ARMOR wanted to create an easy-to-follow, informative and engaging video to explain VCI (short for vapor corrosion inhibitors) and how it works to protect metal from rust and corrosion. No big deal, right? Wrong! But we gave it all we had by condensing the details on the science of VCI and how it works into a short-4-minute video. We made it fast-paced, educational, succinct, and dare we say “entertaining?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
With 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.
If 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.
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
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 rust 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
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.
Rust 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.
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.
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.
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.
Paint the Metal: A good quality paint will slow down rusting by preventing moisture from reaching the metal.
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.
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.
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.
Powder Coating: A layer of acrylic, vinyl, epoxy or other substances will prevent moisture from reaching the metal, thereby preventing rust.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many of ARMOR’s manufacturing customers experience rust on metal parts that resemble the photo above. X marks the spot, or in this example the fingerprint marks the spot, and what this rusty imprint is really telling you is that your metal part is the “victim” of human contamination.
It is commonly not known that handling metal parts with bare hands can cause rust or corrosion. But in this short exposè, we are going to break this topic wide open and explain why it happens and how to prevent it.
Technically speaking, rust or corrosion is the natural mechanism by which metal returns to its original state. This requires a conductor or conducting solution containing an electrolyte. An electrolyte is a substance that produces an electrically conducting solution when dissolved in a polar solvent, such as water. One large source of these electrolytes being deposited onto the surface of a part is from handling by humans.
“Fingerprints and perspiration are one of the biggest contributors to rust and corrosion in terms of handling metal,” explained Charles Phillips, ARMOR Chemist. “The process is really pretty simple, the minerals found in sweat, such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, are transferred onto metal by a person’s fingerprints. These minerals along with other acidic chemicals that are found in perspiration combine with atmospheric moisture or simply the water available in the perspiration itself to begin the corrosion process.”
Logically, this form of contamination is more frequently seen in manufacturing plants where conditions are hot and humid, thereby causing employees to sweat more than normal. As reference, a person will typically sweat 6 liters a day, producing 3–5 grams/day of electrolytes. But in a hot environment, a person will sweat more heavily producing on average 15-30 grams of electrolytes. In addition to the increased quantity of sweat, the composition of the sweat also changes to include a weak solution of urea, lactic acid and other electrolytes.
This toxic combination of salt and acidity, transferred via fingerprints, presents itself in the form of rust/corrosion on the surface of metal. The good news is, there is a solution—one that you could say “fits like a glove,” because it is just that—gloves!
To avoid the transfer of salt, oils, acids, and other contaminants that can result in rust and corrosion, any employee coming in contact with metal must wear clean, protective gloves. Be it a shipping/handling packager, inspector, or machine operator, the use of clean cotton gloves (replaced once dirty), is essential to the process of reducing overall rust and corrosion within the manufacturing process. The solution is simple but a simple solution is no less effective.
If you would like to learn more about the prevention of rust and corrosion and how ARMOR’s product line can help in Taking the Work Out of Your Workday™ visit the ARMOR website or contact your ARMOR sales representative.
At ARMOR, we offer products that are designed to provide solutions to the problems and damage caused by rust and corrosion. We took this same “ARMOR SOLUTIONS” approach when producing a series of short videos that highlight the specific benefits of each product and the suggested uses and application “how tos”. This installment of ARMOR SOLUTIONS turns the camera on ARMOR POLY VCI Film. In just 90 seconds, we show the range of applications that the ARMOR POLY line offers for wrapping large metal parts and industrial equipment in preparation for export. For your viewing pleasure, hit play on the button below.