Fighting Salt Corrosion on Boats

How to stop salt corrosion on boats

Whether you're cruising the open ocean or safely moored your boat is under attack at all points during the day or night. Salt corrosion is slowly doing its dirty work to try and turn your ship into a bucket of rust. How can you fight back? It's easier than it might seem but it does require a bit of time, a lot of consistency, and of course the right tools for the job.

Today we will be going over proper cleaning and protection against salt corrosion in engines and elsewhere. This includes some amazing little anodes that sacrifice themselves so the rest of your boat may live on. It would also be prudent to go over some basic engine care, because your engine is probably what needs the most protection from marine corrosion. It can cost a bundle!

Fighting Corrosion On Your Hull and Deck

I've seen more than my fair share of lazy boat owners that just hose down the deck and call it a day. The sad truth is that the few minutes saved will end up costing them dearly down the road as railings and hinges start to corrode. Additionally, the protective coating of the hull will be eaten away and blisters will likely begin to form.

fighting marine salt corrosion gears rust

You can save all of these components by spending some extra time washing and scrubbing from bow to stern. Utilizing our de-salt cleaner and flusher concentrate can work wonders on the exterior of your boat in addition to the engine and cooling systems, but regardless of what is available to you some effort should be made to prevent marine corrosion.

If you store your boat on a trailer I should mention that the trailer needs a thorough wash as well, especially the brakes. A trailer isn't as pricey as an engine, but the more money saved the better! Check out our self-coiling boat hose and new boat hose nozzle for a great cleaning combination. Alternatively, if your boat is left in a slip tilt your outboard or I/O unit into the highest position possible so your running gear isn't getting a constant salt corrosion bath.

Checking The Sacrificial Anodes

I never get to talk about sacrificial anodes! While most people pay them very little mind, they are endlessly allowing themselves to be eaten away instead of the critical components of your boat. These noble little discs are generally made of zinc, but yours might be aluminum or magnesium. Consult your owner's manual to figure out where they are and keep a close eye on them!

Needless to say, if these anodes are worn away by marine corrosion they can't do their job. When that happens, your engine components are in even greater danger than usual from salt corrosion. Replace them if they are more than halfway eaten away and give yourself peace of mind. A bit of money in the short term is absolutely worth the price tag when it comes to protecting your craft.

fighting marine salt corrosion hull rust

Battling Salt In Your Engine

Regardless of how well you treat for salt corrosion on the outside of your boat it often takes hold in places that aren't easily visible, like the inside of an engine. Our de-salt concentrate can also be used to flush your engine and prevent the gargantuan cost of replacing an engine. Preventative maintenance against engine salt corrosion is a simple matter and flushing can be done quickly and easily.

Fill a soap dispenser cup with de-salt concentrate. Attach a boat hose at one end, and the flushing unit you use for your boat on the other. Run regular water through the engine until it reaches a normal operating temperature and then turn it off. At this point turn on the dispenser and verify the de-salt is flowing. Turn the engine back on and run it until the cup of de-salt concentrate is used up.

Along with regular flushing, you might consider adding a marine corrosion protection additive to your fuel. One ounce of salt corrosion fuel treatment for every 10 gallons of fuel will ensure your fuel is stabilized for up to 24 months. Another useful tip is to store your watercraft with a full tank of fuel as this will minimize salt corrosion, and of course care for all of the fuel system components you can see such as fuel lines, fittings, hose clamps, and various filters.

fighting marine salt corrosion turquoise rust

Salt Corrosion Conclusion

Whether you decide to call it salt corrosion or marine corrosion, it is definitely a major threat to anyone who enjoys some time at sea. There are simple steps that should be taken to keep a boat healthy, and when I see people failing to do them it makes me cringe. Is that 10 or 15 minutes going to provide the tens of thousands of dollars that might be needed for a new engine? I'd wager not.

We all want our boats to run clean and smooth for decades to come, and it is completely possible to accomplish just that. People who talk about the massive repairs that boats generally need, or state offhand that watercraft are a money-sink are the same people who refuse to care for them properly. Many of their compatriots will wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment, but how many of them are taking the proper steps to ensure their boats aren't suffering under the constant deluge that is salt corrosion? How can you expect to use something and then store it without a second thought? Anything that isn't stored properly will come in need of repair at some point.

Even if the end result is 'just' a blistered hull, it will still cost a pretty penny to repair. The hardest part to swallow about any of these results is that they could've been avoided so easily with just a few additional steps. Often I just stand and shake my head when I overhear these conversations because my advice generally falls on deaf ears, until the time comes that someone points out how rarely I'm forced to replace one thing or another. The assault of salt corrosion is never ending, and so your vigilance in keeping your boat free of marine corrosion needs to be equally stalwart.