Sand Blasting | Bead Blasting | Baking Soda Blasting | Chemical Stripping | Dry Ice Blasting
Comparing different methods of stripping paint from metal:
Sand blasting is the most conventional way of removing paint from a vehicle. You simply shoot sand at the paint, and it flakes off. The advantages are that it is fairly inexpensive (around $10.00 for 80 lbs. of sand), fairly fast, and does not require very expensive equipment. You may purchase a decent sandblaster for less than $200.00. Also, it gets surface rust off very well.
The disadvantages are that it pits the metal, which can be a problem with thin metal, and it heats up metal, again, which can be a problem with thin metal because it can deform it and cause it to expand. Also, sand tends to “pack” cracks, crevices, and small openings.
Bead blasting is similar to sandblasting, but it uses small plastic beads to “beat” the paint off. It does not pit metal like sand will, but it can cause more heat and does not get rust off very well.
Baking Soda Blasting
Sodium bicarbonate blasting (soda blasting) is a non-hazardous, food grade material that is an effective blast media for most industrial and commercial cleaning and coating removal applications.
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can be dissolved with water and washed down the drain once blasting is complete. If the material or coating removed contains contaminates, they can be removed with specifically designed equipment or methods.
Baking Soda Blasting is abrasive enough to remove coatings or process residue without the surface damage typically associated with other abrasive blasting media such as sand. Soda blasting makes cracks in metal and fiberglass more visible and because it is water soluble, it easily dissolves making it the perfect blast medium for greasy engine blocks and components.
Chemical stripping, once condemned for the dangerous chemicals that it included, has become much more environmentally friendly in recent years. New formulas that are non-toxic and don’t smell nearly as bad have been on the market for several years now. The advantages to it are that it is fairly easy to do (simply spray or apply the stripper, wait, then scrape off), and it does a thorough job of removing paint.
The disadvantages are handling – it is still very corrosive and is quite painful if any of it gets on your hands or face. Also, it does not remove rust, is difficult to remove paint from nooks and crannies, and may not remove some primers.
Caution is a must: you need to wear thick rubber gloves (no latex or cloth gloves), a decent face mask (no dust masks – you need something with activated charcoal), eye protection (glasses are ok, but goggles are much better), and any other protection that you feel you need – arm and leg protection, face and hair protection, etc. Also, do not attempt to wipe your face with the gloves on. Paint stripper burns when it touches skin!
Dry Ice Blasting
Every technique has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. For applications where cleanliness and debris containment are issues than dry ice blasting may be the obvious answer. Dry ice blasting does have some drawbacks compared to soda and other specialty media blasting. Those include: reduced square footage per hour, short shelf life, up to 5 lbs. usage per minute, not as useful on a wide spectrum of coatings and substrates, does not contain the added benefit of odor control in fire and mold restoration and care must be used in confined areas as it will displace the oxygen in the area.