How to Tell If Steel is Galvanized?

03 May 18

Steel is a commonplace in manufacturing and construction projects. It adds strength, durability, aesthetic appeal and an element of sustainability to a finished product.

There are many types and grades of steel that are in use today. Stainless steel, galvanized steel, galvalume steel, untreated steel and the list goes on, with galvanized steel being one of the most popular among these types.

Galvanized steel is basically steel with a zinc coated layer. This layer of zinc confers added durability to steel, protects it from rust and allow for easier painting and priming.

However, the problem with using galvanized steel is it may look eerily similar to untreated steel, to an untrained eye. Some of you may be able to appreciate galvanized steel’s flakey texture in contrast to untreated steel’s smooth texture, but for many, this difference could be hard to spot.

For manufacturers who don’t have much experience working with galvanized and untreated steel, there’s a high probability they may fall victim to a tacky sales pitch and end up buying less reliable, less durable and less steely untreated steel at the price of galvanized steel (which is obviously higher).

If you’re a manufacturer working first time with galvanized steel and you’re not really sure that the supplier you’re in contact with for your galvanized steel supply stocks genuine galvanized product, here is a simple sample test that you can perform to clear your doubts.

Things You’ll Need

  • Lukewarm water
  • Salt
  • A small bowl
  • A piece of cloth

Solution Preparation

To perform the test on the steel sample, you’ll need to prepare a salt solution (saline water). To prepare the solution, take three parts of salt to one part of water and mix them in a bowl. Lukewarm water would help dissolve salt faster. It’s important that you get the concentration of saline water right for a mild solution can give a false positive test result.

Testing the Steel Sample

Dip the cloth in the saline water and wipe it on the surface of the steel sample. Make sure you heavily saturate the steel sample to allow the solution to permeate the steel surface.

Keep the sample in a room where air flow is moderate. You don’t want to be drying out the wetted surface. The longer the saline solution sits on the steel surface, the deeper it will permeate the alloy.

Leave the sample overnight.

After 24 hours, check the surface of your sample. If it shows any signs of rusting, it’s not galvanized steel—it’s untreated steel. If there are no signs of rusting on your sample, it’s genuine galvanized steel.

For further assurance, you can also send the sample to laboratory for testing.

And that is how you can tell if steel is galvanized or not.

Do you have any questions about galvanized steel? Feel free to reach out, our galvanized steel experts will be happy to serve you.

You can also check out our inventory of genuine galvanized steel sheets and coils if you’re looking for a reliable supplier for your construction or manufacturing project.

A BONUS read: How to Protect Galvanized Steel Sheet from White Rust

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