West Riding Blog

Fundamentals of Corrosion of Carbon Steel

Malcolm Morris, Technical Manager, Sherwin Williams, Bolton, (Formerly Leigh’s Paints).


Carbon steel is the construction material of choice for a wide range of global projects.

From skyscrapers to bridges, ships, cars etc, etc; the strength, flexibility and relatively light weight of steel offers the designer an almost infinite range of possibilities.

The main issue with carbon steel is that it doesn’t like being steel…The fundamental laws of nature will cause the steel to revert back to its most thermodynamically stable oxide state…the process more commonly known as corrosion.

Corrosion cannot be prevented – It remains one of the three great certainties of the universe (The others being death and taxes !), however this paper will outline some of the more common mechanisms of corrosion and the steps that can be taken to delay the inevitable, and preserve steel structures from their eventual demise.


Malcolm started as a chemist with Leigh’s in 1978, in a career based mainly in R&D and technical service; but now having qualified in terms of age, experience and receding grey hair as an ‘old fart’, has taken on a broad role in supporting technical and commercial colleagues within the business, as well as customer facing technical support and training. He has active involvement with the British Coatings Federation, and sits on several British and ISO standards committees.

Malcolm is a Fellow of OCCA, and a NACE Level 3 coatings inspector.

Outside of work his interests include supporting various under-achieving sports teams, gardening, walking, photography & attempting to keep vaguely fit. His chemical background has also developed special interest in the processes of fermentation and distillation.


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