Basel I Switzerland

Citric Acid for rust removal

People are more and more aware of the major issues we are facing concerning the pollution of soil, water and air. This growing consciousness for ecological sustainability plays an important role in many areas of people’s life. Even when it comes to purchasing cleaning products, consumers are now just as concerned with the environmental and safety aspects as they are with the performance and price of the products. The demand for ecologically friendly cleaners, for household as well as for industrial cleaning purposes, will therefore continue to represent a strong growth market.

Corrosion of metals and alloys like iron and steel are a problem in many industries, and in people’s daily lives. Based on their inherent properties, metals are among the most frequently used technical materials for a wide field of applications ranging from production equipment, construction industry, tools, household applications to all kind of everyday objects. Iron corrodes when exposed to oxygen in the presence of water which leads to a red-brownish residue on metal surfaces, known as rust. This oxidation is sped up by salt water in coastal regions and winter road salt. Beyond the aesthetic issues and associated property damage of metal based materials, rust formation creates a safety hazard, as it causes machinery or other production equipment to malfunction.

The compositions of modern chemical rust removal reagents are mainly based on organic and inorganic acids or alkalis. These include strong alkalis and acids such as hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid and sulphuric acid or weaker acids like oxalic acid and EDTA. Strong acids are very effective in removing rust quickly by complex formation. However, these chemicals pose many health and safety risks and thus require strict safety precautions including safety goggles, gloves and proper ventilation as well as a safe disposal. Moreover, strong acids are also able to dissolve paint, finishes, or even disintegrate the metal itself.

In this context, citric acid represents an ecologically friendly and non-toxic alternative for rust removal formulations that combine derusting efficacy and environmental friendliness. Based on our vision "From nature to ingredients®" we at Jungbunzlauer aim to help our customers to manufacture safer and more sustainable products and thereby contribute to the protection of both humans and our environment. Jungbunzlauer’s citric acid is manufactured by fermentation of renewable raw materials, such as carbohydrates from corn.

Due to its non-hazardous handling and favourable ecological profile, citric acid is a safe solution to effectively remove rust while maintaining the integrity of the base metal. The weaker acidity of citric acid compared to strong acids, leads to a more gradual cleaning performance, but poses less risk to both humans and the environment. It does not emit harsh chemical fumes and is safe to handle. It is fully biodegradable and can be disposed of with regular sewage or waste.

Industrial and household rust removers using weak acids such as citric acid are typically found as bath or gel formulations. A 10 % solution for soaking is adequate for effective rust removal, while agitation and high temperatures accelerate this process. For example, gel products available mainly composed of just water, citric acid, a preservative and xanthan gum as thickener.

Jungbunzlauer citric acid is a sustainable and effective option to replace traditionally used strong acids in rust removal products. Citric acid is non-toxic, biodegradable and safe to handle. It is an ideal alternative as derusting agent for environmentally friendly and functional acid-based rust removal solutions.

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