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Soda blasting vs Sand blasting

posted in: am-news garage, news on August 05, 2009 at 09:55 PM

Before starting major metal work on my 54… I was planning to get the car soda blasted or sand blasted. I’d like some input on which way to go. What you did, and how it turned out. The hood, trunk, doors, and fenders of my 54 have already been completed, so I’m just looking at blasting the “cab”..inside and out, bottom to top. It still has the chrome drip rail on it, so I thought soda blasting would be the way to go. But I guess I could always take that off. I understand you run the risk of warping the metal with sand blasting… plus the sand never seems to go away. What are the considerations? Thanks for you input.



Firewisinger's Garage
August 05, 2009 at 10:20 PM

sand blasting is much more abrasive…and should only be used on undercarriage parts…frames…rearends…it creates heat…and will warp sheetmetal…go with the soda blasting by someone who really knows what they’re doing…think of sand blasting as 50 grit sandpaper..and soda as 300 grit…you can do a lot of damage in a very short time if it’s done incorrectly…i hope this helps :)

Rat Nest Garage
August 05, 2009 at 10:40 PM

I use a combination of methods when stripping. For all exterior body panels I will strip with liquid stripper,or shave with straight edge razor blades. Then sandpaper down to bare steel. For floor pans, door jams,window openings, firewall, wheel openings and all chassis parts I sandblast using varied amounts of air pressure, depending on the delicacy of the part and amount of rust buildup. Soda and plastic media are good for removing paint on delicate areas, but they don’t do much to rust. Hope this helps, Good luck.

Tommy's Garage
August 05, 2009 at 11:17 PM

I saw the soda blasters at Good-guys in DFW. Looks pretty nice.
That is the way I would go.

Gearhead Wiki's Garage
August 06, 2009 at 12:33 AM

I have a friend who is a sandblaster and according to him there is nothing wrong with sandblasting the exterior of a car, as long as you know what you’re doing. I will be having my Nova done by him pretty soon and he recently did his own Camaro. I think he does such a good job because: #1. He has done it for 12+ years and #2 for sandblasting cars/thinner metal, he uses sand that has been used before (I think because it takes the edge off of the sand making it less abrasive)

Automotive Photography by Mike Harrington Garage
August 06, 2009 at 01:09 AM

When you say sand do you mean Garnet blasting? Soda removes paint only (cant remove rust or bondo) and leaves no signature on the metal surface. You can soda blast with glass and trim still on the car. Garnett removes paint and rust leaves a signature similar to sand but is safer to use than sand. No silica in the air to breathe in. Remove all glass and trim and anything you care about from the car. Garnet will blast it clean. But there is always a possibility of warping with Garnet. Soda leaves no heat trace on the metal.

Showcase Rods & Customs Garage
August 06, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Soda has an added benafit that it leaves a coating on the metal that inhibits rusting. That being said you will have to sand the vehicle completely to remove this coating or your primers will not adhere. If the vehicle is going to sit for any lenghth of time, indoors, I would soda blast. As been mentioned it does not take out rust or bondo. I personally like to take the bondo out myself and would never let a sandblaster take it out for risk of warpage. I would still remove the drip rail becouse there may be some rust under it that will most assuredly cause problems later. The other option is media blasting but as with sand it is very difficult to get out of all the nooks and crannies. High pressure will just pin it into a corner so blowing it out with varying amounts of pressure is the best. Just imagine the air pressure a paint gun produces and imagine blowing that media into your paint if there is trapped media in a corner. Just be thorough and when you think your done do it again. Its all in the prep. Looking at the floorboard I think I would have them sand blasted and soda blast the exterior of the car most soda blasters are set up for both, They can also potasium blast that will remove light surface rust.

AtoZ Garage
August 07, 2009 at 01:58 PM

I own and operate a soda blasting company and have blasted a lot of cars over the years. We have tried and still offer other media choices to our customers, but almost always they pick soda. The main reason is the results soda provides. No damage to the metal, glass, chrome, rubber, even wiring. Soda leaves the metal looking like it did before it got its first coat of paint at the factory. We offer walnut shell as an option but walnut creates heat and and is abrasive enough to etch glass, so it is rarely the customers choice. As far as bondo goes, we give the customer the choice of taking it out or leaving it in, soda can do either. When it comes to rust, soda removes the active rust but leaves the discoloration in the metal. We use a mineral based product that removes the rust leaving a very fine texured white metal surface. It doesn’t pit the metal like some other medias. After blasting with soda we use the mineral product to remove any areas where rust is a problem. It is not uncommon to use this product where the floor pans use to be for example.
When the car has been blasted a fine coating of soda dust remains and does work as a rust inhibitor. I have seen blasted parts sit as long as 8 months with no signs of rust developing. The soda dust must be removed completely prior to painting or you will have paint adherence issues. But this is true with any blast media. Soda at least breaks down with water. Other media’s don’t. For example walnut shell particles get trapped in tight places and can be difficult to get out. When it comes to removing soda dust there are many methods talked about. Washing well with water to dilute and rinse away the soda is one method, adding vinegar or dish washing soap is another. Which ever method is used it will work as long as do it well. We tell customers to wash it well, wash it agian, and when you think you have it completely clean… wash it again! Another method is to use a product called Hold Tight 102. It is mixed with the water and will insure a clean surface. All these methods work if the proper effort is put in to it. When we hear about paint adherance issues after soda blasting we know the cause is always failure to properly remove the dust and ask ourselves the question, was the failure due to soda or the person removing the soda?
It may seem like a little extra effort is needed with soda blasting but in the end the results will be well worth it.

AM-NEWS Garage
August 07, 2009 at 04:08 PM

Wow. A real wealth of knowledge. Thanks to all for your input!

AM-NEWS Garage
February 03, 2011 at 03:53 PM

A buddy of mine got himself everthing he required to do soda blasting. I game him some interior parts which of course came out wonderfully! I also gave him a frame from the back of my front seats in my 54 Monarch which had considerable rust on it. I was amazed at what a great job the soda blasting did. I thought it would be as aggressive enough. But I was afraid to have it sand blasted because I thought it would compromise the tension in the seat springs. Soda blasting did the trick! Now to have the rest of the seat frames done, too!

Auto Garage
November 16, 2011 at 12:42 AM

No, it shouldn’t. Soda blast media will not harm glass or chrome or any other hard surfaces for´╗┐ that matter. It can texture aluminum and that will vary with the type of alloy mix.

Jimmy6 Garage
January 03, 2012 at 04:19 PM

Great info to know. Off to Habor Frt. to get a soda blaster!

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