Sand And Soda Blaster: The Ultimate Guide

sand and soda blaster

Sand and soda blasters are tools used to clean or prepare surfaces for industrial coatings. While sandblasting is the older and more common option, soda blasting is a milder form of abrasive blasting that was invented in the 1980s. Both methods use compressed air to force particles at a surface, but the key difference lies in the type of particles used. Sandblasting uses fine sand particles or other materials like glass or plastic beads, steel grit, and even walnut shells, whereas soda blasting uses sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) as its abrasive media. Soda blasting is ideal for softer surfaces or when a gentler touch is required, as it is less likely to damage the surface being cleaned. It is also environmentally friendly, cost-efficient, and non-toxic. However, it may not be suitable for all projects as it cannot be recycled and has limited storage time due to moisture absorption. Sandblasting, on the other hand, offers a wider range of applications and is more suitable for tougher materials and heavy machinery.


Soda blasting vs. sandblasting


Soda blasting and sandblasting are two of the main ways to clean or prepare a surface for industrial coatings. The two methods share similarities in terms of equipment and processes, but differ in terms of materials and applications. In some cases, either method can be used, while sometimes one has a clear advantage over the other.


Sandblasting, also known as abrasive blasting, is the older and more established option. It involves using compressed air to force an abrasive material (usually sand) at high speed against a surface to remove rust, paint, or debris before applying an industrial finish.

Sandblasting is typically used on metal due to the strength of the media and air pressure. It is one of the most efficient methods for preparing surfaces and is particularly effective for rust removal. It can also be used to clean heavy machinery as it is very good at removing grease.

The media used in sandblasting does not have to be sand, which is less durable and effective due to its tendency to break down on impact. Other materials used include glass or plastic beads, steel grit, and even walnut shells, which can be recycled as they are stronger than sand and less likely to be destroyed.

One of the main downsides of sandblasting is the health risk. It creates a lot of dust, which can cause respiratory problems, and can cause burns on unprotected skin. However, these dangers can be mitigated by using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

Soda Blasting

Soda blasting is a newer, milder form of abrasive blasting that was invented in the 1980s. It uses sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and blasts the particles against a surface to clean it, remove rust, or prepare it for coating.

Soda blasting is particularly effective on softer or more delicate surfaces such as wood, chrome, plastic, and aluminium sheets. It is also suitable for use on a wide variety of surfaces as it is less likely to damage them. It is often used in automotive restoration and cleaning wooden surfaces, as well as in masonry applications.

Sodium bicarbonate is a deodorizer, making it ideal for removing mould and cleaning up fire damage. It is also a fragile material that breaks on impact, creating a lot of dust, so respiratory protection is required.

Key Differences

The main differences between sandblasting and soda blasting lie in their applications and materials. Sandblasting is typically used for heavier-duty tasks and on stronger, more durable materials, while soda blasting is gentler and better suited to softer or more delicate surfaces.

Sandblasting is applied using much greater pressure than soda blasting. Sandblasting typically uses 70-120psi, while soda blasting may use as little as 20psi. This difference in air pressure means that sandblasting is generally more effective at removing heavy coatings and buildup, while soda blasting is better for lighter coatings.

Another key difference is the environmental impact. Sandblasting media can sometimes be recycled, but it is not always environmentally friendly. Sodium bicarbonate, on the other hand, is biodegradable, water-soluble, and non-toxic. It will not build up in water or contaminate living spaces and, as it is edible, it will not cause harm if ingested (as long as it is not mixed with grease or paint).

There are also differences in terms of health and safety. Sandblasting creates more dust than soda blasting, and this dust can cause silicosis and other respiratory illnesses. While sodium bicarbonate also creates dust, it is less dangerous to breathe. However, respiratory protection is still necessary for both methods.


Soda blasting is slightly more expensive than sandblasting, which is to be expected given that it is the more environmentally friendly option. Sandblasting equipment is also more affordable, with small-scale systems available for around $30, while small-scale soda blasting equipment starts at a few hundred dollars.

In conclusion, the best method depends on the specific requirements of the project. Sandblasting is generally better for tougher materials and heavy-duty tasks, while soda blasting is ideal for softer materials and delicate surfaces.

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Soda blaster equipment

Soda blasters are a type of equipment that uses baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) and pressurised air to clean or strip paint, rust, grease, and other coatings from various surfaces. They are considered environmentally friendly and less damaging to the underlying material compared to traditional sandblasting methods.

There are various models of soda blasters available, ranging from portable units to large-scale, complex systems. Here is a description of some of the key components and features of soda blaster equipment:

  • Media Capacity: Soda blasters have different media capacities, typically ranging from 40 to 100 pounds. The media capacity refers to the amount of blasting media, such as baking soda or other abrasives, that the blaster can hold.
  • Blast Hose: This is the hose that connects the blaster to the nozzle or blast gun. Blast hoses vary in length, with some offering 8-foot hoses for optimal control, while others provide 25-foot hoses for greater reach.
  • Nozzles: Nozzles are an important component of soda blasters as they direct and control the flow of the blasting media. Some nozzles are made of ceramic material, which is durable and resistant to wear. Additionally, some blasters offer nozzle kits with different nozzle sizes to accommodate varying air compressor outputs.
  • Pressure Regulator: Soda blasters require pressurised air to operate effectively. A pressure regulator allows the operator to control and adjust the air pressure depending on the sensitivity or toughness of the job.
  • Water Trap: Moisture in the pressurised air can cause clogging and affect the performance of the soda blaster. A water trap is used to remove moisture from the air supply, preventing potential issues.
  • Construction and Portability: Soda blasters are typically made of steel for durability. Some blasters have wheeled designs for portability, making it easier to move them to different job sites.
  • Conversion between Media Types: Some soda blasters can be converted to use more aggressive abrasive materials when needed. This versatility allows operators to adapt the blaster to suit the specific requirements of a project.
  • Safety Features: Soda blasting can generate dust and airborne particles, so safety equipment is essential. Operators should wear protective gear, including respirators, safety goggles, and gloves. Some blasters also feature safety door interlocks and foot pedal operation to ensure safe handling.

Soda blasters offer a range of benefits, including their ability to effectively remove coatings without damaging the underlying material. They are widely used in various industries, such as automotive restoration, mould remediation, and industrial equipment cleaning.

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Sandblasting equipment

Sandblasting, also known as abrasive blasting, involves using air pressure to force small, abrasive particles at a surface at high speed to clean it or change its texture. Sandblasting is the more established method of the two, and is typically used on harder surfaces and materials.

The sandblasting device consists of four main elements: the air source, the sandblasting cabinet/room, the dust collector, and the blasting media.

Air Source

The air source for sandblasting is either a gas bottle or an air compressor. Air compressors come in a range of sizes and can be either stationary or portable. For optimal performance, a tank of 100 pounds per square inch (PSI) is recommended. The higher the PSI, the faster the sandblasting.

Sandblasting Cabinet/Room

The sandblasting cabinet or room holds the object being sandblasted, as well as the dust collector. Blast cabinets are used for smaller pieces and are ideal for recyclable materials, as they collect the media after use so it can be reused. Blast rooms are used for larger items such as cars, heavy machinery, and planes.

Dust Collector

The dust collector gathers waste and dust produced during the sandblasting process.

Blasting Media

The blasting media is the substance used in sandblasting, such as sand, glass or plastic balls, steel shot, or even walnut shells. These materials are often stronger than sand and less likely to break down, meaning they can be reused.

Other Considerations

When using a sandblasting air compressor, it is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines for safety.

Sandblasting requires specialised personal protective equipment (PPE) due to the health risks associated with the process, including respiratory issues and skin burns.

Soda Blasting

It is possible to use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in a standard sandblasting pot, although this is not ideal. Soda blast pots have a device to prevent the soda media from sticking together and control the flow of blast media. When using a standard sandblaster for soda blasting, it is recommended to limit the amount of media inside the sandblaster to prevent clogs.

Soda blasting is a milder form of abrasive blasting, developed in the 1980s, and is suitable for softer surfaces such as wood, chrome, and plastic. It is also effective for cleaning and removing rust, especially when a gentler touch is required.

Soda Blasting Equipment

Soda blasting equipment includes a blast cabinet, compressed air supply, a blast hose and nozzle, and a moisture purifying system. It also requires sodium bicarbonate, which is a recurring expense.

Cost Comparison

Soda blasting equipment is generally more expensive than sandblasting equipment, with small-scale equipment starting at several hundred dollars. Sandblasting equipment can range from around $30 for basic portable systems to $50,000 for industrial equipment.

Health and Environmental Considerations

Soda blasting is considered more environmentally friendly and safer for personal health than sandblasting. However, it is important to note that sodium bicarbonate can cause discolouration and damage to nearby plant life. Additionally, respiratory protection is still necessary when soda blasting due to the dust created during the process.

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Uses of soda blasting

Soda blasting is a versatile process with a wide range of applications. Its mild abrasive effect makes it suitable for cleaning and restoring delicate surfaces without causing damage. Here are some common uses of soda blasting:

Cleaning and Restoration:

Soda blasting is excellent for cleaning and restoring various materials, including timber, wood, oak beams, floors, doors, stairs, banisters, cars, boat hulls, masonry, and food processing equipment. It effectively removes dirt, corrosion, graffiti, and other surface contaminants without damaging the underlying substrate.

Paint and Varnish Stripping:

Soda blasting is often used for paint and varnish stripping during automotive restoration and industrial equipment maintenance. It can remove coatings from delicate surfaces without causing abrasion or damage.

Rust Removal:

Soda blasting is an effective method for removing light rust from surfaces. It is particularly useful for ferrous metals, as it slows down the rusting process and allows for a longer time frame before coating is required.

Graffiti Removal:

Soda blasting can be used to remove graffiti from walls, buildings, and other surfaces. It is a non-destructive method that won't damage the underlying surface.

Fire and Smoke Damage Cleanup:

Soda blasting is very effective for cleaning and restoring surfaces affected by fire or smoke damage. It removes soot and other contaminants while also deodorizing the affected areas.

Food Processing Facilities and Equipment:

Soda blasting is ideal for cleaning food processing equipment as it is non-toxic and environmentally friendly. It can remove grease, grime, and contaminants without leaving any harmful residues.

Historical Restoration:

Soda blasting was famously used in the restoration of the Statue of Liberty in the 1980s. It is suitable for cleaning and restoring delicate surfaces without causing damage, making it a valuable technique for historical preservation.

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Uses of sandblasting

Sandblasting, also known as abrasive blasting, is a process that involves using air pressure to force small, abrasive particles at a surface at high speed. This can be used to clean a surface, change its texture, or prepare it for painting or coating.

Automotive and Farm Machinery

Sandblasting is used in autobody work to strip paint and rust from vehicles before repainting. It can also be used to remove paint and rust from car parts, tractors, and other farming equipment.

Construction and Maintenance

Sandblasting is used in construction to remove paint from houses and clean sidewalks and roads. It is also used to remove scale from steel and prepare surfaces for painting or coating.

Graffiti Removal and Art

Sandblasting is an effective method of graffiti removal. It can also be used to create art by etching glass or wood.

Boat Hulls

Sandblasting techniques are used for cleaning boat hulls.

Brick, Stone, and Concrete Work

Sandblasting is used for cleaning brick, stone, and concrete work.

Fire Damage Clean-Up

Sandblasting can be used to clean up fire-damaged surfaces.

Etching Concrete

Sandblasting can be used to etch concrete surfaces to create a decorative effect.

Removing Rust and Corrosion

Sandblasting can be used to remove rust and corrosion from metal.

Creating a Key for Paint or Other Coatings

Sandblasting can be used to roughen smooth surfaces, such as concrete or wood, to help paint or other coatings adhere better.

Removing Old Paint

Sandblasting is a quick and effective alternative to manually stripping paint from a surface.

Surface Smoothing and Shaping

Sandblasting can be used to smooth rough surfaces or roughen smooth surfaces.

Removing Surface Contaminants

Sandblasting can be used to remove surface contaminants such as dirt, dust, and grime.

Removing Residue from Corrosion

Sandblasting can be used to remove residue from corrosion on materials.

Modifying Metal Surfaces

Sandblasting can be used to modify the condition of metal surfaces, such as by removing scratches or casting marks.

Wood Restoration

Sandblasting can be used to restore old wood, such as log cabins or wooden furniture.

Antique Restoration

Sandblasting can be used to restore antiques, either with wet or dry blasting depending on the object.

Removing Coatings from Circuit Boards

Sandblasting is used to remove coatings from printed circuit boards.

Frequently asked questions

A sand and soda blaster is a tool used to clean dirty parts and surfaces. They use compressed air to force abrasive particles against a surface to remove rust, paint, or debris.

Sandblasting is the older and more well-known option. It is more aggressive and uses a wider range of media. Sodablasting is a milder form of blasting that uses sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) as its abrasive media. It is more flexible and can be used on a wider variety of surfaces.

Sandblasting is better when dealing with stronger materials like steel or heavy machinery. It is more durable and efficient at removing rust and paint from heavy metals. It is also better at removing grease and other contaminants.

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