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Galvanized surface with visible spangle

Galvanization or galvanizing (also spelled galvanisation or galvanising)[1] is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to steel or iron, to prevent rusting. The most common method is hot-dip galvanizing, in which the parts are submerged in a bath of hot, molten zinc.

Protective action[edit]

Galvanizing protects the underlying iron or steel in the following main ways:

History and etymology[edit]

Galvanized nails

The earliest known example of galvanized iron was encountered by Europeans on 17th-century Indian armour in the Royal Armouries Museum collection.[4]

The term "galvanized" continues to be used metaphorically of any stimulus which results in activity by a person or group of people,[5]

In modern usage, the term "galvanizing" has largely come to be associated with zinc coatings, to the exclusion of other metals. Galvanic paint, a precursor to hot-dip galvanizing, was patented by Stanislas Sorel, of Paris, on June 10, 1837, as an adoption of a term from a highly fashionable field of contemporary science, despite having no evident relation to it.[6]


Hot-dip galvanizing deposits a thick, robust layer of zinc iron alloys on the surface of a steel item. In the case of automobile bodies, where additional decorative coatings of paint will be applied, a thinner form of galvanizing is applied by electrogalvanizing. The hot-dip process generally does not reduce strength to a measurable degree, with the exception of high-strength steels (>1100 MPa) where hydrogen embrittlement can become a problem.[7]

Thermal diffusion galvanizing, or Sherardizing, provides a zinc diffusion coating on iron- or copper-based materials.[8][9]

Eventual corrosion[edit]

Rusted corrugated steel roof

Galvanized steel can last for many decades if other supplementary measures are maintained, such as paint coatings and additional sacrificial anodes. The rate of corrosion in non-salty environments is caused mainly by levels of sulfur dioxide in the air.[10]

Galvanized construction steel[edit]

This is the most common use for galvanized metal, and hundreds of thousands of tons of steel products are galvanized annually worldwide. In developed countries most larger cities have several galvanizing factories, and many items of steel manufacture are galvanized for protection. Typically these include: street furniture, building frameworks, balconies, verandahs, staircases, ladders, walkways, and more. Hot dip galvanized steel is also used for making steel frames as a basic construction material for steel frame buildings.[11]

Galvanized piping[edit]

In the early 20th century, galvanized piping replaced previously-used cast iron and lead in cold-water plumbing. Typically, galvanized piping rusts from the inside out, building up layers of plaque on the inside of the piping, causing both water pressure problems and eventual pipe failure. These plaques can flake off, leading to visible impurities in water and a slight metallic taste. The life expectancy of galvanized piping is about 40–50 years,[12] but it may vary on how well the pipes were built and installed. Pipe longevity also depends on the thickness of zinc in the original galvanizing, which ranges on a scale from G01 to G360,[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Galvanize". Cambridge English Dictionary. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  2. ^ "How to Galvanize Metal to Protect Pipes". Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  3. ^ Magalhães, A. A. O; Margarit, I. C. P; Mattos, O. R (1999-07-31). "Electrochemical characterization of chromate coatings on galvanized steel". Electrochimica Acta. 44 (24): 4281–4287. doi:10.1016/S0013-4686(99)00143-7. ISSN 0013-4686.
  4. ^ ZINC COATINGS OF INDIAN PLATE AND MAIL ARMOUR. Summary of XRF analysis conducted in September 1999 by the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds and written up as part of a thesis by Helen Bowstead Stallybrass at the Department of Archaeological Sciences, Bradford University.
  5. ^ Murray, James A. H.; et al., eds. (1989). The Oxford English Dictionary. Vol. VI (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 340. ISBN 0 19 861218-4.
  6. ^ Sorel, M. (1838). "Specification of a Patent for a process for protecting articles made of Iron or Steel from oxidation". Journal of the Franklin Institute (Philadelphia, Pa.). Pergamon Press.
  7. ^ "Steel Selection". American Galvanizers Association. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  8. ^ Porter, Frank C. (1991). Zinc Handbook. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-8247-8340-2.
  9. ^ Natrup, F.; Graf, W. (21 November 2014). "20 – Sherardizing: corrosion protection of steels by zinc diffusion coatings". In Mittemeijer, Eric J.; Somers, Marcel A. J. (eds.). Thermochemical Surface Engineering of Steels: Improving Materials Performance. Elsevier Science. p. 737. ISBN 978-0-85709-652-4.
  10. ^ "Atmospheric Resistance". Galvanising Association (UK). Archived from the original on 2014-02-22.
  11. ^ marshall (2019-10-11). "Galvanized Steel: Types, Uses, Benefits". National Material Company – Steel Processing Facilities. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  12. ^ Biard & Crockett (2016-05-16). "How Long Will My Galvanized Pipes Last?". Biard & Crockett. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  13. ^ American Galvanizers Association. "Zinc Coatings" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]