One of the most common procedures done in the DIY, Metalworking, and woodworking areas is abrasive blasting, also known as sandblasting. It is a process where a surface is smoothed down or cleaned using a high-pressure stream of abrasive material, like silica. However, recently I have had many people asking me about the difference between sandblasting and soda blasting. I have several years involved in this industry, so I’m qualified to answer the question.
What is the difference between sandblasting and soda blasting?
Soda Blasting has several pros over sandblasting, as you probably know, but it also has its disadvantages. The ideal blasting type will depend a lot on what kind of surface you are trying to work on, how deep your pockets are, and other things. If you want to learn more about the pros & cons of both types of blasting, the different types of blasting available, and more, please check below!
Most Common Types Of Abrasive Blasting
Considering you likely need to blast a project, I think it’s essential that we talk about the different types of abrasive blasting available. The choice that you make depends a lot on how harsh and rough you need the blasting to be.
- Dry sandblasting: One of the harshest methods available, dry sandblasting works by propelling an abrasive material, typically silica sand to a surface. Dry sandblasting generally is used for metal surfaces, removing rust, and any surface that does not need a softer type of blasting. Because of the danger associated with this type of blasting, it tends to be pretty expensive, and some locations require an exclusive license for this type of blasting to be done.
- Wet sandblasting: Wet sandblasting is very similar to dry sandblasting, but the only difference is adding water onto the rough mix. It helps with the lubrication of the surface one is blasting. Which, in turn, helps minimize damage to it as much as possible. This method also has the added benefit of being cheaper and safer than dry sandblasting. It’s not as effective as dry sandblasting, though—just something to keep in mind.
- Dry ice blasting: As the name implies, dry-ice blasting uses a pressurized air stream to blast solid carbon dioxide onto a surface. Unlike some of these methods, dry-ice blasting is technically not a method of blasting. It is because it’s non-abrasive, therefore used as an environmentally friendly way to clean up dirty surfaces. It’s also much easier to clean up. After the dry ice blasting, the ice sublimates merely, and the only thing to pick up is the dislodged dirt particles.
- Bead blasting: Also known as glass blasting, this is a blasting method that uses glass beads as the abrasive material to clean up a surface, typically one that requires more delicate treatment. It is also a popular way to treat metal surfaces and make them smoother. However, other than this, this method is usually not used for cleaning up things like graffiti or rust because this method isn’t abrasive enough.
- Water blasting: Like dry-ice blasting, this is technically not even a type of blasting per se, because abrasion isn’t also involved. It is just another term for high-pressure washing of a surface, typically graffiti and dirt. Waterblasting will only be useful if you are looking to clean up superficial dirt from a surface, but if you want to remove things like rust from a surface, then this method will not be enough.
- Soda Blasting: A milder form of abrasive blasting, the main benefit of this when compared to dry and wet sandblasting, is that this method isn’t as harsh as traditional sandblasting. It makes it an excellent choice for blasting delicate structures like sculptures and some types of painted walls. Also, a bit of benefit to this is that it’s an environmentally friendly type of blasting.
Pros & Cons Of Sandblasting
Since this is an article about soda blasting vs. sandblasting, you must know a few pros & cons of each. I talked about that a little bit already, but this is a more comprehensive account of the advantages and disadvantages so that you can be more informed.
- Sandblasting is harsher & more effective: As I have said above, sandblasting is the best choice if you are dealing with removing rust from a surface. Not only that, if you are looking to remove paint, or clean up machinery, then sandblasting is the right choice for you.
- Sandblasting is more expensive: This is something that will depend a lot on where you live, but generally, dry sandblasting tends to be more costly than soda blasting. As we mentioned above, there are some locations where you need a special permit to sandblast, and if this is the case with there you live, then it’s very likely that sandblasting will be expensive.
Pros & Cons Of Soda Blasting
Now that we talked about some of the pros & cons of sandblasting, it’s time to do the same with soda blasting. Again, this is by no means a full pros & cons list, but it contains the most important advantages and disadvantages, though.
- Sodablasting is significantly less abrasive: This might be a pro or a con depending on the surface that you want to work with, but let me explain. If you are looking to remove rust from a surface or clean up graffiti from a commercial building, then soda blasting is probably not going to be enough. Sodablasting is much more ideal for things like wooden cabinets and other things that require a type of blasting that is less harsh.
- Soda blasting is environmentally friendly: This is another reason why you might want to use this method. It is much more ecologically sustainable than sandblasting, which tends to use environmentally unfriendly materials. It is also another reason why the government tends to use this method to clean up gum from the streets and sidewalks.
Is It Possible To Do The Sandblasting Yourself?
The answer to that is yes; you can do the sandblasting yourself. You can do this by either buying the gear or building it yourself. If you find that sandblasting/soda blasting is out of your budget, doing this will save you a lot of money.
Here in Gizmoplans, I provide a DIY pressurized sandblasted plan perfect for folks that like saving money. Not only is the project straightforward to build, but you can easily save up hundreds of dollars over the long term, making this an excellent choice for people that need to sandblast often.
How Much Does Sandblasting and Soda Blasting Cost?
I answered this question in this article about sandblasting costs, but to summarize it, it will cost you about 50-100 bucks an hour for dry sandblasting. Wet sandblasting and soda blasting tends to be less expensive. Also, as we said above, you can save a significant amount of money if you decide to build your pressurized sandblaster, so if you are on a budget, I recommend that you check out this plan to build pressurized sandblaster!
Is Sandblasting Dangerous?
The answer is yes, sandblasting can be dangerous. Anybody that is going to be sandblasting needs to wear safety gear, especially if the person is going to be dry sandblasting.
- Danqi Shen, Lily, “Sandblasting” Princeton, https://www.princeton.edu/~timeteam/sandblasting.html, Accessed November 25, 2019.
- “Protecting Workers from the Hazards of Abrasive Blasting Materials” Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3697.pdf, Accessed November 25, 2019.
- “Abrasive blasting” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrasive_blasting, Accessed November 25, 2019.