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Stainless steel is a steel alloy used in a wide variety of industries, especially in the food processing industry. Its rust resistance is what makes it a desirable material for industries. However, it is susceptible to rust after long exposure to air. Stainless steel rust can be removed easily and even prevented if you take care of the stainless-steel appliance you are using at your factory.
Rust can be identified when you see a red or orange coating on the surface of metals. This is a chemical process which happens when metals are exposed to chemicals, air, moisture, etc. Rusting is a form of corrosion which usually happens to iron and its alloys.
Can stainless steel rust?
A question in the minds of many steel manufacturers is, ‘Does stainless steel rust?’. Although stainless steel is armed with inbuilt rust resistance, it can and will rust in certain conditions. Long exposure to damaging chemicals, saline, grease, moisture, or heat can lead to rust on the steel alloy.
Stainless steel’s rust resistance is largely dependent on the amount of chromium present on its surface. The chromium content wears off after long periods of use and this makes the steel alloy susceptible to rust.
What makes stainless steel rust resistant?
Stainless steel doesn’t rust because of the presence of a very thin oxide layer measuring about 5 nanometers on the steel’s surface. This layer makes the surface of the steel electrochemically passive when it is exposed to a rust prone environment. The oxide layer is therefore referred to as passive layer.
Manufacturers add chromium to stainless steel to create the passive layer. You would need at least 10.5% chromium to make the layer. The more chromium you add the more stable the layer becomes leading to better rust resistance. There are other elements like manganese, nickel, and molybdenum that can be added to enhance stainless steel’s rust resistance.
How to remove rust from stainless steel?
If your stainless-steel appliance has rust gathering on some parts, then it is time to remove the rust from stainless steel. To learn how to clean rust from stainless steel you need to know expert solutions that can treat the rust. There are easy ways to do it with things that are easily found at home, or you can get stainless steel cleaning solutions available in the market.
Here are a few methods you can apply to remove the rust on stainless steel appliances:
- Use baking soda
Baking soda is hard and abrasive and can easily wipe away rust on your appliances. Follow these instructions to remove rust using baking soda:
- Add baking soda and some water into a bowl
- Mix the ingredients until it forms a thick paste
- Rub the paste on the rust spot and let it soak for two-three hours
- Wipe off the paste with a soft cloth or wet paper towel
- Use vinegar
You can use vinegar to wipe out the rust from your machine. Follow these steps to remove the rust:
- Pour a generous amount of white distilled vinegar on the rust spot
- Let it soak for two-three hours
- Get a soft scrub or a brush and scrub the rust off the surface
- Wipe the surface clean with a soft cloth or wet paper towel
- Use lime/lemon
Lime and lemons can be powerful cleaning agents. Most dishwashing liquids in the market today contain the essence of lime. It can be used to remove rust as well. Here are the steps to follow to remove rust with lime or a lemon:
- Mix equal amounts lime juice and salt in a bowl to create a paste
- Apply the mixture to the rusted part of the machine and let it rest for two hours
- Rinse off with a soft cloth or wet paper towel
You can also get commercial cleaning solutions available in the market. These are easy to use, and a quick spray of the cleaning solution can remove the rust. Some of these solutions are multipurpose and can be used on other metals as well.
Tips to remove rust from stainless steel
Given below are some tips to follow while you are cleaning the steel surfaces off the rust:
- Use nonabrasive clothes to wipe the surface
- Let the cleaning solution (commercial or homemade) rest for at least two hours before you rinse
- Put gloves on if you are using commercial cleaning solutions
- Use soft bristled brushes and soft scrubs to scrub the rust off the surface
How to keep stainless steel from rusting?
If you are thinking about how to stop stainless steel from rusting, then the answer to that is thorough cleaning. Ensure you clean your stainless-steel machines and appliances thoroughly after use. Don’t forget to wipe down every corner until all traces of water and other substances are cleaned off from the surface. Use cleaning solutions on stubborn stains.
Hard water can contribute to deposits on the surface and lead to quicker rusting. See if you can get your water treated or install filters to remove corrosive elements.