Frequently Asked Questions

What is soda blasting?

Soda blasting is a process where a surface is cleaned, rust is removed, or coatings (of any kind) are stripped from a substrate (the surface beneath the material you are trying to remove). The soda blasting compressor propels a bicarbonate-of-soda based media via compressed air onto the surface to be cleaned. This process gently removes the material withoutharming the substrate and can be done wet or dry.

How was soda blasting developed?

Back in 1972, when New York State engineers were looking for ways to clean the Statue of Liberty, they had many concerns involving issues of the environment, waste disposal, and protection of the statues surface itself. Any use of abrasive material to clean the surface would have been very harmful to the soft copper plates, let alone the waste in the surrounding harbor. Soda blasting was invented and proved to be the ideal solution. Just like the surface of the Statue of Liberty, this non-abrasive action allows soda blasting to be used on surfaces that currently popularabrasive media would damage, i.e. aluminum, stainless steel, brick, stone,glass, fiberglass, wood, some plastics, seals, bearings, radiator cores,transmission cases, and hydraulic cylinders. In some cases, using dryblasting, it is not necessary to shutdown electric motors and pumps.

How does soda blasting work?

The sodium bicarbonate used in the blasting process is a larger particle than the baking soda used in the food industry, although it is the same purity. The particles are propelled by compressed air through specialized blasting machines. Soda blasting particles remove surface contaminant by the energy released as the particles explode when pressure-driven into contact with the contaminant surface. The resulting energy release disrupts the contaminant surface and blows it away – thus leaving the substrate completely unaffected. Air pressures and hence, soda blasting particle velocity, can be varied from as low as 20 psi (pounds per squareinch) on soft bases to 150 psi or more on hard surfaces. The operator sets the air pressure depending on the nature of the substrate and the type of contaminant to be removed.

Can soda blasting cause damage?

If used correctly by a trained operator, the likelihood of the soda blasting causing damage is highly unlikely. As part of their training,operators are taught to evaluate the surface to be cleaned, as well as the surrounding surfaces carefully, and to blast a test patch if required. Soda blasting has been performed for over 30 years in the USA, and there are excellent resources available for reference. Using soda blasting on asurface that is softer than the soda, i.e. some plastics, soft wood,leather, vinyl, etc. will cause scratching and surface removal. Sodablasting operators will always make enquiries to establish whether certain surfaces are suitable for the process.

Do I have to mask off areas like glass or chrome trim like sand blastingrequires?

Hardly ever. In fact, unlike the abrasive property of sand, bicarbonate-of-soda does not harm window glass or the rubber seals around the glass. However, it may be harmful to certain types of plastic trim, because you are using 150+ pounds of pressure in some instances. For this reason, you may want to remove or protect those possible areas. Other areas that may need protection are: wood, soft plastic, membranes and electric components.

Is water used as part of the soda blasting process?

Water is not often used as part of the cleaning process, but more as adust suppressant. Water is sometimes used to activate the baking soda toallow its cleaning qualities to be realized as well as its virtues as ablast media. For softer substrates such as wood, water reduces any cuttingaction by as much as 20 to 30 percent thus preventing substrate damage.When water is used with the soda blasting process it is not used to propelthe blast media. It is used to provide a moist surface to prevent dust,activate baking soda and reduce cutting action of soda. This results inonly a tiny amount of water being used in comparison to waterblasting/pressure washing processes. When water is used as part of thesoda blasting process, the water literally trickles out of the end of the hose, using approximately 3.5 litres per minute. Examples of water usage:·     Boat hull cleaning and preparation – none – dust and paint /anti-foul are contained in a purpose built plastic tent and disposed of inan environmentally safe way. Not using water near public waterways is amajor advantage of cleaning boats with soda blasting.·     Food preparation equipment cleaning – sometimes – activating thecleaning quality of baking soda is generally advantageous. Water is alsoused after blasting to wash soda and contaminant remnants away.·     Graffiti removal – generally none – may be used as a dustsuppressant in confined areas.·     Vehicle paint stripping – generally none – other than to wash awaysoda remnants.·     Monuments – generally none – unless required as a dust suppressant.·     Masonry – generally none – unless required as a dust suppressant.·     Machinery – generally none – other than to wash away soda remnants.

Is bicarbonate soda environmentally safe?

Yes, otherwise known as baking soda and used in everyday cooking. Its alkaline properties could harm plants and vegetation if not rinsed properly and all areas should be washed down with water during the cleanup process. All remnants of the paint or other contaminates may need to be collected or filtered, but the soda itself has no impact on the environment and is completely safe. The Soda Blasting method is endorsedby the USDA (United States Dept of Agriculture) and the FDA (Food & DrugAdministration) and is Kosher approved.

What about noise?

The soda blasting process can be noisy as a large compressor is forcing air and media out of a relatively small exit. Soda blasting operators are required to wear ear protection at all times while blasting and anyone else in the immediate vicinity should do the same.

How long does it take?

It is hard to estimate the length of time required to soda blast withoutany details of the job. However, soda blasting, in most applications, reduces the normal cleaning time significantly – in some cases in 1/10th of the time. Preparation and clean up are minimal, thus reducing the completion time.