Soda Blasting and Air Compressors

Hi Everybody!  This is my second blog posting about soda blasting, the environmentally friendly cleaning method that uses a form of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in place of other non-environmentally friendly, and health hazardous blasting medias like sand.

In my first posting, I explained what soda blasting is, and what makes soda blasting such a unique cleaning process. Once you understand how soda blasting works, it is much easier to appreciate why it is such an effective, and safe, cleaning method for many different types of jobs.

Today, I want to discuss some of the basics about air compressors, and what you need to know to get the right setup for your soda blasting job or business.

All soda blasters use an air compressor to provide compressed air to blast or shoot the soda blast media through the soda blaster.  Air compressors are rated by two factors: pressure and volume.  Pressure is expressed as psi (pounds per square inch) and volume is expressed as cfm (cubic feet per minute).

In general, the volume of air (cfm) will dictate the size of the nozzle you can use with your soda blaster.  Different soda blasters have different cfm requirements, depending on the size of the nozzle used.  You will not be able to use a large nozzle size if your compressor doesn’t put out the necessary cfm.

What about tank size?  A tank stores compressed air.  If your nozzle size is calling for more cfm than your compressor is capable of providing, you will drain your tank completely.  Once that happens, your compressor will not be able to provide the necessary cfm, and you will experience a pressure drop, which may be too severe to allow you to do your job.

For example, if you are soda blasting paint off of a metal surface, and you set your blasting pressure at 90 psi, you may experience a pressure drop of 20 to 40 psi if your compressor’s cfm output can’t keep up with the cfm requirements of the nozzle size.

All good soda blasters are equipped with an adjustable pressure regulator, which allows you to vary the final blasting pressure to suit the job you are doing.  For practical purposes, most soda blasting jobs require a final blasting pressure somewhere in the 25 to 100 psi range.

Since most air compressors can easily provide that much pressure, you can begin to see why the cfm rating, or volume of air, is such an important factor in the soda blasting equation.

This is a pretty basic explanation. I hope it helps you out.  In coming posts, I’ll discuss various soda blasting applications in detail, along with tips and ideas to help you with your cleaning project or business.  Thanks for reading!

The Sodablasting Guy

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42 thoughts on “Soda Blasting and Air Compressors

  1. thank you, I want to strip the bottom paint off of a 50 foot sport fishing boat. the bottom is fairly clean-no barnacles- just algae and a lot of dead bottom paint starting to peel off the fiberglass hull.
    can you advise me on the size compressor, soda powder tank, and the gun to shoot it with. as you can see I’m having a hard time getting this information locally. soda blasting isn’t used much in our area yet I’ve heard positive feedback about it.
    thank you
    louis

    • Hi Louis,
      I enjoyed talking with you on the phone about this. To recap, the cfm output of your air compressor will determine the size of the nozzle that you can use. For a 50 foot boat, I recommend using an air compressor that is rated at 30 cfm or larger. My go to portable soda blaster is the ACE Model 2-PS Heavy Duty Portable Soda Blaster. For example, using the ACE Model 2-PS in conjunction with a 45 cfm compressor will allow you to use a 1/4″ I.D. nozzle. That should get the job done in a very efficient manner. In general, the more cfm you have, the larger the nozzle you can use. The larger the nozzle you use, the quicker you can get the job done.
      Thanks for reading my blog!
      -The Soda Blasting Guy

  2. hey sodablastingguy I am new to soda blasting I am looking in o cleaning pool tile any tips on what type of nozzle and cfm needed for that type of job?

    • Hi Jose,
      It really depends on which soda blaster you are using. They all have different cfm requirements. In general, I would use the largest round nozzle, which your compressor can support. Round nozzles concentrate the blast pattern to effectively clean the tile. For example, if you have a 30 cfm compressor, use a 5/32″ I.D. or 3/16″ I.D. nozzle. Check with the manufacturer of your soda blaster to get a cfm requirements chart, showing how much cfm is required at various blasting pressures for each available nozzle size. That way you can be sure to match the correct nozzle to your air compressor. Also, a lot of pool guys I know use Maxx Strip media to clean pool tile. Hopes this helps you. Thanks for reading my blog! – The Soda Blasting Guy

      • hey man sorry for not replying any sooner but highly appreciate the response very informative and help! do you know where I can purchase the maxx strip I cant seem to find it anywhere

  3. Hi Soda blasting guy. I am also new to the soda blasting, and was wondering if 6.5 kilo soda blaster would remove rust and/or paint of my car, and what size compressor I should use?

    • Hi Caleb,

      Generally speaking, small soda blasters with tank sizes under 40 kilo media capacity (90 pounds) have smaller delivery systems and use smaller nozzle sizes. These smaller machines also typically require less volume of air (liters per minute or cubic feet per minute) to operate. As a result, many of these machines are better suited for small applications, such as removing paint from parts and pieces, rather than stripping an entire vehicle.

      If you can find out the internal diameter of the blast nozzle and the amount of liters per minute or cubic feet per minute that the machine requires to operate, you will have a good indication of whether it is a good choice for your project.

      Tank size, as expressed in kilos or pounds, is only the amount of media storage the machine has. It does not tell you much about it’s cleaning capabilities. Nozzle size will give you an indication of the machines capabilities, but nozzle sizes can be changed. The problem with a small tank and a big nozzle size is that you will drain the media in the tank very quickly. That’s one of the reasons that more powerful machines normally have a tank size of 40 kilos (90 pounds) or more. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.

      The best way for you find find out whether the 6.5 kilo soda blaster will be adequate for your job is to contact the manufacturer and see if you can get some honest answers. Find out the nozzle size and the volume of air needed to operate the machine. My gut feeling is that a machine of that size will be better suited for doing parts and pieces.

      Sorry for the long answer, hope this helps you out. – The Soda Blasting Guy

  4. Hi , I have a 12 foot aluminum boat that I just bought. It is painted and I need to strip it. I have a 3 hp. 21 gal compressor that can produce a 90 psi at about 4.9 cfm. Is this adequate enough to use for soda blasting this boat and if so can u offer some suggestions. As u probable can tell, this is my first foray into this type of operation. Thanks in advance…

    • Hi Harry, thanks for reading my blog! A 4.9 cfm air compressor will not adequately supply enough air for most soda blasters. The best small soda blaster, that I know of, is the ACE Performance Plus Portable Soda Blaster. I believe that one needs around 6 cfm. The good news is that air compressors can be manifolded together, and their cfm is additive. So, for example, is you joined two 4.9 cfm compressors together, you would have 9.8 cfm of output. See if any of your friends has another air compressor that you could use jointly with yours. Hope that helps you. -The Soda Blasting Guy

      • Thanks for your suggestions. I have access to a compressor that produces 16.8 cfm @ 40 psi and 13.1 cfm @ 100 psi. The compressor has a maximum psi of 125. Would this compressor give better results and also, do I have to use a blaster?

    • Wow! Thank you for the kind words, Elizabeth. You don’t know how much I appreciate that. Soda blasting is an environmentally friendly cleaning method that receives so little attention. It warms my heart to know that my blog is helping to spread the word. Thank you again- The Soda Blasting Guy

  5. hi,

    I would also like to clean calcuim build up from pool tiles.
    I am looking at a 10lb soda blaster with these specs

    Model Name 10LB Protable Soda Blaster
    Air Pressure Range 35-90 PSI
    Max. Air Pressure 100 PSI
    Air Consumption 7 SCFM @ 90 PSI
    Media Sodium Bicarbonate(Baking Soda)

    I think the nozzle is 3/32 ceramic?

    Again being a novice,would this be sufficient and importanly what size compressor??

    finally , i live in a high humid area ,can i get away with home grade soda?

    any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Chris,
      Soda blasting is a proven process for cleaning pool tiles. In addition to soda blast media, some people use Kieserite in their soda blasters for cleaning pool tile. The specifications of the soda blaster you describe sound like the ACE Performance Plus Portable Soda Blaster, which is a very good small soda blaster. As the specifications state, you would need an air compressor capable of delivering a minimum of 7 CFM at 90 psi.

      Since you live in a high humidity area, it is very important that you use some sort of water filtering or air drying device to assure you have a dry air supply. Too much moisture in the air supply will cause clogging in ANY soda blaster.

      Hope this helps you. -The Soda Blasting Guy

      • thanks very much for your reply,

        would a built in water trap for regulator help in water filtering?

        all the best

        chris

      • Hi Chris,
        Yes, an adjustable air pressure regulator with a built in water trap will help to a certain degree. However, under humid conditions you may also need another filtering/drying device. -The Soda Blasting Guy

  6. Hi!!!
    I’ve got soda blaster not so long ago. I have this 10 lb Soda Blaster Paint Remover. What can you say about it? If the compressor is too powerful for it can it make problems? I have to shake the blaster from time to time in order soda can go out.

    Hope for your answer.
    Marta

    • Hi Marta,

      Thank you for reading my blog! I appreciate it.

      There are a lot of different 10 lb soda blasters on the market. I think the best way to get your answer, would be to contact the manufacturer and ask to talk to their technical department. They should be able to answer your questions. You should find out the cfm rating of your air compressor before you talk to them. Most compressor related issue with soda blasting are usually not enough cfm or not having dry air from your compressor. You might also have a restriction somewhere in your air supply.

      Hope this helps you! Thanks again. -The Soda Blasting Guy

  7. Great information here Soda Blasting Guy. I have been trying to find an easier way to clean my firearm suppressors and stumbled across your blog. The internals of firearm suppressors are notoriously difficult to clean. The parts are very small and difficult to grasp or hold still. They are usually baked in carbon and lead deposits and dipping them in a cleaning solution never really works. Do you have any advice on what a soda blasting setup should look like for this application? The smaller and easier the setup the better. Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide.

    • Hi Jason,
      Thanks for reading my blog.
      If the parts are very small and difficult to hold, then I think the best way to clean them would be to soda blast them in a small parts basket. These mesh baskets contain the parts while you blast them. If you don’t want to invest in a soda blast cabinet, then I would recommend a small portable soda blaster, such as the ACE Performance Plus Portable Soda Blaster to use with a small parts basket.

      Hope this helps you! Thanks again. -The Soda Blasting Guy

  8. Hi
    Thanks for the above info very helpful but….
    Given that the 90 psi is available at gun end what would be a good tank volume cfm?
    I’m looking to offer an aluminium parts cleaning service in thailand but can’t find a blaster supplier yet.
    Compressors no problems in doucing but need to know tank capcity in litres.
    I’m thinking 20 cfm is enough with a smallish nozzle maybe 3/8″?
    I dont know how to calculate the required cfm or tank capacity for a given nozzle.
    Great blog sir
    Appreciate your time
    Thanks again
    Paul

    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks for reading my blog. The amount of cfm required for any given nozzle size depends on the soda blaster being used. They are all different and the requirements vary. Contact some soda blaster manufacturers and ask them for the cfm requirements of their blaster by nozzle size. They should be able to give you that information immediately. Don’t guess…ask. Good luck! – The Soda Blasting Guy

  9. Sodablasting Guy

    I am tossing up whether to buy the small Ace unit or one from Eastwood to clean BBQ’s with, as I need something portable and won’t need that much media for each job.

    Are they pretty much the same?

    Justin

    • Hi Justin, thanks for reading my blog. I’d recommend calling both companies and getting your questions, such as media consumption, answered. I know all of the ACE equipment is made in the USA, not sure where the Eastwood equipment is made. Good luck. – The Soda Blasting Guy

  10. I’ve been trying to unravel the mystery of blasting and compressors and mostly want to buy as little new equipment as possible.

    A small soda blaster will have specs for air consumption at a particular pressure, eg 8.5SCFM@90 psi and will also indicate operating pressure range eg 35-90PSI. I have an old compressor that can achieve about half the free air delivery needed (4.2CFM) at 115PSI.

    Does this mean that if 50PSI is adequate to clean the surface my old compressor might be borderline useful on the basis that halving the pressure is doubling the delivery?

    • Hi Anthony, thanks for reading my blog.

      In the scenario you outline, you will definitely get a large pressure drop using your air compressor. It is impossible for me to tell you how much of a drop. Your old compressor might be borderline useful if 50 psi is adequate to clean that particular surface. That’s too many ifs and mights for me. You should always use an air compressor that delivers the minimum cfm and psi recommended by the soda blaster’s manufacturer. Good luck! – The Soda Blasting Guy

  11. hi guys, can someone help me, I recently purchased my first soda blaster, 40 lb that is recommended to run at 90psi , can someone tell me what size compressor I would need?
    I have a small compressor but not good enough, thankful for any advice

    • Hi Frank, thanks for reading my blog. You have to find out the required cfm for your soda blaster to run at 90 psi. It should tell you in the soda blasters User’s Manual. Once you know that, look for a compressor that will deliver at least the minimum cfm needed. Good luck! – The Soda Blasting Guy

    • Thank you for the kind words, Rich. There are no specifications given for that soda blaster. It is just a matter of finding out what is the required volume of air necessary to operate that particular blaster. Get in touch with the seller or manufacturer and ask them what volume of air and what pressure is required to operate their blaster. The volume will usually be specified as lpm (liters per minute) or cfm (cubic feet per minute) and the air pressure will usually be specified as bar or psi. If you are unsure how to convert various units of measure, just use Google to find a conversion table. Once you know that information, look for an air compressor that delivers at least the minimum requirements. Hope this helps you out! -The Soda Blasting Guy

  12. Hi Sodablastingguy,
    I am looking into renting a soda blaster to clean the interior logs in a log cabin. The rental company suggests I also rent a 185 cfm towable air compressor (and a bunch of other equipment that seems reasonable for the job). The size of the compressor sounds huge!! Is that necessary? Can I get by with a portable compressor?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Hughes,
      Thanks for reading my blog. There is not enough information for me to answer your question. I would suggest looking at the User’s Manual for the soda blaster (if the rental place has it) to determine how much cfm the soda blaster requires. Without knowing the minimum required cfm, I can’t give you a good answer. Sorry. – The Soda Blasting GUy

  13. Hello there! I am looking to remove paint from some old doors in my home. There are details that are impossible to remove by hand. I was curious about a couple 40lb blasters I have seen on Harbor Freight and Amazon. What compressor would I need for this job ? I am on a tight budget. Thanks for all the great Info.

    • Hi Nick,
      Thanks for reading my blog. The best way to determine what kind of compressor you need would be to contact the seller or manufacturer of the soda blaster. They should have that kind of information readily available for you immediately. Should be a quick phone call. Thanks again. – The Soda Blasting Guy

  14. What kind of air compressor is best to get. Size wise. I just want to make sure I’m set up from the begining.
    Thank you

    • Hi Allison,
      It all depends on which soda blaster you are going to use and what kind of work you want to do. Every soda blaster has different air requirements. There is no single air compressor that is the best for every different soda blaster. The best way to get started is to do some research and determine what soda blaster would be best for your application. Then talk to the manufacturer about what you want to do, and ask them for recommendations. A good company will be happy to answer your questions so you can make an informed decision. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific. Thanks for reading my blog. -The Soda Blasting Guy

  15. I need to strip the bad paint job off of a new rental my mother in law bought. The entire house (siding and trim) is red cedar and the previous owner painted over it with a latex paint and of course it did not adhere. What do you recommend equipment wise to do this on a 900 sq ft home?

    • Hi Matt,
      Thanks for reading my blog!
      For jobs like this, I have found the ACE Model 2-PS Heavy Duty Portable Soda Blaster to be the right combination of performance, quality and price. The key to doing a job like you describe, is to start at a low blasting pressure. Once you see how the paint is coming off, slowly increase the pressure until you find that “sweet spot” where the removal is progressing quickly without damaging the cedar. Good luck with your project! -The Soda Blasting Guy

  16. Hello,
    I am wanting restore a cypress cabin interior, it has a lot of dust and just oldness. Wanting to know what cfm specs. are needed, and soda weight I need to acheive good results.
    Any suggestion would be appreciated.

    • Hi Lawrence,
      Thank you for reading my blog!
      The cfm requirements depend on which soda blaster you are using. You should always check with the equipment manufacturer to get the proper requirements. Normally for jobs like you describe, I recommend the ACE Model 2-PS Heavy Duty Portable Soda Blaster and a fan tip nozzle. The minimum requirements for the ACE 2-PS are 18 cfm at 120 psi deliver air from your compressor. Using the fan tip nozzle requires a minimum of 30 cfm at 120 psi as the compressor specs. With the fan tip you can expect to easily clean 4 to 8 square feet per minute. Your job is a perfect application for soda blasting.
      With regards to media, if I were doing this job, I would use Armex Flow M soda blast media. Great for this application.
      Hope this helps you out! -The Soda Blasting Guy

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