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Passivation significantly slows the chemical reaction of zinc with substances in the environment. Passivated layers therefore improve the corrosion behaviour of the zinc coating. In practice, white rust can only become a problem in the case of freshly galvanized parts, as no protective topcoats have formed yet. Seasonal effects also play a role due to the fact that moisture plays a major part. White rust develops more frequently in the autumn and winter, due to frequent rainfall, fog and temperatures falling below dew point, encouraging the formation of white rust.
Stacking freshly hot-dip galvanized components in wet grass, unfavourable locations or lying flat on top of each other can lead to white rust under intense exposure to moisture. While well intentioned, covering galvanized steel components stored outdoors with tarpaulins or plastic sheets usually does more damage than good. Moist air accumulates under the cover and turns into condensation water in moisture-saturated air – an ideal climate for white rust.
Packaging is only useful if it is undamaged and no moisture can penetrate the packaging. White rust problems are particularly likely in the case of galvanized bulk materials such as screws and nails stored in damp wooden boxes or open containers outdoors. The formation of white rust is not associated with the galvanizing process and is not a measure of the galvanzing quality. In fact, this is a phenomenon that is very much dependent on weather conditions during storage and during the transportation of freshly galvanized parts.