ACID CLEANING is a process in which a solution of a mineral acid, organic acid, or acid salt, in combination with a wetting agent and detergent, is used to remove oxide, shop soil, oil, grease, and other contaminants from metal surfaces, with or without the application of heat. The distinction between acid cleaning and acid pickling is a matter of degree, and some overlapping in the use of these terms occurs. Acid pickling is a more severe treatment for the removal of scale from semifinished mill products, forgings, or castings, whereas acid cleaning generally refers to the use of acid solutions for final or near-final preparation of metal surfaces before plating, painting, or storage. Acid pickling is discussed in the article "Pickling and Descaling" in this Volume.

The focus of this article is on acid cleaning of iron and steel. Some limited information on acid cleaning of nonferrous metals is included at the end of this article; additional information is available in the Section "Surface Engineering of Non-ferrous Metals" in this Volume.

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