Sandblasting and soda blasting are both cleaning processes, they are used to remove dust, dirt, old paint, and contaminants from the surface of a material. The two methods are similar when it comes to their processes and equipment.
However, they are different when it comes to materials and applications. An operator who doesn’t know the differences between sandblasting and soda blasting would think they are completely the same and wrongfully apply the two methods.
So, what exactly is the difference between sandblasting and soda blasting? What are the costs and benefits attached to each method? Let’s find out…
What is Sandblasting?
Sandblasting is also known as abrasive blasting. It involves using compressed air to force abrasive materials towards the surface of a material for the following purposes; To clean the surface of a metal, remove dust, old paint, and impurities from the surface of a material, prepare a surface for coating and finishing.
From the name, one would think sand is the only abrasive media adopted in this method, that isn’t true because, in recent times, and is no longer the main abrasive material used in the process of sandblasting. The durability of sand is low and less effective. Here, check out the best sand for sandblasting.
Because of its ability to turn into powdery form after impact on the material being sandblasted.
Other durable and effective abrasive materials have been employed in sandblasting, such as steel grit, plastic beads, glass, walnut shell, etc. These abrasive materials can be recycled and have higher strength and durability than sand.
Sandblasting also gives a similar result to hand sanding but the difference is that sandblasting is more efficient.
The process of sandblasting requires various equipment for effective sandblasting. Some of them are listed below;
Metals are some of the common materials sandblasted with this method, because of the strength of the abrasive material and pressure from the nozzle. The surfaces of corroded metals can easily be prepared using the process of sandblasting.
It is efficient in removing rust. Sandblasting is versatile due to the varieties of abrasive media employed in the process.
The disadvantage of sandblasting is that it poses a great risk to the health of the operator. It can lead to respiratory disorders due to a large amount of dust being emitted.
The pressurized form can lead to burns on skins not properly protected with safety coveralls.
However, most of these downsides can be prevented with the use of suitable and complete safety gears.
What is Soda Blasting?
The process of soda blasting is similar to that of sandblasting. Soda blasting is one of the newest and innovative forms of blasting.
The abrasive media, which is sodium bicarbonate, is forced towards the surface of a material with pressurized air, to remove impurities, contaminants and to prepare the surface of the coating material.
Unlike sand, sodium bicarbonate shatters when it hit the surface of a material. The material cannot be damaged. The equipment used in sandblasting is almost similar to that of soda blasting.
Soda blasting is applied to softer surfaces and surfaces that require gentler impact to avoid damage, such as plastic, chrome, wood, and glass if applied correctly.
Soda blasting is used on a variety of surfaces around the world, due to its low risk of damaging or distorting the surface of the material. Some of the applications of soda blasting are;
- Restoration of automotive
- Cleaning wooden surfaces
- Preparing surfaces for coating.
I won’t forget to inform you that soda, otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate, is a deodorizer that is best used to remove mold and clean up surfaces damaged by fire.
Soda Blasting V/S Sand Blasting: Which is better?
The applications and materials used in sandblasting and soda blasting are not their only differences.
When you use sandblasting on some materials, it may cause damage.
Whereas, when soda blasting is applied to the same material, it may cause no damage. However, sandblasting can rapidly remove rust from a surface and quickly clean surfaces than soda blasting.
More pressure is applied in the process of sandblasting than soda blasting.
The pressure used in sandblasting may be between 70 – 120 PSI, while that of soda blasting is 20 PSI. Pressure has great significance in the effectiveness of sandblasting and soda blasting, and pressure determines their strength.
3. Preventing forming rust
Sodium bicarbonate is capable of removing rust from the surface of a material and also preventing it from forming again. Whereas, the case is different in sandblasting because you need to add an industrial finish immediately after sandblasting to prevent flash rusting.
When you use soda blasting, a protective film is created on the surface of the material after soda blasting, which gives it a little time between preparation and adding a coat, which in turn prevents the surface from rusting quickly. The soda can be removed with water and vinegar when you are ready to apply the final coating.
4. Environmental friendliness
One of the major differences is its impact on the environment. Some of the materials used in sandblasting can be recycled, which makes it non environmentally friendly. However abrasive materials such as walnut shells and corn cobs used in sandblasting are environmentally friendly because they are biodegradable.
5. Less dust
Soda blasting creates less dust when compared with sandblasting, which means the materials are not as hazardous as materials used in sandblasting.
Adopting soda blasting is good because of its environmental friendliness. Sodium bicarbonate is not poisonous because it is edible. Soda blasting doesn’t create dust like sandblasting.
So which is better between sandblasting and soda blasting? It will depend on the type of project you will do. Soda blasting is best for softer surfaces and materials that require a gentler impact. Sandblasting is a better option for tougher materials such as concrete, steel, aircraft parts, etc.
When should you use Sandblasting?
You can use sandblasting when the material is stronger and tougher. In other words, if your steel material is covered with rust and needs to be cleaned, using sandblasting to remove the rust would be the best option for you.
The abrasive media used in the process of sandblasting is more efficient to remove the rust due to its high durability.
You can use sandblasting when you are dealing with heavy machinery because grease can easily be removed via sandblasting than soda blasting.
When should you use Soda blasting?
Soda blasting can be used to clean softer surfaces and materials that require less impact, such as wood, plastic, and glass. This method is also best used when you want to remove weaker imperfections from the surface of a material. Here’s a relatable example, you know mold is typically softer, soda blasting can be used to remove it.
This is also applicable to materials damaged by fire. Soda blasting also works best in cleaning electrical components that may be damaged by sandblasting.
You can use this method to clean aluminum sheets and delicate automotive parts. For industrial coating after preparation on metal, soda blasting will be the best option for you.
When you are considering flexibility, versatility, and environmental friendliness, you can use soda blasting.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Sandblasting
Pros of Sandblasting;
- Best for industrial applications
- Effective in removing rust
- Quicker and rapid cleaning
- Less machinery is required
- The process is easy
- It offers wide applications
Cons of Sandblasting
- Poses a risk of health hazards
- Lack of ventilation
- Can cause harm to unprotected skin
- Not recommended for softer materials
- Heat is generated via friction
Advantages and Disadvantages of Soda blasting
Pros of Soda blasting
- Environmentally friendly
- Works best on gentler and softer materials
- Excess heat is not produced
- It is not hazardous to health
- Soda can be used to clean molds and materials damaged by fire.
- It prevents further rusting after removing rust from metal
- It is non-toxic and soluble in water
Cons of Soda Blasting
- The cost of set up is high.
- Soda blasting can leave a white film on the surface of the material being cleaned.
Frequently asked questions
Can a sandblaster be used for soda blasting?
Yes, sandblaster can be used for soda blasting because it is one of the equipment used. You can use sodium bicarbonate in a sandblaster.
Do you need sand after soda blasting?
No, you don’t need sand after soda blasting because the abrasive material used is different.
How much does it cost for Soda Blasting and Sandblasting?
When you compare soda blasting and sandblasting, it requires more cost to run soda blasting than sandblasting.
It is costlier to run soda blasting because of its environmental friendliness and environmentally friendly options are expensive.
Setting up a soda blasting option requires the following equipment; air compressor, blast generator, blast hose, and nozzle. While the cost of sandblasting varies depending on the scale of the task/job at hand.
Finally, knowing the difference between sandblasting and soda blasting have a long way in determining their applications. Sometimes, you may be faced with the option of choosing the two, but this article clearly states the best option depending on the materials involved.
- What is Sandblasting?
- What is Soda Blasting?
- Soda Blasting V/S Sand Blasting: Which is better?
- When should you use Sandblasting?
- When should you use Soda blasting?
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Sandblasting
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Soda blasting
- Frequently asked questions