The Rusting of Iron

Abstract

SEVERAL letters have appeared in NATURE respecting conditions under which iron rusts. The usually accepted view has been that iron will not rust unless carbonic acid is present. After a very careful investigation of the subject, I was led to the conclusion that provided iron, oxygen, and liquid water are brought together, chemical change takes place with the production of rust, even when every precaution has been taken to exclude even traces of carbonic acid, and that therefore some other explanation must be found for the fact that alkalis inhibit the rusting of iron. An explanation has also to be found for the fact, established in the course of this investigation, that if polished iron is immersed in a solution of potassium dichromate, rusting is completely inhibited, and the surface of the metal remains perfectly bright (Dunstan, Jowett, and Goulding, Journ. Chem. Soc., 1905).

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DUNSTAN, W. The Rusting of Iron. Nature 75, 390 (1907) doi:10.1038/075390d0

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