Preventing corrosion near saltwater applications

Posted by Erin Collins on Jul 11, 2017

salt water corrosion blog image header

Metals are an incredibly versatile material – they are both strong and flexible. However, if used improperly or in a potentially hazardous environment, they can become surprisingly fragile. When it comes to metals, saltwater locations are among the most unforgiving due to the inevitability of corrosion.

What causes corrosion? Corrosion occurs when metal atoms react with their environment. Rusting is a common form of corrosion, created when iron reacts with oxygen molecules to form iron oxide.

Salt water speeds this process by forming an electrolyte solution. Metal does not even have to be fully immersed for this process to take place, as increased humidity and salt spray can provide the necessary electrolyte contacts for corrosion. Even exposure to the air alone can be enough to corrode some metals, like steel. This is because in all but the very driest climates, there is enough moisture in the air to accelerate the process of corrosion.

What is the best method to prevent corrosion? In especially harsh environments, such as marine and other salt water areas, choosing the right metal for your machines is crucial.

For hose, cord, and cable reels, stainless steel offers varying levels of corrosion protection. Like all steel, stainless steel is mostly iron, but it also contains nickel and chromium. These are not just a protective coating, but are melted into the steel itself. The mixture must contain at least ten percent chromium, because it is the chromium that protects stainless steel from corrosion. As long as there is sufficient chromium present, the chromium oxide layer will continue to protect the stainless steel and prevent it from rusting.

Corrosion is a frustrating process that we have been fighting for as long as we have been using metals for machinery. By choosing the right type of stainless steel for your hose reel, you will have very little hassle maintaining your hose reels’ durability for years to come, especially near harsh salt water environments.

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