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Abrasive vs Soda Blasting

When it comes to stripping paint, which should you choose: traditional abrasive blasting or soda blasting?

Abrasive blasting is a proven technology that has been in use for over 100 years, beginning with the use of silica sand as a blast media (hence the term “sandblasting”). However, with the increased awareness since about 1973 of the dangers of Silicosis, several new alternative media have been developed. The most common alternate blasting media are Aluminum Oxide, Silicon Carbide, Glass Bead, Coal Slag, aluminum or steel pellets, and are generally used for paint and coating removal, and in some cases, rust removal. All of these media are grains of hard, sharp material which, when propelled at high velocity with blasting equipment, are capable of generating a great deal of heat on the blasted surface, resulting in warped panels and etched surfaces. Traditional abrasive blasting is still best for stripping and removing rust from castings or heavy steel parts, but not the best for stripping paint from auto body sheet metal and certainly not fiberglass.

There are some less-aggressive abrasive media including Poly, Walnut Shell, Corn Husk and others available for the purpose of stripping paint from auto bodies; however, they can require a great deal of post-work clean-up and will leave residual particles in seams and crevices of the car body.

There is another alternative rapidly increasing in popularity: bicarbonate of soda, or more commonly known as soda blasting. The technology is fairly new, having been developed in the mid-1980s primarily for the purpose of cleaning the Statue of Liberty inside and out, a delicate task requiring effectiveness without damage.

Fast forward a few decades and we now have lightweight, portable equipment available to the average hobbyist who wishes to strip paint from his "pride and joy" without inflicting damage. In fact, a car can be stripped of its paint while leaving all trim, rubber and glass in place, with no harm to those components! Additionally, no panel-damaging heat is generated, and the surface is left smooth and texture-free...even aluminum and fiberglass. This occurs because the soda particles completely shatter into a dust after striking and removing the paint without harming the base metal or fiberglass. We once stripped the paint off a vintage car using a soda blaster and discovered original factory sanding marks on the fender. These were actually left intact, but the paint was gone!

Fast forward a few decades and we now have lightweight, portable equipment available to the average hobbyist who wishes to strip paint from his "pride and joy" without inflicting damage. In fact, a car can be stripped of its paint while leaving all trim, rubber and glass in place, with no harm to those components! Additionally, no panel-damaging heat is generated, and the surface is left smooth and texture-free...even aluminum and fiberglass. This occurs because the soda particles completely shatter into a dust after striking and removing the paint without harming the base metal or fiberglass. We once stripped the paint off a vintage car using a soda blaster and discovered original factory sanding marks on the fender. These were actually left intact, but the paint was gone!

As always, Eastwood offers the hobbyist the latest and best in equipment and supplies to help make that prized possession the best it can be. We now have several soda-blasting units to choose from, and a selection of bicarbonate of soda medias available. Plus, our Universal Soda Blasting Retrofit Kit allows you to convert either a 3/8" or 1/2" pressure blaster into a soda blaster.