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Sandblasting vs. Soda Blasting

When it comes to removing paint and cleaning hard surfaces, there are few ways as efficient as abrasive blasting, and this is the case for sandblasting. And while sandblasting is very useful in many applications, certain circumstances are better handled by a particular type of blasting known as soda blasting.

What is Sandblasting?

sandblasting versus soda blastingSandblasting is often used to refer to an array of different techniques that use abrasive blasting media to remove surface materials such as paint and grease. As the name suggest, sand particles are blasted at the surface of an object at a high rate of speed, using compressed air. The force at which these particles contact the surface helps to remove unwanted coatings. However, sand is not the only abrasive that is referred to under the phrase “sandblasting,” as other media such as glass beads, coconut shells, and walnut shell fragments, are also commonplace.

What is Soda Blasting?

Soda blasting is a subcategory of sandblasting in which granulated sodium bicarbonate blasting media, more commonly known as baking soda, is used in place of sand or shells. Even though the media that is used to remove surface coatings may be different, the equipment and air pressure rates are similar to those used in sandblasting.

Difference in Surface Impact

While sandblasting and soda blasting may be fundamentally the same, the results of each method are very different, and this is due to the way each material impacts the surface of the object being cleaned. The fact that sand and glass particles are structurally harder than sodium bicarbonate means that sandblasting is better for removing tough surface coatings, in particular, rust, and therefore, it is better suited for use in industrial applications.

On the other hand – the softer particles of the sodium bicarbonate break up upon impact with the surface, which makes the process less effective in certain applications, yet it also allows for the cleaning of a variety of materials that sandblasting would be too hard on; i.e., plastic, chrome, and wood. This breakup of particles upon impact also means that soda blasting will not make dents or pits on the surface of the material being cleaned.

Media Collection Process

The main drawback in using abrasive blasting systems is the collection of the materials that have been spent during the blasting process, and this is especially true when using sand. Once the sand has been spent it will fall to the ground, from which it can then be recollected. In large-scale systems, sandblasting units are equipped with a dust collection system which siphons the sand, so that it can be reused multiple times. Many sandblasting systems are self-contained, and therefore, once the sand has been spent it cannot be reused. In either case, ensuring that all sand particles have been cleaned up after use can take a significant amount of time without a media collection system in place.

Soda blasting differs from sandblasting in regards to cleanup; the particles cannot be reused because they shatter upon impact and are henceforth rendered useless after the initial application. This can lead to higher operating costs than that of sandblasting, but the cleanup process is much simpler. In fact, the spent sodium bicarbonate can easily be washed down the drain and into the sewer system without impacting the environment. In some cases, the bicarbonate can help to neutralize chemicals found in industrial waste disposal sewers.

Blasting Equipment from DeLong

There is an array of applications that require the use of blasting to remove surface materials, and this often entails either sandblasting or soda blasting. Each of these techniques brings with them their set of pros and cons. However, both are very effective when implemented in the correct manner.

Our company offers a large inventory of new and pre-owned blasting equipment, an array of blasting abrasives, and engineered industrial blast rooms. Be sure to check out our product catalog, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team with any questions you might have!