Frequently Asked Questions

Soda Blasting FAQs (12)

Why is soda blasting so unique?

Soda blasting is different than traditional abrasive blasting because it is environmentally friendly, soft, water soluble, and does not generate heat. It works great because the soda crystal is angular and sharp, which provides tremendous cutting power for paint and surface rust removal. Beyond that, Soda is also the only blast media that is capable of absorbing odors (i.e. fire restoration) and perform true degreasing (Soda encapsulates the grease – other abrasives just push it around – this is called translocation). Lastly, because it is classified as a soft abrasive, it will not create a profile on fragile substrates or soft metals.

I’ve seen soda blasting equipment listed in mail order catalogs – will it do the same thing as larger, more costly equipment?

Mail order soda blasting equipment works under the same principle as our equipment: deliver a stream of baking soda under pressure. These small scale pots work great for hobbyists, and only require a small air compressor to operate. However, if you are considering a pot for commercial or industrial use, a larger pot with the appropriate air drying equipment attached to it will increase your productivity and efficiency dramatically.

Do I need special blasting equipment to use Baking Soda?

Since Baking Soda is water soluble, very dry air is needed. It is not recommended to use this product without advanced air drying equipment. Soda is also less dense than other blasting abrasives, so make sure the pot you use has a vibrator to “shake” down the media as your blasting, and also a metering system that is designed for “fine” media. If not, a lot of soda can get wasted in a small amount of time.

Why does baking soda come in different particle sizes?

Variations in particle size will change the aggressiveness of the media. For instance, a large particle size is more aggressive and used for heavier duty applications such as removing paint off a car. For lighter duty blasting such as removing char off of wood, a smaller particle size preserves soft substrates better and will actually boost your productivity by increasing the number of “hits per second” on the surface.

What additional preparation for paint is needed after something is soda blasted?

Anything soda blasted needs to be properly blown off and rinsed (we recommend using hot water) before applying any type of new coating.

What will soda blasting do to windows and auto glass?

Soda blasting will not etch or ruin glass.

I’m blasting small parts with plastic or glass bead, how is soda different?

Baking soda will not peen, pit, embed or lodge itself in any seam, nook, or cranny of the parts you are working with. By properly rinsing the parts all of the soda will dissolve and simply wash away, eliminating any future problems that residual glass or plastic bead could cause. Also, glass or plastic do not remove grease or oil from a surface – soda does.

Does baking soda remove rust?

Soda blasting will remove a light layer of surface rust from the substrate but we would recommend other blast media for substrates with medium or heavy corrosion.

I’ve heard soda blasting can prevent rust from occurring. How does that work?

After a part is blasted with soda, a thin layer of soda “residue” is left behind on the surface. This prevents the stripped part from oxidizing, enabling a part to be stripped without having to worry about recoating it right away.

I have heard soda blasting is great for Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) preparation. Why?

NDT checks the integrity of metal structures and components, including all welds and joints. Soda blasting removes any paint and oil from a surface without altering the dimensions of the substrate. Please click here to learn more about how one company extended the life of their roller coaster frames by choosing Soda Blasting over Sandblasting for their NDT work.

How much does soda blasting cost?

It depends on many variables, including shape and size of part or vehicle (flat plain surfaces cost less than curvy and intricate surfaces); # of layers of paint or coating; etc. Usually we can provide industry guidelines over the phone (per square foot costs; per part cost; etc.). It always helps to review pictures of the project or items to be blasted, so we encourage people to forward them to us whenever possible.

Will baking soda damage outdoor landscapes?

Baking soda is a wonderful eco-friendly product with a PH of 8.2, which can affect the landscape. This phenomenon is the same one that occurs on roads that are salted. You will notice the first foot or two of the grass is dead during the first few weeks of Spring, and then grows back with the rest of the grass. Any potential damage is easily preventable by pre-watering the ground before blasting begins and covering up any ornamental or special bushes and groundcover.

MaxxStrip FAQs (5)

What is MaxxStrip?

MaxxStrip is a mineral also known as Kieserite, and comes from mines in Germany. It is classified as a soft abrasive with a Mohs hardness of 3.5. Similar to baking soda, it is water soluble and extremely eco-friendly. MaxxStrip has a PH of 7.0 and is considered landscape-friendly.

I’ve never heard of MaxxStrip, is it commonly used?

MaxxStrip has been around for well over a decade, and was originally used as a fertilizer in Europe. This product has been used on several very large projects in the last 12 months including a 1.2 million square ft. building complex and a 5 city block bridge. In both cases the product was chosen for its environmentally friendly characteristics and neutral PH. Please click here to learn more.

Do I need special blasting equipment to use MaxxStrip?

Since MaxxStrip is water soluble, very dry air is needed. It is not recommended to use this product without advanced air drying equipment.

Is it dusty?

All abrasives are “dusty”; however MaxxStrip is usually blasted wet. This virtually eliminates any dust, making it possible to use in busy urban environments.

Is there anything I need to know about MaxxStrip’s solubility in water?

HOT water is needed to dissolve MaxxStrip and is very similar in concept as trying to dissolve sugar in cold tea vs. hot tea.

Hard Abrasive FAQs (6)

Crushed glass sounds like it could hurt me…..

Crushed glass is actually the friendliest hard abrasive on the market. It contains no free silica or toxic metals. The recycled bottled glass is manufactured in such a way that it is not sharp on your skin. For instance you can place your hand in the bag, move it around and it will never cut you.

I currently use Black Beauty, how does it compare?

Recycled crushed glass is a direct replacement for Black Beauty (coal slag).

I use my abrasive in bulk, how is it packaged?

50 lb bags, super sacks, and bulk trailers.

Is crushed glass dusty?

All abrasives are dusty. However, because most of the glass is clear the dust is actually translucent, allowing for far greater visibility than traditional abrasives.

I do slurry blasting with a Farrow System — can this replace Olivine?

Yes, not only is glass less expensive, but Olivine also contains a vast array of toxic metals. Using Crushed Glass eliminates the respiratory risk associated with Olivine and other traditional abrasives such as Silica-sand.

How can glass be silica-free?

Recycled bottle glass is chemically known as Amorphous Silica, which means it contains less than 1% free-silica. Free-silica is commonly found in traditional blasting sand and other hard abrasive sandblasting medias. Silica-sand dust in its natural state has an “open”crystalline structure that has the capability of sticking to lung tissues. When this happens, the likelihood of developing a serious respiratory disease called Silicosis increases. Because our recycled glass blast media is amorphous, its crystalline structure is “closed”, which makes it impossible to physically stick to human lung tissue. When a person is exposed to amorphous glass fines or dust, the body will expel the dust as it would any other type of natural dirt.

Dry Ice Blasting FAQs (13)

Can I use my Sandblast Equipment to perform Dry Ice Blasting?

No. Dry Ice Blasting Equipment is unique and contains several engineering features not found on sandblasting equipment.

What kind of Dry Ice equipment do you offer?

We are authorized dealers for Nu-Ice, ASCO and Cold Jet equipment, all of which are user friendly, well built and easy to use. We offer a wide variety of different capacity machines for both sale and rent.

How does Dry Ice Blasting work?

Dry ice blasting is a process whereby kinetic and thermal energy is transferred when the accelerated dry ice pellets strike the surface being cleaned. Dry ice and air combine to remove the unwanted material and leave a clean surface free of any contaminant.

  • Kinetic

Dry ice pellets are accelerated by compressed air to high speeds – fracturing the top layer of dirt/residue.

  • Thermal

Once the dry ice penetrates the dirt/residue, the temperature of both the dirt/residue layer and the substrate decreases. The different materials contract unequally and the adherence between them decreases. This thermal difference helps to separate the dirt/residue from the substrate.

  • Sublimation

After the dry ice makes its initial impact, it instantaneously turns from a solid to a gas. The volume expansion (by a factor of 700) causes a micro explosion that detaches the dirt/residue from the substrate.

  • Post Blasting

The substrate is clean, dry and completely intact.

Is it true that Dry Ice Blasting doesn’t require any clean-up afterwards?

No – any contaminants which are removed during the Dry Ice blasting process need to be contained and disposed of properly.

What happens if my job estimate is off – can I return unused material?

If this question was under any of the other blast media categories, the answer would be yes. With Dry Ice, it is not returnable, which makes estimating critical to the success of any Dry Ice project. Most companies “cushion” their Dry Ice order to ensure they don’t run out, and it is common to have costly Dry Ice left over at the end of a job.

I’ve heard no containment is needed if Dry Ice blasting?

Containment is always job specific. Certain jobs do not require containment, no matter what method is used. However, “containing” dry ice can be more difficult than other methods. Because no dust is generated, a containment breach can go unnoticed for hours, whereas when blasting with any other abrasive, a breach is instantly noticed due to the dust that escapes.

What is the shelf life of Dry Ice vs. other Blasting Media products?

Dry Ice only lasts 2-5 days, and is subject to sublimation (melting) from the moment it gets shipped to your job site. The longer the transit time, the shorter the “shelf life”. All other blast medias, if stored properly, can last for years.

Can Dry Ice absorb odors like Soda can?

No. Only Baking Soda deodorizes the surrounding indoor environment. This is especially important when doing fire restoration work, as you want the soda dust to travel where the smoke went in order to completely eliminate any trace odors. When doing a fire job with Dry Ice, the end result may look the same, but it will not smell the same.

How is Dry Ice handled?

Very carefully. Special PPE is required when filling the pressure vessel with Dry Ice (Soda or Glass can be handled with bare hands, and does not require special PPE when filling the pot, etc.)

Does Dry Ice cause damage to soft substrates?

Yes. Dry Ice, although not technically harder than Baking Soda, will cause surface damage to wood structures because of the high velocity it requires in order to work effectively. Dry Ice can also cause an exothermic reaction on “layered” substrates, causing failure or damage. For example, printing rollers found on printing presses should never be blasted with Dry Ice, as the Ceramic top coat of the roller will “peel away” from the steel core it is bonded to when subjected to severe temperature changes.

What do I do with the packaging the Dry Ice comes in?

Usually a deposit is collected up front for Ice Totes and Coolers, and these must be returned in usable condition in order to receive a refund. Keep in mind large amounts of Dry Ice are heavy and bulky, and usually require a fork lift and loading dock or lift gate at the job site. For hotter climates, indoor storage during the project is recommended.

Is Dry Ice suitable for confined spaces and hard to reach areas?

Dry Ice literally sucks the oxygen out of any enclosed space, so wearing a proper tethered hood system is a must. For semi-ventilated areas, an oxygen level monitor is usually needed.

Is Dry Ice more productive than Soda Blasting?

No. On a per square foot basis, coverage rates are about the same for both methods. However, Dry Ice blast hoses are shorter in length – usually only 40’ long (compared to up to 200’ for Soda Blasting). The short Dry Ice Blast hose is necessary to prevent further melting of the material, and also minimizes the freezing effect. The short hose also means more time is spent moving equipment around vs. time spent blasting. Lastly, most dry ice blasters we speak to confirm they are more fatigued at the end of the day when compared to other blasting methods.

Farrow System FAQs (5)

What exactly is a Farrow System?

Farrow Systems are Slurry Systems – they mix water with a blasting media to create a slurry mixture which gets delivered under pressure to the surface that needs cleaning.

Does a slurry system eliminate the need for containment?

Containment is job specific, no matter what method is used. Farrow Systems still generate a mist, and that mist does contain both the blasting media being used and any of the contaminants which are being removed.

I have seen Olivine featured on many Farrow websites and literature – what is it?

Olivine is Lava, and was originally what the manufacturer recommended for use in its equipment. It does contain heavy metals (nickel, chromium, etc.), and is not considered as Eco-Friendly as other blast medias found of the market today. Olivine is also classified as a hard abrasive, even when used at a low pressure. Olivine can do damage to “soft” building facades, including Limestone and Brick.

Can I run other media types through my Farrow Unit?

Yes. We know many Farrow System owners who use more Eco-Friendly blast medias, including Crushed Glass, MaxxStrip, and Baking Soda.

I am considering purchasing a Farrow System – any advice?

Call us first! Farrow Systems have numerous limitations. In Northern climates, they are 3-season systems, and cannot be used during winter months. Farrow Systems always require a water source, which may not be practical depending on the job site. Lastly, because these systems approach the market with a “one size fits all” method, they do not offer as much versatility as other blast systems. Farrow Systems can only be used as slurry systems, so although they do a decent job with outdoor cleaning projects, they cannot be used indoors without creating a mess, and they also do not lend themselves well to jobs which require a specific profile or finish.

Blast Equipment FAQs (2)

What should I look for when evaluating equipment for purchase?

  • Media Versatility – Can the system handle both soft and hard abrasives?
  • Method Options – Can it perform dry, wet, AND slurry blasting methods?
  • Easy to Operate – If a clog occurs, how long will I be down?
  • Easy to Train – How long does it take to train someone so they can use the machine safely and efficiently?
  • Customer Service – What type of training is offered? What type of post-sale support can I expect?
  • Spare Parts – How many wear parts do I need to stock? How expensive are these?
  • Customization – How many equipment choices are offered? Will the manufacturer customize a system to suit my specific needs?

There are many equipment brands on the market today and it is hard to compare them side by side – any suggestions?

See below chart for a snapshot of the differences between several manufacturers: Manufacturer Comparison:


Hold Tight 102 FAQs (5)

Is Hold Tight 102 meant to be added to a blast media or is it meant to use on its own when trying to prevent flash rusting?

BOTH — Hold Tight can be used as an additive with slurry blasters and poured into the blast pot at the same time you are adding water and media. Hold Tight can also be used upon completion of blasting. A “post-blasting” rinse cycle is a quick and easy way to prevent flash rust.

Why should I use Hold Tight after soda blasting? Can’t I just use water?

Although water can be used for rinsing purposes after soda blasting, Hold Tight 102 helps ensure all residue is removed from all surfaces, including hard to reach areas. Hold Tight is a wonderful “salt” and “chloride” remover, so using it can help speed up any rinsing process and also prevents flash rusting of steel and iron.

It sounds like Hold Tight 102 is environmentally friendly. Is it “classified” as environmentally friendly?

Hold Tight is classified as non-hazardous, non-toxic , Biodegradable, Phosphate and acid-free, Non-flammable, and leaves behind no residue. This product can also be used in FDA and USDA regulated facilities and fully complies with 21 CFR 178.3400. When we ship out Hold Tight to our customers it goes out as a standard shipment — no special handling is required.

What are the directions for using Hold Tight 102?

Hold Tight is easy to apply and works well in any standard pressure washer at 500 PSI. With no rain and at temperatures above 40 degrees, rusting will be prevented for about 48 hours, often longer.

Can you give me an estimate for how much product needs to be ordered for different size projects?

A little Hold Tight goes a long way — the recommended usage ratio is usually 100:1. Usually one gallon is plenty to rinse one car. For larger projects, we carry 5 gallon pails.

Historic Preservation FAQs (10)

What cleaning system was used?

IBIX I9 and 60 CFM @ 100psi Compressor

What media was used? More than one?

Carbonart – Crushed Limestone (only one)

What are cleaning tips that relate to this project?

Carbonart used at low pressure on Limestone will not harm surface. Containment and Clean up are simple because minimal non-hazardous waste is generated. Performing process wet eliminates dust concerns. No special arrangements had to be made to accommodate operators or equipment — it is highly portable and does not produce a lot of noise — sounds no louder than lawn mowing operation.

How long did the “dirt” build up before cleaning?

Soil condition represented original build up — 80+ years old.

How old is the building? What is it made of?

Yes — Limestone and Marble material, but we only cleaned the certain limestone portions. Yes, it is considered a historic structure, and yes, built in 1928.

How long did the entire cleaning project take.

Took 2 weeks of a normal work week, 8 hours per day, no shut downs required — office workers were not disrupted — in fact they were able to see operators doing job from their office windows.

What city and state?

Washington, DC

Time of year?


What is this building used for? What does it store?

Events — graduations, concerts, etc. Also houses large collection of American Revolution items, and also functions as National HQ for the DAR organization.