For companies who deal with metal and metal parts, rust can leave a path of destruction without warning.  From delays in production, to assembly line shutdowns, to increased scrap costs and/or damaged or ruined machinery, rust is a drain on time, resources and money.  The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” could never ring truer than when it comes to rust prevention.  Small measures to protect metal parts and equipment early on can have big savings in money, time, and frustration later on. 

When it comes to rust and corrosion, there is always more than meets the eye.  Think of it like an iceberg — it’s not what you can see above the surface of the water that is most destructive, but rather it’s what you can’t see below the surface that can do the most harm.  The same is true of rust and corrosion, often it’s the things that aren’t visible or that are less obvious that result in the greatest damage and that is where active rust prevention becomes most important.  

We’ve outlined the most commonly used methods to prevent rust to help you evaluate whether the “risk is worth the reward” with each and to identify which strategy might work best for you in keeping your metal parts and equipment clean and rust free.

1. Control the Environment

Managing the environment where metal parts are kept to protect them from exposure to water/humidity and pollutants is a great first step in preventing rust.  Measures such as covering and storing metal parts raised off of the floor; minimizing their exposure to water due to flooding, melting snow/ice, pipe leaks, or condensation; and storing them inside a temperature and humidity-controlled environment are fairly simple and effective.

2. Metal Selection

There are some select metals that are rust resistant.  Using an alloy (a mixture of metals) such as stainless steel will help to prevent rust because they contain elements such as chromium and zinc that form a protective film on the surface of metal.  Combining the properties of select metals adds strength and resistance but while it is an effective option, it can be very expensive.

3. Preventative Coatings

The most widely used method of rust prevention is the application of a coating on the surface of metal.  The coating acts as a barrier to prevent corrosive elements (such as water, oxygen, or chemicals) from contact with metal.  Examples of preventative coatings include:

  • Oil: Oil or grease applied to the surface of metal inhibits moisture from contact with metal thereby slowing down or preventing rust formation.  However, oil and greases can be problematic for some tools or machines.  In addition, it is time and labor-intensive to apply/remove and it can pose environmental and human health concerns.
  • Galvanization:  Galvanizing coats the surface of iron or steel with zinc to prevent corrosive substances from penetrating the metal.  Zinc corrodes at a much slower rate than iron or steel, so it’s highly effective in slowing rust.  Galvanization can be challenging because typically metal parts/equipment must be sent to an offsite location for its application.
  • Paint: Covering the surface of metal with a good quality paint prevents moisture from making contact with the surface of the metal and slows down rust formation.  Paint must be applied properly to avoid chips or cracks that could allow corrosion to set in.
  • Powder Coat: Metal is coated with a dry powder made of acrylic, polyester, nylon or other substances then cured with heat to form a thin protective film.  The downside of powder coating is it can be difficult to apply a thin, uniform coating and the cost for set up can be expensive.
  • Dry Coatings: There are rust-preventing liquids that are made specifically to protect metal from rust – they offer good wetting properties (to ensure even application) and they dry clean.  These products contain additives that form a protective barrier on the surface of metal that is nearly undetectable (odor- and residue-free) and they can be used alone or in combination with other rust prevention efforts.

4. Corrosion Inhibitors:

Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors (VCI) are a type of chemical compound that emit special vapors that form a protective shield on the surface of metal to displace moisture and keep metal clean and corrosion free.  VCI is most commonly combined with materials such as paper or poly film to create packaging supplies that wrap or enclose metal parts to prevent rust.  VCI products work most effectively when used in an enclosed air space such as a storage container or shipping crate.

You Don’t Have to Get “Dirty” to Keep Your Metal Parts Clean – Just Ask Armor Protective Packaging®

Armor Protective Packaging® offers rust prevention and rust removal products that are clean, safe, easy-to-use and effective.  Many of the rust-prevention options listed require time-consuming and laborious application (and some also require removal) as well as well as exposure to dirty, messy and sometimes hazardous ingredients — but not ARMOR!

ARMOR’s proprietary VCI (vapor corrosion inhibitors) Nanotechnology™ keeps metal clean and rust-free with an ultra-strong layer of protection that is only a few molecules thick.  The VCI is infused into packaging materials that then release vapors to form a protective shield on the surface of metal that blocks dirt, moisture and other rust-causing contaminants – it is not only undetectable, it’s clean, safe and effective at preventing rust.

In addition, ARMOR’s Metal Rescue® Rust Remover, Dry Coat™ Rust Preventative and Weather Warrior™ Outdoor Rust Preventative Coating are innovative water-based liquids designed to remove rust and prevent its return.  ARMOR products save customers time, money and effort to keep metal parts and equipment free from rust.