Pickling achieves an intensive cleaning and activation of metal surfaces, through the removal of a thin layer of the material processed. The result is a metallically pure surface, free of oxides and contamination of other metals. Pickling attacks primarily the grain boundary of the metal structure and gives the surface a matt to satin gloss appearance.

Pickling can be carried out either chemically or electrolytically (anodically). Pickling chemicals usually contain mineral acids and an oxidation chemical as well as additives to improve the result and reduce pollutants.

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