Why do you need it?
You may be frustrated with the clean up of your welding area after you've welded or been annoyed with the time it's taken to clean that spatter off that piece you so carefully welded.
No matter what piqued your interest in welding anti spatter spray, stick with me and I'll explain what it is, why you need it and how to use it. I even have some suggestions of good products for you to use.
What is Spatter?
Spatter is the beautiful rainbow colored sparks seen during those classic welding shots.
Look close and weld spatter is composed of tiny pieces of molten metal, thrown out by the welding process.
And that weld spatter lands all over your welding area.
On the part you're welding, your welding table, the floor, you and your clothes, up and into your welding torch head.
I have an article that goes into more detail on Spatter. If you are interested and want to know more about those little specs that are causing you all that trouble, take a look at my article 'What is Spatter in Welding? And Why it Sucks'
Problems caused by MIG Welding Spatter
MIG welding spatter, also known as bb's, cool down and become stuck to your work and difficult to remove. The welding spatter defaces your work, blocks up your torch head and can cause a short circuit when the weld spatter stuffs up your nozzle and contact tip.
When this welding spatter prevents your wire from feeding out and or blocks your shielding gas, it can cause your weld to fail, unless the spatter is removed.
The last thing you want when you're just starting welding is a ton of spatter all over your novice bead laying.
But then is exactly when you get the most spatter.
Because you're not experienced enough in your MIG set up and so you're going to produce a lot of spatter until you know enough to reduce spatter to the minimum.
What Causes Spatter When MIG Welding
- Typically when welding using flux core wire in a flux core welder. Flux core wire is notorious for producing more spatter.
- When using 100% Carbon Dioxide shielding gas with your MIG - 100% C02 is often used because the shielding gas is cheaper to buy. The by product of this saving in money is often a higher incidence of spatter.
- When your MIG weld settings are not quite right, to high or to low wire feed speed, to high or too low gas, or contamination on your weld piece.
How to Reduce Weld Spatter
Let's take a look at some areas where spatter is formed.
- Correct set up of your MIG for the metal you are welding will reduce weld spatter but is unlikely to get rid of it altogether.
- Read the welding parameters chart supplied with your welding wire, again to find out the correct settings for the wire you are using.
- Use the right type of shielding gas for the metal you are welding.
- Use low or spatter reducing flux core welding wire from ESAB or Lincoln Electric.
I have a document that goes into 20 points that you can look to, in your fight to take the spatter your welding produces, down to the absolute minimum. Do take a look if you want to know how to fight your welding spatter.And when you have done the best you can ...
The Defense for Welding Spatter is Anti Spatter for Welding
Given that you will have spatter - particularly as a beginner, the best defense is to stop the spatter from sticking to the metal surfaces around you.
Stop it sticking to your contact tip, nozzle, your work piece and your welding table. The best way to do that is to use welding anti spatter products - anti spatter for welding.
What is Anti Spatter Spray?
Although anti spatter is called anti spatter, it doesn't actually stop the spatter - that pretty spray of rainbow sparks from forming. Only correct set up of your MIG welder can reduce that.
What anti spatter spray is, is a product you spray. Say on your welding table and on parts of your welding project to prevent spatter sticking. Those hot pieces of metal spotting your project and your work table giving you hours of clean up.
To stop spatter sticking to you? Well that is what gloves, welding helmets and suitable coveralls are to do. A bandana around your neck and ear plugs can stop those pesky pieces of spatter from heading down places they really ought not to be.
Anti spatter spray contains active ingredients normally silicone, a solvent and is most often petroleum based. It can also be water based.
Anti spatter spray products are also available as gels or dips specifically to stop spatter from sticking to the end of your MIG nozzle and contact tip causing a short circuit.
Welding Anti Spatter Products
Anti spatter products are available as a spray, or a dip or a gel. They don’t prevent spatter - only correct set up of your MIG welder can do that or at least minimize the production of spatter.
What they do is prevent spatter or bb's from sticking to the surfaces where the anti-spatter is applied.
How to Use Anti Spatter Spray or Gel or Dip?
All the anti spatter products have to be applied as a preventative - and that means before you start welding.
Any spatter sticking to your work piece or nozzle should then be easily brushed off.
Where to Use Welding Anti Spatter Products?
Anti spatter for MIG welding is used on the metal objects in and around your weld area, where you don't want the spatter to stick.
You use where you want and need your finished work to look good.
Spray and of course don't forget that in addition you can use a physical shield to prevent spatter from reaching areas around the work shop.
Cover and protect the areas of your work piece that are not to be welded as best you can.
Spray and use on your welding table before you lay the piece to be welded. This will reduce the spatter sticking to your welding table.
Use nozzle gel for MIG welding or dip on your torch head nozzle and on your contact tip.
Spatter then should be easy to wipe off when you have done welding your work.
After applying an anti-spatter spray coating and welding, you can brush or tap off your contact and nozzle to remove the spatter.
The best way to remove spatter is to prevent it sticking to your work piece and the surrounding area by using the preventative methods I've suggested.
It's far harder to remove when it is stuck fast and then you need an angle grinder to remove it.
Possible Problems with Using Welding Anti Spatter Spray
It's not all good I'm afraid.
Welding anti spatter spray's active ingredients are generally silicone, solvent, petroleum based or water based. Anti spatter for MIG welding can be noxious and harmful to you and to the environment so it is worth choosing the product you use carefully.
There are some problems with using certain welding anti spatter sprays.
- Difficulty getting off - they can leave a greasy residue which is difficult to completely remove without chemicals, the greasy surface makes it difficult to paint your work later
- Staining metals - some welding anti-spatter sprays can darken and stain the metal
- Contamination of the weld leading to porosity - unless the product specifically says it does not cause porosity it is safer to assume it does. Keep the welding anti spatter spray away from the actual joint
- Environmental hazards - some welding spatter sprays are not environmentally friendly. In fact some contain, Methylene Chloride, which has been shown to cause cancer in lab animals. If your concerned, use a respirator or avoid cans with this chemical in.
- Complaints of water based welding anti spatter sprays rusting parts, particularly in the more humid parts of the country
The exact same materials in the welding spatter spray that stops the spatter sticking can compromise the welded joint. Spray around the area, protect the joint you're planning on welding. Do not spray directly onto the joint you are welding.
All that said as long as you choose carefully the weld spatter spray product you use for your particular circumstances; they are a boon to use.
Welding Anti Spatter Spray Uses
Anti spatter spray welding is easy when you follow a few tips.
Shake the can for at least 30 seconds to a minute to fully distribute and mix the materials inside.
Use by spraying a light coat of welding spattter spray around the area where you are welding. For example;
your weld table, or
if welding a piece out in the field or car repair work, spray the metal surfaces around the joint to be repaired to prevent spatter sticking.
Spray the piece you're welding, though avoid spray on the weld joint itself.
If you do get a coating of the anti spatter on the weld joint you risk contaminating your weld.
Best Anti Spatter Spray for Welding
In writing this article I've carried out some research for you on which Anti Spatter Spray is great out there on the market. Here is my considered collection. You can go through to Amazon and check them out for yourself and see what you think.
Anti Spatter Spray
Hobart 82113 Anti Spatter Spray
No chlorinated solvents, Non Toxic, 20 oz can
Lincoln Electric Anti Spatter Spray
CRC Water Based Anti Spatter
Weld-Aid Weld Kleen
Here is a one minute YouTube video made by Cantesco demonstrating how an anti spatter spray for welding is used.
Cantesco Anti-Spatter Solvent Based
Video Credit: Cantesco Welding Chemical Products
Anti Spatter Gel
Is also known as welding nozzle gel or dip.
What is it?
Whereas welding anti spatter spray is generally used around the welding area. Welding nozzle gel is specifically used and is effective for preventing spatter from sticking to your torch head nozzle and contact tip.
Welding Nozzle Gel Use
Before use, make sure any existing spatter is cleaned off your tips and nozzle using welding pliers or a wire cleaning brush or file.
Run a few inches of starter beads on a spare piece of metal to warm up the contact tip and nozzle. These gels are used on a hot nozzle and contact tip.
Dip the nozzle into the tub of gel to about an inch in.
Take the nozzle out and leave the nozzle facing down over the tub to allow the excess to drip off back into the tub.
Alternatively you can
Apply the welding nozzle gel with a small paint brush
whether dipping or brushing on;
lay another one inch bead on your spare piece of metal to use up the wire that has been in contact with the dip.
Then weld as normal
Check at the breaks in your welding for spatter
tap the nozzle on your welding table to allow the bb's to fall out or
brush off any bb's out of your nozzle. They should come of easily and re dip.
When you have finished your welding session give a last clean so that your nozzle and torch contact tip are ready for your next weld session.
Best Examples of Welding Nozzle Gel
Click on the links to check the current price on Amazon.
Hobart 770074 Nozzle Gel
Lincoln Electric Dip Gel
Blue Demon Nozzle Gel
Forney 37031 Nozzle Gel
Weld-Aid Nozzle Kleen
Ceramic Anti Spatter Spray for Welding
There is a third type of anti spatter product you can use, which is ceramic based. It is much more expensive than traditional MIG anti spatter spray or gel. It's particularly good for your welding nozzle and contact tip, extending the life of those components, and potentially less contaminating of your weld.
It's possible for a single use of these products to last you your entire welding session making them economical to use.
As they say you get what your pay for.
Ceramic anti spatter welding sprays have excellent performance to go with their high price tag and are great for Aluminum welding.
Best Examples of Ceramic Based Welding Anti Spatter Sprays
After extensive research and my experience of the ceramic anti spatter sprays that really seem to do the job are the Loctite, Vibra-Tite and Walter Surface Technologies. Out of the three I think the Loctite SF 7900 comes out the best. I've provided a link so that you can see how the price on Amazon compares.
Loctite SF 7900 Anti Weld Spatter Coating Ceramic
Here is a under three minute YouTube video made by Loctite illustrating how the Loctite SF 7900 ceramic anti spatter spray is used and its advantages. Enjoy!
Loctite SF 7900
Video Credit: Loctite North America
I like this 1 minute 20 seconds video from Walter Surface Technologies showing their E-Weld Nozzle ceramic based weld nozzle protector. Quite a few people around the welding community love this product.
Video Credit: WalterSurfaceTechnologies
I've also provided a link to the two ceramic anti spatter sprays, I likes as runner ups. You can take a look at the reviews and see what the price is compared to you buying locally.
Vibra-TITE Ceramic Anti spatter
4.75 oz and 9.5 oz can
Walter Surface Technologies E-Weld
Anti Spatter Spray Four Alternatives
What are the anti spatter spray alternatives?
Here are the alternatives to using welding anti spatter spray I've heard of.
- There is the tried and tested use of welding pliers to clean the bb's off your nozzle. This is the only anti spatter spray alternative I can happily standby. Timely use of a good pair of welding pliers will clean those bb's off your nozzle.
- Pam cooking oil used as anti spatter spray. Some swear by Pam's original formula others prefer to use the garlic flavored version. Complaints of Pam leaving a sticky residue from other users. It's a possible cheap anti spatter spray alternative as many swear by it. It's not a specialist product of course. However if it works for you …
- WD-40 spray. With the added benefit that it keeps rust at bay. Definitely one to keep away from your weld joint or you will end up with a contaminated weld.
- Engine Oil. An unusual one to try though I would say the same about this as with the WD-40. Try and see if it works for you and your situation and keep away from your weld joint.
- Does Nozzle Gel expire?
No. But it can dry out if the tub is left open to the air for quite a while.
- Does Welding Anti Spatter Spray work with a Flux Core Welder?
Yes, It's an ideal situation to use anti spatter spray in as flux core welding wire does tend to spatter more.
- Does Anti Spatter Dip Gel work with a Flux Core Welder?
Yes. Dip your nozzle into gel and prevent those bb's from clogging your welding torch up.
- How long does a tub of Welding Anti Spatter Dip Gel Last?
As only a little is used at a time it lasts a long time, years and doesn't go off.
- Does Anti Spatter work with Welding Aluminum?
Be careful choosing the product you use. Ceramic sprays say they do work for welding Aluminum. Mixed reports on the other products, some individual welders have had problems, others not and sometimes they are referring to the same product. It may have something to go with your particular welding environment or MIG settings.
- Does Anti Spatter work with Stainless Steel?
Yes, generally good reports of use of the spray and gels for the welding of stainless steel.
- Does an Anti Spatter Coating Extend the life of your Nozzle and Contact Tips?
Yes, as spatter is a cause of contamination of the welding torch nozzle and contact tips, using anti spatter spray for MIG welding as a preventative to keep them clean prolongs their life. And should allow you to produce a better weld when compared to welding with a dirty tip and nozzle.
And there you have it welding anti spatter spray, what is it and why you need it. Armed with this knowledge I hope your welding is easier, and with this knowledge you can minimize your welding clean up.