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 Prevent Rust During Work Stoppage

Prevent Shutdown Rust

With production stopped in many plants across the nation and around the world, it’s crucial to plan accordingly to protect your metal parts from rust. Preventing rust during work stoppage will make it easier to return to work and continue operations when possible. There are several ways to prevent rust during work stoppage, and exercising this preventative maintenance step will protect your parts in the future.

How to Prevent Rust During Work Stoppage

Rust occurs whenever metal is exposed to moisture and oxygen. This also includes humidity in the air. The only way to prevent rust is to prevent metal from coming into contact with moisture and oxygen, though this can be a challenge. ARMOR Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor (VCI) makes it easy.

ARMOR VCI products provide a shield against rust by preventing air and moisture from contacting the metal surface. There are several types of ARMOR VCI, so you can easily protect products of all types. ARMOR VCI is mess-free, oil free, safe, environmentally-friendly and easy to use for all types of metal components. There’s no need for messy grease or oil, or hazardous rust-removal products. With a single sheet of paper or film, you can effortlessly prevent rust during work stoppage at your manufacturing plant, warehouse, or other facility.

Worker placing part inside container with ARMOR POLY

VCI Film

VCI film creates a protective shield around metal by combining low-density polyethylene film with vapor corrosion inhibitor technology. Available in rolls, sheets, bags or tubing, VCI film is highly versatile and easy to use for small and large components. With six different types, including VCI film for outdoor use, use in harsh indoor environments, and VCI film that stretches, you can easily protect all types of metal components from rust.

Worker placing part inside ARMOR WRAP paper

VCI Paper

VCI paper combines Kraft paper with VCI technology to make a lightweight, rust-preventative paper. Simply wrap metal parts in VCI paper and the VCI ions will fill the space, creating a protective shield around the part. These ions repel moisture and prevent rust from forming, without creating any grease or residue on the part itself.

ARMOR SHIELD CF33 Emitter placed on top of parts

VCI Emitters

VCI emitters work similarly to VCI paper by producing VCI ions that displace and repel moisture. VCI emitters give off rust-preventing ions from polyether foam or chipboard hosting the VCI protective technology. By simply placing the VCI emitter into an enclosed space, such as a sealed box, crate, or bag, the VCI ions will displace moisture and prevent rust from forming on any metal parts in the enclosed space.

Worker spraying Dry Coat Rust Preventative on gear

Dry Coat Rust Preventative Spray

In most cases, ARMOR VCI rust prevention solutions will effectively stop rust on your parts or equipment. However, VCI film, paper, or emitters won’t work suit your needs, we also provide a rust prevention liquid: Dry Coat. This is not like using oil or grease. Dry Coat is sprayable, easy to apply, and dries fast, within 30 minutes, leaving no mess behind. Our water-based solution is also safe and environmentally friendly, so there are no risks to your facility or workers.

With over 140 rust prevention and rust removal products that are a part of our Stock & Ready program in which our products are in-stock and ready-to-ship, we make it easy to prevent rust during work stoppage, or get back going again if rust hits. Use these rust-preventing products to keep your parts and components safe and secure during shut-down, so you can get started again with ease.

Prevent Rust During Any Shutdown

Our free guide will help your metal remain rust free!

Prevent Work Stoppage Rust PDFWith production stopped, it’s crucial to plan accordingly to protect your metal parts from rust. When it comes to rust prevention for more than 40 years Armor Protective Packaging® has offered a full line of rust prevention and rust removal products that a re clean, safe, easy to use, and extremely effective at preventing rust on your metal parts during a work stoppage.

Industrial Rust Removal Acids and Water-Based Solutions Explained

how industrial rust removal worksIf you work with iron or steel parts or equipment, you’ve almost certainly had to deal with rust. Rust can ruin the metal parts you need, cause machinery to malfunction, and create safety hazards. There’s not enough time in the day to sand and scrub rust off, but you still need your metal parts and machinery in top shape. In this post, we’ll explain how different types of industrial rust removal acids and water-based solutions work, so you can find the best product for your needs.

What is Rust?

Rust occurs when iron and other ferrous (containing iron) metals oxidize. When oxygen, water, and iron meet, a subtle and invisible chemical process occurs that causes electrons to move and turns iron into iron oxide, also known as rust. Salt water in coastal regions or from winter road salt, as well as acid rain in some urban or industrial areas, are known contributors that speed up oxidation.

Do All Metals Rust?

Oxidation is one type of corrosion that can occur on metals, and many metals suffer from oxidation. However, rust is specific to metals containing iron, which includes all types of iron (wrought iron, cast iron) and steel (carbon steel, stainless steel). Other non-ferrous metals like aluminum, copper or lead, can corrode, but they don’t actually rust.

So what does this mean for industrial rust removal? Understanding what causes rust can help to understand how to get rid of it, and which methods work better than others, and why.

How Does Rust Removal Work?

Just like the formation of rust, industrial rust remover acids use chemical processes to remove rust. Mechanical processes such as scrubbing or sanding/sand blasting can be used to remove rust, but they are labor intensive, time-consuming work. In this post, we’ll cover industrial rust removal acids and water-based solutions.

how industrial rust removal products work
Different rust removal products use different methods to remove rust, and will have different effects and risks.

Industrial rust removal for removing rust from pipes, rebar, or machined parts includes all of the following methods:

  • Strong acids and alkalis: Strong acids, like hydrochloric acid (AKA muriatic acid when diluted), as well as strong alkalis, react with rust and dissolve it. However, these caustic chemicals also eat away at most other substances too, and they are very dangerous to work with.
  • Weak acids: Weak acids, like oxalic acid or EDTA react with rust less intensely than strong acids, with a slightly different reaction. These weak acids are less caustic and are safer to work with and they are easy to dispose of.
  • Water-based solutions: Acid-free, water-based solutions use a different chemical process to react specifically with rust and remove it, leaving the underlying metal unaffected. They are the safest option to work with.
  • Electrolysis: Electrolysis speeds up chemical reactions and destroys rust by applying electrical current to the reaction. This can also be dangerous and can produce toxic chemicals and fumes.
  • Mechanical: Metal parts can be scrubbed and sand blasted to mechanically remove rust. This is hard work and can create noticeable unevenness that will affect the function or appearance of the part or equipment.

Learn more about acid-free, biodegradable and environmentally friendly rust removers from ARMOR

ARMOR Metal Rescue Rust Remover »

What Dissolves Rust Best?

There are many industrial rust removal products that might work for your metal parts or machinery, and what dissolves rust best will depend on several factors. The severity or level of rust, the type of metal part, the size and shape of the part, the quantity of parts and the type of facility you have will all impact what dissolves rust best. It’s important to consider safety, disposal of the rust removal solution, time and other factors.

How Do Strong Acids Work for Industrial Rust Removal?

Strong acids and strong alkalis can remove rust quickly, however these caustic chemicals pose many health and safety risks and require that the user observe strict safety precautions. Strong acids will dissolve rust, but they will also dissolve paint, finishes, and sometimes even the metal itself. Hydrochloric acid (which is also called muriatic acid in its diluted form), as well as phosphoric acid and sulfuric acid may be used in rust removal formulas using strong acids. These are mineral acids, and they are highly corrosive, especially in concentrated forms. Strong alkalis work in a similar way, but on the opposite end of the pH spectrum.

Strong acids work by dissolving rust. Many acid-based rust removal products are gel formulations. Once applied, if the gel remains on the metal too long, it will start to dissolve it, causing pitting. While mineral acids clean away the outer layer of rust, they also put the underlying metal in a reactive state, making it susceptible to “flash rusting” unless it is otherwise sealed or neutralized.

Are Strong Acids Safe for Removing Rust?

Even when mineral acids are diluted in water or other substances, they are dangerous to work with and can severely damage skin, irritate the lungs, and cause other health problems without proper safety precautions. These chemicals are corrosive and toxic, so they must be disposed of safely, especially in large amounts.

Industrial rust removal products containing strong acids may be ideal for serious rust problems that must be resolved quickly. However, these products must be carefully monitored and safety precautions carefully followed. Proper ventilation, safety goggles, gloves, and careful application are essential to keeping users protected.

How Do Weak Acids Work for Industrial Rust Removal?

Despite their name, a weak acid does not mean a weak reaction. Since weak acids occur naturally in the environment, they are far less toxic than the mineral acids listed above. There are a variety of weak acids that will react with rust and remove it, and each one works a bit differently. Tannic acid, oxalic acid, citric acid, and Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), can all be used as an industrial rust remover. These acids are naturally occurring in nuts, vegetables, and fruits, or used as an additive in medicines and foods.

Weak acids utilize a process similar to strong acids, except their reaction is more gradual and less volatile. Though weak acids can still be harmful in concentrated forms, they are nowhere near as dangerous as mineral acids. Industrial rust removers using weak acids are typically found in bath or gel formulations.

Are Weak Acids Safe for Removing Rust?

Weak acids—like oxalic acid—can be hazardous in a highly concentrated form, but they are naturally-occurring and carbon-based, so they are less toxic and less corrosive than mineral acids. Even so, caution is required when working with weak acids as they still present safety issues both for humans and the environment. Since the chemical process differs from mineral acids, oxalic acid and other weak acids lower the risk of metal flash rusting, however, it is still a risk.

How Do Acid-Free, Water-Based Solutions Work for Industrial Rust Removal?

It is not only acids that have the ability to remove rust. Acid-free, water-based industrial rust removers utilize a slightly different chemical process to react specifically with rust and remove it from the metal. While acids break down and dissolve rust, acid-free, water-based rust removers draw the rust away or lift it from the metal. This process is generally accomplished through chelation.

Chelation causes molecules within the rust removal solution to bond with the rust and draw it away from the underlying metal and into a substrate. Often, this involves the use of a rust removal bath. The rusted metal parts are soaked in the bath allowing the solution to draw or lift the rust off the metal and into the bath, and the rusted part comes out clean. These industrial rust removal products are also offered in a gel form.

Are Acid-Free, Water-Based Solutions Safe for Removing Rust?

Acid-free, water-based solutions are among the safest rust removal products for both for humans and the environment. Acid-free, water-based solutions use special formulas to speed up the rust removal reaction and therefore should still be used with care, but acid-free, water-based products are generally fume free and harmless if they come into contact with skin. For safe, environmentally-friendly rust removal that is also highly effective, acid-free, water-based solutions are often the best option. They are also one of the safest options for the surface of the metal.

Learn more about clean, safe, easy-to-use rust removers from ARMOR

ARMOR Metal Rescue Rust Remover »

Which Rust Remover Should I Use?

Now that you have some familiarity as to how different industrial rust remover products work, it will be easier to choose the right one. Look at the active ingredients as well as the recommended safety and disposal precautions to see whether the product uses strong acids, weak acids, or an acid-free, water-based formulation. Follow the product’s application instructions carefully; leaving the rust remover on too long can damage the underlying metal, but not leaving it on long enough could result in poor results. With the right choice, you can successfully remove rust and bring rusted metal parts and equipment back to like-new condition.

How to Prevent Rust: 9 Ways for Any Situation

how to prevent rustRust can quickly become a big problem. It ruins the functionality and stability of important machinery and it can cost your business thousands. Knowing how to prevent rust effectively can save you money and prevent serious problems. As with many things, some small preventative measures upfront can save you lots of money, time, and frustration later on. We’ve collected the best ways to prevent rust, so you can find a strategy that works best for your equipment or parts.

How to Prevent Rust in Any Situation

In short, the best way to prevent rust is to prevent moisture from reaching the metal, or by using a material that corrodes more slowly. The following are the best ways to prevent rust. We’ll discuss how to prevent rust using each strategy in more detail later in the post.

  1. Use an Alloy: The use of alloys, like stainless steel, is one of the most common ways to prevent rust, or slow it down. Stainless steel isn’t suitable or economical for all applications, but it will work for many.
  2. Apply Oil: A coating of oil will help to prevent rust or slow it down, since it inhibits moisture from reaching the iron in the metal. However, an oily surface might be problematic for some tools or machines and poses environmental and human health concerns.
  3. Apply a Dry Coating: Special rust preventative products dry with no residue and form a protective barrier over metal parts and equipment. These are effective for products in use, in shipping, storage and more.
  4. Paint the Metal: A good quality paint will slow down rusting by preventing moisture from reaching the metal.
  5. Store Properly: Store metal parts or products in a low-moisture area, or inside a temperature and humidity-controlled environment to significantly slow down rust. Use of desiccant drying agents in this storage are also helpful.
  6. Galvanize: Galvanizing coats iron or steel in zinc to protect from rust. Zinc corrodes at a much slower rate than iron or steel, so it’s highly effective for slowing rust.
  7. Blueing: This process creates a layer of magnetite over the metal to prevent rust. The metal must be regularly oiled to maintain rust resistance, and it will turn blue or black in the process.
  8. Powder Coating: A layer of acrylic, vinyl, epoxy or other substances will prevent moisture from reaching the metal, thereby preventing rust.
  9. VCI Packaging: Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors (VCI) are a type of chemical compound that when infused into various packaging materials, protect metals by emitting rust eradicating vapors into an enclosed air space to prevent corrosion on a metal surface.

9 Ways to Prevent Rust

1. Use an Alloy

how to prevent rust corten steel
Many outdoor structures, like this bridge, are made from COR-TEN steel to reduce the effects of rust.

While all metals corrode, they each corrode at different rates. This is why alloys, which are made from two or more different metals, are resistant to rusting. Technically, all types of steel are already alloys, since they are made from iron and carbon. However, adding other metals, such as chromium, nickel, manganese and others, will create different types of steel alloys.

Some of these, such as stainless steel, are made to prevent rust completely. Though they are certainly not completely corrosion resistant, they will rust much more slowly. Other alloys, such as COR-TEN steel, will acquire a layer of rust, but will then stop rusting, under the right conditions.

Changing the composition of the steel also changes its toughness, conductivity, appearance, and many other properties. It is important to consider how to prevent rust, but also make sure that the steel alloy is suitable for the application. Furthermore, consider the welding techniques used and the surrounding environment, as these will all affect the rate of corrosion.

2. Apply Oil

Most gun owners know the importance of keeping firearms well-oiled, even when the weapons are not in use. Oil not only lubricates metal parts and allows them to move with less friction, but oil also forms a protective barrier against rust. The principle here is pretty simple; with a coating of oil, moisture can’t react with the iron in the metal and cause rust.

While a coating of oil can be a simple and effective way to prevent rust, it’s certainly not perfect. Oil also makes it hard to get a grip on an object, and it can cause parts to slip or come unbalanced. It can also be dirty and unpleasant to work with. Finally, oiling must be done repeatedly, which takes time and energy.

how to prevent rust with a dry coat
Applying a dry coat with a product like this can be a useful and versatile way of preventing rust.

3. Apply a Dry Coating

Some products are specifically made to prevent rust. These products work on the same principle as oil—creating a protective barrier against rust—but they don’t leave residue behind. For metal parts or components that need to stay clean or provide a solid grip, a rust preventative dry coating is ideal.

Dry coating rust prevention products such as ARMOR’s Dry Coat Rust Preventative can be applied via spray, dip or wash. Once they dry, the protective barrier is in place. The metal won’t look or feel any different, so its applications remain the same. Dry coatings can also be used in combination with other ways to prevent rust. For example, you might use a dry coating over a painted or powder coated object to increase the level of protection.

4. Paint the Metal

Paints will also create a protective layer over metal objects and prevent moisture from reaching them. Of course, no barrier can completely stop moisture from getting through, but painting can be a simple and easy way to slow down rust. If you already want to paint the object a different color or get a different finish, this is an ideal solution.

It is important to use the right paint to prevent rust. The paint must be able to adhere to the metal, so be mindful of what type of paint you’re using as well as any finishes already placed on the metal. You’ll also need an oil-based paint, not a water-soluble paint if you expect the piece to see excessive moisture or contaminants. Finally, be careful of welded joints or bolts. If there are any weak spots in the painted layer or any crevices not filled, these areas will start to rust.

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5. Store Properly

The best way to prevent rust may also be the most obvious—keep the object away from moisture. Water reacts with iron to form rust, so an environment with no moisture will not create rust. However, keep in mind that even regular air contains some moisture in the form of humidity. To completely prevent rust, you’d need an air- and water-tight seal. This, of course, would make the object difficult to use, so it makes more sense to prevent rust during storage or shipping.

6. Galvanize

Galvanizing applies a protective coating of zinc over iron or steel. Since zinc corrodes about 30 times slower than iron, galvanizing can be a cheap and effective way to prevent rust.

Like all of the ways to prevent rust, galvanizing has limitations. The coating of zinc won’t stand up to harsh environmental forces like acid rain or salt. Galvanizing also changes the outward appearance of the metal, and the extra layer can cover up parts of the component, such as the threads on a screw.

7. Blueing

The process of blueing steel actually creates a new layer that is similar to rust, but much less damaging. Blueing creates a layer of magnetite, also called black iron oxide, and gives metals a black or namesake blue appearance.

Blueing is usually accomplished by applying high temperatures and a salt solution. This process is commonly used to economically protect firearms from rusting. Blueing works best when the steel is also regularly oiled.

8. Powder Coating

Powder coating is often used to quickly “paint” an object in an assembly line. First, static electricity binds a powdery substance made from acrylic, polyester, epoxy, polyurethane or something else to a metal object. Then, the powder melts in a furnace into a uniform, solid layer. Since there’s no liquid involved, powder coating is ideal for certain finishes or parts.

Powder coating, like painting, covers a metal component in a protective layer. This layer will prevent moisture from reaching the metal and therefore prevent rust. For powder coating to effectively prevent rust, the coating must be intact. Any weak areas will expose the metal and create an entry for rust.

9. VCI Packaging

VCI Packaging is an easy-to-use, clean and dry packaging option for preventing rust from metal and metal parts. Vapor corrosion inhibitors (VCI) are a type of chemical compound used to protect ferrous and non-ferrous metals from rust and corrosion that are infused into packaging materials including poly films, paper, emitters, chipboards, desiccants and many other components.

When metal parts are properly stored with VCI Packaging products, VCIs activate and fill up the vapor space inside the packaging. The VCI ions form a shield of protection on the surface of metal that displaces moisture and eradicates rust. VCI Packaging safely prevents corrosion on protected metals without the need for messy grease, oils, protective coatings or other time-consuming methods.