Effective Rust Prevention – Risk vs. Reward 

Red rust parts

For companies who deal with metal and metal parts, rust can leave a path of destruction without warning.  From delays in production, to assembly line shut downs, to increased scrap costs and/or damaged or ruined machinery, rust is a drain on time, resources and money.  The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” could never ring more true than when it comes to rust prevention.  Small measures to protect metal parts and equipment early on can have big savings in money, time, and frustration later on. 

When it comes to rust and corrosion, there is always more than meets the eye.  Think of it like an iceberg — it’s not what you can see above the surface of the water that is most destructive, but rather it’s what you can’t see below the surface that can do the most harm.  The same is true of rust and corrosion, often it’s the things that aren’t visible or that are less obvious that result in the greatest damage and that is where active rust prevention becomes most important.  

We’ve outlined the most commonly used methods to prevent rust to help you evaluate whether the “risk is worth the reward” with each and to identify which strategy might work best for you in keeping your metal parts and equipment clean and rust free.

When it comes to rust and corrosion, there is always more than meets the eye.  Think of it like an iceberg — it’s not what you can see above the surface of the water that is most destructive, but rather it’s what you can’t see below the surface that can do the most harm.  The same is true of rust and corrosion, often it’s the things that aren’t visible or that are less obvious that result in the greatest damage and that is where active rust prevention becomes most important.  

Infographic - Comparison of rust to an iceberg

We’ve outlined the most commonly used methods to prevent rust to help you evaluate whether the “risk is worth the reward” with each and to identify which strategy might work best for you in keeping your metal parts and equipment clean and rust free.

1. Control the Environment

Managing the environment where metal parts are kept to protect them from exposure to water/humidity and pollutants is a great first step in preventing rust.  Measures such as covering and storing metal parts raised off of the floor; minimizing their exposure to water due to flooding, melting snow/ice, pipe leaks, or condensation; and storing them inside a temperature and humidity-controlled environment are fairly simple and effective.

rusted metal parts
rusted metal plate

2. Metal Selection

There are some select metals that are rust resistant.  Using an alloy (a mixture of metals) such as stainless steel will help to prevent rust because they contain elements such as chromium and zinc that form a protective film on the surface of metal.  Combining the properties of select metals adds strength and resistance but while it is an effective option, it can be very expensive.

Worker spraying Dry Coat Rust Preventative on gear

3. Preventative Coatings

The most widely used method of rust prevention is the application of a coating on the surface of metal.  The coating acts as a barrier to prevent corrosive elements (such as water, oxygen, or chemicals) from contact with metal.  Examples of preventative coatings include:

  • Oil: Oil or grease applied to the surface of metal inhibits moisture from contact with metal thereby slowing down or preventing rust formation.  However, oil and greases can be problematic for some tools or machines.  In addition, it is time and labor-intensive to apply/remove and it can pose environmental and human health concerns.
  • Galvanization:  Galvanizing coats the surface of iron or steel with zinc to prevent corrosive substances from penetrating the metal.  Zinc corrodes at a much slower rate than iron or steel, so it’s highly effective in slowing rust.  Galvanization can be challenging because typically metal parts/equipment must be sent to an offsite location for its application.
  • Paint: Covering the surface of metal with a good quality paint prevents moisture from making contact with the surface of the metal and slows down rust formation.  Paint must be applied properly to avoid chips or cracks that could allow corrosion to set in.
  • Powder Coat: Metal is coated with a dry powder made of acrylic, polyester, nylon or other substances then cured with heat to form a thin protective film.  The downside of powder coating is it can be difficult to apply a thin, uniform coating and the cost for set up can be expensive.
  • Dry Coatings: There are rust-preventing liquids that are made specifically to protect metal from rust – they offer good wetting properties (to ensure even application) and they dry clean.  These products contain additives that form a protective barrier on the surface of metal that is nearly undetectable (odor- and residue-free) and they can be used alone or in combination with other rust prevention efforts.
Worker placing part inside container with ARMOR POLY

4. Corrosion Inhibitors:

Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors (VCI) are a type of chemical compound that emit special vapors that form a protective shield on the surface of metal to displace moisture and keep metal clean and corrosion free.  VCI is most commonly combined with materials such as paper or poly film to create packaging supplies that wrap or enclose metal parts to prevent rust.  VCI products work most effectively when used in an enclosed air space such as a storage container or shipping crate.

You Don’t Have to Get “Dirty” to Keep Your Metal Parts Clean – Just Ask Armor Protective Packaging®

Armor Protective Packaging® offers rust prevention and rust removal products that are clean, safe, easy-to-use and effective.  Many of the rust-prevention options listed require time-consuming and laborious application (and some also require removal) as well as well as exposure to dirty, messy and sometimes hazardous ingredients — but not ARMOR!

ARMOR’s proprietary VCI (vapor corrosion inhibitors) Nanotechnology™ keeps metal clean and rust-free with an ultra-strong layer of protection that is only a few molecules thick.  The VCI is infused into packaging materials that then release vapors to form a protective shield on the surface of metal that blocks dirt, moisture and other rust-causing contaminants – it is not only undetectable, it is clean, safe and effective at preventing rust.

In addition, ARMOR’s Metal Rescue® Rust Remover, Dry Coat™ Rust Preventative and Weather Warrior™ Outdoor Rust Preventative Coating are innovative water-based liquids designed to remove rust and prevent its return.  ARMOR products save customers time, money and effort to keep metal parts and equipment free from rust.

How to Prevent Rust When Shipping Metal Parts Overseas 

Shipping overseas allows your metal/metal parts to reach new markets and expand your business. However, keeping metal parts clean and rust-free during transport can present a number of obstacles. Damage from the environmental conditions that are a part of overseas shipping – heat, humidity, saltwater – are major challenges facing manufacturers who are shipping overseas.  But, it isn’t all doom-and-gloom, because it IS possible to protect metal parts from corrosion when shipping overseas!  Let’s explore several rust prevention options.

How to Prevent Rust When Shipping Metal Parts Overseas

Over half of all overseas shipments make their journey in shipping containers.  Goods, such as metal parts, are loaded into large shipping containers that are sealed and locked.  The shipping containers are then loaded on and off the ship and transported to their end destination via trucks.  It is a relatively organized and efficient way to manage large shipments across long distances.

Unfortunately, the process of shipping overseas using shipping containers is not fail-proof and goods are still exposed to many potentially damaging conditions.  Though many shipping containers are watertight, the contents (such as metal parts) are still highly susceptible to corrosion.  It is almost inevitable that oxygen and water (whether in liquid or vapor form) will be present in the same shipping container as your precious metal-parts cargo creating the ideal conditions for corrosion.

Black rust on metal disc

By some estimates, about 10% of all container goods must be discarded due to moisture damage. Products like metal parts can rust and corrode and many times it is  variables on the outside of the shipping container that create the moisture that is so destructive to the contents on the inside.

Those familiar with the use of shipping containers will attest to the substantial damage that “container rain” can have on goods of all types, from bulk commodities to finished products, on food items, apparel, shoes, electronics or on metal parts, components, machinery or equipment.

Container rain is the term given to describe the condensation that often forms on the inside walls and ceiling of a shipping container and then drips or “rains” onto the cargo.  It is the result of temperature fluctuations in the air inside the shipping container that are due to temperature fluctuations in the air outside of the container that are caused by exposure to the sun, nightfall and differing climates.

Simply put, container rain — or moisture of any kind – is Public Enemy Number 1 when it comes to corrosion and it has no place inside of a shipping container.  With this information in mind, how can you prevent rust when shipping overseas? There are several “lifesaving” strategies that will help keep your metal/metal parts clean and free of corrosion during their overseas travels come hell or high water!

Start with A Clean Slate …

To avoid corrosion of metal parts — whether they are in process, in storage or in transport – make sure they are clean, dry and contamination-free.  In addition, avoid touching metal parts with bare hands; always wear gloves when handling.  The acids, oils and contaminants found on human hands, specifically the fingerprints, are highly corrosive.  When hands come into contact with metal parts, the oils and contaminants are transferred to the surface of the metal part, which can cause and accelerate corrosion.

Men holding part wrapped in ARMOR POLY film
Parts wrapped in ARMOR POLY film

Avoid Direct Contact with Cardboard and Wood

Packaging items in cardboard boxes, wooden crates or on wooden pallets before placing them in a shipping container is like pouring gasoline on a fire.  All “forestry” products — those made of wood, paper or corrugated cardboard — contain moisture, acids and chlorides that can actually accelerate the formation of corrosion on metal parts.  When preparing metal parts for shipping overseas, ensure that they are not in direct contact with these materials.  In addition, use a protective VCI film to enclose metal parts or to line boxes, wooden crates or pallets.  VCI film creates an effective barrier that will not only protect the surface of metal parts, but the vapor corrosion inhibitor – VCI — will actively prevent rust.

Use VCI for Safe and Effective Rust Prevention

Vapor corrosion inhibitors (VCI) are a type of chemical compound that is used to protect ferrous and non-ferrous metals from rust and corrosion.  VCI is combined with different types of materials such as paper or poly film to create packaging supplies that also prevent rust.  When metal is wrapped, sealed or enclosed in a VCI packaging product, the VCIs activate to form a protective shield on the surface of metal that repels moisture and rust.  VCI is almost always the better choice over oils and other rust prevention methods  because there’s no mess, no time- or labor-intensive application or removal process and it eliminates exposure to hazardous liquids.

VCI film wrapped around large product
Proper packaging

Don’t “Overpack” Your Metal Parts

Though overseas shipping containers are large in size, avoid the temptation to save space by overpacking or storing items tightly together.  Packing metal parts too tightly can cause friction between parts that results in damage or causes the protective plastic layer of VCI film to puncture, rip or tear.  As a general rule of thumb, line boxes, crates or pallets with VCI film; use sheets of VCI film between layers of metals parts; and cover the outside of boxes, crates or pallets with VCI film to keep metal parts safe and protected during overseas shipping or other methods of transport.

Keep Them Covered

Oversized metal parts, machinery or equipment can often be difficult to protect from rust while in transport.  Their large size or unusual shape may not fit into a shipping container or, if they do, they may still be at risk of exposure to container rain.  ARMOR VCI SEA Film™ is designed to protect metal parts from the elements even in the most extreme outdoor conditions.  SEA Film uses a durable, three-layer design to protect metal parts during outdoor storage or transport for up to 9 months.  The outside layer contains a UV light inhibitor to stop the damaging heat of UV light, the center layer offers strong barrier protection, and the inside layer uses VCI to prevent rust.

part wrapped with ARMOR SEA Film
ARMOR SHIELD Desiccant tucked inside parts bin

Desiccants Dry It Up and Out

Desiccants use drying agents such as clay, silica gel or calcium chloride to adsorb water and manage humidity and moisture levels inside the shipping container.  They come in a variety of sizes from small packets (.5 grams) to large pouches to mega-sized bags (2,500 grams).  When hung from the ceiling and/or walls inside a shipping container, they trap and hold on to moisture to prevent damage and corrosion.  Desiccants can be combined with other rust prevention methods for added protection of metal parts.

When using a shipping container, consider your metal/metal parts cargo and its packaging carefully.  With the right combination of packing methods, protective measures and rust-prevention materials, your metal parts can weather their overseas transport and arrive at their end destination clean and rust free.

How to Use ARMOR WRAP® to Prevent Rust

Rust is a costly problem. There are many ways to prevent rust, and utilizing different strategies in different situations will help you maximize protection against rust. We’ve developed a variety of rust-preventing products to help make this process easier. In this post, we’ll discuss how to use ARMOR WRAP® to prevent rust. 

How to Use ARMOR WRAP to Prevent Rust: Step by Step 

What is ARMOR WRAP? And how does it work? ARMOR WRAP is Kraft paper that has been infused with ARMOR VCI Nanotechnology™ (our “secret formula” of vapor corrosion inhibitors) to create a packaging material that prevents rust on both ferrous and non-ferrous metals.  The VCI works on a molecular level, emitting rust-inhibiting vapors into an enclosed air space such as a storage or shipping container to form a shield of protection on the surface of metal that prevents rust from developing. 

ARMOR WRAP VCI paper, as well as other ARMOR VCI products, is clean, safe, easy-to-use and effective.  ARMOR WRAP meets all REACH and RoHS requirements and, since it’s recyclable and repulpable, it’s environmentally-friendly too. There’s no RP oil, grease or chemical solvents required, making ARMOR WRAP a preferred dry rust prevention method.  

With that bit of background on ARMOR WRAP VCI paper and how it works under your belt, let’s take a closer look at how to use ARMOR WRAP to prevent rust. 

Step 1: Choose Your Dry Rust Prevention Method 

Armor Protective Packaging® provides a wide range of rust-prevention products to protect metal parts, components and equipment — both large and small, detailed and simple –manufactured from all different types of metals. The first step to prevent rust is to find the right product. The ARMOR website is chocked full of information including brochures and product overviews to help you find the right solution. If you’re unsure what you might need, you can use ARMOR’s free, online rust diagnosis and solutions tool ASK JERRY (named after a retired ARMOR sales rep renowned for rust knowledge and customer service). Or, if you prefer a more traditional approach, you can ask us a question anytime, and one of our expert rust eradicators will be happy to help. 

ARMOR WRAP VCI paper is an easy, mess-free, and cost-effective solution for metal parts of all shapes and sizes.  It is highly versatile and can be used to wrap metal parts, interleave between layers of small metal parts, or it can be combined with other VCI products such as VCI Poly Film or VCI Emitters  for an added level of protection. ARMOR WRAP is a great starting point if you’re wondering how to keep your metal parts rust free in storage or shipment.  

Step 2: Select the Type of ARMOR WRAP VCI Paper

If you’ve taken a look at rust-prevention solutions and decided ARMOR WRAP is the right choice, there’s one more decision in front of you and that is what type of anti-rust paper will you use.  ARMOR WRAP VCI paper is available in multiple formulations with options to add barrier coatings such as wax or polyethylene if added protection against moisture or contaminants is needed.  While all ARMOR WRAP is clean, safe and easy-to-use, each formulation has unique characteristics that work best with specific types or composition of metal.  

ARMOR WRAP Global VCI Paper: We named this VCI paper “Global” because it meets all international content standards (RoHS, REACH, CPL). ARMOR WRAP Global anti-rust paper is effective for most metals and it’s available in 30, 35, and 60-pound weight in sized-to-fit sheets or rolls.

ARMOR WRAP MPI VCI Paper: While this VCI paper is effective in preventing rust for multiple metal types, it is best-suited for use with non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, brass, copper, galvanized metals, and tin. 

ARMOR WRAP SCRIM VCI Paper: Triple-coated for extra strength and puncture resistance, SCRIM VCI paper is designed to protect large metal pieces, bulky metal cargo, bar stock and/or items with sharp edges and corners. 

ARMOR WRAP Military VCI Paper: This anti-corrosion paper meets strict regulations for military packaging set by the U.S. Department of Defense. It provides exceptional corrosion protection of ferrous metals in harsh environments. 

Anti-Rust Paper ARMOR WRAP G
ARMOR WRAP SCRIM

Step 3: Remove Dirt and Moisture 

Once you’ve selected the type or formulation of ARMOR WRAP VCI paper that is the best match for your metal/metal parts, you’re almost ready to go!  To optimize the benefits of VCI rust-prevention paper, there is one step that is very important:  make sure metal parts are clean and dry before you wrap them in VCI paper. 

Remember, water is a key player in the development of rust so any moisture on the surface of metal can cause and accelerate rust and corrosion.  In addition, keep metal parts clean and free of contamination by properly maintaining metalworking fluids; wrapping metal parts immediately after processing or manufacturing, and by wearing gloves when handling metal parts to prevent the transfer of salt and acidity from hands or fingerprints.  

Once metal parts are clean and dry, you are ready to move on to the next step—wrapping.    

Step 4: WRAP! 

While wearing gloves, wrap and cover all surfaces of metal or metal parts with ARMOR WRAP VCI paper.  Fold, roll and/or mold VCI paper gently around metal parts to cover curved surfaces or holes to ensure there is no airflow. To maximize VCI’s effectiveness in preventing rust, when metal parts are wrapped or enclosed they should be airtight.  

If your items are too small or too numerous for complete, individual coverage, interleave sheets of VCI paper between layers of metal parts within the packaging box or storage container.  Use ARMOR WRAP to prevent metal parts from direct contact with cardboard or wood — most corrugated cardboard packaging uses nitric acid, which will induce corrosion, especially if it absorbs moisture from humidity or temperature changes. Similarly, wooden pallets or crates absorb and expel moisture as temperatures change, which will also induce corrosion.    

If you’re struggling to cover an odd-shaped or odd-sized part for storage or shipment, take a look at ARMOR’s library of application illustrations. These show the best way to protect all types of metal items from corrosion, including bulk parts, large equipment, electrical components, nested parts, and many more. 

That’s a Wrap on WRAP

Once you’ve wrapped your metal parts in ARMOR WRAP VCI paper, you’re done! The VCI’s protective layer will keep your metal parts corrosion-free whether they’re in process, storage or in transit. If you’re ready to get started, take a look at our line of ARMOR WRAP VCI paper with the confidence that ARMOR WRAP has got you covered.     

VCI Paper: Rust Prevention Doesn’t Have to Be a Dirty Job

Protecting metal parts from corrosion while in production, in storage or in shipment is a challenge. Corrosion’s damaging effects can strike at any point in the manufacturing process:

• Newly machined parts are highly susceptible to flash rust or corrosion because the metal’s surface is fresh and unprotected;
• Metal parts in storage may be exposed to moisture, salt, airborne chemicals or contaminates; and
• Metal parts in shipment or transport are likely to experience fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

To keep your metal parts corrosion-free every step of the way, wrap them in protection and wrap out rust with an anti-rust paper like VCI WRAP. Made from Kraft paper that has been infused with Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors (sometimes referred to as Volatile Corrosion Inhibitors), this rust prevention paper is specifically designed to protect metal parts from corrosion while in process, in storage or in transport.

How VCI Paper Prevents Rust

VCI is a class of chemical compounds that emit corrosion-inhibiting molecules into an enclosed air space. When VCI is combined with Kraft paper, the result is a anti-rust paper packaging material that prevents rust.

When metal parts are wrapped or enclosed in VCI paper, the VCI vapors are released and they attach to the surface of metal to form an undetectable shield of protection that keeps dirt, water, moisture and corrosion-causing contaminants away from metal.

Traditional rust preventatives — such as oil or grease – protect metal with a physical barrier that is messy and labor intensive to apply. VCI, on the other hand, protects metal with a molecular barrier that is non-detectable and does not change the look, weight or feel of metal parts, and it does not compromise metal surface coatings or treatments.

Better yet, once metal parts are removed from VCI paper, the VCI dissipates leaving metal parts ready for immediate use. The added work of cleaning or degreasing that is required from rust preventative oils and greases is eliminated!

VCI Anti-Corrosion Paper Makes Rust Prevention Easy

VCI anti-corrosion paper is designed to keep both ferrous and non-ferrous metals rust free, and thanks to the inherent flexibility of paper, it is ultra-easy to apply and ideal for most sizes and shapes of metal parts. To use, simply wrap metal parts or interleave VCI paper between layers of metal parts in storage containers or shipping crates.

Some VCI papers, such as ARMOR WRAP®, are not only manufactured in a variety of sizes of cut sheets or rolls, but they are also available in different formulations such as global, multi-metal and military-approved. Many also offer the option to add a coating to the VCI paper such as a wax or poly to increase protection against moisture, grease or oils, or scrim for added durability and tear resistance.

The Benefits of VCI Paper

Rust prevention does not have to be a “dirty job.” Use VCI paper to eliminate the time, labor and mess of applying and removing rust preventative oil or grease. In addition, VCI paper sheets or rolls simplify the application process while keeping it clean, dry and effective. Work smarter, not harder with VCI paper and its many benefits:

• CLEAN: no messy oils or grease to apply or remove
• SAFE: VCI paper is environmentally friendly, recyclable and re-pulpable
• EASY-TO-USE: flexible packaging material; easily forms around differing shapes and sizes of metal parts
• WORKS FAST: paper releases VCI quickly, which allows VCI to form its protective shield on the surface of metal parts fast
• EFFECTIVE: protects metal from corrosion for up to 3 years

How to Prevent Rust Without Paint, Oil or Grease: Try VCI for Dry Rust Prevention That Works

Rust has plagued manufacturers, distributors, engineers and fabricators for hundreds of years. This pesky substance breaks down all types of iron-based metals, and often seems impossible to prevent. Rust-preventing paints, oils or greases are common methods used to keep metals from rusting, but they’re not the only methods. Let’s take a look at how to prevent rust without the mess and hassle of paint, oil or grease, using a dry rust prevention method called VCI instead.

How to Prevent Rust Without Paint, Oil or Grease: Try VCI for Dry Rust Prevention That Works

Corrosion and rusting are two chemical processes that result in the breakdown and disintegration of materials, the most common of which is metal. Both are the result of a metal’s exposure to factors such as water, moisture and air. Corrosion is a term that references the gradual degradation of metal due to a chemical reaction with its environment. While rusting, on the other hand, is defined as a specific type of corrosion – one that occurs with iron-based (or sometimes referred to as ferrous) metals. More important than the semantics of these terms is the damage to metal and metal parts that they can leave behind.

But all is not lost, there are effective ways to keep metal and metal parts rust free. One way to prevent rust on ferrous metals is to cover the surface with a coating such as paint, oil or grease, to prevent moisture and air from making direct contact with the metal. However, coating metal parts is “messy business” – it is labor intensive and time-consuming to apply and to remove, and it isn’t always a feasible way to prevent rust. Sometimes items just can’t be painted. The good news? There is another way to prevent rust. The even better news? It is a clean, safe, easy-to-apply and dry rust preventative – what more could you ask for? The method behind it is VCI, or Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor.

Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor

Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors (sometimes referred to as Volatile Corrosion Inhibitors) or VCI for short, top the list as one of the best dry rust prevention methods. VCI is a class of chemical compounds that emit rust-inhibiting vapors into an enclosed air space. VCI is combined with resources like Kraft paper or polyethylene film to create packaging materials with the added benefit of rust prevention such as VCI WRAP or VCI POLY film.

How does VCI Work?

VCI protects metal in ways that paint, oil and grease can’t – instead of providing a physical barrier, VCI works on a molecular level to prevent rust. To protect metal parts, simply wrap or enclose them in VCI paper or film. VCI vapors will be released from the packaging material and they will form a clean, dry, ultra-thin and ultra-strong layer of protection on the surface of metal that is only a few molecules thick. This VCI shield of protection keeps dirt, water, moisture and corrosion-causing contaminants away from metal.

When VCI is used properly, it provides reliable, high-quality protection against rust without the need for messy paints, oils or grease. In addition, VCI is nearly undetectable; it does not change the look, weight or feel of metal parts; it does not compromise metal surface coatings or treatments; and it leaves metal parts ready for immediate use without cleaning or degreasing.

It is hard to ignore the benefits of dry rust prevention using VCI paper or poly film. It is cost effective; easy to apply; eliminates the mess and labor of paint, oil or grease that is required to apply; does not require removal; and it can provide years of protection. Wash your hands of the mess and work of using paint, oil or grease to prevent rust, VCI rust-prevention products are the clean, safe and dry alternative.