Sodablasting came about through a project to renew the Statue of Liberty in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Sodablasting is a revolutionary process that can remove paint, grease, and neutralize rust without damaging metal, glass, chrome or warp thin sheet metal.
Sodablasting: A Brief History
When we first discovered blasting with baking soda over 10 years ago, the methods were very crude. The only available blasters were traditional sandblasters painted a different color and called Sodablasters. They put bearing vibrators on the sandblasters to try to make the soda flow more like sand, but it was far from successful. When we tried these blasters they were very frustrating as there was no good way to regulate the soda consumption and they were plagued with clogging issues. The flow characteristics of Soda and Sand are different making it near impossible to utilize the same technology for both substances.
Compounding the problem was the standard soda used for blasting at the time was a USP No. 5 granular which was relatively cheap but in spite of its granular name, contained a lot of powder. The No. 5 soda did little to remove paint, created excessive dust, compounded the soda regulation problem, and ultimately was not cost effective to use. In an effort to address this problem, Soda manufacturers added “flow additives” like tri-calcium phosphate to the UPS No.5 in an attempt to make it flow better out of the Sandblasters. Keep in mind, the soda manufacturers goal was to sell as much of their soda as possible without having to change the processes significantly to produce a granular soda large enough and consistent enough not to require additives. While the flow additives were effective to some degree in making the existing soda flow better, they did nothing to address the other concerns. The introduction of flow additives created more problems due to the fact that while baking soda is water soluble, tri-calcium phosphate is not.
We got tired very quickly of paying for soda by the bag only to find out much of it was powder. Not only did we have to deal with the additional dust the powder created, we had to pay for the product by weight. Since freight was a significant cost, it was senseless to pay additional freight for the privilege of having all that dust flying around. It was not until a few years ago that a specialty sodium bicarbonate manufacturer began producing a soda granule significantly larger and consistent in size. We were actually able to reduce our costs while increasing our production simply by using the larger soda granule. The decrease in dust produced was also immediately noticeable.
In short…it’s blasting with sodium bicarbonate that has been turned into a larger granule and used much like bead blasting, but does not require a cabinet.