Zinc metal has a number of characteristics thatmake it well-suited for use as a coating for protect-ing iron and steel products from corrosion. Itsexcellent corrosion resistance in most environmentsaccounts for its successful use as a protective coat-ing on a variety of products and in many exposureconditions. The excellent field performance of zinccoatings results from their ability to form dense,adherent corrosion product films and a rate of cor-rosion considerably below that of ferrous materials,some 10 to 100 times slower, depending upon theenvironment. While a fresh zinc surface is quitereactive when exposed to the atmosphere, a thinfilm of corrosion products develops rapidly, greatlyreducing the rate of further corrosion.
shows the expected service life to first maintenance(5% red rust) of iron and steel based on the zinccoating thickness and the environment.In addition tocreating a barrier between steel and theenvironment, zincalso has the ability tocathodically protectthe base metal. Zinc, being anodic to ironand steel, will prefer-entially corrode and protect the iron or steel against rustingwhen the coating isdamaged
A number of dif-ferent types of zinccoatings are com-mercially available,each of which hasunique characteris-tics. These character-istics not only affectapplicability but alsothe relative econom-ics and expected ser-vice life. The methodof processing, adhe-sion to the base
Service Life* vs. Thickness of Zinc
11 21 32 43 54 65 75 86 97 108 118 129Thickness of Zinc in Micrometers80706050403020100
S e r v i c e L i f e , Y e a r s
Oz. of Zinc/Sq. Ft. of Surface.25 .50 .75 1.00 1.25 1.50 1.75 2.00 2.25 2.50 2.75 3.00Thickness of Zinc in Mils0.4 0.8 1.3 1.7 2.1 2.6 3.0 3.4 3.8 4.2 4.7 5.1*Service Life is defined as the time to 5% rusting of the steel surface.
R u r a l
T r o p i c a l M a r i n e T e m p e r a t e M a r i n e
S u b u r b a n M o d e r a t e l y I n d u s t r i a l
Figure 1. Service Life vs. Zinc Coating Thickness
Figure 2. Cathodic Protection from Zinc
ARRANGEMENT OF METALSIN GALVANIC SERIES
Anodic or less noble
Magnesium Zinc AluminumCadmiumSteelLeadTinNickelBrassBronzesCopperNickel-Copper AlloysStainless Steels (passive)SilverGoldPlatinum
Cathodic or most noble
Cathodic protection canoccur when two metalsare electrically connected. Any one of these metalsand alloys will theoretical-ly corrode while offering protection to any other which is lower in theseries, so long as both areelectrically connected.
In actual practice, how-ever, zinc is by far themost effective in thisrespect.