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ASTM Selected Technical Papers
Cleaning Stainless Steel
E. S. Kopecki
E. S. Kopecki
symposium chairman
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ASTM International
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Cleaning stainless steel in alkaline solutions begins with consideration of the soil, the alloy, the nature, size and value of the part to be cleaned, the amount of work ot be processed, economics, the types of cleaning equipment available, the degree of cleanliness required as dictated by subsequent use of the part, environmental prohibitions, and disposal requirements.

The paper lists the classes of soil found on stainless steel with the cleaning mechanism they require. The classes of alkaline chemicals used in cleaners and the cleaning function they perform are also given. Cross referencing the two lists leads to an understanding of complex cleaner compositions.

Methods of cleaning including soak tank, spray systems, and electrolytic processes are discussed. Laboratory testing of cleaners and control methods for in-use solutions are well covered for practical purposes. These tests include pH, total alkalinity, chelate content, and soil load.

The importance of water quality is stressed. Rinsing is vital to any cleaning operation and should be done properly to avoid pollution and high costs, while producing a residue-free surface.

The paper ends with a brief discussion of safety in handling alkalies and methods of disposal for spent solutions.

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