Sand Blasting vs Dry Ice Blasting: What’s Right for Your Business?

Posted On December 21, 2015

Once upon a time, sandblasting was the “go-to” industrial cleaning solution.  However, thanks to its many advantages, including an easier clean up, dry ice blasting has quickly gained in popularity. 

We’ve compared sand blasting and dry ice blasting below, to help you determine which is best for your business.

The Process

Sand blasting can be used on a variety of materials, but it does its best work when priming and smoothing surfaces for painting.  Much faster and more effective than using sandpaper, sand blasting allows you to hit those hard to reach places to ensure a perfectly smooth finish.  Like sand blasting, dry ice blasting involves high pressure and supersonic speeds.  However, the pellets used in dry ice blasting vapourize almost immediately after they’re shot through the air - disrupting adhesion through freezing, instead of relying on the friction caused by a harder material, like sand.


The Abrasiveness

Sand is sharp when propelled at high speeds.  That’s what makes it effective when it comes to jobs like cleaning, glass etching and paint removal.  But, it also means that it’s not necessarily the best solution for other tasks, such as those involving electrical equipment, or other more malleable material.  Dry ice blasting on the other hand, is non-abrasive, and therefore won’t damage most equipment or surfaces - and it’s even safe for some electrical parts.  That’s because the whole process has virtually no impact on the desired target, except to blast away unwanted dirt and debris.


The Safety Concerns

Proper ventilation is necessary for both sandblasting and dry ice blasting techniques.  But when it comes to sandblasting, additional safety measures are required.  All exposed skin should be covered in order to protect it from the sand.  Moreover, the discovery of lung disease, like silicosis - caused by inhaling dust - has contributed to the decrease in popularity of sand blasting.  Often other materials, including aluminum oxide, glass beads, plastic, and walnut shells, are used in place of sand to alleviate potential health concerns. 


The Effect on the Environment

Traditional industrial cleaning methods, including sand blasting, require additional cleanup of the secondary waste that’s produced during the blasting process.  Conversely, dry ice blasting leaves only the residue that’s removed during cleaning.  Dry ice pellets transform into gas almost immediately due to the high pressure needed for blasting, so no extra waste is left behind from the process.  In addition, the dry ice pellets are made from recycled material (carbon dioxide gas that’s an industrial byproduct), so they won’t increase your organization's carbon footprint. 


The Cost

Generally, dry ice blasting is more expensive than sandblasting.  However, it’s important to keep in mind that thanks to an easier clean up, potential waste disposal fees are limited when using dry ice blasting, and less factory downtime is required.  If you’re comparing quotes for both industrial cleaning techniques, make sure you’re considering the total cost of each service and include any clean up cost for both the secondary waste and the toxic substrate. 

Learn more about how sand blasting or dry ice blasting could help your business!
Contact us today.