Does Tungsten Rust? Full Guide on How to Care for Tungsten Jewelry & Items

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Does tungsten rust? In this blog, we’ll explore everything you need to know about tungsten, including whether it rusts, how it interacts with water and air, and how to maintain tungsten products, especially jewelry.

Often celebrated for its strength and durability, tungsten is a fascinating metal with a plethora of uses, from industrial applications to the creation of stunning jewelry.

Does Tungsten Rust or Corrode?

Does Tungsten Rust?

Firstly, high-quality tungsten doesn’t rust in the traditional sense. Unlike iron, which corrodes easily forming rust, tungsten remains steadfast against the elements.

This resistance is due to its stable chemical structure, which prevents the typical redox reaction seen in metals like iron when exposed to oxygen and moisture.

The Nature of Tungsten and Rust

Tungsten, a unique and incredibly durable metal, is known for its remarkable resistance to rust.

But what exactly does this mean for you?

It’s crucial to understand that while tungsten itself is incredibly resistant to rusting, its alloys might behave differently.

The purity of tungsten plays a significant role in its ability to resist corrosion.

Pure tungsten remains virtually unaffected, maintaining its sleek, metallic luster over time, but, when alloyed with other metals, its resistance can vary.

Tungsten’s resistance to rust makes it a popular choice in various industries, from aerospace to electronics. This metal doesn’t just look good; it performs exceptionally well under challenging conditions.

Tungsten’s Resistance to Corrosion

Pure Tungsten and Corrosion Resistance

Diving deeper into the corrosion resistance of tungsten, pure tungsten showcases an impressive ability to withstand corrosive environments. Its resistance to corrosion is so notable that it’s often used in environments that would typically degrade other metals quickly.

For instance, tungsten’s high melting point and corrosion resistance make it an ideal choice for filament in light bulbs and for electrical contacts in high-temperature situations.

Tungsten Alloys and Corrosion

Now, let’s talk about tungsten alloys. Tungsten carbide, a common alloy, combines tungsten and carbon, resulting in an incredibly tough material often used in industrial machinery and cutting tools. 

But does this addition of carbon affect its resistance to corrosion? Surprisingly, tungsten carbide maintains excellent corrosion resistance, making it ideal for use in harsh environments. 

However, it’s essential to note that not all tungsten alloys are created equal. Lower quality alloys might include other metals, which could potentially lower their overall resistance to corrosion.

Interaction of Tungsten with Water and Air

Tungsten’s Reaction to Water

You might be wondering, “How does tungsten behave when submerged in water?” It’s a valid question, especially considering how common water exposure is in everyday life. 

Tungsten’s interaction with water is minimal. It does not corrode or deteriorate when in contact with water, which is why it’s often used in marine applications and environments where moisture is a constant factor.

How Tungsten Withstands Moisture

Tungsten’s ability to withstand moisture without corroding makes it a reliable material in various applications. Its resilience in moist environments extends to its use in jewelry. Tungsten rings, for instance, can be worn daily without the worry of damage from handwashing or exposure to rain. This property is a testament to tungsten’s stability and durability, making it a practical and long-lasting choice.

Does Tungsten Tarnish or Oxidize?

Exposure to air is another critical factor to consider when evaluating a metal’s durability. Tungsten stands out in this regard as well. It does not tarnish or oxidize, meaning it won’t lose its shine or suffer from discoloration when exposed to air. 

This characteristic is particularly appealing for jewelry, as it ensures that pieces like tungsten rings retain their original luster and appeal over time.

Tungsten and Skin Contact

An interesting point to note is tungsten’s interaction with human skin. Unlike some metals, tungsten does not cause discoloration of the skin, such as turning your finger green. 

This is a common concern with some jewelry metals, but tungsten’s inert and non-reactive nature makes it safe and comfortable for prolonged wear. 

It’s a hypoallergenic option, making it suitable for individuals with sensitive skin or metal allergies.

Maintenance of Tungsten

How to Clean Tungsten

How to Clean Tungsten

Step 1: Prepare Your Cleaning Solution

  • Mix a bit of mild dish soap with warm water in a bowl. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they are unnecessary and could damage the tungsten’s finish.

Step 2: Soak and Clean

  • Submerge your tungsten item in the solution for about 5-10 minutes. This will help loosen any dirt or grime.
  • After soaking, gently scrub the item with a soft-bristled brush, like a toothbrush. Focus on any grooves or engravings where dirt might accumulate.

Step 3: Rinse

  • Rinse the item thoroughly under warm water to remove any soap residue. It’s important to ensure all soap is washed off to avoid any potential film or spots.

Step 4: Dry

  • Pat the tungsten dry with a soft, lint-free cloth. Avoid using paper towels as they might leave scratches or lint.

Step 5: Buff for Shine

  • For an extra shine, give it a quick buff with a jewelry cloth or a microfiber cloth.

Despite its durability, tungsten still requires some care to maintain its appearance. Cleaning tungsten is straightforward as you can see but it’s important to avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, as these can damage the finish, especially on tungsten carbide, which often has a polished surface. 

For regular cleaning, simply use a soft cloth and a mild detergent, gently wiping the surface to remove any dirt or oils. Then, rinse with water and dry with a lint-free cloth. This simple process will keep your tungsten looking as good as new.

Maintaining Tungsten Jewelry

Routine Care

  • Regularly wipe your tungsten items with a soft, dry cloth to remove oils and fingerprints.
  • Store tungsten jewelry in a separate compartment in your jewelry box or in a soft pouch to avoid scratching.

Preventive Measures

  • Remove tungsten jewelry during heavy physical activities or when working with abrasive materials to prevent scratching.
  • Avoid exposing tungsten to harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia, as they can dull the finish over time.

Handling Damage

  • If your tungsten item becomes scratched or damaged, professional polishing may be required, especially for tungsten carbide pieces.
  • Remember that while tungsten is extremely hard and scratch-resistant, it can crack under severe impact. Handle it with care.

What Not to Do

  • Do not use ultrasonic jewelry cleaners on tungsten, as the vibration may cause damage.
  • Avoid resizing tungsten rings, as their hardness makes them difficult to modify.

By following these simple steps, your tungsten items will maintain their luster and durability for years. Regular, gentle cleaning and mindful handling are key to keeping tungsten in top condition.

When it comes to tungsten jewelry, such as rings or bracelets, a bit of regular maintenance goes a long way. 

While tungsten is scratch-resistant, it’s not entirely scratch-proof, particularly in the case of tungsten carbide.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to remove your tungsten jewelry during heavy physical activities or when working with abrasive materials. 

Storing your tungsten pieces in a separate compartment in your jewelry box can also prevent them from rubbing against softer metals that might scratch.

Preventing Tungsten Corrosion

Though tungsten is highly corrosion-resistant, it’s still worth taking steps to protect it, especially in harsh chemical environments. 

For instance, removing tungsten jewelry before swimming in chlorinated pools or handling strong cleaning agents can help preserve its integrity. Remember, while tungsten is tough, taking these small precautions can ensure its longevity and keep it looking pristine.

Practical Aspects of Using Tungsten

Tungsten Carbide and Durability

Is Tungsten Carbide Prone to Rust?

Tungsten carbide, known for its extreme hardness and durability, is also resistant to rusting. This makes it an excellent choice for applications where both hardness and corrosion resistance are essential. In industrial settings, tungsten carbide is used in tools and machinery exposed to corrosive materials, demonstrating its robustness in these challenging environments.

Pros and Cons of Tungsten Rings

Advantages of Tungsten Rings

  • Durability: Tungsten rings are incredibly durable and resistant to scratches and wear, making them ideal for everyday wear.
  • Corrosion Resistance: They don’t corrode, tarnish, or rust, maintaining their appearance over time.
  • Hypoallergenic Properties: Tungsten is hypoallergenic, making it a safe choice for people with sensitive skin.

Disadvantages of Tungsten Rings

  • Brittleness: Despite its hardness, tungsten can be brittle and may crack under severe impact.
  • Non-resizable: Tungsten rings cannot be resized due to their hardness, so getting the right size from the start is crucial.
  • Limited Styles: While tungsten offers a modern, sleek look, it may not have the variety of designs available in softer metals.


In conclusion, tungsten is a remarkable metal that offers a unique combination of durability, resistance to corrosion, and aesthetic appeal. Whether you’re considering tungsten for industrial use or as a stylish piece of jewelry, understanding its properties and how to care for it can ensure that you make the most of this extraordinary material. Tungsten’s resilience and maintenance ease make it a practical and attractive choice for various applications.

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