Unless you work with stainless steel or have a number of stainless steel items in your home, you likely know little about protecting the material. Some people believe there is no way to really protect stainless steel and that protection is often unnecessary. Stainless steel is a strong material, which is why it is such a popular material for making appliances and durable goods. Luckily, there are ways to protect your stainless steel against damage. Passivation is a chemical process that creates a barrier on stainless steel, protecting it from damage. The process protects against corrosion and is an excellent way to maintain the value of stainless steel materials.
Some metals naturally form passivation layers without any assistance from man. Over time, a layer forms and provides protection from damaging elements. It is possible to recreate this layer when a person wants to keep their stainless steel items in like-new quality. The natural formation is usually stronger than the man-made version, but man-made versions of protection do offer some barrier to corrosion. Acid is often used in the passivation of stainless steel tanks. It is used when the tanks are cleaned, creating layers of protection inside of the tanks.
If you want to passivate stainless steel, you want to create a surface of protection. The film on the surface of the steel causes the surface to lose its chemical reactivity. This is why it is such a popular option for tanks that hold chemicals. It lowers the corrosion rate which means the tanks are going to last longer. Companies can use non-passivated tanks, but in the long run it ends up costing them a lot more than if they had their tanks treated.
Passivation occurs when free iron, oxide scale, metal chips, iron particles and various other deposits affect a metal. This corrupts the stability of the surface. When you put dangerous chemicals into a container and these chemicals cause a reaction and mix with the steel, it can create dangerous breathing conditions and even explosions. Even if the chemical is not originally dangerous, mixing the chemical in an uncontrolled stainless steel container can make it dangers. The chemical interaction leads to a separate substance that is often much different than the original. This is why passivating stainless steel is such an important part of working with the metal. In order to protect steel from corrosion and maintain a safe storage environment, you need to do everything possible to create a protective passivated layer.