Passivation and Pickling of Stainless Steel
Passivation is a chemical treatment to the surface of stainless steel that removes contaminants such as free iron and helps form an oxide layer that protects the steel from corrosion. This can be done with either a nitric or a citric acid solution and it generally will not result in a marked change in appearance of the stainless steel surface.
Both passivation and pickling processes are performed with dangerous acids and standard safety procedures should be followed. These acids are also extremely corrosive to carbon steel contamination and should be thoroughly rinsed or washed after the process. For reference, ASTM A380 is the Standard Practice for Cleaning, Descaling and Passivation of Stainless Steel Parts, Equipment and Systems.