Corrosion, the gradual destruction of metal, is a natural process caused by a chemical reaction from the surrounding environment. Oxidation is the most common type of chemical reaction between iron and oxygen, which results in the rusting of metal surfaces. It’s also common for metal to corrode when exposed to moisture, wind and electrical currents.
In virtually all situations, metal corrosion can be managed, slowed or even stopped by using the proper techniques. Here are three ways:
1. Control Environmental Impact
Since corrosion is caused by a chemical reaction between metal and gases in the surrounding environment, it’s important to consider the impact the environment can have on your metal.
By removing metal from a hazardous environment, corrosion can be reduced immediately. This can be as simple as limiting contact with rainwater by storing metals indoors or more complex by reducing the sulfur, chloride or oxygen levels in the metal’s surrounding environment.
2. Choose the Right Metal
No metal is corrosion-proof in all environments, but understanding what metals are more corrosion-resistant than others is important.
For example, aluminum is a corrosion-resistant material. This makes it ideal for applications that will be exposed to various environmental elements. Stainless steel’s corrosion resistance depends on the different types of metals used to create it. The most commonly used types of stainless steel (304 and 316) are both corrosion-resistant. Carbon steel, on the other hand, is iron-based and susceptible to destruction.
3. Use Surface Coatings
Coatings, including painting and plating, are used as a protective layer of corrosion-resistant material between metal and the potentially damaging environment.
Uncoated aluminum will oxidize and insulate itself from further corrosion, which makes the metal extremely resilient. Anodizing is commonly used on aluminum applications where the surface is both visually critical and is in constant contact with environmental elements as it makes materials very resistant to weathering and corrosion. Galvanization, on the other hand, consists of applying a thin layer of zinc to protect steel against corrosion. The zinc oxidizes when it is exposed to air, which creates a protective coating on the metal surface.
To find a corrosion-resistant metal that is the best fit for your application or to learn more about American Douglas Metals products, click here.