Chemical pickling with gel or our Pick&Clean? Here are the differences

Pickling on stainless steel by means of chemical gel or pickling paste is certainly the most “ancient” and common method.

Many also consider it the simplest and most economical solution if electrochemical pickling machines are not used.

It certainly used to be, but not today.

What is and how does chemical pickling with gel work?

Chemical pickling is a process that uses a chemical reaction to remove the oxides generated during the welding process and restore the chromium layer in the area that is thermally altered after welding.

It is called “chemical gel pickling” because the chemical solution is incorporated into a viscous gel, which grants adhesion even on vertical surfaces.

The chemical reaction involves the dissolution of the oxide in a more or less long time, 1 or 2 hours depending on the ambient temperature, thus facilitating its separation from the metal surface.

The next stage is neutralization. This happens with high pressure water jets that remove the gel from the metal surface.

Reading these things might seem like an easy, simple and risk-free process, but it is not.

What are the risks and disadvantages of chemical pickling with gel?

The first two major disadvantages in using this solution for pickling stainless steel are the aesthetic alteration of the product with the creation of unwanted halos and the high danger linked to the toxicity of the gel.

Aesthetic alteration of the artifact: unwanted halos
From the aesthetic point of view, controlling the action of chemical pickling is very difficult.

This is because the duration of the chemical process varies each time; also, having no standard duration, the risk of error is very high.

The difficulty lies in being able to interrupt the chemical process with neutralization at the right moment.

Delaying this phase creates in the application area a halo that permanently ruins the aesthetics of the artifact.

Also interrupting the chemical process in advance is a big risk as an incorrect pickling exposes the precious stainless steel to the aggression by atmospheric agents.

High toxicity to humans and the environment
The danger of chemical pickling is linked to its composition.

The welding cleaning compound is toxic and highly harmful to human health and the environment.

That is why it is required to use many personal protective equipment such as: gloves, acid-proof coverall, acid-proof protective goggles, acid vapor mask, smoke aspirator (if necessary).

Working in this condition is neither easy nor pleasant, and this creates more stress and psychophysical fatigue.

Are the disadvantages over?
No. We want to report four more.

Higher costs associated with handling of parts
Because of the dangerous vapours that develop during the process, processing must be carried out outside.

This leads to higher costs due to the handling of often large parts.

Huge water waste for the neutralization phase
The neutralization phase takes place through high pressure water jets that remove the gel from the metal surface, generating huge water waste that affects costs as well as the environment.

Long treatment times
The chemical solution is incorporated into a viscous gel, which allows it to perform its function over time, slowing the evaporation of its components and creating a physical barrier.

These characteristics, typical of the pickling gel, lengthen the treatment time, inevitably affecting the delivery time and production costs.

High disposal costs due to extremely hazardous liquid waste
As mentioned above, the compound for cleaning welding is toxic to humans and to the environment.

Consequently, the process must be carried out in large and safe spaces, the containment of any acidic residues must be ensured, and the neutralized solution (water + gel) must then be collected to be purified internally or collected in appropriate tanks.

The latter need to be disposed of by an external company with high disposal costs.

Why is Pick&Clean the right choice compared to gel?

Pick&Clean is a great choice for all those who work in contexts where it is not possible to use pickling machines or even for all those who still prefer the use of gel.

Pick&Clean is able to pickle and passivate safely, quickly, easily and without risk to humans, the environment and the stainless steel product.

A mix of security and saving time and money.

How is Pick&Clean composed?

This product consists of two distinct products: Pick and Clean.

The Pick is a strip of fabric soaked in a liquid.

Thanks to the special application via the strips, P&C will act only on the welded area and its perfect chemical composition makes it corrisve, but not toxic for people or the environment.

Clean, instead, deals with the neutralization phase, blocking the action of the Pick by removing all the residues of the weld that have passed into solution, leaving the stainless steel surface clean and dry, but without the risk of damaging the stainless steel.

The 6 advantages of using Pick&Clean for pickling stainless steel

Pick&Clean has been specially designed for those who do not use pickling machines, but need to achieve a safe, perfect and durable result without any risk.

Here you can find the advantages of its use compared to gel.

1 Corrosive and non-toxic process
As mentioned, the liquid in which the Pick is soaked is only corrosive, but not toxic.

2 Reduced individual safety devices
Being a non-toxic product, it does not require for the operator all those safety devices that we have seen before related to the pickling gel.

Those using Pick&Clean should only use acid-proof goggles and gloves. Far less risky and stressful.

Definitely another way to work!

3 Zero water waste for the neutralization phase
Only the welded area with Clean product is neutralized.

This eliminates the huge amount of water required at high pressure, which is used during neutralization with the pickling gel.

4 Reduced treatment times
The Pick with its fabric becomes “just a means” to bring the chemical solution close to the welded joint.

The wiper adheres completely to the surface of the stainless steel, creating an area with a smooth and well-defined surface.

This not only reduces treatment time, but also prevents contamination with other parts of the product.

5 Clean and dry surface, with limited aesthetic changes
Since the fabric strips are soaked in a liquid that is no longer toxic, but only corrosive, their action is not as aggressive as that of the chemical compound. In addition, it is possible to visually control the pickling action and, consequently, prevent that a too long stay will ruin the aesthetics of the artifact.

6 Reduction of disposal costs
Wipes are solid waste, so they become an integral part of the waste that is normally generated during the production activity in the company (e.g., cloth filled with oil and metal particles).

As a result, the storage space becomes smaller than the neutralized liquid tanks and, from an economic point of view, becomes a great saving for the company.

Before concluding we want to show you with this video how it is really easy, simple, safe and fast to use Pick&Clean compared to the pickling gel.

If you want to have more technical information, view the safety data sheet or have more info click here


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