Getting rid of rust, dirt, and grime from your project just got a whole lot easier. With soda blasting, you can easily remove imperfections with minimal effort. Best of all, this eco-friendly technique is safe, fast, and effective.
As a special form of sandblasting, soda blasting is quickly becoming a popular choice for surface preparation. But how does soda blasting work, and what are the benefits? Read on to learn about soda blasting.
What is Soda Blasting?
Soda blasting is a process that uses baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) as an abrasive media for surface preparation, cleaning, paint stripping, and rust removal. The soda is propelled onto the surface at high speed, removing dirt, rust, and other contaminants from the substrate.
This type of blasting is ideal for a number of different applications because baking soda is non-toxic and non-flammable. It's also easy to clean up after use, making it an efficient and cost-effective option.
How Does Soda Blasting Work?
Understanding how the method works is vital for achieving the best results. Soda blasting is performed using a special machine known as a soda blaster.
This equipment looks similar to conventional sandblasting machines, but it uses baking soda instead of sand. The soda is mixed with pressurized air and then forced through an abrasive nozzle at high speed, allowing it to remove dirt and other contaminants from the surface. Soda blasting equipment is typically designed a bit differently to allow the soda blast media to easily be delivered. Compared to a traditional sandblast pot a soda blast pot will have a valve that has unique design elements to allow the media to flow well, since soda can tend to be more likely to clump relative to traditional blast medias like crushed glass or coal slag.
Sodium-bicarbonate abrasive media is much softer than sand. When measured by the Mohs scale (which measures the hardness of a material), sand falls at 6-7 while baking soda is only 3.
This makes it gentle enough to use on delicate surfaces like wood and aluminum without damaging them. Soda blasting is popular for surfaces where removing contaminant is important but where you don’t want to cause surface changes. Common soda blasting uses include blasting thin gauge metal (like car panels), thin aluminum surface blasting, blasting brick, or blasting wood. Soda blasting is also often popular for blasting a surface where you have to be able to ensure any residual media can be removed easily, like radiator fins on engines or intake vents on HVAC and Industrial Equipment.
Benefits of Soda Blasting
There are many advantages to using soda blasting for surface preparation. Here's an overview of what you can expect as you use soda blasting for your project:
1. Soda Blasting is Fast and Efficient
Soda blasting can efficiently prep sizable areas much quicker than sanding or using a wire wheel. This can help save time on projects as well as reduce labor costs. And when you're finished, the baking soda can be quickly and easily cleaned up.
2. Soda Blasting is Safe
Unlike other abrasive media, baking soda is non-toxic, non-flammable, and doesn't create noxious fumes. This makes it a safe option for both people and the environment, as long as the material your blasting off the substrate doesn’t have any harmful contaminants in it like lead.
3. Soda Blasting is Eco-Friendly
Not only is baking soda safe to use, but it's also eco-friendly. After use, the soda can be disposed of easily by using water (as long as the material you blasted off is not environmentally harmful)
4. Soda Blasting is Soft On Substrates
Baking soda is much softer than sand, which means it won't damage delicate surfaces like wood or aluminum. This makes soda blasting great for removing graffiti from old buildings, restoring furniture and antiques, and other delicate projects.
Soda Blasting vs. Sandblasting
When it comes to surface preparation, soda blasting and sandblasting are two of the most popular methods.
However, sandblasting works by using medias like garnett, coal slag or crushed glass as the abrasive media. This makes it ideal for tougher jobs like removing rust or paint from steel and other hard surfaces, but it can cause damage to softer materials such as wood and aluminum. Additionally sandblasting can be hard to capture the blast media that is left behind or to get it removed from the surface of the product blasted, soda blast media can be dissolved by water making it easier to clean up any residual media.
Soda blasting is a gentler option because baking soda won't damage delicate surfaces making it ideal for cleaning brick, thin metal or aluminum surfaces, and other soft surfaces like wood where you don’t want to leave a deep surface profile.
What Equipment Does Sand Blasting Require?
To get started with soda blasting, you'll need the right equipment. While the process is safe, those unfamiliar with the equipment can be at risk of injury if not properly trained. Here are some of the pieces of equipment you will need for a soda blasting project:
1. Air Compressor: You will need to ensure that your air compressor can handle the pressure and volume needed for the job. The larger your blast nozzle the larger a compressor you will need for more info on choosing a compressor for sandblasting check out our guide
2. Air Cooler and Moisture Separator: These two pieces are important for preventing moisture from entering the soda blaster. Soda media tends to be more susceptible to moisture causing clumping issues, having a proper moisture separator or better yet desiccant dryer for your compressor will ensure you minimize media clumping issues
3. Soda Blast Pot, Hose, and Nozzle: This is the main component of any soda blasting system. The blast pot contains abrasive material and controls the media's flow, pressure, and direction. This piece will also be connected to an air compressor via a hose.
4. Sodium Bicarbonate Blasting Abrasive: This is the abrasive media necessary for soda blasting. It can be purchased in different grades to suit the needs of your project.
5. Protective Gear: Safety is paramount when using soda-blasting equipment. Ideally you wear a forced fed OSHA approved sandblast hood along with proper protective clothing.
How to Achieve the Best Results from Soda Blasting
Once you have all the necessary equipment, some tips can help ensure you get the best results from your soda blasting project.
1. Start With A Test Area
Before you start on your main project, it's a good idea to test out the soda blaster on a small area first. This will allow you to adjust the flow and pressure of the media until you get the desired results. It will also allow you to confirm that soda blasting will be able to properly clean your project.
2. Select The Right Grade Media
Different grades of baking soda will result in different levels of abrasiveness. Using the wrong grade for your project can lead to unsatisfactory results, so ensure you're using the correct one. Higher mesh sizes mean a finer soda media which means that the profile will be smoother, a coarser grit (lower mesh size) will result in a rougher surface finish.
3. Move The Nozzle Evenly
As with any blasting operation, it's important to move the nozzle evenly at a slightly off perpendicular angle across the surface to ensure consistent results, you should avoid sweeping the nozzle in arcs when blasting.
4. Use The Correct Pressure
Too little pressure will not be effective, while too much can damage the surface being blasted. Adjust the pressure to get the desired results without damaging the substrate.Start at a pressure and gradually increase the pressure if needed until you see the profile on the surface you wanted.
5. Rinse The Surface After Blasting
Once you're finished blasting, it's important to rinse off all remaining baking soda. This will help prevent any undesired effects from the residue.
6. Hire a Professional When Necessary
If you're not confident in your skills or don't have the necessary equipment, it's always a good idea to hire a professional for the job. They will be able to get the desired results quickly and safely.
The Bottom Line
Soda blasting is an environmentally-friendly method that offers great results with minimal surface damage.
When used properly, it can be a great alternative to traditional sandblasting.
Soda blasting may be the perfect solution if you're looking for a safe and effective way to clean or refinish materials, especially delicate surfaces or surfaces that residual blast media being left behind will be problematic . Make sure you use the right equipment, follow safety protocols, and select the correct media grade for your project. With these tips in mind, you'll be able to get the best results from your soda-blasting project.
Its main point of difference is that soda blasting doesn't damage the surface area. This is achieved thanks to the low air pressure used in soda blasting; typically soda blasting uses 20 PSI of air pressure compared to sandblasting's 120 PSI.Can I use regular baking soda for soda blasting? ›
Can I use regular baking soda like I see in the grocery store? No. While all baking soda is chemically the same (NAHCO3) only ARMEX is formulated for use as a blast media and only ARMEX is manufactured by ARM & HAMMER™.Can you soda blast a complete engine? ›
Yes, you can soda blast a complete engine but we don't recommend it. This is because soda blasting uses highly pressurized water and air to clean surfaces. The pressure can push small particles through seals and into the engine. As soon as these particles enter the engine they can cause serious damage.How big of an air compressor do I need for soda blasting? ›
For practical purposes, most soda blasting jobs require a final blasting pressure somewhere in the 25 to 100 psi range. Since most air compressors can easily provide that much pressure, you can begin to see why the cfm rating, or volume of air, is such an important factor in the soda blasting equation.Can I use sand in a soda blaster? ›
The sandblasting process uses sand to strip away rust, grime, oil, dirt and other forms of buildup on steel surfaces. The soda blasting process requires water instead of sand for preparation of steel surfaces.Will soda blasting etch glass? ›
Soda blasting can remove paint from a frame or light fixture without even etching the glass that remains uncovered.How messy is soda blasting? ›
Soda blasting is extremely messy and requires a lot of painstaking cleanup, making it even more expensive. Soda blasting also creates dangerous clouds and mists that can be dangerous for workers and workers. This is why soda blasting technicians have to be vigilant in their use of PPE (personal protection equipment).Does soda blasting remove mold? ›
Soda blasting uses sodium bicarbonate, which is safe around food, and applies it to wood surfaces of the crawl space at a high rate of speed. The soda is abrasive and therefore removes the mold from the wood surface. Soda blasting is extremely effective at removing mold but it is not the only step that should be taken.How do you prep metal after soda blasting? ›
A thorough pressure washing is necessary to remove the soda residue before ANY coatings or fillers are applied. This is very important; WATER is the only way to remove the baking soda. Do not try to remove it any other way, it will not work and you may experience a coating failure.Can you use walnut shells in a soda blaster? ›
Walnut shell is biodegradable, non-toxic, inert, environmentally safe and cost effective for blasting. Walnut shells are also a preferred media as a replacement for baking soda, especially in areas of high vegetation or where high dust levels are not acceptable.
If you're going to soda blast indoors, you need to make sure that you have a lot of ventilation to do so. You also need to make sure that you cover everything, or else the baking soda will end up on top of everything.Does soda blasting damage paint? ›
' Soda blasting is capable of removing paint, rust, chrome, powder coating, and many other other undesirable coatings, while cleaning the surface of your project. Soda is a non-abrasive form of blasting, which means that there is little to no risk of harming the surface you are maintaining.Does soda blasting damage aluminum? ›
Soda blasting is also safe for cleaning aluminum, chrome, glass, metal, and rubber. Sodium bicarbonate is also an ideal cleaner and stripper for fiberglass. By contrast, harder abrasive agents, such as sand, can dent, distort, or warp these surfaces.Do you need a compressor for a soda blaster? ›
First you will need an air compressor that is capable of producing the appropriate amount of air needed for the nozzle size and type you are using. Inadequate air supply can greatly reduce performance and efficiency at the blast site.Is soda blasting cheaper than sandblasting? ›
Unfortunately, the chemicals, machinery, and labor that come with soda blasting can be more expensive than sandblasting. Since sodium bicarbonate does not have a strong chemical structure, it shatters into powder at the end of the blasting process.How many cfm do I need for blast cabinet? ›
As a general rule when cabinet blasting, use a small nozzle setup (4-8 cfm) for 3-5 HP single-stage compressors and then only plan on blasting on an intermittent basis (to allow proper cooling of the compressor).Why is my sandblaster not shooting sand? ›
Check for a Clogged Nozzle
The most common issue with abrasive not coming out of the hose is a clogged nozzle. If debris gets down into your machine and sucked up through the hose it can clog the back of your nozzle. All our hoses have a quick connect to remove the hose from the nozzle effortlessly.
Abrasive blasting with sands containing crystalline silica can cause serious or fatal respiratory disease. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requests assistance in preventing silicosis and deaths in workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica during sandblasting.Can you use baking soda in a sandblaster gun? ›
Yes you Can Soda Blast in a Regular Sandblaster
The good news is that you can use baking soda in a regular sandblast pot. While it is possible it is not an ideal situation for two primary reasons. First, soda blast pots have a device to keep the soda media from sticking together by gently agitating the soda media.
When baking soda particles make contact with a contaminate, they explode, disrupting the contaminate, yet leaving the underlying surface unharmed. Because of this unique feature, soda blasting can be safely used on such materials as aluminum, brick, concrete, steel, stucco, tile, and wood, among many others.
Product Details. Bicarbonate Soda abrasive is a special crystalized version of baking soda specifically manufactured for Soda Blasting. This abrasive is typically used in a pressure blaster and cannot be recycled, as it breaks down on impact.What PSI should I sandblast glass? ›
A 20-30 psi of pressure is adequate for surface/light etching, while 40-70 psi is usually a good range for sandcarving. Yes, higher pressure and higher volume will carve the glass quicker. I hope that helps. See some post from customer's questions for more information.Will soda blasting hurt chrome? ›
Baking Soda Blasting does not produce heat like abrasive blasting; therefore it cannot heat up and distort sheet metal. It will not harm Glass, Chrome or Rubber products. It effectively removes paint, body filler, undercoating, seam sealer and etc.Is soda blasting better than sanding wood? ›
Where sand blasting might cause damage, soda blasting is ideal for the job. Meanwhile, where soda blasting can be used on the same surfaces and for many of the same purposes, sand blasting is more efficient and can clean or strip a surface of rust and paint much more quickly than soda blasting.Is soda blasting toxic? ›
Soda blast media is FDA approved, non-toxic, and contains no free silica; it is non-sparking, non-flammable, non-hazardous, and environmentally safe. Read more about soda blasting and see some of our projects here.Does soda blasting dissolve in water? ›
Standard grades of soda blast media (without hard aggregate) are 100% water soluble. They can be used to clean critical engine components including those with small passageways. Once cleaned, the soda residue can be thoroughly rinsed off by dissolving in water.What does baking soda do to black mold? ›
Besides killing mold, baking soda also deodorizes, so it can also get rid of the smell mold leaves in your home. Baking soda also absorbs moisture to help keep mold away. Vinegar is sometimes used along with baking soda when cleaning up a mold problem since vinegar kills different species of mold than baking soda.What is the difference between soda blasting and vapor blasting? ›
Vapor honing technologies are unique because they use a wet process, whereas sandblasting and soda blasting are strictly abrasive blasting techniques.Can you paint directly over sandblasted metal? ›
After sandblasting, the metal object must be thoroughly cleaned to remove all traces of dirt and grease as well as residual traces of sand that will interfere with the paint.How long after sandblasting should you prime? ›
All prepared steel must be primed within 24-hours of the time abrasive blast cleaning was initiated. All steel abrasive blast cleaned during the work shift must be primed within that same work shift.
Precautions for safe handling: Do not use for sand blasting.What size air compressor is needed for a sandblaster? ›
An air compressor which produces between 10CFM – 20 CFM is ideal for smaller sandblasting tasks. While a compressor which produces between 18CFM to 35 CFM is better for larger jobs where a more powerful experience is needed. While an industrial type of sandblasting needs a CFM of 50 – 100. 2.Can you soda blast stainless steel? ›
Which Method Works Best on Paint, Rust, Grease, and Oil? Soda blasting removes paint, rust, and grease from ferrous metals such as stainless steel.Can you reuse sandblasting sand? ›
Sand cannot be reused after sandblasting, but it can be recycled into other materials, such as cement, while harder materials such as garnet, steel shot, and glass beads can be screened and separated to recycle.What PSI should I run my sandblaster at? ›
What Sandblasting Air Pressure Is Required? The blast pot requires a minimum of 50 PSI. This measure will allow the pop-up valve to seal and the internal pot to pressurize. While operating, the pressure of the pot will typically in the60-80 PSI range to ensure the most efficient amount of blasting.Can you soda blast with a pressure washer? ›
This is a piece of soda blasting equipment that anyone can afford, and most will function with nearly any standard unit such as Honda pressure washer. The water, in this case, is able to help in the cleaning by getting into places the dry abrasive is not capable of penetrating.How much PSI is in a Coke can? ›
Carbonated soft drinks typically have pressures from 30 to 50 psi.Is wet sandblasting better than dry? ›
When using a dry blast cabinet, the blasting surface produces frictional heat, from the blast media striking the surface. Wet blasting cabinets produce significantly less frictional heat than dry blasting, as the water cools the surface. For delicate blasting jobs, a wet blast cabinet may be the best choice.Why can't you use regular sand in a sandblaster? ›
No, abrasives which contain more than 1% free silica are forbidden. In the past, blast cleaning operations were done with silica sand. The term sandblasting originates from those days.How many CFM do I need for a blast cabinet? ›
As a general rule when cabinet blasting, use a small nozzle setup (4-8 cfm) for 3-5 HP single-stage compressors and then only plan on blasting on an intermittent basis (to allow proper cooling of the compressor).
An air compressor which produces between 10CFM – 20 CFM is ideal for smaller sandblasting tasks. While a compressor which produces between 18CFM to 35 CFM is better for larger jobs where a more powerful experience is needed. While an industrial type of sandblasting needs a CFM of 50 – 100. 2.Can you crush a soda can with air pressure? ›
This small amount of condensed water cannot exert much pressure on the inside walls of the can, and none of the outside air can get back into the can. The result is the pressure of the air pushing from the outside of the can is great enough to crush it.How much force can a soda can withstand? ›
An all aluminum can will support 210 pounds before collapsing, a one-piece tin plated steel can can support 335 pounds before collapsing and a seamed steel can will support 645 pounds before collapsing.How thick is the metal in a coke can? ›
The walls of US soda cans are about 0.0102cm thick. Using the Density Method, we got a thickness of 0.0166cm. How did you do?