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Rust-related Definitions for the Layman, WA | Anodesaus

Any seasoned skipper will agree that few experiences can compare to sailing the seven seas with a crew of your favourite companions while enjoying sky blue waters below and cloudless skies above. However, even the most ideal weather and sailing conditions can be ruined by early signs of rust and corrosion. Moods will be dampened and spirits lowered. Equipping yourself with a better understanding of the different types of corrosion will help you prevent disappointment in the future. Read on to learn more about the different types of rust in this jargon-busting blog post.

Definitions: Rust, Oxidation, Electrolysis and Galvanic Corrosion


Easily the most recognised and well-known type of corrosion, rust needs no introduction. Through the passage of time, constant contact with water and exposure to oxygen, rust will be an inevitable occurrence in boating. Much like how Monday follows Sunday, it can’t be avoided but has to be dealt with regardless.

You can rest assured where there’s a meeting between metal and water you will find rust. Spotting rust is an easy exercise; it can be identified by the brownish flakes that appear on the surface of the metal.


Similar to rust, oxidation is a consequence of the reaction between metals with oxygen and moisture in the air or water. It occurs in varying degrees and unlike rust it isn’t always identified by the presence of reddish-brown flakes. This is because your boat, while made up of a considerable amount of metal, is also made up of a variety of other materials which do not exhibit the same symptoms as rust. The fact remains though, oxidation must be avoided where possible or remedied as soon as it has been detected.

  • How to detect oxidation

Early symptoms of oxidation include chalky spots along the gelcoat of your boat. Ordinarily, your gelcoat is clear and reflective but the occurrence of oxidation is responsible for the change in appearance. As oxidation worsens it will dull the usual shine and glimmer of your hull. Even after a good cleanse the dulling of the hull will remain. The chalkiness will continue to intensify if left unaddressed and may eventually compromise the integrity of the hull itself with time.

Galvanic corrosion

Galvanic corrosion occurs between two or more metals and in the presence of an electrochemical reaction. For this process to take place, the metals involved need to be different in terms of chemical stability with one being more chemically active than the other where two metals are involved. When these metals are touching each other and are immersed in any liquid with conductive properties, galvanic corrosion will occur. Saltwater, heavily polluted freshwater or freshwater with high mineral content are extremely conductive and it is in these waters that galvanic corrosion will be accelerated.


Similar to galvanic corrosion, electrolysis follows an almost identical oxidation process. The primary difference is that an electric current has actually been introduced into the water which in turn speeds up the oxidation rate as the current passes from the anode metal to cathode metal. Electrolysis is the reason why metal in close proximity to your boat’s electrical and mechanical system suffers from more rust and damage than other parts.

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Anodes Australia is proud to be the leading supplier of quality anode solutions in Australia. We have amassed an incredible amount of experience working with countless clients from a variety of industries. Whether you want advice for maintaining your boat or a sacrificial anode replacement that will cater to your needs, we can help you today.

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