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What Is Blue Blush?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Also known as blue blush buildup, blue blush is a type of deposit that can develop on different types of valve components. The origin of this thin layer on various types of valves and other components normally takes place due to the sustaining of high temperatures of liquids and other materials passing through the valves over a period of time. The heat causes some degree of oxidation that gradually builds up and can interfere with the normal function of the valve system. If left untreated, the oxidation can weaken the valve components over time, making the possibility of some sort of industrial accident more likely.

The development of blue blush due to oxidation is a gradual process. As the thin layer begins to develop, it appears as a film on the components of the valves. Over time, this concentration of the oxidized material can lead to the degradation of the valves themselves, possibly to the point of a failure. In order to minimize the chances for this type of event, it is not unusual for the valves to be checked on a regular basis and steps taken to remove the blue blush from the surface of the valve components.

Removing blue blush normally involves using methods designed to dislodge the oxidized material without causing any harm to the valve components. In some cases, this may be done by hand using materials such as specially designed stones that help to puncture the surface of the blush without harming the metal underneath. If the buildup is thicker, shutting down that section of the line and temporarily removing the valves for treatment in an alkaline bath may be necessary. In general, approaches like sandblasting are not recommended, since the potential for damaging the components of the valves is somewhat high.

Managing the incidence of blue blush is very important to protecting the integrity of the metal valves. If the blush is allowed to build up over time, this can compromise the components and eventually cause them to fail. Since the degree or pressure that is normally managed with the valves is quite high, a valve failure can have severe consequences, both in terms of damage to the facility and the potential to endanger human life. For this reason, periodic inspection and removal of the blue blush not only helps to minimize the possibility of interrupting the function of the valves but also helps to avoid the potential for serious industrial accidents.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including About Mechanics, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon989604 — On Mar 13, 2015

What is the chemical composition of blue blush? Is there a health risk when sand blasting blue blush off of valve assemblies and if so, is there an MSDS for the dust created in this process?

By NathanG — On Mar 05, 2012

@Mammmood - The key thing to remember is that it’s an oxidation process. So you would have to prevent the oxidation somehow. I don’t think putting a “liner” solution would do that.

What causes oxidation? Think of your car. If you get rust, that’s oxidation. So why do cars rust? They rust because of oxygen and water coming into contact with the metal. If you keep the car dry and not exposed to extreme weather conditions you can limit exposure to oxidation.

Can you accomplish the same results in a valve plant? I think you would be limited, as the equipment is outdoors and you will get moisture of course. The best thing to do is to make sure that the valves are clean and inspected from time to time.

By Mammmood — On Mar 05, 2012

@Charred - I don’t think they want to line the valves with anything. The point is to keep gunk from building up. Valves should be clean, period.

If you flush them with some kind of lining solution there is no guarantee that the solution will stick, or that if it does, it won’t oxidize in extreme heat. Personally I think that continual maintenance is the only solution to this kind of problem.

By Charred — On Mar 04, 2012

It’s just my two cents, but wouldn’t prevention be better than the cure for these incidents of blue blush? Rather than trying to remove the accumulated buildup through a manual process, there must be some way to coat the lining of the valves with something that would prevent buildup from happening in the first place.

Maybe I don’t know enough about this process, but I think an analogy would be throwing salt on sidewalks before an ice storm. The ice won’t stick. I think there should be something comparable here, or at the very least, they should make it a point not to run the valves at the temperature which would result in creating those deposits.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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