Metals rust and corrode as the result of the metal breaking down when exposed to extreme, wet or acid dominated environments. All metal eventually experiences this kind of break down. Some metals, however, are more resistant to them than others. This is the case of the titanium that is common today.
Titanium is a popular metal that is recognized as more durable and stronger than steel, yet is lighter and more flexible than steel. These properties of titanium make it a popular metal used in chemical plants, airplanes, and various military and engineering applications. Titanium is also used in rifles and air guns. Titanium can withstand extreme temperature and exposure to salt water. It has been hailed as one of the strongest, most durable metals around.
Titanium is a resilient metal that is also highly reactive. When titanium is exposed to certain environments such as those with hot nitric acid, chlorine, salt water and extreme temperatures, titanium oxide is created on the surface of the titanium. This titanium oxide can occur quickly. It provides a strong, durable, almost impenetrable barrier that protects the pure titanium metal underneath it from further corrosion.
Pure titanium is resistant to rusting and corrosion from liquids including chemicals, acids, and saltwater as well as various gases because of its oxide barrier.
As the name oxide implies, oxygen is needed to produce this barrier. In vacuum-like environments, where oxygen is limited, titanium will corrode and rust quickly. Pure titanium that is completely rust and corrosive resistant, however, is rare and hard to find and produce. Many titanium parts and objects are made of a titanium alloy which includes the combination of various levels of titanium and other metals. Because they are not made of pure titanium, they are susceptible to rust and corrosion. Being more resistant to rust and corrosion than other metals and metal alloys, common titanium used today has the appearance of not rusting or corroding and is more durable and longer-lasting than other metals.
Titanium shavings, like shavings from other metals, are highly reactive and flammable even in relatedly low temperatures. This makes titanium a poor choice for some mechanical operations. Titanium oxide comes in the form of a white powder. This protective barrier does eventually break down, but it takes many years to do so. With its slow corrosion process, titanium is a good choice for piping. Unlike pipes made from other metals, titanium piping typically doesn’t require an additional protective coating.