Best Practices When Using Volatile Corrosion Inhibitors (VCIs)

Best Practices When Using Volatile Corrosion Inhibitors (VCIs)
Published On:October 7, 2019 Revised On:July 27, 2023

Corrosion can be a major industry concern, leading to substantial financial losses and safety hazards. Volatile Corrosion Inhibitors (VCIs) are a highly effective and convenient solution to combat corrosion. VCIs release chemical compounds into the air, forming a protective layer on metal surfaces, safeguarding them against corrosion.

To ensure the maximum benefits of VCIs, following proper application, storage, and handling practices is essential. This blog will explore some practical tips and guidelines for using VCIs effectively and maintaining the longevity of valuable metal assets.

What are VCI (Volatile Corrosion Inhibitors)?

Volatile Corrosion Inhibitors (VCIs) are a class of specialized chemical compounds that provide an effective and innovative solution for protecting metals against corrosion. These inhibitors work by releasing vapour-phase corrosion inhibitors into the surrounding environment. When exposed to metals, these vapour-phase molecules form a thin and invisible protective layer on the metal surface, inhibiting corrosion.

How VCI Works

VCIs (Volatile Corrosion Inhibitors) employ molecular adsorption as part of their protective mechanism. These inhibitors are deliberately engineered with a high affinity for metal surfaces. When positioned near the metal, the VCI molecules adsorb onto the surface, creating a uniform and continuous protective layer.

Another critical aspect of VCI technology is vaporization. VCIs are specially formulated to volatilize or evaporate from their source materials. As these molecules evaporate, they disperse throughout the enclosed space, effectively and evenly covering all exposed metal surfaces.

The formation of a protective layer is an essential step in VCI application. The vapour-phase molecules collectively create a molecular barrier on the metal surface, shielding it from corrosive agents such as moisture and oxygen. By blocking the access of these agents, VCIs prevent oxidation and subsequent corrosion of the metal.

Choose the Right VCI Products

Select the appropriate VCI product for specific applications. Different VCIs are designed to protect against varying corrosive environments and materials. Conduct thorough research and consult with corrosion experts or VCI manufacturers to identify the most suitable product for the intended use.

Types of volatile corrosion inhibitors

Understanding the different types of VCIs can help industries choose the most suitable solution for their applications. Here are some common types of VCIs:

  1. VCI Papers: VCI papers are one of the most commonly used forms of VCIs. These papers are impregnated with volatile corrosion inhibitors and can be wrapped or interleaved between metal components during storage and transportation. VCI papers are available in various grades to cater to different levels of protection and are ideal for protecting metal parts with irregular shapes.
  2. VCI Films: VCI films are flexible, transparent sheets that protect against corrosion when wrapped around or covering metal surfaces. VCI films are often used for large metal equipment, machinery, or pallet-wrapped metal products. The transparency of these films allows easy visual inspection of the metal surfaces without unwrapping.
  3. VCI Emitters: VCI emitters are small devices infused with volatile corrosion inhibitors. These emitters slowly release the VCI vapours into an enclosed space, such as a storage container or a packaging crate. They are particularly useful for safeguarding metal components stored in large or hard-to-reach areas where direct contact with VCI materials might not be feasible.
  4. VCI Diffusers: VCI diffusers function similarly to VCI emitters but are designed to protect larger enclosed spaces, such as storage rooms or cabinets. They release VCI vapours consistently over an extended period, maintaining a uniform protective atmosphere throughout the area.
  5. VCI Liquids and Coatings: VCI liquids and coatings are applied directly to metal surfaces, forming a protective layer that dries to create a long-lasting barrier against corrosion. These solutions are well-suited for protecting intricate metal parts and components in the electronics and automotive manufacturing industries.
  6. Multi-Metal VCIs: Some VCIs are formulated to protect a wide range of metal types, making them versatile options for industries with diverse metal inventories. These multi-metal VCIs are designed to inhibit corrosion on various metal surfaces, simplifying inventory management and reducing the need for multiple types of VCIs.
  7. Environmentally Friendly VCIs: As environmental awareness grows, the demand for eco-friendly corrosion protection solutions increases. Environmentally friendly VCIs are formulated without harmful substances like nitrates, nitrites, or chromates, making them a preferred choice for industries seeking sustainable options.

Implementing Best Practices with VCI

Applying Volatile Corrosion Inhibitors (VCIs) ensures effective and long-lasting corrosion protection for metal assets. Following these best practices during VCI application allows industries to maximize the benefits and safeguard their valuable metal components and equipment.

Proper Application

Before applying VCIs, it is crucial to prepare the metal surfaces properly. Thoroughly clean the surfaces to remove any dirt, grease, oil, or other contaminants that may hinder the VCI’s ability to form a protective layer. Use appropriate cleaning methods, such as degreasers or solvents, followed by drying the surfaces completely to ensure optimal VCI adhesion.

VCIs are designed to release specific amounts of protective vapours based on their formulations. Following the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding the recommended dosage for the specific VCI product being used is essential. Over-application may not provide additional benefits and can be wasteful, while under-application might leave some areas vulnerable to corrosion. Adhering to the correct dosage ensures an even and consistent protective layer across all metal surfaces.

To achieve effective corrosion protection, VCIs must be enclosed within the designated space alongside the metal items to be protected. Whether using VCI papers, films, emitters, or diffusers, ensure that the VCI molecules are confined within the desired area to form a protective barrier. If using VCI papers or films, securely wrap or interleave them around the metal components, while VCI emitters and diffusers should be placed strategically within the enclosed space.

Monitoring and Maintenance

Regular inspection is vital to verify that the VCIs are performing as intended. Schedule periodic checks to assess the condition of the protected metal items. Look for any signs of corrosion or changes in the protective layer, and address any issues promptly. Monitoring the effectiveness of the VCIs allows for timely reapplication if required, ensuring continuous corrosion protection.

VCIs have a finite lifespan, and their effectiveness diminishes over time. It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the reapplication frequency. Regularly replace or replenish VCIs to maintain a consistent protective atmosphere around the metal surfaces. Timely reapplication guarantees that the metal assets remain safeguarded against corrosion during storage, shipment, or idle periods.

Proper Storage of VCIs

Volatile Corrosion Inhibitors (VCIs) effectiveness greatly depends on their proper storage conditions. To ensure the optimal performance and longevity of VCIs, industries must adhere to best practices for their storage. By following these guidelines, organizations can safeguard the quality of their VCI products and maintain their corrosion protection benefits.

  1. Temperature and Humidity: VCIs are sensitive to environmental conditions, particularly temperature and humidity. It is crucial to store VCIs in a controlled environment that aligns with the manufacturer’s recommended storage temperature and humidity levels. Exposure to extreme heat, cold, or excessive moisture can affect the chemical properties of VCIs, potentially reducing their efficacy.
  1. Shelf Life Awareness: Every VCI product has a limited shelf life, beyond which its performance may deteriorate. Knowing the VCI product’s expiration date and prioritising using older stock first is essential. Proper inventory management ensures that VCIs are utilized before reaching their shelf life limits, ensuring maximum effectiveness.
  1. Sealed Containers: When VCIs are not in use, they should be kept in their original sealed containers. The packaging materials provided by the manufacturer are designed to prevent premature activation of VCIs and maintain their efficacy until needed. Opening the packaging prematurely or transferring VCIs to other containers can lead to unintended vapour release and reduced effectiveness.
  1. Dedicated Storage Space: Designate a specific storage area for VCIs to avoid potential cross-contamination with other chemicals or substances. VCIs can be sensitive to interactions with certain materials, and storing them separately minimizes the risk of compromising their effectiveness.
  1. Monitoring and Quality Control: Implement a system for monitoring the storage conditions of VCIs regularly. This can include periodic checks of temperature and humidity levels in the storage area. Such quality control measures help ensure that VCIs are kept in an environment conducive to their performance.
  1. Avoiding Direct Sunlight: Exposure to direct sunlight can accelerate the degradation of VCIs. Store VCIs in areas shielded from direct sunlight or strong ultraviolet radiation.

Safe Handling

Handling Volatile Corrosion Inhibitors (VCIs) requires careful attention to safety protocols to protect both personnel and the integrity of the VCI products. VCIs are chemical compounds that release protective vapours, and while they are generally considered safe when used correctly, it is essential to follow safe handling practices to minimize potential risks. Here are some guidelines for the safe handling of VCIs:

  1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): When working with VCIs, individuals should wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to safeguard against accidental contact or exposure. This may include wearing gloves, safety goggles, and protective clothing, as the VCI manufacturer recommends.
  1. Avoid Contamination: To ensure that VCI products remain effective, it is crucial to prevent cross-contamination. Store VCIs away from other chemicals or substances that might react with them or compromise their performance. Additionally, ensure that the VCI packaging or containers are tightly sealed to prevent unintended vapour release or exposure to the external environment.
  1. Proper Handling Techniques: Follow proper handling techniques for VCIs to minimize the risk of spills or accidents. Avoid rough handling or dropping of VCI products, which could damage the packaging and lead to unintended vapour release.
  1. Understanding VCI Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS): Familiarize with the VCI product’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) provided by the manufacturer. The MSDS contains essential information about the product’s potential hazards, safe handling practices, and emergency procedures in case of accidental exposure or spills.
  1. Storage Compatibility: When storing VCIs, keep them away from incompatible materials. Some VCIs may react with specific metals or other substances, potentially reducing their effectiveness. Consult the MSDS or manufacturer’s guidelines to determine storage compatibility.
  1. Disposal: Properly dispose of unused or expired VCI materials by local regulations and guidelines. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for VCI disposal, and never dispose of VCIs in a manner that could harm the environment.
  1. Training and Education: Ensure that personnel handling VCIs are adequately trained and educated about the safe handling practices and potential risks associated with these chemical compounds. Regular training sessions and safety reminders can help reinforce the importance of following proper protocols.


The diverse range of VCI formulations provides industries with various corrosion protection options for their valuable metal assets. Whether it’s VCI papers, films, emitters, diffusers, liquids, or coatings, each type of VCI offers unique advantages depending on the specific application and metal protection requirements.

By selecting the appropriate type of VCI and implementing best practices for application, storage, and handling, industries can ensure optimal corrosion protection, prolong the life of their metal assets, and reduce the economic impact of corrosion-related issues.