I bought a nailer which came with some old nails that I'm going to use for a shed floor into pressure treated wood.

As you can see, they kinda look galvanized. They have that grey patina. But other than just looking at them, is there anything else I can do to try to determine if they're galvanized?

Closeup of nails

  • 2
    Vinegar will remove galvanization try soaking a couple and observe how they react
    – Kris
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 3:24
  • @Kris, the zinc is chemically bonded to the steel. Vinegar will do nothing but clean the surface of contaminants, not remove the zinc.
    – represton
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 3:34
  • @represton it is possible that you are wrong about that.
    – Kris
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 3:43
  • @represton, chemical bonding doesn't really come into play - zinc is way more reactive than steel and will react with acid and dissolve. With vinegar very slowly, but if you add some salt it will speed it up
    – Joel Keene
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 4:24
  • Those are galvanized and vinegar will react with it and they will start to rust after soaking . they would show rust if not galvanized . I would check that those moon heads are legal to use in your area. I thought they were outlawed I have had to use full head nails for decades. They may be allowed but. Know I can’t use moon heads on anything more than a dog house.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 14:37

2 Answers 2


Those are galvanized. The texture says it all. Those different dark and light spots of silver all over the nail are crystals created as the zinc quickly cools in the air. Take a look at the image below and at this article by the American Galvanizer Association.


enter image description here

  • 3
    Could you elaborate on what textural characteristics make for such a positive match on galvanized steel? I feel like such detail would help make your answer more helpful to others in the future with similar questions. Commented May 5, 2020 at 3:20

The probability is very high that they are galvanized, they have a speckled look. Uncoated iron/steel is either shiny or rusty and darker in colour. But it is possible that it may just be zinc coated, but that's more common on screws and is becoming more common with manufacturing in China. But these are liable to to be a bit old.

Testing for galvanizing can be done by a lab. A brine solution test will just tell you that it is coated with zinc, but not how it's bonded to the iron.

Laboratory Testing The only way to know for sure which coating is present is laboratory testing. Different forms of spectroscopy, for example, can take a sample of the coating in question and provide a breakdown of the materials present. A hot-dip galvanized coating may show a high zinc content near the outside of the coating with an increased iron content near the metal substrate. A zinc metallized or mechanically plated coating will contain a high zinc content through the entirety of the coating. A zinc-rich paint will also show a high zinc content, but will also contain other resins and binders typical to that system.

From galvanizeit.org

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