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Salt Spray Rating Tests: An Expert Guide for Industry Pros

Salt spray rating tests, also known as salt fog tests, are essential in determining the corrosion resistance of materials and surface coatings. These tests simulate the effects of a salt-laden environment on metals, plastics, and paints, providing critical data for industries such as automotive, aerospace, marine, and construction. Here's an overview of salt spray tests, how they work, and why they are crucial for product durability and standards compliance.

What are Salt Spray Tests?

Salt spray tests involve exposing test samples to an aggressively corrosive controlled environment. This environment is created within a sealed chamber where a saline solution (usually 5% sodium chloride) is atomized using pressurized air, creating a corrosive fog. The test samples are placed inside this chamber for a predetermined period, ranging from a few hours to several months, depending on the corrosion resistance required by the industry standards.

The Process of Salt Spray Testing

  1. Preparation of Test Samples: Samples must be prepared and sometimes pre-treated according to industry standards. This might include cleaning, drying, and sometimes applying a coat of the test finish.

  2. Testing Conditions: Conditions inside the chamber are strictly controlled. Temperature typically is maintained at 35°C (95°F), and the pH of the salt solution is kept acidic, usually around 6.5 to 7.2, to mimic a harsh environment.

  3. Duration of Exposure: The duration is based on the material's expected resistance to corrosion. For example, coatings expected to withstand high levels of corrosion might be tested for more extended periods.

  4. Assessment of Results: After the test, samples are inspected to check for indications of corrosion, such as rust, pitting, or other damage caused by oxidation. The degree of corrosion is noted. This evaluation helps determine if the material meets the quality and durability standards set by the industry.

Importance of Salt Spray Tests

  • Product Development: Salt spray testing helps manufacturers develop products that are more durable and resistant to corrosion.

  • Quality Control: Regular testing ensures that production methods have not changed, which might affect product quality.

  • Compliance with Standards: Many industries have strict standards that require products to pass salt spray tests before they are approved for market release.

Common Standards and Specifications

There are several standards used internationally for salt spray testing, including:

  • ASTM B117: The most widely used standard in the USA for salt spray testing.

  • ISO 9227: An international standard that provides guidelines for the performance of salt spray tests.

These standards help ensure that tests are conducted in a consistent and repeatable manner, providing reliable results.

Limitations and Considerations

While salt spray testing is a powerful tool for predicting a material's corrosion resistance, it has limitations. For instance, it does not perfectly replicate all real-world corrosive environments, such as those with UV exposure or temperature fluctuations. Additionally, results can vary based on the salt solution's composition and the test equipment's specific setup.


Salt spray testing is indispensable to many industries' materials engineering and quality assurance processes. By understanding the basics of how these tests work and what the results mean, professionals can better design products that stand up to harsh environments, ensuring longevity and performance. This type of testing continues to evolve.

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