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What Is The Difference Between Oxidation And Corrosion?

To some, oxidation and corrosion may simply be scientific terms learned back in high school, but as an aircraft owner, you know that they’re much more than that. You simply never want oxidation and corrosion to be associated with your aviation, as it can cause serious deterioration and/or destruction of your aircraft.
Before learning about the valuable variety of proper precautions you can take to help deter them from happening to your aviation, you must understand the differences that separate these two very similar processes. Since both oxidation and corrosion can occur when under natural or forced conditions with several external factors having the ability to accelerate the effects, you certainly don’t want this topic to fly on past you.

What is Oxidation?

Oxidation is described as an electrochemical reaction between Oxygen and other substances, whether metal or living tissues. It can also be described as a loss of electrons or Hydrogen atoms, which results in a gain of Oxygen atoms. Rust is often the result of oxidation when it occurs on metals or metallic materials. However it isn’t always a bad thing for all substances, as oxidation can bring many benefits when it occurs on living tissues, such as a boost in metabolism, weight loss and a lower risk of cancer. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for metals.

  • Oxidation is the process of losing electrons, Hydrogen atoms and gaining Oxygen molecules (air bubbles) as a result.

What is Corrosion?

Corrosion can be a component of oxidation, and typically, one of the most disastrous ones. It’s the natural process that degrades the properties of a material, such as the structure, appearance, strength and permeability, and it takes as little as some wet weather conditions for it to begin. Rust is also a common result of corrosion. However, unlike oxidation, it mainly occurs on metals, ceramics and some polymers and never within or on the human body. As such, it rarely has any benefits to offer.

  • Corrosion is the process of the metal deteriorating.

Although oxidation and corrosion are both quite similar, there are many differences that separate the two processes. Learning them can teach you the several precautions available to deter both oxidation and corrosion from happening, or at the least, to control the problems on your aircraft.

The Difference Between Oxidation and Corrosion

One of the most important difference – and really the only distinction between the two processes is what caused it to occur. Corrosion is brought on by wet weather conditions, whereas oxidation occurs when naturally air reacts with metals, such as getting rust on your car once the wax layer has degraded. Corrosion is deterioration or destruction of metals as a result of rain, sleet, snow, etc. and oxidation is an electrochemical breakdown of the metal.

  • Oxygen leads to oxidation.
  • Wet weather conditions and moisture leads to corrosion.
  • Corrosion mainly happens to metals whereas oxidation can take place anywhere.
  • Both corrosion and oxidation are never beneficial when it comes to metal, but oxidation does offer some benefits to other substances, such as the body.

Despite all the differences, the most important similarity is that the triggers of oxidation and corrosion can never be entirely avoided. There will always be wet weather conditions and oxygen in the air, and metals have to be polished in order to deter both oxidation and corrosion from happening.  Any uncovered metals areas on your aircraft will inevitably experience some sort of oxidation and/or corrosion, which can ultimately lead to not only unsightly rust, but destroyed aviation.

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