There are many different forms of blast cleaning that can provide a range of finished product, toxicity, waste, and levels of safety. The most common type of blasting that people think of is sandblasting, which uses an abrasive media. It is commonly used in numerous applications, particularly in paint and rust removal of sheet metal applications. Alternatively, dry ice blasting is a non-abrasive media that provides the same qualities without some of the expected leftovers.

To figure out which is best for your job, here are some qualities of both.

How they work
Sandblasting operates by “shooting” sand particles at an extremely high velocity to remove the contaminants on a surface. It tends to work best when the surface needs to have a hardened substance removed, such as paint. Similar to sandpaper, sandblasting relies on friction to disrupt and remove the surface contaminants, but blasting allows the user to get into hard-to-reach places. Dry ice blasting, otherwise known as dry ice cleaning, operates in much of the same manner. Dry ice pellets are shot at a high velocity at the surface, yet the pellets don’t use friction to remove the contaminants and instead disrupt them using extreme temperature.

Surface damage
The object of both methods is to remove the contaminants from the surface being cleaned. However, an abrasive media such as sand presents the risk of damaging the surface by scraping or scruffing it up. Moreover, it shouldn’t be used for tasks dealing with electrical components or equipment that is easily impressionable. Dry ice blasting is non-abrasive, meaning that there is no damage to the surface being cleaned. It can also be used on electrical components and malleable equipment as well because it isn’t water or steam and sublimates upon contact.

Safety concerns
Both processes should be completed in well-ventilated areas but sandblasting tends to have additional safety concerns. All exposed skin should be covered to avoid injury from the high-speed sand particles and users should wear a mask to avoid inhaling the hazardous media. Dry ice blasting is relatively harmless to the user, but since carbon dioxide is 40% heavier than the air, it can change atmospheric conditions is the area is not properly ventilated.

Each method has its benefits and both can come in handy for various jobs. Knowing which is right for your task will depend on the conditions and surface being cleaned. Contact your local dry ice blasting company for more information.

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