Engineers, artisans and workers in a host of industries have long realized the benefits of micro abrasive blasting. They know, too, that the success of a blasting job depends in great part on the type of abrasive media employed. For cleaning and coating removal, soda blasting is often the clear choice.
Soda blasting involves the use of sodium bicarbonate, or common baking soda, as the abrasive medium. Not only is it gentle, non-toxic and easy-to-clean, but it also includes special properties that make it an ideal agent for a number of specialized situations. In fact, in 1986, engineers used 100 tons of soda to remove two coatings of coal tar from the Statue of Liberty.
Preserves Surface Integrity While Cleaning
Unlike other abrasive powders that alter the surface of the object being blasted, sodium bicarbonate is only mildly abrasive. In the case of the Statue of Liberty, for example, workers were able to successfully remove the coating without damaging the delicate copper underneath.
In soda blasting, the sodium bicarbonate crystals shatter on contact with the surface. This quickly lifts the coating from the substrate without damaging the surface layer. Thus, it is safe to use on soft metals, wood, delicate glass, or even plastics and rubber.
Soda Blasting is Non-Toxic and Eco-Friendly
Because sodium bicarbonate naturally occurs in the human body, it is safe to ingest, is not an irritant to either skin or eyes and is non-toxic via inhalation. As a result, it can be used on food-grade products, as it will not contaminate the food. While workers still need to protect against contaminants released from the surface being blasted, the soda itself is safe.
Not only is sodium bicarbonate safe for human contact, but it is also environmentally-friendly. It releases no hazardous emissions into the air, and it is biodegradable. And because it is water soluble, it results in much less solid waste. In fact, soda blasting produces less than one quarter the amount of the waste produced by traditional sandblasting.
Unique Properties for Specialized Tasks
In addition to being gentle and non-toxic, sodium bicarbonate boasts other distinctive properties that make it an unusually effective blasting medium. A few of these include:
- Ability to inhibit rust – Soda has alkaline properties that make it a natural rust inhibitor. As long as it remains on a ferrous metal surface, the metal will not rust.
- Deodorant – In the same way that baking soda absorbs odors from your refrigerator, it also removes odors from the blasting area. As a result, soda blasting is particularly helpful when restoring properties affected by fire and mold.
- Nonflammable – Soda blasting does not produce sparks and is thus safe for use in potentially explosive areas such as oil refineries.
- Easy-to-clean – Because soda is water soluble, it will not clog small openings and complex parts. This, combined with its superior ability to cut oil and grease, make it ideal for cleaning delicate engine parts.
Put Soda Blasting to the Test
Sodium bicarbonate has its limitations. Because it is a relatively soft powder, it is not an ideal option for cutting or deburring. By the same token, if you need to rough up a surface to improve adhesion, soda is not the powder for the job. However, for non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning and coating removal, soda blasting is one of the best options available.
For the past 65 years, Airbrasive has been a leader in the micro abrasive blasting industry. We provide a superior selection of blasting equipment and abrasive powders, including sodium bicarbonate. We can help you find the right solution for your needs.