How to Select the Proper Corrosion Inhibitor

metal gearsProtecting your expensive equipment from damage during shipping or storage is a major priority. Any equipment made of metal or steel can fall prey to damage from corrosion. Damages that might occur can impact equipment performance or even force costly replacement of equipment, well before its normal end of life.

Fortunately, there are a multitude of products that can help you protect your industrial equipment from corrosion. How do you choose the right one?

What is Corrosion?

The easiest example of corrosion is rust. It is the form that most people are familiar with and encounter on a daily basis. Rusting however only happens to iron based metals, while other forms of corrosion can occur to any type of metal.

Stains, discoloration or tarnishing are all other forms of corrosion that can occur. Unlike traditional rust, these types might be green, silver or even white. However, they are just as damaging to your equipment.

How Does a Corrosion Inhibitor Work?

A corrosion inhibitor is a chemical that goes on to a metal surface to form a thin film or layer to keep the metal safe from damaging reactions. This can be something that is applied for a temporary period, for example during overseas shipping, or something that is applied permanently.

How to Choose a Corrosion Inhibitor

Now that we have gone over the basics of why you need a corrosion inhibitor, how do you go about choosing one? What are the main differences and what is the best choice for your need? Before we discuss the actual inhibitor, there is some information you need to know first before you choose.

  • What metal are you trying to protect
  • How long do you need the protection to last
  • Method to apply and remove the corrosion inhibitor
  • How the equipment is going to be handled while the inhibitor is in place
  • What are the consequences if the inhibitor is not removed
  • Are there any safety or environmental concerns to keep in mind

Corrosion inhibitors are traditionally made from either oil or solvent bases. In recent years, water based inhibitors have come into being and are proving to be effective. Here are some of the differences between them so you can effectively choose which one you might like to use.

Water Based Corrosion Inhibitors

The best part about these inhibitors is they are the cheaper of the two. They are typically sold in concentrate form and mixed with water before application. Application can be done via sprayer, by brush or by dipping if desired.

Once applied, water based inhibitors form a thin layer that works to alter the surface layer of the metal to resist corrosion. This layer can last quite long, for months if you desire. Once the protection is no longer need, water based inhibitors can be removed by using mild detergents and cleaners.

Oil/Solvent Based Inhibitors

Unlike water based CI’s, these chemicals form a protective layer over the top of the metal in order to protect it from corrosion. When dry, they will form a coating over the equipment depending on the chemical used.

Application can be done by brush, dipping or spraying. Removal can be more complicated and requires the use of a degreaser or the solvent base itself. These products are best suited to extreme long term use, up to months or years, or for use in very harsh environments.

For more information about protecting your shipment, please visit our Environmental Protection page. As the Western Canadian agent for CORTEC corrosion inhibiting products, we can protect highly sensitive items from corrosion damage prior to outside packing.