Your Sandblasting Nozzle Size Guide

A man sandblasts a tank

When it comes to sandblasting equipment, each component matters. From the nozzle tip to the inside diameter of the blast and air supply lines and the rating of your air compressor to the abrasive media, each piece of your blasting system plays a big role in your productivity and efficiency. This comprehensive guide explains everything you need to know about selecting the right sandblaster nozzle for your specific application.

How Does a Sandblaster Nozzle Work?

A sandblaster is made up of several connected parts:

  • Pressurized abrasive blasting pot or container
  • Air Hose
  • Blasting hose
  • Handheld abrasive blasting gun
  • Abrasive Blasting Nozzle

Sandblaster nozzles are straightforward and easy to use. When you pull the trigger on the handheld blasting gun, you release the abrasive medium and compressed air together in a high-speed stream. This stream travels through the nozzle and hits the surface with enough force to blast away any coatings, corrosion, or other surface imperfections.

The nozzle is the part of the sandblaster that affects the abrasive’s blast pattern and velocity. As the air leaves the compressor and travels through the nozzle, it gets compressed further. The stream becomes more pressurized, which causes its velocity to increase, as well. The result is an aggressive, high-pressure blast stream that can strip away tough surface coatings in just seconds.

As a general rule, you’ll want to choose a nozzle that’s small enough to maintain that high air pressure at a volume that allows for maximum productivity. Your air compressor’s maximum capacity, usually stated in CMF, is the key to making this decision.

How Do You Choose a Sandblast Nozzle?

It’s easy to think that nozzle selection is a matter of sticking an attachment to your sandblaster, but it’s a little more complicated. There are many different considerations that determine which components are suitable for a specific job.

1. Compressed Air Supply

Your available air supply is the biggest factor in deciding which nozzle you should use for your project. Specifically, you’ll want to pay attention to the volume of air your air compressor can supply in cubic feet per minute (CFM).

It’s important to remember that your air supply system powers more than the nozzle — it also supplies compressed air to components like your pneumatic controls and air motors. As you attach more nozzles to your blasting pot, the amount of air you’ll need to blast at the required pressure increases. Ultimately, no matter how many nozzles you use, you’ll want to choose a size that allows for maximum blasting productivity while minimizing your air consumption.

Generally, a smaller nozzle will create a narrower blast pattern that consumes less air. As you increase the bore size of your nozzle, the blast pattern will widen, and air consumption will increase. Nozzles that are too large will overwork your air compressor, leading to a decrease in output and significantly reduced productivity.

 

2. Abrasive Medium

A sandblaster in a yellow hood sprays abrasive media

The specific type of abrasive you use in a project will impact what size nozzle you need for sandblasting. The finer the abrasive, the smaller your nozzle can be. Conversely, the coarser the abrasive, the larger your nozzle has to be.

Grit size also plays a part in what size your nozzle should be. Generally, your sandblaster nozzle orifice should be at least three times the grit size. For example, if you were using a 30/60 grit abrasive, you would want to use at least a 1/8 nozzle.

3. Nozzle Wear

Over time, abrasive media will wear down the inside of your nozzle. This wear will increase its diameter, which will impact the volume of air and abrasive that can pass through.

The relationship between bore diameter and compressed air is directly proportional. For example, if you double the bore diameter of your nozzle over time, you will quadruple the air demand volume.

To account for this change, you will want to make sure the air supply you choose can support an air volume at least 50% higher than the required air pressure at the nozzle. This way, you can easily achieve the blasting pressure you need for long periods of time.

4. Bore Shape

Sandblaster nozzles come in two main shapes — straight bore and Venturi. Each type has multiple subtypes that create different blast patterns for more specialized projects. Here’s how those shapes break down:

  • Straight bore: A straight nozzle is perfect for spot blasting, blast cabinets, or other high-precision applications due to its tight blast pattern.
  • Venturi: A long Venturi nozzle has a narrow throat and a large exit bore, which increases the pressure and creates a wide, high-velocity blast pattern. This nozzle shape is ideal for larger-scale projects where you need aggressive blasting.
  • Double Venturi: These Venturi nozzles add an air gap at the exit end, which allows you to produce larger blast patterns and are ideal for mill scale removal blasting applications.
  • Angle bore: The angled nozzle tips are ideal for efficiently blasting hard-to-reach spots and cavities on a workpiece.
  • Wide throat: The large throat and wide bore create a wide blast pattern that simultaneously reduces overall abrasive and air consumption.

5. Nozzle Material

Sandblasting nozzles come in several different materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Ceramic: Ceramic is a traditional material for sandblaster nozzles that performs well with softer abrasives. However, it wears down quicker than other materials — especially when paired with a harder, more advanced abrasive media.
  • Aluminum oxide (alumina): This material is slightly more durable than ceramic, with a good service life in low-usage settings.  
  • Tungsten carbide: Tungsten carbide is a popular nozzle material due to its high durability and impact resistance, which makes it a solid choice for applications requiring aggressive abrasive media and harsh blasting environments.
  • Silicon carbide: Although silicon carbide nozzles have a life span rivaling that of tungsten carbide, they’re lighter and more suitable for applications where operators will spend long hours blasting a workpiece. However, they have lower impact resistance and are susceptible to cracking or shattering if dropped.
  • Boron carbide: If you’re looking for the longest-lived nozzle material, boron carbide is a good choice. Its high wear resistance means it can withstand extended use of aggressive abrasive media, and it’s highly resistant to impact.

The biggest concern when choosing a nozzle material is usually its durability and life span, but weight and personal preference will also impact which nozzle material is ideal for your project.

Most Common Sandblaster Nozzle Sizes

The most common sandblaster nozzle sizes range from 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch, increasing by increments of 1/16 or 1/32 inch. Once you know your air compressor specifications, abrasive medium, and nozzle pressure, you can decide which nozzle you need for the job. Here, we’ve outlined the general ranges for each of the most common nozzle sizes for your convenience.

Note that your actual numbers will vary depending on your equipment’s condition and configuration as well as the specific type of abrasive you use. If you have trouble deciding between two sizes, it can help to get in touch with a knowledgeable sales rep.

An infographic showing the most common sandblaster nozzle sizes

1/8 Sandblasting Nozzle

As the smallest nozzle size, 1/8-inch (4.8 millimeters) sandblasting nozzles will produce the narrowest blast streams. This makes them ideal for spot blasting and other localized tasks on smaller workpieces. 

A typical 1/8 inch sandblasting nozzle will require:

  • Air: 12 to 26 CFM
  • Blasting power: 1.75 to 6 horsepower (HP)
  • Abrasive: 30 to 135 pounds per hour (lb/hr)

1/4 Sandblasting Nozzle

While it will still be quite narrow, a 1/4-inch (6.35 millimeters) nozzle will create a slightly wider blast angle than a 1/8-inch nozzle. This blast pattern makes it suitable for small, precise applications like automotive detail work or molding weld seams in equipment manufacturing.

The typical operating ranges for a 1/4-inch nozzle include:

  • Air: 50 to 95 CFM
  • Blasting power: 10 to 25 HP
  • Abrasive: 90 to 675 lb/hr

5/16 Sandblasting Nozzle

As the nozzle size increases, pressure and velocity naturally decrease. Choosing a specialized nozzle shape, such as a double Venturi or wide throat tip, can help you maintain high pressure even when you’re using one with a bigger bore.

The average requirements for a 5/16 sandblasting nozzle include:

  • Air: 80 to 190 CFM
  • Blasting power: 17 to 36 HP
  • Abrasive: 155 to 1,000 lb/hr   

3/8 Sandblasting Nozzle

A medium-sized nozzle like a 3/8-inch tip (9.5 millimeters) will typically be suitable for a wide range of blasting applications, including both detail work and surface cleaning.

The normal range for this sandblasting nozzle bore size includes:

  • Air: 110 to 275 CFM
  • Blasting power: 25 to 57 HP
  • Abrasive: 225 to 1,350 lb/hr

7/16 Sandblasting Nozzle

Larger tips like a 7/16 inch (11 millimeters) nozzle are effective for large-scale applications like cleaning and descaling wider surfaces, such as on ships or tanks. 

Typical operating requirements for this nozzle size range from:

  • Air: 150 to 315 CFM
  • Blasting power: 35 to 70 HP
  • Abrasive: 300 to 1,800 lb/hr

Remember, as you increase the nozzle bore diameter, you’ll need to use a coarser abrasive to maintain the correct blast pressure and velocity.

1/2 Sandblasting Nozzle

Larger nozzle sizes produce wider blast patterns, making them more suitable for large-scale applications like bridgesrailways and pipelines. Regardless of shape, these nozzles will allow you to get more done in less time — and the higher efficiency can also allow you to cut operational costs by reducing the amount of abrasive you consume. 

Generally, a 1/2-inch (12.7 millimeters) nozzle will require:

  • Air: 200 to 430 CFM
  • Blasting power: 45 to 95 HP
  • Abrasive: 400 to 2,525 lb/hr

5/8 Sandblasting Nozzle

As one of the largest nozzle sizes, a 5/8-inch (16 millimeters) nozzle will be best used for clearing broad surfaces quickly and efficiently. It is unsuitable for small-scale applications where precision is essential.

Requirements for optimal operation include:

  • Air: 300 to 700 CFM
  • Blasting power: 70 to 150 HP
  • Abrasive: 600 to 4,000 lb/hr

3/4 Sandblasting Nozzle

For most sandblasters, 3/4 inch (19 millimeters) is the largest size nozzle you can use. Typical requirements for optimal operation include:

  • Air: 430 to 1,100 CFM
  • Blasting power: 100 to 215 HP
  • Abrasive: 900 to 5,700 lb/hr

It’s especially important to remember how the bore will change when looking at these larger nozzles. As the nozzle wears down, your blast area will increase, and so will the required air supply. Keep this change in mind if you plan to use a nozzle size of 5/8 inch or above for more specialized applications.

Sandblasting Nozzle Tips

As with any piece of equipment, regular inspection and maintenance are key to getting the most out of your sandblaster nozzle. The best place to find preventive maintenance instructions for your specific sandblaster is in the manufacturer’s manual or other OEM documentation, as these sources will provide guidance specific to your machine. Online resources like YouTube video tutorials and forum discussions can help you understand how to best perform those procedures.

It’s also important to know when to replace your blast nozzle for the best results. The telltale signs of a worn-out blast nozzle are a noticeable decrease in power output and an increase in abrasive consumption. You may also see cracking and other wear on the nozzle cover, which is a clear indicator that it is no longer suitable for use.

To be on the safe side, you can use a drill bit to check the nozzle diameter. It’s best to replace your nozzle once its diameter increases by 1/8 inch, even if there is no visible wear.

A grid that shows the number of nozzles compared to nozzle size

What Size Blast Nozzle Is Normally Used?

The normal blast nozzle size for your application will depend on several factors:

  • Blast area
  • Nozzle pressure 
  • Air supply

Each application will have different specifications, so it’s important to take all these factors into consideration for every project you begin. See our sandblasting nozzle size chart for an easy reference guide. 

Why Choose Superoxalloy Abrasives From 10X Engineered Materials?

Whatever nozzle size you need, our superoxalloy abrasives will push your next sandblasting project to the next level of quality and efficiency.

Unlike traditional abrasives, which have an angular or sub-angular shape, superoxalloy abrasives have a random, amorphous particle arrangement. This unique particle shape makes them exceptionally tough, with a high pressure threshold that reduces their likelihood of shattering on impact — and that means less refining after the initial blast.

Our EpiX abrasives are ideal for high-efficiency manufacturing and fabrication projects where surface quality is a concern. You can create a clean, finished surface in just one step — without dealing with burn-off, scraping, or iron contamination.

For larger production and maintenance jobs, choose our DynamiX or KinetiX superoxalloy abrasive. With delayed rust bloom and minimal embedment, this abrasive medium allows you to deliver high-quality results within tight timelines while reducing your overall abrasive consumption.

All of our abrasive product ranges are compatible with a wide range of nozzle sizes and materials, so you can easily match your equipment to each project’s unique specifications.

Order 10X abrasive media today

Order 10X Abrasives Today

At 10X Engineered Materials, our goal is to enable maximum durability and productivity for any sandblasting application. Contact us online or give us a call at (260)-253-2278 to discuss your requirements with one of our knowledgeable sales reps. We’ll help you decide which 10X abrasive is the best fit for your sandblaster nozzle type and application.