FAQ - Blasting Media

Frequently Asked Questions

In our industry there are many terms specific to blasting and restoration.  Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions along with explanation of some of the features and benefits of blasting with baking soda, sand and calcium.

Why use baking soda as a media for blasting and cleaning?

Baking soda is a very versatile blasting media and good for many applications. It is non-damaging to metal, and non-harmful to people, animals or the environment. Baking soda is environmentally friendly and safe for bearings, seals, and gaskets safe. Baking soda blasting is great for a variety of applications. It is useful for blasting around glass or if you are blasting a vehicle and don’t want to warp the steel. Baking soda is also used in mill applications when blasting felts. It is often used for blasting wood. This type of media has an easy clean up.

When is sand best used in a blasting process?

Sand is the best media for blasting in places where there is a large amount of scale or rust, for example heavy machinery such as a rock crusher. It is good for blasting all kinds of heavy equipment. Another media you can use for these applications is crushed glass.

When would you use calcium in a blasting process?

Sand is the best media for blasting in places where there is a large amount of scale or rust, for example heavy machinery such as a rock crusher. It is good for blasting all kinds of heavy equipment. Another media you can use for these applications is crushed glass.

When would you use calcium in a blasting process?

Calcium can be used for blasting heavy equipment instead of sand. It is a great media choice also for an aluminum hulled boat. Using sand in this application could cause hull penetration. The choice of baking soda for a media in a boat application would also be safe but it would be a lot slower than calcium.

Why is it necessary to have a visit to the site to prepare an estimate?

In order to provide you with a realistic estimate, we need to understand the nature and scope of the project. This will allow us to evaluate such things as type of project, material to be blasted, access, location, obstruction that have to be dealt with or worked around, and any other special issues relating to the work. Seeing the surface to be blasted is an essential part in our preparation process. We need to be able to identify the condition of the item, the materials involved, and also what coatings or paints are on the equipment. For example, some boat hulls have just paint and others have a paint with a filler, vehicle blasting rust amount or special decals or accessories.

Is clean-up a big job for the different media? Is that part of the work you do?

Baking soda is easier to clean up than sand. Clean up and containments are handled by us unless the customer requests otherwise. Sometimes due to the nature of the application or the location (for example a mill application) the customer prefers to handle it themselves.

What is soda blasting exactly?

Sodablasting is a non-destructive method for many applications in cleaning, paint stripping, automotive restoration, industrial equipment maintenance, graffiti removal, molecular steel passivation against rust, oil removal by saponification and translocation, masonry cleaning and restoration, soot remediation, boat hull cleaning and food processing facilities and equipment cleaning.

What is the science behind how it works?

The crystalline structure of Bicarbonate of Soda is soft and friable, but on impacting a surface at high speed it explodes and fragments taking part of the surface coating with it. Imagine this process happening tens of thousands of times per second; this is how Sodablasting works! Under ideal circumstances the Soda is able to penetrate the “adhesion plane” where the coating meets the substrate. Here the crystals are literally forced between the two surfaces lifting the coating away from the substrate without damaging it. Bicarbonate of Soda has a hardness of 2.4 on the Mohs scale. Silica sand blasting has a hardness of 7 and Aluminium Oxide 9. Food Grade Bicarbonate of Soda/ Sodium Bicarbonate is used as the blast media.

How was the process developed?

In 1972, New York State engineers were challenged with the daunting task of cleaning and restoring the Statue of Liberty without damaging the statue or the environment. The conventional methods in use at the time would not only damage the statue’s delicate copper plates, but would create harmful waste in the surrounding waterways. Soda blasting was thus invented to accomplish the task of cleaning the statue, while keep surrounding environment safe.

What are a few benefits of soda blasting?
  • Water-soluble and environmentally-safe.
  • Eliminates the need of using toxic cleaning chemicals.
  • Does not produce thermal sparks or heat buildup.
  • One-step cleaning and de-coating process.
  • Can be done while other machines and processes are in operation.
  • Equipment is transportable, in many cases a one-person operation
  • Equipment is easy to use and cleanup is relatively easy.
What is the difference between soda blasting and sandblasting?

Soda blasting does not result in heat build-up in the substrate, which is a common problem with Sandblasting, heat transfer to the substrate can contribute to warping and metal fatigue.

What are examples of soda blasting applications?
  • Graffiti removal: Remove graffiti easily without chemicals
  • Road Marketing / Line Removal: Removals of pavement markings with soda is highly effective on most types of markings without significant scarring of the road surfaces.
  • Brick Cleaning: Paint and mortar removal from bricks and concrete, and masonry work. Soda blasting is great for hard to reach places for cleaning.
  • Stainless Steel Cleaning: Soda blasting is the perfect preparation for sanitation and hygienic cleaning within the food industry.
  • Fire / Smoke / Renovations: Soda is a natural deodorizer and works well at removing the smells associated with smoke, fire and mold. Soda blasting will not scratch glass or damage any surface harder than soda.
  • Mining and Heavy Plant Equipment: Soda blasting removes grease, dirt, oil and paint without harming bearings, hydraulics, seals, gaskets or glass. It’s a fast, efficient and cost saving method of high-pressure cleaning. It is perfect for onsite work as it is a mobile service.
  • Chewing Gum Removal: Since Soda blasting does not result in heat build-up it makes the process very simple.
  • Marine antifouling removal and antifouling surface preparation on boats.
  • Automotive restoration.
  • Tile restoration.
Is rusting a problem with soda blasting as it is with sandblast?

A major advantage of soda blasting is the fact sodium bicarbonate does not break the surface tension of metals; thus, the problem of flash rusting is eliminated.

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