Does titanium rust or corrode?

Corrosion is the process of degradation which happens to metals and alloys as a result of influence from the environment, such as water. In some metals and alloys, only a very thin oxide level occurs which prevents the material to further corrode. One such case is Aluminum.

Does titanium corrode in saltwater?

I theory, pure titanium is absolutely resistant to corrosion in sea water. There have been experiments made, in which various items and samples of titanium were placed in the sea for 3 years, and the result was – no change at all. The resistance to corrosion is because of the formation of a very thin TiO2 film on the surface of titanium. This oxide film is often used in paints. It is resistant to various liquids which contain chlorine including sea water. Pure titanium is resistant to many corrosive gases, acids, alkalis as well as liquids, including salt water.

The thing is that titanium is rarely to be found in its pure form. If you have a titanium object you most likely own a titanium alloy object (something such as an outdoor survival knife for example) – thus it is made out of several metals. Usually, titanium is used for products which need to be light and yet strong, but some titanium alloys may corrode in sea water due to the other metals they contain.

Does titanium tarnish?

Yes, even though titanium is a very durable metal which requires very little maintenance, it can tarnish and get scratched after a lot of use, wear and tear. Thankfully, you can clean and polish titanium objects with an easy home-made DIY solution.

Fill a bowl big enough to fit your titanium object with warm water and add some dishwashing liquid soap, Windex, or a jewelry cleaning solution. Let it soak for about 5 minutes. Rinse it thoroughly afterwards to remove all residue from the cleaning detergent. Then dry it with a soft, dry cloth. However, if your titanium object is colored, refrain from polishing or rubbing it, as you can actually rub off the color itself.

There are special titanium cleaning products available, as well as other ammonia based detergents such as Windex which you can use, but stay away from bleach and chlorine based products.

If your titanium object is scratched, you can try removing the scratches with special metal cream polish which is available in certain stores. The cream removes oxidation and tarnishes, and can be used for polishing your object.

After you are done with the polishing cream, rinse it off with some mild soap and then pure water, and then dry thoroughly.