some of the many chemical substances that were found to speed up the process of rusting. If you think we missed to mention other common substances, let us know in the comments below!