How to Stop Welding Spatter And Tactics to Reduce It

By Bill Byers / December 16, 2018
How To Stop Welding Spatter Title Image

Welding spatter to excess while you are welding is a nuisance, wastes material and time tidying up those little specs.

If you have arrived at this post from my "What is Spatter in Welding? And why is Sucks" post - welcome!

In my second post in this series I go on to tell you how to stop welding spatter and some tactics to reduce it.

If you're new here and are not sure what welding spatter is. Howdy, you can head on over to my first post​.

I cover there what it is and why you want to work to minimize spatter as much as you can.

Or if you already know what spatter is read on ...

To hear about stopping excess spatter and reducing it.

​Stopping Welding Spatter

​Is near on impossible and the trick really is about keeping it to a minimum. Because spatter is a necessary by product of MIG welding. You are never going to stop it totally, but here I will tell you about the steps you can take to get it down to the absolute minimum, just like the professionals do.

​20 Tactics to Successfully Limiting Weld Spatter

​The welder who is prepared to learn the skills and tactics can limit spatter.

Here are the steps you can take to stop weld spatter.

​1. How to Stop and hold Back Weld Spatter by Having the Correct Settings

​Incorrect settings on your welder is the main cause of weld spatter. Correcting the set up on your welder is the first place to look at when you want to reduce it.

As weld spatter is often caused by cold a weld pool, checking your MIG welder for the right amperage or volts setting, and wire feed speed for the metal and gauge you're welding is the first thing to do.

Most welders have inside their cabinets or detailed in the operating manual a welding parameters chart. A chart that outlines the recommended settings for that MIG welder its different gauges and types of metals.

Use that as your start point.

Should your welder not have a welding guide or parameters chart Miller has a good online resource at this page.

Miller Weld Setting Calculator

​Click on the button for the type of welding you're doing. For Example MIG welding.

Select the type of metal you're welding - mild steel, stainless steel or Aluminum.

Then select the gauge of metal you're welding and you'll get back some starter settings. For suggested volts, welding wire diameter size, shielding gas and wire feed speed.

And practice. What! I hear you shout.

I know, you're all keen to just get going on that weld but hold on just a minute.

Yes do a short test weld on a piece of the same material and see if the settings recommended by the welder manufacturer sort out the excess spatter out for you.

If not test again and try the voltage up a little.

On some welding machines you make the adjustment to the volts.

Adjust Voltage Setting

Adjust Voltage Setting

​On others machines the adjustment is made to a dial for the Amps.

Compare the amount of spatter produced. Are you getting more or less spatter?

Turn up the wire feed and do a short test weld again.

Turn Down Or Up Your Wire Feed Speed

Turn Down Or Up Your Wire Feed Speed

​You get the picture, play around with the settings a little, test weld, then play some more.

Note that too low a wire feed setting will cause spatter as will too high a wire feed setting. But the cause is usually that you have the wire feed too high.

By being happy to play with your MIG welder this way you'll find the sweet spot for the kind of welds your looking to do and the conditions your welding in, in your own workshop or garage.

Your aim is to minimize spatter and still get a good solid weld.

If that doesn't work ...

​2. Interrupt Weld Spatter By Sorting out Your Gas

As poor feeding of gas can be a cause of spatter, check your MIG nozzle.

Use a pair of welding pliers to clean your MIG nozzle to be sure your shielding gas isn't being restricted by spatter and is able to flow to cover your weld properly.

MIG Welding Pliers On Nozzle

MIG Welding Pliers Used To Remove BB's On Nozzle

Check your gas regulator is feeding the gas at a flow rate of 20 to 25 cubic feet per hour. However take a look at the welding parameters chart for the welding wire you're using. The manufacturer of the wire will have recommendations for the gas flow rate to use to get the best out of their welding wire.

​3. Then of Course you Have the Gas You Choose to Weld With

​First be sure to choose the right MIG gas mix for the metal you're welding and take a look at the welding parameters chart for your welding wire. It will detail the gas supported by your welding wire. That will limit spatter.

​4. Welding with Carbon Dioxide

​Even though Carbon Dioxide gas is known for producing spatter, playing around with your Amps and wire feed speed on test welds can see you reducing the weld spatter.

​5. Argon Gas is Cleaner

​Especially if you move up to greater than 80% Argon in your gas mix, but then you have the extra costs associated with that. As high Argon gas mixes are more expensive.

But it does stop and reduce to a minimum spatter spray.

​6. Protect your weld Area

​Particularly if welding out side. As wind can blow away your shielding gas causing a poor weld and spatter.

When welding in a workshop or garage, you want proper ventilation for yourself to keep those gas by products of welding out of your lungs. Keep the ventilation method you're using at head height where you need it and not where it could blow away your shielding gas.

​7. Stop Spatter by Sorting out Your Wire Feed

​Cheap MIG welders with cheap components may well have wire feed problems. That is why it is often better to buy a well known brand name get the best welder you can afford. After that ...

​8. Stop Spatter by Buying Good Welding Wire

Really cheap wire maybe fine welding through one spool but cause you problems on another spool.

Or fine for the start of the spool and have bad bits where it is a little thinner or thicker or the copper coating isn't consistent throughout the wire.

Not to mention the wire may feed poorly if the spool is not precision wound.

Choose good quality welding wire from a quality manufacturer that is known to maintain consistent standards. That way you'll have a consistent arc stopping that spatter.

Lincoln Electric NR-211-MP Wire In Welder

​An Example of Good Quality Welding Wire

​9. Buy Wire Marketed and Sold to Reduce Spatter

Yes, it may be a little more expensive but the wire will contain scavengers within the wire, those chemicals within the wire will help limit spatter and increase deposition rate of your welding wire into your weld.

​10. Rusty Wire

​Wire that arrives with you looking rusty, or comes out of storage rusty should be discarded.

If you can unreel to good wire then cut off the stuff that's not up to par.

Transfer your wire from storage to where you are welding well ahead of time. Allowing the wire to acclimatize is a good idea. When there is a significant temperature variation from storage to where you are welding, the moisture on the wire can cause spatter.

You want the wire you're using looking clean, and bright when your MIG welding

Mild Steel Solid MIG Wire

Good Quality Mild Steel Solid MIG Wire

​11. Check for Other Wire feed Problems

​It is worth doing a quick check to make sure you are using the correct size of contact tip for the wire you're using. That the wire is feeding from the spool over the right sized slot on your roller and that you have checked the tension on the wire is not too tight distorting the wire.

​12. Wire Stickout

​Wire Stickout is another potential cause of spatter and burn back of your wire.

Welding Wire Stickout

Welding Wire Stickout

​Too great a Stickout will cause as much problem as too little Stickout and either pop your wire or bounce your wire off a cold weld pool.

Wire Stickout length is usually around 3/8th of an inch. Though it could be as short as a 1/4 inch and as long as a half an inch.

Be guided by what your MIG welder manual suggests and the recommendation from the welding parameters of the welding wire you are using.

Some welding wires demand a Stickout length longer than 1/2 an inch.

Set your Stickout and then set correct wire feed speed to maintain it as you are welding.

And before we leave the subject of welding wire.

​13. Cut the Bulbous Tip

​Off your welding wire after each pass.  You may well have a blob of wire you've never noticed at the end of your welding wire after you have completed a welding pass.  Cut that off. That blob of wire is just begging to stub off your weld pool when you start to weld.

Not only that it is excess wire that your welder has to melt before you can start welding properly. And it distorts your arc - that consistent arc you're trying to achieve.

Cut if off so that it doesn't become the first bit of spatter blown off the end of your wire. Before you start to weld, feed a little wire and cut that blob off as you set your Stickout length.

​14. Minimize Spatter by Maintaining the Correct Distance from your Weld Pool

​Aim to maintaining a consistent distance from your welding project. 1/4 inch to 1/2 and inch will keep the welding arc stable.

​15. Stop Spatter with a Consistent Arc

​Check your cables to make sure they are in good repair. It is worth checking the connections are tight, particularly on the terminals where you change your polarity to MIG weld. Just check the correct polarity is set and your welding arc isn't being affected by inconsistent electrical voltage. And while we are talking about consistent voltage.

​16. Check You Are Well Grounded

And what I mean by that is;

Your ground clamp is of good quality so it conducts well.

Replace your ground clamp for one of better quality if you suspect that as the cause.

And than place your ground clamp as close as possible to the point you are welding. Again for good conductivity.

Position Well Your Ground Clamp

Position Well Your Ground Clamp

​It is also worth checking that you are plugged into a socket that is served with a good ground connection as this can be an area that is over looked.

When you are looking to halt spatter you want that arc as consistent as possible.

​17. Halt Spatter With Clean Metal

​Clean, Clean, Clean your metal before you weld.  Use a grinder with the right flap disc attached to get down to the fresh unsullied surface below. 

You'll get a better weld result and all that pesky spatter caused by dirty material will be gone.

Clean Your Metal before Welding

Clean Your Metal before Welding

​18. Interrupt Spatter with Your MIG Welding Gun Angle

​Aiming to hold your MIG gun at a 10 to 15 degree angle will finish that spatter. 

Holding the MIG gun at a higher angle toward 20 degrees definitely results in more spatter and not only that you will get a shallower, less effective weld.

The skilled operator keeps a good gun angle and distance away from the piece to be welded and reduces spatter.

​19. End Spatter Using Spray Transfer for your Weld

​There are three methods a MIG welding machine could use while it is melting the welding wire electrode into your weld.  In my document 'What is Spatter in Welding and Why it Sucks' I describe three methods your MIG welder could use. Short circuit (also known as short arc), globular and spray transfer.

Using C25 (75% Argon gas, 25% Carbon Dioxide), or 100% C02 shielding gas at the suggested setting for welding Mild Steel or Tri-mix for stainless steel will result in short circuit wire transfer.

Short Circuit Wire Transfer

Short Circuit Wire Transfer

​Short circuit and globular wire transfer

Globular Wire Transfer

Globular Wire Transfer

produces more spatter but if you follow the tactics I've suggested above, you'll drop the inevitable spatter down to a minimum.

In contrast welds produced using spray transfer are better for getting rid of spatter.

Spray Wire Transfer

Spray Wire Transfer

​However you'll need a minimum of 83% Argon gas in your shielding mix. Because the higher the Argon gas content the smoother the arc.

But this may not suit the type or size of welding wire you are using to weld with. And you'll also need to reach a certain level of amperage. On a home welder using 120 volts you will be setting the Amps to the maximum and increasing your wire feed speed till you hear the tell tail hiss of spray transfer.

High Argon plus high Amps will have your MIG welder spray transferring.

This may not be possible on your welder and you may well be stuck with short arc or globular transfer.

​20. Is your Welder up to the Job?

​Be honest with yourself and your MIG welder. Can you get the Amps high enough on your MIG welder to get the weld done without excess spatter? If you're trying to weld thick 1/4 inch mild steel without joint preparation and multiple passes you may well be getting a cold weld pool which will flick off that spatter.

As will trying to weld Stainless Steel or Aluminum with a cheaper home welder that isn't quite up to the job.

With a welder up to the job and the right settings you should get low spatter if you tinker with your weld settings and do a few test welds to get them just right.

YouTube Video with A Couple of Fixes for Excess Spatter

​Here is a 50 second video from Eastwood company, a company who have been selling welders for quite a while. It covers a couple of tips for controlling welding spatter. Enjoy.

MIG Welding Quick TiP - How to Fix Excessive Spatter

Video Credit: Eastwood Company

​Welding Spatter Protection

​Given the fact that welding spatter can't be eliminated completely, there are some things you can do to limit the effect.

​1. Wear the Right Gear

​Correct protective clothing while you are welding will cut down on the burns from spatter. Cotton clothing, will burn but not stick to the skin unlike man made materials.  Look for clothing that is fire resistant.

Spatter loves pockets, if you need pockets in your clothing have them all on the inside.

​2. Cover and Protect outside your immediate welding area

​With a fire retardant covering, any stray spatter will spray onto your cover and you'll corral that spatter.

​3. Use of Anti Spatter Products

​Anti spatter products will not get rid of spatter, or of the causes that are producing it.

But the products do aid in stopping spatter sticking to your nozzle, your weld project and the immediate surrounding surfaces.

I have a whole post dedicated to Anti Spatter products that will help you choose the right ones.

​Last Words

​Excess Spatter doesn't have to be accepted. In fact it shouldn't. With the tips and tactics I have shared here you should now know how to stop welding spatter dead in its tracks.