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topic 50478

Anodized surface is powdery

November 6, 2008

Q. I received an aluminum part that has a greenish/yellowish powder on it. Supposedly, the part was anodized and has been sitting around for 6 months. I was able to perform an X-ray Microanalysis on the powder and it is predominantly Aluminum and Oxygen, with Silicon, Sulfur, and Chromium appearing too. What is causing this formation of powder?

Justin Brooks
chemist involved with military plating operation - Rock Island, Illinois

November 10, 2008

A. The most common "greenish-yellow powder" is Nickel Hydroxide when the nickel acetate seal pH gets above 6.0. Go back and do the x-ray again and look for nickel.

robert probert
Robert H Probert
Robert H Probert Technical Services
supporting advertiser
Garner, North Carolina
Editor's note: Mr. Probert is the author of Aluminum How-To / Aluminio El Como
and co-author of The Sulfamate Nickel How-To Guide

November 11, 2008

A. We have had powdery anodize finish problems in the past. They have usually been the result of the anodize solution being too warm. I assume this results in more chemical attack on the anodize surface from the sulfuric acid. The powder would sometimes wipe off and dyed parts would fail a nitric acid seal test. The green color is most likely a dichromate seal.

Brad Walters
- Orange County, California, USA

November 12, 2008

A. It sounds to me that you have got a bloom on the surface. Check your operating parameters, it sounds as if something is out of kilter.

Brian Terry
Aerospace - Yeovil, Somerset, UK

November 15, 2008

The first thing that is needed to knowbefore anyone can make a real stab at what the problem is will be what type of anodizing was done to the part? Next is what application are you using it for. From there some reasonable answers will come.

drew nosti
Drew Nosti, CEF
supporting advertiser
Ladson, South Carolina

"Surface Treatment & Finishing of Aluminium and Its Alloys"
by Wernick, Pinner & Sheasby
from Abe Books
info on Amazon

March 29, 2011 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Dear all,

Our aluminium parts were found covered with white powder after anodizing process (after hot water sealing).
Is the white powder issue common in anodizing process? Any ideas of the white powder originated from either process or raw material?
We thought the white powder was originated from the glass media, we use glass media to do the sand blast on aluminium surface (A6061). We had tried to eliminate it with immersion in ammonium bifluoride (50 g/L, 2 minutes, RT), and desmut the part surface (Nitric Acid 35% v/v, 2 minutes) before the parts go to anodizing process.
This action help to reduce the white powder, but can't eliminate it.
What is the common sand blast media? Shall we change to aluminium oxide or ceramics?
Please advice.

Eng Chong Lim
plating shop employee - Johor Bahru, Malaysia

July 27, 2011

A. It seems your anodic film produced is softer than required.

You may check :

1- the temperature of anodising bath which should less than 21 °C. Higher temperature softer anodic film and dusty appearance.

2- do not hold the load in anodising tank after the power is switched off. Otherwise the anodising solution make anodic film soften. Anodised load must be taken from the anodising tank as soon as possible.

3- rinsing between anodizing and sealing. At least 2 rinses necessary to eliminate low pH solution from anodic film pores.

4- use a good quality seal additive to prevent dust that is formed as a result of chemical reaction of sealing. Also, take notice to the amount added to the tank, more additive softer film.

Timur Ulucak
- Istanbul, Turkey

Aging of aluminum and a bloom effect

February 23, 2014

Q. Hello
I have a question about aluminum aging 6063.
I want to know what is the effect of aging parameter on anodizing?
I know my aluminium is soft after aging; the hardness is from 2 to 8 and it is not standard. We use cold seal at the end of the anodizing line.
After sealing we have no problem ... but when we want to manufacture door and windows we have bloom effect. I want you to help me. Thanks a lot

asghar norouzi
- ghazvin, iran

Powdery issue on Al-2024 with sulphuric acid anodized and dichromate seal

July 31, 2018

Q. My situation: Powdery issue observed on AL-2024 parts after sulphuric acid anodizing with dichromate seal. Below is the data collected on powdery and good parts,
1. Powdery - Electrolyte concentration = 191.3g/L and anodized film thickness of 10.3 - 11.9µ

2. Powdery - Electrolyte concentration = 191.1g/L and anodized film thickness of 9.6 - 11.µ

3. Good Part - Electrolyte concentration = 189.3g/L and anodized film thickness of 10.6 - 12.µ


Temperature of anodizing tank was maintained at 19.3 - 19.5 °C. Constant voltage at 17 V at the ramp up = 5 mins. Parts whether buffed or not buffed prior to anodizing show same outcome.

May Koh
Quality - Singapore

July 2018

A. Hi May. I hope a knowledgable anodizer offers some insight here, because I really don't think a 1% difference in electrolyte concentration is the cause of your problem.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

July 31, 2018

A. One thing to monitor in your dichromate seal bath is that the pH does not stray out of your set range. We find that the best results are attained at a pH of 6.6. Our shop's allowable range is 6.5-6.9 and we have never failed a salt spray test on 2024 for this process. Others prefer to run at lower pH values. I'm speaking from my own experience. We run sodium dichromate (some folks use potassium dichromate so clarifying for informational purposes).

Some notes on pH maintenance in an aging dichromate seal bath is that you may start to see pH falling faster as the bath ages and builds up metals. When attempts are made to adjust an older bath back up to your desired range using sodium hydroxide, a precipitate will form and maintaining pH will be increasingly difficult. You can take a sample in a large beaker and check this in the lab.

Without knowing what you are running for a target pH level, or how much use the bath has seen over its life, I can't speak as to whether that is an issue in your case, and if you've got good plus undesirable finish coming out in loads run within a short time frame …that makes it seem even less likely as a culprit. But every little bit of tank optimization helps :)

Another place to look would be at whether there is variation in immersion times in the seal bath from load to load. Longer is not necessarily better, and an extended immersion can produce a poor quality finish.

Last, the water used for rinsing after seal must be kept quite clean. It should be deionized to begin with, and try to limit buildup of contaminants from dragout to below 20 ppm as total dissolved solids, and change the resin if you don't see that level drop back down within a reasonable amount of time after the rack of parts has physically been removed from the tank.

Rachel Mackintosh
Plating Solutions Control Specialist / Industrial Metals Waste Treatment - Brattleboro, Vermont, United States

August 1, 2018

thumbs up sign Hi Rachel,

Thanks a lot for the guidance! Will try those method and let you know whether it works.


May koh [returning]
- Singapore

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