Switching to an Electrolytic Weld Cleaner & the Dangers of Pickling Paste

For decades, fabricators and manufacturers have used pickling paste as a post-weld treatment of stainless steel. If your company is still using pickling paste, it’s time to seriously consider stopping and moving to a safer and more efficient alternative. But why is pickling paste so dangerous and how can the TIG Brush benefit your business? 

Everything Wrong with Pickling Paste 

Whether it’s the safety of your employees, the devastating effect on the environment or just the general inefficiency — you shouldn’t be using pickling paste for several reasons:

Hazardous to Employees 

Pickling paste is made up of two main acids, nitric acid and hydrofluoric acid. Both of these acids can have a number of effects on your employees. Not only is there a risk when handling due to it being highly corrosive and can cause serious burns, but being exposed to the pickling paste fumes and vapour can also damage employee health. 

When exposing yourself to the fumes, you're potentially risking both short-term and long-term damage. One of the biggest dangers associated is that many of the effects aren’t felt straight away. Some symptoms appear within 24 hours but some can take years to show — such as osteoporosis. 

HSE outline all of the risks to human health with pickling paste.

Hazardous to the Environment

Pickling paste waste contains nitric acid, hydrofluoric acid and heavy metal remnants, as a result, this is considered hazardous to both humans and the environment. Because it’s hazardous, it’s essential to dispose of the waste correctly, otherwise, there’s a risk of contaminating and harming the environment. Hazardous waste can pollute habitats and kill wildlife if disposed of incorrectly. 

Inefficient, Expensive & Complicated 

The pickling paste process is often considered overly complicated, this is due to many factors:

  • Specific training is required to use pickling paste, untrained employees should not be allowed to use it.
  • Full safety clothing is required including coveralls, gloves, safety glasses and premium respiratory protection — the full body must be protected.
  • A controlled environment is essential to prevent leakage into drain systems or wildlife contact. Components need to be correctly and fully exposed to the pickling paste and then residue needs to be removed correctly and carefully. 

Because the whole process is more complicated, it takes up more time and which results in more money being spent. This makes the whole process unnecessarily more expensive and time-consuming when there are better, more efficient alternatives available. 

Re-passivation is not Guaranteed 

During the cutting, grinding and welding of stainless steel, the passive layer on the surface often gets removed or damaged. This reduces the anti-corrosive properties and benefits of the metal and as a result, the passivation layer needs to be reformed.

Because pickling paste is ineffective at doing this, manufacturers recommend another application of nitric acid. Not only does this result in more work that needs to be carried out, it further increases the risk associated with the acid. 

Safe Alternatives to Pickling Paste 

If you’re looking for a safe alternative to outdated and dangerous weld cleaning methods, we have the perfect solution here at Engineering Utilities! Electrochemical weld cleaning is most important a safe process but is also incredibly simple, fast and much more time efficient! 

If you’ve been searching for ways to increase productivity, reduce time and costs and create a safer & healthier environment for the weld cleaning process, electrochemical weld cleaning and passivation with the TIG Brush is your answer. At Engineering Utilities, we stock a range of TIG Brush Weld Cleaning Machines as well as a full range of TIG Brush Weld Cleaning Accessories & Fluids.

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