Should I Use Soda Blasting On My Car?

soda blasting

In years past a great deal of attention focused on the introduction of sodium bicarbonate (i.e. baking soda) as an effective blast media. This is called soda blasting. It is a simple chemical compound and an environmentally friendly product.

Peter bead blasts a rare split-window Corvette in our booth
Peter bead blasts a rare split-window Corvette in our booth

Do we do soda blasting on at American Dry Stripping? No. 

To this day we still do get calls asking about soda blasting and if we ever use the process on cars.  As with any newly introduced concept the “first mover” crowd is quick to try out a new process.

With enough collected data however there is a point in time when we understand the optimal applications for any given process.

While soda blasting has usefulness for many stripping and cleaning projects, we’ve seen that its application in cars is absolutely not one of them.

How soda blasting works

To understand why this is one must understand sodium bicarbonate is similar to sodium chloride (salt). It is a conductive material and causes electrolysis between different metals, for example, in the make-up of car panels or electrical wiring harnesses. Sodium bicarbonate is a white solid that is crystalline but often appears as a fine powder and is slightly alkaline.

This specially-granulated powder is applied at high pressure upon a surface, to remove contaminants. Sodium bicarbonate (as does any crystalline substrate) shatters on impact and as a result leaves a residue behind. Residue from soda is extremely difficult to remove completely and will cause significant long-term problems especially in automotive electrical systems.

Pros and cons of Soda Blasting

An upside to soda compared with most other blast media is disposal of spent waste material. Very little soda waste falls to the ground. Other media types, depending on the size of the work, can result in large quantities spent of media and makes cleanup difficult.

On the other hand soda is what is referred to as a “one and done” media. It can only be used once. Other media can be recycled and reused.

Soda Blasting is Messy

Because soda is a crystalline powder the fine dust residue resulting from the blasting process is extremely difficult, if not impossible to remove from blasted metal surfaces and small spaces. This fine powder residue finds its way into electrical components and wiring harnesses.  Its alkaline nature can lead to corrosion of wiring components to the point where full replacement is the only option.

Soda Blasting is Expensive

Baking soda is more costly to manufacture, therefore, more expensive. It is not alternative to a general-purpose blast abrasive.

Also, its soft nature simply does not achieve the kind of production rates that other, heartier abrasives can render. Soda can be used in specific areas, and on specific substrates, and for a number of different reasons.

Loss of Warranty

Most paint companies will not warranty paint on a car that has been sandblasted. Most paint manufacturers will not warranty their product on cars that have been soda blasted. Many car owners have turned to soda blasting in the past; unfortunately, they run into car restoration nightmares. We suggest you do your homework and peruse the car forums for the pros and cons of soda and cars.

We here at American Dry Stripping believe that there are better options.

Blasting cars at American Dry Stripping

From our 30+ years of experience, soda is not the ideal blast media for any type of car. We DO NOT use nor do we recommend its use.

Soda is effective for a wide range of blasting processes. Cars are just not one of them. Soda will not remove rust and is very slow to remove body filler. Soda is also very expensive when compared to fine abrasive blasting. We have refined our process to the point were we can blast virtually anything without any panel distortion, while still removing rust, paint, body filler and leaving a very fine profile ideal for paint adhesion and without hardening the steel. So soda is of minimal use to us.

Whether you are an industrial organization or a car enthusiast, economics and time are significant considerations for any job. Our experts can counsel you on balancing time and budgets, especially important when it comes to automotive restorations, and make recommendations for optimal outcomes. For example, how a car arrives at ADS is a factor in cost. Frame-off or frame-on, rolling frames, complete car bodies, or individual parts is no problem for our professionals and we are happy to work with you to fit your budget and timeline.

Not only do we provide a clean and efficient blasting job, but also you will not have to worry about any airborne dust, environmental issues or the hassle associated with cleanup. All our blasting processed are done onsite at our facility in enclosed controlled blast booth environments. Industrial abrasive media blasting and stripping is a better choice for your automotive restoration, lifestyle, construction or industrial project, so bring yours to American Dry Stripping today.

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