What is soda blasting, and where is it used?

Posted On September 9, 2015

Soda blasting is a cleaning method similar to sand, bead or grit blasting. The difference is in the materials used as well as the application. The soda used in the process is a type of sodium bicarbonate. Using specialised blasting machinery, soda particles are propelled at high velocity towards the affected surface. On hitting the other side, energy from the soda particles is transferred onto the offending substance, causing it to break/slide off. The substrate remains intact. 

What are the benefits of soda blasting?

Soda blasting is recommended for applications where you want to be extra cautious in protecting the surface because it is a non-abrasive process. What does this mean in practice? This means that it won’t scratch the surface like other blasting media – sand and bead blasting is often likened to rubbing sandpaper onto a surface. You can imagine then how these methods may not be best suited for sensitive materials such as aluminium and wood. Due to its gentle nature, there is minimal preparation required before starting a round of soda blasting saving you time and money. Although there may be a need to mask or tent areas depending on whether a wet or dry method is applied. Similarly there is little in the way of dealing with the aftermath. The soda particles can be easily washed away using water, while more care and attention may be required in disposing of the contaminant. 

Applications requiring the use of soda blasting

One of the first uses of soda blasting involved restoration work on the Statue of Liberty in the 1980s. These days the versatility of soda blasting lends itself to many applications including:

Mechanical – The soda particles act aggressively against the contaminant yet remain gentle with the substrate, it is this feature which makes this cleaning method ideal for engines and automated parts as the risk of damage to internal machinations is greatly reduced. Soda is a natural degreaser, which makes it the blasting media of choice for engines and engine parts.  

Food processing – Sodas properties include deodorising and neutralising, hence it is perfect for use in food preparation areas on cooking appliances and surfaces. 

Steel – Sand blasting will cause ferrous materials to rust within hours. Whereas if soda blasting is used the risk of rusting is greatly lower and there is no urgent need to coat as there with when sand is involved. 

Paint stripping – Since there is no heat generated during the soda blasting process, paint can be stripped from surfaces (such as car panels) without the fear of distortion or rippling.

Soda blasting may also be used for graffiti removal and boat hull cleaning.