soda blasting versus sand blasting


Bigger Hammer
Oct 27, 2009
Jacksonville, Florida
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Any one tell the difference between soda and sand blasting? All the pro and con's. Which is enviromentaly safer and cheapest to use? I haven't heard much about soda blasting yet. Thanks Chuck
This is what meager info I have.

In CA media from blasting is concidered hazardous meterial, while soda is not, just sweep up and drop it in the trash.

The soda dose not etch the metal if you hold it to long in one place. But it can if you try to re-use it.

I pick up a soda blaster from Harbore Freight for under $100. Though I built a sand blaster out of scrap metal and a few parts for $40 but it took about 14 hours of trial and error even with the plans I found on-line.
I only had surface rust (for the most part) and it worked fine on it. I didn't even try it by the rusted out areas, just cut them out, so I don't know 1st hand but it sounds right.
I actually owned a sandblasting business for many years and can tell you a little about it. For one, sandblasting is great at doing the heavy parts. Axle housings, frame, skid plates, etc etc. What it is NOT good at is large flat panels, such as our hoods, cowl areas and middle of the doors. There isn't enough ribbing or contours in those areas to prevent warping from the heat and pressure of a sandblaster. That is best done with soda.

Soda can take off surface rust, but is best used for paint removal. It will not remove bondo, or any corrosion heavier than light surface rust.

As a rule of thumb, use sandblasting on the parts that are impossible to screw up, and use soda for the stuff you don't want damaged like the body parts I mentioned earlier.

I have personally sandblasted entire cars, but you have to be OH SO careful doing it. In fact I would turn down a lot of jobs on cars from the 60's to present day because they're so flat. I would also turn down parts of cars and have them taken to a soda blaster. Cars from the 50's and prior are fairly safe because of the thicker steel and heavy contouring of the style back then.

Another alternative is pecan shells/plastic media etc. Those are kind of gimmicky and don't have much of benefit over soda/sand.

The best part of soda is you can literally wash it into your yard with a garden hose after you pick out the debris you blow off your project. It's completely biodegradable.

In way of sand, a #4 grit is what you'd want to use. NO heavier. It is commonly called sugar sand because it looks like sugar in appearance.

Why is sand considered hazardous while soda is not? It's because true sandblasting sand is mixed with Silica (the stuff in the little packets in new shoes that says do not eat). Silica is mixed in the sand to repel moisture and keep your sandblaster from clogging. That's why you should never use playground or sandbox sand. Aside from that, playground sand isn't filtered very well and will ruin a commercial sandblaster. Just don't do it. Silica is hazardous because it can cause silicosis, which is hardending of the lungs. It can also cause other respiratory issues. I always used a full helmet and cape with fresh air fed into it for all of my sandblasting, and years later when tested, I had no evidence of anything wrong with my lungs.

In all fairness, you would probably have to sandblast for years with no protection to get silicosis. If you're just blasting something out in your yard, you'll be fine. Just be concious of the direction of the wind, or setup a fan so it blows the fine particles away from you. In short, the sand itself isn't hazardous, the silica is. You can hit it with water when you're done and fill in low spots in your yard, or toss it in the trash. Most of the silica blows away when it comes out of the blaster.

If you have any questions just let me know and I'll try my best to answer them. Hope this helps a little bit.

I've read/heard that soda is good because, if not touched by bare hands/skin, as it leaves a film that protects against rust for some period of time....delays nnedto prime I guess.
I've read/heard that soda is NOT good, because if not neutralized before priming/paint will cause failure of primer bond in short order.

Had my truck sand blasted (they do both soda and other media, recommended against soda due to paint issue). They used something with a bit of black grit...don't remember exactly the mix name. pretty aggressive, no warping but left very heavy tooth in metal which my body guy was not too thrilled with. Body/paint guy said for the same price he would have sanded it to bare metal for the same price (probably his son would have). Nice thing is that it was blasted inside/out where sanding would not have been as thorough.

Whatever you do pull of whatever you don't want touched....I forgot to pull the plate off firewall and they were too lazy and blasted it useless....lost a bit of history.

Check out hotrodders forum link and wiki article... ... 62700.html
Ok, time for me to pipe in. :) Keep in mind, i'm absolutely no expert at this and even less than that when I did some blasting myself. When I got my first Willys (a pickup) in 1982, I stripped everything off of and out of it, but left it on the chasis. I had no area to take the body off. I then rented one of those self sustained sand blast units that you can tow behind your truck. I towed my pick up out to a field behind a friend's house and put the sand blaster to work: Outside, inside, under and over. Personally, I thought it was awesome. Did anything warp? I don't know. I know I spent a lot of time after that getting sand out of it, but the truck took primer quite well and looked pretty damn good. I never got that one painted, but several coats of primer went on and got waxed. I thought it worked out quite well. Everyone else liked it, so I harm, no foul. :)~ I should mention as well, that this thing was like holding something related to a fire hose. It damn near put me on my kiester with the first wave and i'm glad I had the proper safety equipment, cuz that stuff flies back at ya hard. :shock: It sure was fun though. :lol: