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Corrosion inhibitors and rust removers are protective agents that form a barrier between metal surfaces and water or corrosive chemicals to prevent rust or corrosion. One distinctive difference between the corrosion inhibitor and rust remover is that corrosion inhibitors reduce and inhibit the rate of corrosion of metals and other materials while rust removers are specifically designed chemical product that reacts on already rusted metals to remove rust and other forms of corrosion from metal. It reacts with the rust and dissolves it thereby preventing further damage to the iron metal.

Corrosion and rusting are two natural phenomena that we all have experienced at some point commonly seen in buildings that are wrecked, abandoned vehicles, shipyards, factories, equipment and machines. They both bring about the disintegration of the materials involved. However, interchangeably many at times we tend to confuse and misinterpret both chemical processes wrongly, but it is important to note that there are basic differences between them. Rust removers and corrosion inhibitors are protective agents that form a barrier between metal surfaces and water or corrosive chemicals to prevent rust or corrosion. They typically have lubricating or water displacement properties. Most rust-proofing products and moisture-proofing agents leave a film that stops water or corrosive substances from coming into contact with metal.

In order to understand the difference between these two? One must first know their definition and meanings. Corrosion and rusting are both oxidation reaction processes. The process of corrosion is basically a type of oxidation while rusting is a process for corrosion to take place. Corrosion occurs as a result of different materials being exposed to chemicals, but rusting only affects Iron that comes in contact with water or moisture.

What are Corrosion Inhibitors?

Corrosion inhibitors are basically chemical substances applied on any material, metals or non-metals as well as to the environment to reduce and inhibit the rate of corrosion of those substances, preventing unintentional degradation of the materials by chemical substances found in the environment. A coating process is experienced on the top surface of the materials, restricting penetration of water, chemicals, air, dirt etc. and making it unreactive to elements and chemicals through the process of passivation. This is known to be the first line of defense against corrosion.

Application of corrosion inhibitors are carried out;

  • On surfaces of metals, non-metals and also to the environment
  • In various fluids that are used in companies and industries such as in hydraulic fluids, engine oil, fuels, coolants and boiler water.
  • In concrete mixture, when pouring concrete with steel rebar.

Compounds mostly present in corrosion inhibitors include glycols, nitrogen-based compounds, a solubilizer or diluent, sulfide, acetylenic alcohol, oxyalkylated naphthenic acid..

What Is Rust Remover?

Rust remover is a specifically designed chemical product that reacts on metals to remove rust and other forms of corrosion from metal. It reacts with the rust and dissolves it thereby preventing further damage to the iron metal. A rust remover depending on its effectiveness and efficacy has the ability to restore and revive an iron metal that was on the verge of corrosion there by inhibiting total damage and degradation of the material.

N/B: After the use of a rust remover on an iron metal, it is advisable to apply a corrosion inhibitor, this is to further give adequate protection to the metal object as there is no way to control natural elements like air, water or moisture in the environment from interacting with our objects, machine and equipment. This increases durability and brings about prolonged use of our equipment and machines.

Distinctive Differences between Corrosion Inhibitor and Rust Remover

1. The major differences between the Corrosion inhibitor and Rust remover is how they work

Inhibitors work in one of three ways, depending on the type as well as the environment in which they're used.

a. The inhibitor molecule readily diffuses into the metal surface by means of chemical absorption, forming a thin protective film in the form of a precipitate. This absorption process occurs either through self-interaction with the metal ions, or through interaction with other already-present metallic ions.

b. This protective film is made up of metal oxides that are formed when the inhibitor reacts with the metal. The increased corrosion resistance is a result of the metal oxide film.

c. The inhibitor reacts with a potentially corrosive substance in the water.

Rust remover, on the other hand, uses industrial acids to remove rust through chemical processes. This is a more efficient method than mechanical processes such as scrubbing or sanding/sand blasting, which can be time-consuming and labor-intensive.

2. The corrosion inhibitor is more suited for closed systems such as compressor and radiators, while rust removers are used on the surfaces of metals.

3. Corrosion Inhibitors are water based that is they have been dissolved in water and not concentrated.

4. They serve as both coolants and corrosion inhibitors in the closed system which makes them unique, which differs from a rust remover used mostly for protection of the outer surfaces of metals.

5. Another major different is their names for popular brands like Epochem they are distinguished as Corrosion Inhibitor and Rust removers.

Best Brands of Corrosion Inhibitor and Rust Remover

The Epochem brand of Cleaning and maintenance chemicals in Nigeria offers Epochem corrosion inhibitors which are classified into two general types due to the nature in which they prevent corrosion with additional benefits. Some corrosion inhibitors prevent corrosion and also serve as an industrial coolant that protects engines’ cooling systems, while others reduce the corrosion rate of metals and different kinds of materials. They include;

1. Epochem Water-based corrosion inhibitor

Our epochem brand of water-based corrosion inhibitor (Epocool 2000) is a high quality corrosion inhibitor which also acts as a coolant with a series of extended-life industrial coolant/antifreeze and heat transfer fluids formulated for stationary equipment applications already pre-diluted. These products are based on a unique extended-life carboxylate inhibitor system and nitrite/molybdate as secondary inhibitors. These water-based inhibitors provide complete corrosion protection of cooling system components, do not contain borates, phosphate, amines, and silicates, and are available in ethylene glycol-based fluid.

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Corrosion inhibitor

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2. Epochem Solvent-based Corrosion inhibitor

The Epochem solvent-based corrosion inhibitor (Epochem 109) is applied to an environment that significantly reduces the corrosion rate of materials, especially metals exposed to that environment. It is considered the first line of defense against Corrosion.

These solvent-based corrosion inhibitors are corrosion preventatives for application to surfaces likely to corrode, either in storage or in use. They are blends of selected rust prevention materials dissolved in a solvent for ease of application. On application, the solvent evaporates, leaving a protective coating.

Epochem brand offers an industrial strength rust remover that allows you to get the job done quickly and safely. It quickly transforms stubborn rust stains into visible salts that dissolve almost immediately and can be rinsed away. It is an effective chemical which is highly recommended compared to other rust removers.

Top offers:

Corrosion inhibitor

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3. Epochem 430 Rust Remover:

This rust remover is an effective blend of acids, detergents, corrosion inhibitors and surfactants that quickly removes and liquifies rust and corrosion from metal equipment, machinery, tanks, valves, pipes, etc. It is safe to use in all operations where rust should be removed and avoided, and helps to lengthen the life and improve the efficiency and looks of metal equipment.

The product creates a chemical reaction with the metal surface that forms a thin, continuous layer. This layer prevents flash rusting on ferrous metals and acts as a rough base for paint, providing maximum adhesion. The formula is acidic in nature and removes heavy rust from tools and other items like bicycles and cars. It is also biodegradable, so it’s easy to dispose of safely. Our Epochem Rust remover is very affordable, it is versatile, nontoxic when handled properly.

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The Epochem Rust Remover


4. WD-40 Lubricant, Degreaser And Rust Remover

WD-40 is the perfect product for a variety of needs when it comes to metal surfaces. It protects the metal from rust and corrosion, penetrates stuck parts, displaces moisture, and lubricates anything on the job. WD-40 also removes grease and grime from most surfaces, plus it can dissolve adhesives, allowing easy removal of labels, tape, stickers, and excess bonding materials. This silicone-free oil base is perfect for penetrating, lubricating, cleaning, and displacing moisture on water repellant surfaces. It also loosens rusted parts and stops squeaks.WD-40 


WD-40 Stops Squeaks

WD-40 Drive Out Moisture

WD-40 Clears and Protects

WD-40 Loosens Rusted Parts

WD-40 Frees Sticky Mechanisms.

Rust remover

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Key features

  • Superior Quality
  • Protect Metal from rust
  • Loosen rusted parts and nuts
  • Penetrates, Lubricates and cleans
  • Effective & Reliable

Frequently Asked Question

1. How do you remove heavy rust?

Step-by-step method:

a).Rinse the metal item and shake dry.

b).Dust with baking soda (it will stick to the damp areas), making sure to cover all rusty areas.

c).Leave the item for an hour or so, then scour with steel wool or a metal brush, removing the rust down to the metal. 

d).Rinse, and towel dry.

2. How long does it take for rust remover to work?

Depending on the severity of the rust, this process can take anywhere from one to three days. To check whether the rust has softened, periodically check the tool. If the rust has softened, use a metal brush or steel wool to scrub off any surface rust. Wash, rinse and dry the tool as normal.

3. What does Corrosion inhibitor do

Corrosion inhibitors are chemical substances that, when added in small amounts to the environment in which a metal would corrode, will reduce, slow down or prevent corrosion of the metal.


Corrosion and rusting are processes that are unwanted and not encouraged to be experienced with our equipment and machines or seen in our environment, as positive efforts must be taken to avert both processes from occurring. now that we know the difference between corrosion inhibitors or rust removers you will likely get the job done effectively and efficiently. Contact us to get more information and also get quality chemical products and services.

Oct 13, 2022 Jennifer Eyo

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