Soda Blasting & Stripping Automotive Paint

Hi Everybody!  Welcome to my blog 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 earlier postings, I explained what soda blasting is, what makes soda blasting such a unique cleaning process, some basic information on air compressors, and on soda blasting equipment. 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.

In my last blog posting, I talked about paint stripping in general.  Today, I want to talk about stripping automotive paint for auto repair and car restoration.

I hear a lot of people talking about “media blasting”, yet when I ask them what that means, most people have no idea…it’s just a term they heard on a TV show or read in a magazine.  “Media blasting” can mean using any type of “media” whether it is sand, soda, aluminum oxide, glass beads, or any other of the many types of “medias”.  It is a generic term.  It’s like saying “I play sports.”  Do you play professional football? Bowl in a Wednesday night beer drinking league? Compete in triathlons? Golf with your buddies on Saturday morning?  It can mean almost anything.

Soda blasting will remove automotive paint with almost no chance of harming the car.  Soda blasting will not warp body panels due to the softness of the crystal and the fact that it generates very little or no heat.  Soda blasting will not harm chrome, glass, pot metal parts like VIN plates, rubber seals or bearings.  Soda blasting does not change any subtle body contour lines.  You can vary the blasting pressure to either remove body filler or just remove the paint covering the filler.  And if you are talking about fiberglass cars, soda blasting is just about the only media that makes sense to use.

Soda blasting does not remove any of your underlying metal, so it is not aggressive enough to remove pitted rust.  So if you are restoring a car that’s been out in a farm field rusting away for 30 years, soda blasting probably isn’t the best choice.  Most people will soda blast the entire vehicle, and then deal with any rust by sanding or some other method.  In cases with heavy rust, the rusted area can be cut out and replaced.

Also, soda blasting leaves a protective coating on metal that will prohibit flash rust.  That means that if you don’t have the time to immediately prep and prime your vehicle, you do not have to worry about it rusting up.  Just keep the vehicle inside and dry, and you can go weeks without seeing any rust.

Of course, before painting, you will have to blow out any residual dust and then properly prep the car.  There is an internet myth that paint will not adhere to cars that have been soda blasted.  That’s simply not true.  As long as you properly prep the vehicle before painting, paint adhesion is not an issue.

One commonly used method is to blow out seams and crevices with compressed air, and then wash the car with a clean, dampened (not soaked) cloth, using hot soapy water.  Rinse and wring out the cloth frequently, and change the water when it gets too dirty.  After washing, use a new cloth and fresh, clean water (no soap), and go back over the car, rinsing and wring out the cloth frequently.   When you are finished, apply a metal surface etching solution and your vehicle is ready for coating.

As one old timer told me, the prep work is 90% of a good paint job.  Regardless of the paint removal method you use on your car, always take the time to properly prep the surface before painting.

Several years ago, Hot Rod magazine did a series of articles entitled “Paint & Bodywork, The Most Complete Step-By-Step Series Ever!” In the series, the Editor of Hot Rod had his personal 1969 Camaro stripped and refinished.  They had the choice of any paint stripping method available.  What method did they use on his personal car?  Soda Blasting!

I hope this helps you.  In coming posts, I’ll discuss various soda blasting applications in more detail, along with tips and ideas to help you with your cleaning project or business.  Thanks for reading!

The Sodablasting Guy

12 thoughts on “Soda Blasting & Stripping Automotive Paint

  1. Hey SodaBlastingGuy ! Having bought a Sealey compressor, blasting kit and soda conversion kit, and then dumped an entire 25kg bag of soda on a 6″ square surface of a vintage caravan, I wish I had found your site earlier ! I presume it was too much pressure (I just left everything on default). Do you have any advice on nozzle size ? Once again, your site is most informative – thanks !!

    • Hey Craig! Thanks for the kind words. I’m not familiar with the Sealy soda blasting setup.

      The biggest nozzle size, that you can use, is determined by the volume of air delivered by your air compressor. In the USA, that measure of volume is expressed as cubic feet per minute (CFM). Normally, you would want to use the largest diameter nozzle that can be supported by your air compressor. The larger the nozzle size, the quicker you should be able to accomplish your work.

      In my experience, blasting with the pressure set at 80 to 100 psi (pounds per square inch) is very effective in removing most types of paints and coatings. Blasting at higher pressures than 80 to 100 psi tends to use more soda per minute. The trick is to find the lowest effective blasting pressure to minimize your soda consumption, while still working in an efficient manner. You are trying to balance nozzle size and blasting pressure with labor efficiency and soda consumption.

      I hope this helps you out. Thanks for reading my blog. -The Soda Blasting Guy

      • Thanks very much for the reply SodaBlastingGuy. The Sealey is a 50ltr compressor rated 60-125 PSI and 6-25 CFM. It comes with 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 5mm nozzles. The sand / soda blasting unit is rated at 116 PSI max and 12.6 CFM. I will try it on around 80 PSI and a medium nozzle and see how I get on.

        Thanks once again, Craig

  2. This is my first visit on your blog, sounds like you know your stuff. However lm interested ln furniture striping .anykind of information would very much be appreciated, l have just started researching before blowing any money and damaging furniture. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Pingback: Soda Blasting A 60’s Muscle Car Classic! | The Soda Blasting Guy

  4. Pingback: Index and Links Archive for The Soda Blasting Guy | The Soda Blasting Guy

  5. What is the best soda blaster to use/ buy/rent to remove paint from an old large step van? For DIY purposes. I’m getting a quote of $3000 to remove the paint but soda blasting as far as what I see in DIY videos seems simple enough for me to do. Is it something someone with no experience soda blasting can do? Or should I hire a professional? I’d like to save the money if possible. Thanks!

    • Hi Sheila, thanks for reading my blog. Someone with no soda blasting experience should be able to do the job you describe. A lot will depend on the soda blaster that you use. If you use a small soda blaster using a single digit CFM air compressor be ready to invest a number of long days in the project. My choice for stripping cars, trucks, vans, boats, etc is the ACE Model 2-PS Heavy Duty Portable soda blaster. See my postings entitled “Soda Blasting a 60’s Muscle Car Classic!” and “Soda Blasting Aluminum Bodied ’73 Land Rover”. If you use a quality soda blaster like the ACE Model 2-PS, then I’d say do the job yourself. But if you are going to try to get by using a $300 chinese import, then I’d say save yourself the aggravation and get it done professionally. Hope this helps you out. -The Soda Blasting Guy

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