How To Clean Stainless Steel After Welding

How To Clean Stainless Steel After Welding - Many DIY welding enthusiasts as well as professionals who use stainless steel are aware that the steel is stained during the welding and heating process.

This can affect the overall design of their final project and cause it to look amateurish.

This is the reason that many welding professionals want to know the best way to wash stainless steel following welding?

How To Clean Stainless Steel After Welding

The most effective method to clean of stainless steel that has been welded is to use the process of electropolishing.

This is the process of process of oxidizing an acidic electrolyte to the surface of a metal by using electricity.

Electropolishing does not just clear the surface of stains but also aids in helping the metal get properly passivated.

The surface is then covered with an iron-free chromium oxide and adds its shine, which stainless steel has become known for.

What Are Heat Tints and Corrosion

Heat Tints

All metals such as stainless steel contain an oxide layer on the surface.

The process of heat tinting causes the oxide layer to get thicker and results in discoloration.

Colors of temper are the consequence of the light interfering effects because light bounces off of the surface of the metal.

The light reflected off the oxide film's surface, and light reflections off the metal oxide interface formed by welding create a variety of colors based on the thickness of the oxide layer.

Within the field of welding, many words use to define this phenomenon like discoloration, oxide scale or rainbow effect.

Each of these terms is talking to the same subject: an alteration in hue of the upper coating of the stainless steel.

It is usually seen near the weld bead, and in the area that is affected by heating.


Corrosion is a natural process of oxidation.

When you prepare the surface of a metal for welding the surface is exposed to various elements in the atmosphere, including humidity and oxygen, which makes the ideal conditions for rust to develop.

This is the reason it is crucial to clean and polish your welding project prior to and after welding.

This can help maintain the strength, surface, and appearance that steel structure.

The enhanced durability and appealing appearance of steel structures that are finished are other benefits of cleaning.

Types of Weld Cleaning

There are three types of cleaning that are used for the stainless steel following welding.

They are chemical, electrochemical and mechanical.

Brushing is used to clean the surface and eliminate particles from the surface after cleaning.

Mechanical Weld Cleaning

The mechanical weld cleansing process is a popular and cost-effective method to clean stainless steel.

It requires grinding equipment and abrasives in order to cleanse the metal's top surfaces, where rust and particles of slag can build up.

Mechanical welding requires much time and often does not produce complete cleanness and essential aesthetic value.

It's best for surfaces that are easily accessible.

Chemical Weld Cleaning

Cleaning with chemicals is one of the widely used method of metal cleaning.

It involves the use of the chemical pickling paste used for cleaning following a welding process.

This paste can be applied over areas affected by spray or brush and then left in the area for a certain time to react and bond with the steel.

The paste is then removed after which the metal is then neutralized using neutralizing agents.

This method is very efficient in cleaning the steel after fabrication, but welding professionals don't appreciate it due to various reasons.

The first is that chemical pickling paste is made up of a range of harmful acids, such as hydrofluoric, nitric as well as sulfur acid.

These substances pose serious dangers for human health and can cause severe long-term harm on the body's skin as well as internal organs, if they are inhaled into.

The second reason is that only certified operators are permitted to use chemical picking paste.

The body of the operator must be covered completely so that there is no risk of coming into contact with the acid.

This is the reason why pickling is usually only used in automated workshops or commercial locations.

Electrochemical Weld Cleaning

The process of electrochemical cleaning welds, which is also referred to as electropolishing, is thought to be the most efficient method of getting rid of rust from stainless steel.

It's quicker, safer and is preferred by welders in comparison to the other two methods.

It does not pose major health risk to the welder.

In addition to post welding cleaning this process is extremely effective in eliminating cross-contamination, rust and various other contaminants from metal surfaces.

Electrochemical Cleaning Process

The process of electrolytic cleansing is very simple.

The welded piece of metal is submerged in mild electrolytic cleaning solution.

A circuit of electricity is created by moving the current (AC/DC)) across the electrolytic fluid. 

This procedure helps remove of impurities in the weld, eliminating discoloration and forming the desired degree of passivation.

Different Types of Electrochemical Cleaning

There are two kinds of electrochemical cleansing employed during welding. 

Both of them follow the same concept of moving electrons through the weld to eliminate the discoloration.

The first is a hand-applying of electrolytic liquids on the workpiece with the carbon brush.

The electric current is pushed through the metal, which then is able to react with electrolytic fluid. 

This gives a smooth, uniform surface.

The other method is to use special electrolytic baths in which metal parts are immersed into electrolytic fluids. 

As electricity flows through the mixture, it triggers an chemical reaction which removes the rust or welding contaminants from the surface.

Benefits of Electrochemical Cleaning

It is possible to use both electrochemical methods for cleaning the stainless steel following welding.

Each method has distinct advantages to welding professionals.


Electrochemical cleaning is simple to do anywhere as the equipment is very mobile and simple to maneuver around. 

It is possible to do the manual electrochemical cleaning of welds using the brush in the vicinity at any time, off site, and between.

Electrochemical cleaning can be effective for all kinds of welding joints, which includes surfaces and under-welds.


Electrolytic fluids are not contaminated with harmful chemicals such as pickling paste. 

They only contain a slight acid called phosphoric, which you'd also find in soft drinks. 

The principal agent of interaction is electricity, not the electrolytic chemical in itself.

Electropolishing is extremely safe and can be employed by professional and DIY enthusiasts.

Even though you'll need safety equipment, like gloves and an apron, to ensure your cleanliness However, highly protective clothing is not necessary for electrolytic cleaning.


Cleaning the electrochemical weld isn't a huge amount of time. 

If the equipment is ready, it will take about one hour to get the entire workpiece clean from top to bottom.

An electropolishing device that is well-designed can passivate and clean an aluminum surface while you won't have to perform the same tasks over and over again.


Chemical and mechanical cleaning will not prevent future corrosion of the metal. 

Research on welding equipment indicates that electrochemical processes provide the highest corrosion resistance when in comparison to other cleaning methods because of its passivation effect.

Electrochemical Weld Cleaning for Stainless Steel

Electrochemical cleaning of welds is particularly effective in cleaning welds that are made by stainless steel. 

The majority of welders prefer working using stainless steel because of its durability, maintenance and appearance as well as its higher durability to corrosion. 

They need a way to clean the welds following the fabrication process to ensure these high-quality characteristics of steel.

If you look at stainless steel in comparison to other alloys of steel it has an unique ability to combat corrosion while preserving the strength of the structure. 

But, it's far from being completely rust-proof. 

If you don't wash the surface correctly when you've completed the welding task, stainless steel could weaken its structural integrity and be exposed to the elements and rust.

The majority of stainless steels have a surface layer that is passive to address this. 

The layer protects the iron base beneath from interfacing with moisture in the surrounding environment. This prevents corrosion and rusting from taking place on the steel surface.

After cleaning the surface of stainless steel following welding, it is important to ensure that the surface is repaired.

Cleaning with electrochemical technology can carry out surface passivation at the exact time as cleaning, which allows you to complete both processes at simultaneously.

Electrochemical cleaning are able to effectively get rid of different kinds of weld contaminants heat tints discoloration and rust etc.

And also protect the weld from corrosion.

How can you get rid of coloration that is caused by stainless steel?

During welding during the welding process, stainless steel will be heated up to the point of extreme heat that changes the metals to different hues like red, gold blue, purple, or brown, based upon the temperatures.

Although these colors might appear attractive, they can also reduce the composition and oxidation characteristics that stainless steel has.

Different methods are available to get rid of discoloration in the stainless steel following welding.

The most popular among them are chemical cleaning, electrochemical cleaning mechanical grinding, and brushing.

Which is the most effective cleanser of stainless steel?

Electrochemical cleaning is thought to be the most efficient method for removal of heating tints and discoloration since it removes oxides off the surface, and also restores the passive, anti-corrosive layer that protects the metal.

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