The combination of aluminum and stainless steel causes galvanic corrosion. In order to understand why you shouldn’t use stainless steel and aluminum together, we first need to understand how galvanic corrosion works. Galvanic corrosion is the transfer of electrons from one material (anode) to another (cathode). In addition to knowing what galvanic corrosion is, we also need to understand the technical terms that go along with it.

Here are all of the technical terms we will be using during this post:

Anode – material that is positively charged, electrons leave this material
Cathode – material that is negatively charged, electrons enter this material
Electrolyte – liquid that aids in the process of electron transfer
Corrosion/corrode – Destroy or weaken metal gradually
How It Works
Galvanic corrosion occurs when two materials (an anode and a cathode) come into contact with each other and an electrolyte. Electrolytes can be environmental factors such as humidity or rainwater. When these factors come into play, electron transfer will begin to occur. Depending on the level of resistance in an electrolyte, this transfer can happen much faster. This is why salt water, an electrolyte with a very low resistance, is a common factor when considering what product to use. Due to this, it is incredibly important to consider what material you are going to use in an environment. When working with a marine, salt water environment, you even need to consider the type of stainless steel you are using.

There are multiple kinds of rust that can occur during the oxidization process. To find out more about them please read this blog post about Three types of rust that frequently occur.

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