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Rust is the common term for steel or iron which has been oxidized, a chemical change caused by exposure to oxygen, frequently the oxygen in water. Rust appears as a brown or orange discolouration which can be scrubbed off. This discolouration can stain and damage fabric.

The oxidization of copper, bronze or brass is called verdigris, as it appears to be a greenish growth on the metal itself.

Metal which has rusted loses some of its structural strength. In period, maille was especially vulnerable to rust, owing to the difficulty in removing rust from the interlocked surface of the rings.

The best defense against rust was (and is) keeping water from contacting the metal. In period, most metal armour was painted or left covered in forgeblack, rather than being polished. If armour was polished, it needed frequent scouring and oiling to maintain it.

Modern solution to the rusting problem include stainless steel and galvanized steel, both of which resist (but are not proof against) oxidization.