STAINLESS STEEL FACTS AND HOW TO DEAL WITH THE STUFF
- Stainless Steel is a corrosion RESISTANT steel alloy. Stainless steel will rust, or TEA STAIN, eventually. This is especially true in a coastal area such as ours.
- The presence of chromium, at differing levels depending on the grade, gives stainless steel corrosion resistance.
- Certain alloys of stainless steel have a higher level of corrosion resistance and should be utilized in extreme environments. An example of one such environment is very near the ocean where it may be splashed regularly.
- 304 stainless steel is utilized by RCR Fabrication for most applications. We may suggest a more resistant grade depending on the job.
- Surface finish, of at least #4, and design are also determining factors in corrosion resistance. The slim, high aspect ratio design of our stainless steel railings are a direct result of this fact.
- Passivation is the process of making a material "passive" to another material prior to putting the two materials together. For example, stainless steel and our beautiful ocean air and the high levels of salinity which it carries.
- Chromium forms a passivation layer of chromium oxide when exposed to oxygen. In order for this to occur, the surface needs to be freed of surface contaminants that prevent this reaction from happening.
CITRIC ACID—AN AID TO PASSIVATION
- When formulated correctly, citric acid is the cleanest, safest and easiest way to send stainless steel on the way to passivation bliss.
- Citric acid is organic and safe.
- It is mainly used in the food and beverage industry and chances are you consume it everyday.
- Citric acid removes iron, and other contaminants, from the surface of stainless steel at a fairly low concentration. Anywhere from 4-10%.
- It can be left on the surface for a fair bit of time without any etching or adverse effects.
- The US EPA recognizes the safety and biodegradability of citric acid. Rinse water can go down the drain provided it meets local pH regulations.
- To remove surface contaminants, especially salt, it is generally a good idea to clean railings, with soap and water, about as often as you clean your windows.
- Check with RCR Fabrication for environmentally safe products used in cleaning your stainless steel.