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How Do I Choose the Best Sandblasting Material?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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When attempting to choose the best sandblasting material, you must identify the purpose of the sandblasting. Different blasting media works better for different types of sandblasting, and there is a wide range of costs to consider as well when choosing materials. Some of the types of sandblasting material to choose from include sand, aluminum oxide and glass beads. You will typically choose a sandblasting material according to the reason for the sandblasting, such as rust or paint removal as compared to cleaning and decorating or etching stone or granite. Other areas you might consider are a material's ability to be reused and environmental safety concerns.

Sandblasting is the process of using a jet of compressed air to propel an abrasive against a surface, thereby removing material or altering the finish of the surface of the material. There are several types of sandblasting material that can be used to achieve a desired result, with each offing a particular trait. Sand, or silica sand in particular, is one of the lesser-priced materials that offers good results when a stripping job is required. The sand can be used to remove paint from buildings, vehicles and other equipment and is also good for removing rust from metal. One drawback to using the sand is that it is a single-use material that involves capturing the sand to clean up the blasting site.

Another safety concern with the silica sand is seen in the silica dust that is a byproduct of blasting with the sand. Special breathing apparatus must be worn when using this type of sandblasting material. Aluminum oxide (AO), is a good choice for most general sandblasting jobs and offers a 30 to 40 times longer lifetime than sand, but at a slightly higher cost. Silicon carbide is a sandblasting material that cuts much quicker than AO and is an excellent choice for a long-lasting material, typically lasting nearly 50 times longer than AO.

Many other materials can be used to sandblast, from walnut shells and baking soda to steel and glass balls or beads. Some of the materials are noted for having an extremely light touch on fragile surfaces, while others are famous for the ability to carve into solid granite. You can choose any sandblasting material for a specific job and have very good results. Ideally, you should choose a single sandblasting material to work on a wide range of blasting needs and that would typically be a silicon carbide. The silicon carbide will allow you to get long-lasting use from the material, faster stripping times than plain sand and the power to etch the hardest surfaces while retaining the delicate touch to work on more fragile surfaces by reducing air pressure.

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Discussion Comments

By Ocelot60 — On Feb 06, 2015

@talentryto- I agree with Rundocuri, so you should follow his advice depending on what you want to sandblast. I have used walnut shells and baking soda, and I think they work similarly. So you could probably use either material in place of sand.

By Rundocuri — On Feb 05, 2015

@talentryto- I think that whether or not walnut shells for sandblasting will work will depend on the job you are doing and the effect you hope to achieve. I have used them, and they are good for most types of sandblasting projects.

On the other hand, If you you need high-powered action, walnut shells may not do the job. However, their consistency is similar to sand so walnut shells should do the trick for most sandblasting jobs that you would typically use sand to do.

By Talentryto — On Feb 05, 2015

I have a sandblasting project to do, but I am concerned about the safety issues when it comes to using sand. Has anyone every used crushed walnut shells for sandblasting, and if so, do they work just as well as sand?

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