Dry Ice Blasting & Cleaning Blog

Eliminate Flash Rust, Fast & Water-Free with Dry Ice Blasting

Flash Rust Removal

As the term suggests, flash rust arrives on the scene with little warning. Some metals oxidize at the slightest bit of moisture and flash rust can appear in under an hour.

It is characterized by a brighter orange color and a smoother feel than pitted or veined rust that has had more time to work its way into the metal but, when left untreated, it can be just as corrosive.

Fortunately, dry ice blasting removes flash rust before further corrosion can set in. Even better, dry ice blasting does not use any water, reducing the risk of initiating additional rust.

“Even a mist can cause flash rust in a metal that is prone to it,” says Devin Baier, Polar Clean’s sales engineering manager. “Dry ice does a really good job of taking that flash rust off.”

Flash Rust Removal Examples

Steel Rolls

A specialty steel supplier recently purchased 8 to 12-foot rolls of steel that had developed flash rust and could not be resold in that condition. In the past, the company had used steel wool and hand labor to remove flash rust, but the onerous work and time involved sent them searching for a better option. The company reached out to Polar Clean, and our team dry ice blasted the rusted rolls until they were free of rust and surface oils. We then recoated the metal, leaving it indistinguishable from the rest of the stock and ready for sale.

Cast Iron Manifolds

An automotive company recycling cast iron manifolds needed a process to remove flash rust so the parts could be resold. A company engineer told the project manager about dry ice blasting and the Polar Clean team was brought in to help bring the parts back to their original shine. The results led the company to expand dry ice blasting to clean a variety of other auto parts – and to remove other surface contaminants, including high volatility silicone from engine parts.

Steel Framed Awning

A hotel construction contractor at the Four Winds Casino in South Bend, Indiana, needed to remove flash rust from a steel-framed awning that had been sitting exposed during a pandemic-related construction pause. The rust had to be removed before the steel could be treated with rust inhibitor and then repainted. The project supervisor’s options included abrasive blasting or hand cleaning with a grinding wheel. Since the casino was open, the supervisor didn’t want the mess and disruption of abrasive blasting plus manual grinding would’ve been a time and labor-intensive effort.

Dry ice blasting met all the right criteria, introducing no water or added debris and getting the job done quickly. Dry ice blasting can cover up to six square feet a minute while abrasive blasting covers only about one square foot in the same amount of time.

Dry Ice vs. Abrasive Blasting for Rust Removal

The advantages of dry ice blasting for all three projects were significant:

  • Dry ice pellets sublimate on contact, leaving no debris
  • Dry ice blasting is water-free, chemical free, and environmentally safe
  • Dry ice blasting can be adjusted to clean delicate instruments and surfaces
  • Dry ice blasting is much faster than other cleaning methods and is often done without downtime

Dry ice blasting isn’t effective for all forms of rust removal. Deeply pitted or embedded rust often requires a more abrasive method. Abrasive cleaning is slower and requires meticulous drying and oil coating afterward to prevent additional rust but, for some jobs, abrasive cleaning is the best option.

Dry Ice Blasting Expertise Trusted Across Industries

At Polar Clean, our team has deep expertise in removing rust, grime, paint  and other surface contaminants for a wide variety of industrial and commercial applications, including pre-painting, restoration, fire clean-up, equipment cleaning, shutdowns and turnarounds and historic renovation, among others.

Our process includes a careful assessment of the material, setting and desired results to determine the right solution for every job.

Speak to a dry ice blasting expert today to learn more about the most effective method for tackling your cleaning challenges.

Contact us to learn more about dry ice blasting services