If as a result of plating or other operations you suspect that hydrogen absorption has taken place in a part, it need not be a permanent condition. If cracking does not occur and the environmental conditions are changed so that no hydrogen is generated on the surface of the metal, the hydrogen can re-diffuse out of the steel and part ductility can be restored.

Performing a hydrogen bake-out cycle – the term "bake-out" involves both diffusion within the metal and outgassing or an embrittlement relief – is a powerful method in eliminating hydrogen before damage can occur. Key variables are temperature, time at temperature and concentration gradient (atom movement).

For example, electroplating provides a source of hydrogen during the cleaning and pickling cycles, but by far the most significant source is cathodic inefficiency. A simple hydrogen bake-out cycle can be performed to reduce risk of hydrogen damage (Table 1). The most important caution is that over-tempering or softening of the steel can occur if you are not careful, especially on a carburized or induction-hardened part.