Choosing the Proper Blast Media for Your Sandblasting Project

photo of a man sandblasting

Sandblasting, also known as abrasive blasting, is the process of using a highly concentrated stream of abrasive material and pressurised air to erode the surface of an object. Industrial and manufacturing procedures make use of sandblasting, but smaller operations such as decorative finishes and rust removal also utilise it.

Depending on your blaster and chosen media, sandblasting can be used for various smaller projects that involve refining, cleaning or etching on particular surfaces.

Walnut Shells

Delicate surfaces such as wood, plastic, and fibreglass can sustain damage if blasted using the coarser abrasives. Crushed walnut shells present a natural and biodegradable option that can clean and polish these surfaces. These shells leave very smooth finishes without scratching the surface material, making them ideal for paint and dirt removal. You can use the walnut shells to restore the surfaces of antiques and jewellery.

Glass Beads

Rust is tougher to remove than paint and dirt, so using harder blast media is better for cleaning material like steel and iron. You can use glass beads as they are more abrasive than walnut shells, which makes them better for cleaning rougher surfaces. They are also used in deburring, shot peening, and surface finishing. Glass beads leave a bright, matte finish, which is especially useful for evenly smoothing out metal surfaces. You can also reuse glass bead abrasives up to 100 times, making them an economical option for your blasting application.

Aluminium Oxide

Aluminium oxide is sharper, harder, and stronger than glass beads, so you can use it for more aggressive blasting processes like etching, surface-priming, and cutting. Aluminium oxide is known for its extreme hardness, making it a key element in other abrasive materials such as sandpapers and grinding belts. Automotive and aerospace industries even use aluminium oxide for vehicle body maintenance and repair. For smaller projects, you can blast aluminium oxide on glass to etch different designs of your choice.

Different abrasives will serve different purposes in the sandblasting process. Be sure to choose the blast media appropriate for your project.