Fixing a Zipper Frozen by Salt Spray
A discussion started in 2004 but continuing through 2018
Q. I am having great difficulty dissolving crystallized salt spray from the inside of the zippers of my boat bimini top. The zip-in side curtains have never been used and, therefore, have six years worth of weathering. The zipper itself is plastic and in fine condition, but the zipper "pull" is metal and "seized" from the salt air/spray.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Personal/Boater - Jackson, New Jersey
Q. I have a frozen zipper as well, corroded by sea salt. How does one fix this?
- Manhattan Beach, California
A. Please try WD-40 [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] gentlemen. If it's aluminum and WD-40 doesn't make it functional, I think you have little hope. Actually, Richard, you are not seeing crystallized salt. Salt is instantly soluble in water.
Most likely it is aluminum corrosion products that look a lot like dried salt. Once the original lubricants are gone, if the aluminum starts corroding into voluminous corrosion products, the corroded parts are actually bigger than the raw parts so they don't fit anymore.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
February 18, 2008
A. For those of you who want to repair corroded delrin type and/or metal zippers, try dilute
Muriatic Acid [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]
(approx. 10 parts water to 1 part muriatic acid). Make sure to wear rubber
protective gloves [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] and protective eye-ware
(goggles [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]) and apply with a soft-bristle tooth brush ONLY to the zipper. Avoid any cloth material because the acid will degrade that material pretty quickly. You'll probably see some reaction on the heavily mineralized portions of the zipper, but keep applying until the zipper is freed up.
I live in one of the most corrosive environments in the world and all of zippers eventually fall prey to corrosion, but this technique does work. Two rules, be patient and protect your skin and eyes. Muriatic acid is potent stuff, so make sure to dilute it. As well, remember your Chemistry 101 basics and always pour the 1 part acid INTO the 10 parts of water. Good Luck.
- Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
July 31, 2009
WD-40 [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]and heat gun or hair dryer. Worked great THANK YOU! ! !Ron Brown
- Redondo Beach, California
May 30, 2015
Great results! I read all the above responses, and started experimenting on my husbands dive equipment bag that had every zipper solidly frozen.
I used water, a tooth brush, and all had was apple cider vinegar, but I have it a shot. I first used water to dissolve as much as possible right around the metal zipper pulls on the plastic zipper. I used a pin to take off chunks. I then poured the vinegar around the areas. I just hoped for the best while expecting little while waiting as one response had said--overnight.
My husband approached me when I least expected it, saying that all zippers now opened easily! No WD40 needed, which he had not wanted due to the oily nature.
The water and vinegar solved the problem amazingly!!! I probably would have cut the bag to get the equipment and bought a new bag had it not been for this site!
- Laguna Beach, California
January 23, 2018
Q. I have aluminium zippers on my Caravan. The pull tab is aluminum and the zipper teeth are plastic and the pull tab has got aluminium oxide build up between the pull tab and the plastic teeth i have tried silicon spray WD40 and still the zippers wont budge before when we got the van they jammed up and i managed to free them as there was not that much aluminium oxide build up on them so after freeing the sippers last time i rubbed candle wax all over the zipper and the worked fine but after leaving them for awhile they have corroded up again this time they will not budge as per everything i done in my description above we do not live by the sea we live inland boiling hot in summer and freezing cold in winter can anybody suggest something on how I can free up the zippers please.Brian Stocks
- Willow Tree N.S.W. Australia
February 7, 2018
A. I finally got my zippers freed up. I bought some calcium and lime scale remover powder and diluted it down 50 mil of water then just the tip of a teaspoon of powder then used a syringe and put a few drops between the zipper and the pull tab gave it a tap after leaving for 5 minuets it then came free. I then sprayed the area with water to dilute what was on the zipper and material. I then sprayed silicon spray on the zipper teeth and the zipper now moves freely.Brian Stocks [returning]
- Willow Tree N.S.W. Australia
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