Rust

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any coating or film on metal caused by oxidation. (AAT 2014) The term is predominately used to describe the reddish, brittle coating that forms on the surface of iron and iron alloys due to the metal's oxidation in the presence of water or moisture. This coating is composed of iron oxide (Fe2O3) and hydrated iron oxide (Fe2O3·nH2O3). Rust is brittle and flaky and only provides some protection to the underlying iron if evenly distributed; if uneven, rust offers no protection. (Logan and Selwyn 2007)

Rust on an iron nail
Rust on a tin can

Related Terms

oxidation; corrosion; patina; tarnish

Synonyms in English

iron oxide; red iron oxide; iron rust

Translation

English rust
French rouille
Spanish óxido
Portuguese ferrugem
Italian ruggine
German Rost
Russian ржавчина
Arabic صدأ
Dutch roest
Chinese xiù, xiu, hsiu

Discussion

The concept of rust is ancient in origin, appearing in both ancient Greek(ἐρυσίβη) and Roman (Latin: ferrugo, ferruginis) literature to describe the substance coating metal after corrosion. The Greek philosopher Plato, for example, discussed the rust of bronze and iron in the Republic while Pliny the Elder, a first century C.E. Roman author and naturalist, discussed copper-rust, its conservation, and iron rust in the Naturalis Historia. (Scott 2002)

The Getty's Art and Architecture thesaurus uses the term similar to the ancient usage by designating it to oxidized coating or film on any type of metal. (AAT 2014)

The effects of oxidation differ based on the metal involved, thus typically different terms are used to denote the differing effects: rust, tarnish, and patina. (Ankersmit et al. 2013) In this context, rust is used to solely describe the reddish coating produced by the oxidation of iron and iron alloys. (CAMEO 2014)

References

Ankersmit, Bart, Martina Griesser-Stermsheg, Lyndsie Selwyn, & Susanne Sutherland. 2013. Recognizing Metals and their Corrosion Products. Canadian Conservation Institute. https://www.cci-icc.gc.ca/caringfor-prendresoindes/articles/metals-metaux/index-eng.aspx (accessed 23 March, 2014).

Logan, Judy, and Lyndsie Selwyn. 2007. Care and Cleaning of Iron. CCI Notes 9/6. Canadian Conservation Institute. http://www.cci-icc.gc.ca/publications/notes/9-6-eng.aspx(accessed 23 March, 2014).

Rust. 2000. Art and Architecture Thesaurus Online. Getty Research Institute. http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/vocabularies/aat/(accessed 8 March, 2014).

Rust. 2013. CAMEO (Conservation & Arts Materials Encyclopedia Online). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. http://cameo.mfa.org/wiki/Rust (accessed 12 March, 2014).

Rust. 2014. Google Translate. Google. https://translate.google.com/?hl=en&tab=wT (accessed 12, March 2014).

Scott, David. 2002. Copper and Bronze in Art: Corrosion, Colorants, Conservation. Los Angeles: Getty Trust Publications.


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