Fishermen, sailors, and other people who take to the sea will know how quickly and easily steel tools begin to rust in a marine environment. One method of dealing with the problem involves spraying the tools with oil before storage, then wiping them off before use. New Jersey-based company Leland Limited, however, is now offering what it describes as a simpler, more eco-friendly alternative: plastic tool-storage bags that prevent rust.

Leland deals mainly in compressed gas products. Its developers came up with the idea for Ultimate VCI Protection bags when they were making steel CO2 cylinders for marine inflatable life jackets. In the production line, the cylinders would begin to rust before they reached the electroplating stage. Instead of putting them in an oil bath, the developers invented the bags, which allowed the cylinders to remain rust-free without the use of oil.

The bags are lined with corrosion inhibitors that release vapors which are attracted to metal surfaces. The inhibitor molecules reportedly align themselves on these surfaces, three to five molecules deep, and even get down into the nooks and crannies. This layer of molecules prevents oxidation, yet doesn’t leave discernible residue on the tools when they’re removed from the bags.

So, just what are the “corrosion inhibitors”? “Much like the Colonel's secret recipe, that is somewhat classified,” Leland’s Lee Stanford told Gizmag. “Our standard quote is: ‘VCI products are completely non-toxic. In fact, most of the VCI chemistry is actually food grade preservatives.’”

Ultimate VCI Protection bags come in packs containing three bags of different sizes, ranging from 6 x 8 to 12 x 18 inches (15 x 20 to 30.5 x 46 cm), with each pack costing US$12.95.