Hot-dip galvanization is a form of galvanization. It is the process of coating iron and steel with a layer of zinc by immersing the metal in a bath of molten zinc at a temperature of around 840 F (449 C). When exposed to the atmosphere, the pure zinc (Zn) reacts with oxygen (O2) to form zinc oxide (ZnO), which further reacts with carbon dioxide (CO2) to form zinc carbonate (ZnCO3), a usually dull grey, fairly strong material that protects the steel underneath from further corrosion in many circumstances. Galvanized steel is widely used in applications where corrosion resistance is needed without the cost of stainless steel, and can be identified by the crystallization patterning on the surface (often called a "spangle").
Galvanized steel can be welded; however, one must exercise caution around the resulting toxic zinc fumes. Galvanized steel is suitable for high-temperature applications of up to 392 F (200 C). The use of galvanized steel at temperatures above this will result in peeling of the zinc at the inter metallic layer. Electro galvanized sheet steel is often used in automotive manufacturing to enhance the corrosion performance of exterior body panels; this is, however, a completely different process which tends to achieve lower coating thicknesses of zinc.