Sodablasting and using soda for various objects
What is sodablasting?
Sodablasting is a process for removing paint or stains from fragile surfaces. If correctly performed, the blasting only has a minor impact on the original surface. Only the paint and dirt will be removed, but the base will remain intact.
The concept of sodablasting involves blasting a mixture of air and soda at the target at a pressure of about 3-10 bar. The soda particle will disintegrate when it hits a hard surface. The energy released by disintegration will remove the paint or dirt. Despite disintegration of the particles, sodablasting is a very gentle method and does not heat or stretch the sheet metal at all. The disintegration occurs at a very low temperature, because the melting point of soda, at which the particle disintegrates, is 50 degrees centigrade. The chemical name of soda is Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate (NaHCO3). It is a white powder that dissolves very easily in water. When hitting the surface that is being blasted, the sodium bicarbonate decomposes to sodium carbonate, carbon dioxide and water. Because of this, the soda cannot be used for blasting a second time and should be discarded. In practice, blasting soda is the same material as the baking soda that is sold on supermarket shelves – only of bigger grain size. Blasting soda is environmentally friendly in use and has a pH of 8.6, which means it is nearly neutral by acidity.
How was sodablasting invented?
In 1985, the engineers of New York City were wondering how to clean the Statue of Liberty. There were many concerns about how to do this: one had to think about the environment, about disposal of the cleaning material waste, and about how to protect the statue itself from wear and tear. Using any kind of abrasive material was excluded, because the soft copper plates should not be damaged. The water around the statue had to be protected, so none of the cleaning agent could be allowed into the sea. The engineers came up with soda as an alternative. It has no adverse effect on the environment, is gentle and has no abrasive effects.
Soda was tested on several materials and was established to have no harmful effects on, for example, aluminium, steel, brick, stone, glass, fibreglass, copper, wood or plastic. Soda does not damage seals, bearings, valves or cooler elements. It could be used for cleaning car transmissions and various hydraulic components. Consequently, a success story had begun, and the triumphant march of soda continues, conquering new continents.
How to apply sodablasting?
Sodablasting can be applied to many different objects, and interesting new fields of application are being found almost daily.
The main fields of application are:
Cars and other vehicles:
No need to completely dismantle the vehicle – the work is fast and gentle. Soda neither heats nor stretches the sheet metal, it leaves the original anti-corrosion treatment intact, so the sheet metal does not start rusting easily, even if the coat of paint has altogether been removed. Does not break glass, aluminium, fibreglass, chrome, plastic or other sensitive surfaces. In skilful hands, soda can be used for removing coats of paint from cars: first the lacquer, then the coat of paint, the second primer, the first primer and finally the pure sheet metal will be revealed. Larger items of machinery, such as trucks, can be cleaned of pitch, soot or oil stains quickly and gently. Sodablasting is a safe method for cleaning tank lorries. It can be used for cleaning bearings, seals, hydraulic cylinders or engine components. It can also be used for removing paint from trains, for cleaning old wagons or removing graffiti preserving the original coat of paint. It is an excellent means for cleaning aircraft and aircraft aluminium, because soda neither warms up nor stretches aluminium.
Construction and restoration:
Sodablasting makes it easy to remove graffiti from brick, concrete, plastered brick walls, stone, metal or from the surface of another coat of paint. For cleaning marks where concrete or wood has been damaged in a fire. Cleaning of statues or monuments. Removing mould from log piles, and other surfaces (low pressure). Cleaning joints of swimming pool tiles from, for example, lime or other impurities. You can clean paint off glass surfaces or window frames by blasting, without damaging the glass. Removing bitumen is a tedious job, and almost the only conceivable way to carry this out is to apply dry blasting. Unlike other methods, blasting with soda does not turn bitumen into glue by heating it up. Removing chewing gum from asphalt and other hard surfaces (skating rinks). On traffic roads, you can remove painting from pedestrian crossings or arrows from the asphalt. Removal of graffiti from traffic signs and bus stops.
Boats and ships:
Removing anti-fouling paint from boat hulls, without destroying the boat irrespective whether it is made of aluminum, wood, fibreglass or steel. You can remove algae from the hull without damaging the coat of paint. You can use it for removing varnish from wooden boats. Soda does not damage the seals (rubber or plastic).
Soda is a non-flammable and environmentally friendly chemical-free substance. It can be used for cleaning production lines within the food-processing industry. This usually takes place indoors, which means wet blasting is the preferred method. After cleaning, rinse with water. For cleaning engineering products or different kinds of moulds within industry.