1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Galvanized Iron
GALVANIZED IRON, sheet iron having its surface covered with a thin coating of zinc. In spite of the name, galvanic action has often no part in the production of galvanized iron, which is prepared by dipping the iron, properly cleaned and pickled in acid, in a bath of molten zinc. The hotter the zinc the thinner the coating, but as a high temperature of the bath is attended with certain objections, it is a common practice to use a moderate temperature and clear off the excess of zinc by passing the plates between rollers. In Norwood and Rogers’s process a thin coating of tin is applied to the iron before it is dipped in the zinc, by putting the plates between layers of granulated tin in a wooden tank containing a dilute solution of stannous chloride, when tin is deposited on them by galvanic action. In “cold galvanizing” the zinc is deposited electrolytically from a bath, preferably kept neutral or slightly acid, containing a 10% solution of crystallized zinc sulphate, ZnSO4·7H2O. The resulting surface is usually duller and less lustrous than that obtained by the use of molten zinc. Another method of forming a coating of zinc, known as “sherardizing,” was invented by Sherard Cowper-Coles, who found that metals embedded in zinc dust (a product obtained in zinc manufacture and consisting of metallic zinc mixed with a certain amount of zinc oxide) and heated to temperatures well below the melting point of zinc, become coated with a layer of that metal. In carrying out the process the articles are placed in an air-tight vessel with the zinc dust, which must be dry, and subjected to a heat of 250-330°C., the time for which the heating is continued depending on the thickness of the deposit required and varying from one-half to several hours. If an air-tight receptacle is not available, a small percentage of powdered carbon is added to the zinc-dust, to prevent increase in the amount of oxide, which, if present in excess, tends to make the deposit dull.
Galvanized iron by its zinc surface is protected from corrosion by the weather, though the protection is not very efficient in the presence of acid or sulphurous fumes, and accordingly it is extensively employed for roofing, especially in the form of corrugated sheets. The iron wire used for wire-netting, telegraphic purposes, &c., is commonly galvanized, as also are bolts, nuts, chains and other fittings on ships.