SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Corrosion. Steel pliers corroded with patches of rust (orange). Steel is an alloy of iron with a small percentage of carbon and other elements. The iron in the steel reacts with oxygen when water is present to form rust (hydrated iron oxide). Rust is weaker, brittle and more porous than the steel, allowing more oxygen and water to attack the underlying metal. Steel becomes resistant to rust if chromium, nickel and other elements are included in the alloy.
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