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Just how compatible are Hamilton wheels in the chemical world?

Thursday, Jul 30, 2020

The world of industrial manufacturing can be a punishing place for wheels. Sometimes, chemicals can get in the way—acids, alkaline, and hydrocarbons to name a few. And while most Hamilton wheels can tolerate incidental chemical contact—a splash here or a roll-in-a-spill there—some get along better than others. Other chemicals—even if only lightly splashed—can be pretty caustic. So from time to time, our customers ask us to recommend specific wheel compatibility with certain chemicals. We’re happy to help.

That’s why we’ve created two guides to help you make sense of it all: Our Chemical Resistance Guide and our Nylast Wheels Resistant Guide. Both have been carefully created from third-party sources to help you size up wheel material with chemical compatibility.*

And in case you want the quick-start version, we’ve got you covered below. Happy pairing!

There are four variables to consider when assessing chemical resistance to wheels:

  • Frequency of exposure (intermittent or continuous)
  • Type of exposure (immersion, atomized spray or “roll through”)
  • Concentration of the chemical (dilution level)
  • Physical and dynamic performance requirements

Let’s take a closer look at the most common wheel types and how they measure up to different chemicals in their wake.

Polyurethane Wheels

Poly wheels are generally resistant to ozone, hydrocarbons, moderate chemicals, fats, oils and grease. Chemicals to avoid include concentrated acids, esters, ketones, and chlorinated and nitro hydrocarbon. And while sodium hydroxide doesn’t hurt urethane, it can cause bonds to break down. Some thinner oils are also known to break bonds.

Moldon Rubber Wheels

Our moldon rubber wheels are generally resistant to most moderate chemicals (wet or dry), organic acids, alcohols, ketones, and aldehydes. Conversely, the rubber tread on these wheels are generally attacked by ozone, strong acids, fats, oils, greases, and most hydrocarbons.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is relatively resistant to many chemicals. The downside, of course, is that it will rust without a protective coating. In general, cast iron is resistant to alkalies, oils, ketones, and grease. Keep it away from most acids, peroxides, ethers, tetrahydrafuran and many chloride salts.


Aluminum is superior to cast iron when it comes to corrosion resistance. It’s able to stand up well to oils, ketones, grease, hydrocarbons and many acids. Aluminum can also withstand long hours outdoors and in wet environments, whereas cast iron must be painted or sealed to prevent corrosion. There’s one notable difference between the two, however: Unlike cast iron, aluminum tends to be attacked by strong alkalies, like ammonia and sodium hydroxide solutions.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is well-known for its resistance to chemicals. Here at Hamilton, we use Stainless 303 for our wheels and Stainless 304 for our caster rigs. Stainless exhibits excellent resistance to alkalies, oils, ketones, grease, hydrocarbons, ethers, and tetrahydrofuran. Its Achilles heel, however, is its vulnerability to strong acids such as hydrochloric and sulfuric hydrofluoric. Stainless may also suffer from chloride stress corrosion in the presence of chloride salts.


Polypropylene (or Hamilton’s branded Aqualite) wheels love water and tolerate acids, chlorides, and alkalies better than any other wheel type Hamilton offers. However, polypropylene does have a few weaknesses—it has a relatively low carrying capacity and is subject to attack by oxidizing agents.


Hamilton’s branded Plastex Phenolic wheels are generally resistant to both aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons as well as ketones and esters. And while Phenolic is vulnerable to strong alkalies, strong acids, chlorinated solvents, and many alcohols, it can tolerate weak acids and alkalies.

*While we’ve done our best to make both as accurate as possible, both are only meant to be a guide, not gospel. In other words, they’re for informational purposes only. Ratings of chemical behavior listed in these guides may apply to a limited exposure period and temperature range. We strongly recommend testing the chemical under your application’s specific conditions first to determine the most appropriate compatibility. Hamilton does not guarantee that the information in this chart is accurate or complete or that any material is suitable for any purpose.

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