AMERICAN SODABLASTING
ASSOCIATION

Soda Blast Equipment
Comparison

Since few people know much about sodablasters, they may easily fall prey to lies and misinformation. We want to inform those who know very little about soda blasting and soda blasting equipment and give them the benefit of those with years of experience and insight . Our hope is that through this information, people may not find themselves disappointed down the road. Soda blasting is not rocket science, but there are important factors that need to be considered. You should also know, there are companies that will give you a few of their customers to call that, unbeknown to you, are actually dealers of their equipment. If you have fallen victim to these tactics, The American Sodablasting Association wants to know. We want to ensure the information you receive is fact and not marketing fiction. It is also important to look carefully at your supplier. If they are more interested in speaking ill of all their competitors rather than pointing out the features and benefits of their equipment, you may want to look very carefully to see the shortcomings they are trying to cover up. If a company has a better mousetrap, shouldn’t they spend their time and energy explaining how good their mousetrap is rather than how bad their competitors are? Of course they would, unless their mouse trap isn’t the best one. You are about to learn some very good, specific information that will help you make an informed decision regarding what equipment to buy and how much you should pay. In essence, we are doing your homework for you.

Let’s start with what it takes to sodablast. The primary components are an Air Compressor, Air Dryer, and Sodablast Pot. All three of these can and do vary widely. Below is a detailed explanation these three major components

The All Important Compressor:

You can buy the best most efficient blaster on the market and if you don’t have enough air to run it you are wasting your time. Compressors come three ways, Electric, Gasoline and Diesel. Electric compressors are the most economical to run and maintain, and they are cost effective to purchase, but they are limited due to their lack of portability. Gasoline compressors have the advantage of being portable and are less expensive to acquire than their diesel counter part, however the longevity, efficiency and resale value have much to be desired. Gasoline compressors only go to just over 100 CFM and everyone we have spoken to who buys a gasoline compressor can’t wait to get rid of it. Diesel power is the clear winner when it comes to portable air compressors. They not only last a long time and are fuel efficient, diesel compressors command high resale value and require minimal maintenance.

The size of compressor you need depends in large part on what you are trying to achieve. The capabilities of the sodablast pot and drying equipment you are going to use are also necessary considerations. For comparison purposes we will discuss the compressors capabilities in terms of blast nozzle sizes.

The following CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) uses are at 100 PSI

No. 4 (4/16) Bore Nozzle 100 CFM
No. 5 (5/16) Bore Nozzle 160 CFM
No. 6 (6/16) Bore Nozzle 230 CFM
No. 7 (7/16) Bore Nozzle 317 CFM
No. 8 (8/16) Bore Nozzle 400 CFM

The higher the PSI, the more volume of compressed air that is required.

A 185 CFM compressor at 100 PSI will run a No. 5 nozzle just fine. Increasing the PSI to 150 will greatly increase the users productivity while reducing the consumption of Sodablast Media. A 185 CFM will not provide enough air at 150 PSI to run a No. 5 Nozzle. The next size compressor up is a 210 CFM which is available by special order in a 150 PSI configuration. We find this to be the best option for the mobile blaster if your blast pot will support it, and its electric counterpart, the 60 HP to 75 HP in stationary applications.

Air Dryers:

If you are trying to sodablast and you don’t have dry air, you will be frustrated and unsuccessful. Air dryers come in many shapes and sizes and are powered by 110 Volt electricity,12 Volt, AIr Motors, water, and even refrigerant. Many screw type electric compressors have air cooled after coolers and moisture separators that come with them, virtually all portable compressors do not. There were a few very expensive portable compressors that were specially designed with after coolers on them from the factory. These compressors produce good dry air but at a higher cost than necessary.
For electric applications, virtually nothing will get air any dryer than using a refrigerated air dryer. The negative is they are expensive and not necessary. If you already have one, use it. If not, an air cooled after cooler with a moisture separator will work just fine.

For portable applications, more drying capacity is better than less. Marry an air cooled after cooler system with a tight vortex moisture separator that both have the capacity to cool and dry the air necessary by a factor of at least 150 percent of what is needed. This will insure your air is good and dry for blasting on those hot summer rainy days.

Sodablast Pots

One of the questions we receive often is can I use my sandblast pot to sodablast? As will most things, the answer is slightly complicated. Many people have unknowingly purchased sodablasters that are really sandblasters. Most sandblasters will not blast soda and if you can get the soda to come out, it will be very difficult to regulate. Keep in mind sandblasters are designed to blast at least 10 times the amount of material as a good quality soda blaster. The cost in material alone makes the process impractical, but If you have the right quality and quantity of air, it may be possible, but it won’t be efficient.

When comparing blast pots there are really only a few things that matter. Can the sodablast media be finely regulated and how easy is it to accomplish? What is the holding capacity of the soda blaster? At what PSI range can it blast? Is it built to last?

Provided there is blast media coming out of the hose, being able to control of the amount of blast media being used is the single greatest factor in whether you will be successful sodablasting. For this reason, considering a sandblaster or other media blaster to blast soda will not yield good results. Let’s face it, sodablast media is not cheap and if you can’t control it, your money is flying out the end of the nozzle and the only way to stop it is to turn it off.

The holding capacity of the blaster is only significant in that having a larger pot saves time during the workday from having to stop and refill as often. All else being equal, in an eight hour day a one bag blaster will have to be refilled twice as often as a two bag and three times as often as a 3 bag blaster.

The higher the blast pressure, the more productive each soda granule will be. This translates into more productivity and less product usage. The desired blasting range is from 30 PSI to 150 PSI. A good blast pot will be able to perform well at all pressures.

Lastly, a good blast pot should be made of solid steel, Certified, Pressure Tested, ASME Coded, and UL Listed. Using a blaster that is sub-standard can be dangerous.

How much do Sodablasters Cost?

The answer depends on what you are buying.

High quality NEW 210 CFM at 150 PSI compressors should run just under $18,000.
Twin 12 Volt Powered Air Drying equipment including separator for this compressor about $2,000.
Sodablast Pots range from $2,000 to $9,500 depending on the Manufacturer and capacity
1 to 2 bag capacity range from $1,800 to $4,800
3 to 4 bag capacity range from $7,000 to $9,500
Custom Built Tandem Axle Trailers can add up to $3,000 depending on quality, type of brakes etc...


While we are not recommending any one over the other, there is some specific information you might appreciate knowing about each of the following suppliers as you try and make an informed decision.

In Alphabetical Order

Ace
Axxiom -
Eastwood
MMLJ
Problast
Stripco®
The Sodaworks

Ace -
http://www.ace-sandblasting.com/ Sold from Website

Makes sandblast cabinets and equipment that is not the cheapest product available but is fairly low end. If you have a 10HP compressor with dry air and want to blast a fender every other month you may be satisfied with their blasters. Blast pressure range 30 to 100 PSI

Axxiom -
http://www.axxiommfg.com/ Sold Through Dealers

Makes industrial blast pots of all types. They were the heirs to the Schmidt Thompson valve that is found on many sandblast pots and is considered by many to be the industry standard of sandblasters. A modified blast pot with a Thompson Valve was the first patented Sodablaster; see (U.S. Patent # 5,421,767 Filed Dec. 6, 1993). With some modifications, it is possible to blast baking soda effectively up to 100 psi with this blast pot so long as you have very dry air. The Thompson 2 valve has a clean out mechanism that is a necessary improvement. This blast pot operates through a pressure differential in which soda is pushed through a small key hole. Blast pressure range 30 to 100 PSI

Eastwood -
http://www.eastwood.com/ Sold through Catalogs

Eastwood sells very inexpensive blast pots. Customers are often disappointed as they expect to be able to blast larger items in a timely fashion and learn once they receive the blaster, it works very slowly if at all. Know the return policy. Blast pressure range 30 to 100 PSI

MMLJ -
http://www.mmlj.com Sold through Dealers

MMLJ has a number of company names they use. Sanstorm, Beco, and since about 2004 SBS and Sodablast Systems when they entered the mobile soda blasting market. More recently they have painted their blasters green and called them a dustless blaster. These blasters are not blasting soda but rather crushed glass with water. While blasting with harder abrasives can have some merit in certain applications, adding water to the hard abrasives is not advised. Their Speed Channel commercials make it look appealing but the reality is different much different. Unlike pure sodablast media, recycled crushed glass is not water soluable and will not dissolve from the surface. Wet glass not only causes corrosion but is difficult to remove from the substrate. Failure to remove all glass particles from the surface to be painted will lead to coating adhesion problems. Sodablasting with less dust has been available for quite some time with the use of a water injection nozzle or dustless nozzle. Though the company itself has been making sand blasters for quite a while and Sanstorm claims patents dating back to the 1940s, very little was changed when they began marketing their sandblasters as sodablasters. A bearing vibrator was added and the bottom cone was made into more of a V shape. Aside from coating them in white paint for soda and now green for glass, the old technology is the same. We have tested this system and found it to work, but the product regulation for soda is very sensitive making it nearly impossible to regulate properly. These units are, none the less, industrial quality and for one who doesn’t blast that often, the lack of efficiency may be off set by the low price. In 2004 or 2005 MMLJ introduced a system modeled after the Stripco® Mobile Sodablaster. It is trailer mounted on a standard car hauling trailer with electric brakes. Units may or may not come with the twin after coolers are powered by 12 volt high velocity fans. If you are considering one of these units, we strongly recommend comparing what you get for your money. Price the components separately from different sources to make sure you are getting value for your money. Blast pressure range 30 to 150 PSI

Problast -
http://www.problastusa.com Sold Direct

Problast sells a multi-purpose blaster which is similar to a traditional sandblaster. We considered not including Problast on our list of sodablaster providers since they primarily promote the blasting of Potassium Sulfate which has none of the qualities of sodablasting. Potassium Sulfate (or Super K) as they refer to it, is in fact a type of fertilizer. In the interest of informing the reader, we decided to included them since they advertise sodablasting. We know of no good reason to blast with fertilizer. There are several other harder abrasives such as garnet and coal slag to blast with if needed. Their systems are often paired with 185 CFM at 100 psi compressors. Blast pressure range 30 to 100 PSI

Stripco® -
http://www.sodablasting.com Sold Factory Direct

Stripco® began manufacturing mobile sodablasters in the mid 1990’s. They offer components by the piece or as a complete system. We found them to be very easy to regulate and very rugged. The enclosure where the blast pot is filled is a one piece unit. One capability that is unique to Stripco®’s blast pot is their Remote Adjustable Flow Control. This device lets the operator control the amount of sodablast media that is introduced into the blast stream by pressing a button at the nozzle. Blasters can be purchased with or without this feature and worked well either way. Stripco® Manufactures its own patented sodablasters (Pat. # 8,057,279 Issued Nov. 15, 2011). Stripco® also has an Authorized Contractor Program that offers training, lead generation, and marketing support to it’s customers who purchase their Stripco® Mobile Sodablasters. Their Mobile Sodablasters are mounted on a diamond plate, tandem axle, custom built trailer with hydraulic surge brakes. There is no diamond plate under the compressor portion of the trailer for easy access to the bottom of the compressor. The twin after coolers are powered by 12 volt high velocity fans. Their mobile systems weighs 4,400 lbs and comes with 150’ of blast hose and nozzles. Blast pressure range 30 to 150 PSI

The Soda works -
http://www.sodaworks.com Sold through Dealers

Soda works sells two blast pots. One is a half bag unit and the other is a two bag blaster Manufactured by MCD Mechanical Services, LLC (Pat. #. While their pressure vessels are certified, the aluminum lids used to seal the pot have had some cracking and sealing problems above 100 PSI. The two bag blast pot regulates media better than some, but the rubber hose that feeds the top of the blaster should be replaced with a higher quality product or you risk down time cutting and splicing. We have spoken to customers who have had some problems with this hose. Soda works sell the blast pots and components separately or as a package including a compressor. The mobile unit is their two bag blaster mounted on a single axle 210 CFM at 150 PSI compressor with two after cooler radiators mounted to the air intake of the compressor. In the beginning this may work fine but it raises the temperature of the air trying to cool the engine. In climates above 80 degrees this may shorten the life of the compressor. The internal pipe type moisture separator requires an additional separator to remove residual moisture. This separator is provided.

Our primary concern for operators of this equipment is safety, liability and equipment longevity. By mounting additional weight to the compressor structure on the single compressor axle, an operator exposes themselves to unnecessary risk. This mobile unit would be much better mounted on a tandem axle trailer and with twin 12 volt powered air coolers.

This concludes our comparison on sodablasters. We have shared with you the good, bad, and the ugly. Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

editor@americansodablastingassociation.org

or

Tel. 202-239-2811