Can sandblasting abrasive remove galvanizing?

Removing a galvanized coating from a surface isn’t always necessary, but when it is, there are a few different ways it can be done, including abrasive blasting.

Galvanizing steel or iron is the action of applying a zinc coating to prevent rust from forming on the surface. Before welding galvanized steel, the zinc plating must be removed or toxic fumes may be emitted, contaminating the workspace.

Galvanized layers can be removed a few different ways, but chemical stripping is most common. This can be as simple as soaking the piece in vinegar, but this method is generally time consuming as it must first soak, then get brushed and rinsed. 

Another common chemical used is muriatic acid, but this is a dangerous chemical to work with. Muriatic acid can severely burn the skin, burn lungs and the nose when inhaled, and cause permanent eye damage or even blindness when in contact with the eyes. 

Using Abrasive Blasting to Remove Galvanizing

If you want to remove a galvanized coating without using chemicals, abrasive blasting is an effective method that can get the job done… provided you are using the right blast media.

With abrasive blasting, sand or other abrasive particles are propelled through a nozzle with compressed air. The abrasive blasting media then impacts the galvanized surface, breaking down and removing the unwanted layers. 

Common abrasive blasting materials include sand, aluminum oxide, crushed glass, or garnet. When used properly, these media can remove the zinc plating, but they may also result in  damage to the underlying material. They could also leave particles embedded in the surface, leaving a textured result. Additionally, sand may contain large amounts of silica, which can cause lung inflammation or silicosis when breathed. Plus, the effectiveness of blast media can vary widely based on how it was produced, and mined abrasives may cost more than manufactured abrasives to blast a similar area.  Today, abrasive blasters are increasingly switching to superoxalloy abrasives, introduced by 10X Engineered Materials, for higher performance, better results and decreased safety risks.

What’s the Best Abrasive for Blasting to Remove Galvanizing? 

10X Engineered Materials has created superoxalloy blast abrasives that will efficiently remove the galvanized layer without damaging the underlying layer or creating toxic fumes in one step. 

The EpiX and KinetiX line of superoxalloy blast abrasives are engineered with oxide minerals that create non-crystalline particles that resist breakage under high-speed mechanical impact, transferring more energy to the surface being blasted. These superoxalloy abrasives are safer than other alternatives with no free silica, no heavy metals, no crystalline structures, and no beryllium. They are also ultra-low dust, resulting in a safer, cleaner workspace.

Currently, KinetiX and EpiX are available from abrasive distributors around the US. If you don’t see a distributor near you, contact 10X and we will work with you to get you what you need. EpiX abrasive, which is best for precision applications such as powder coating and medical applications, is also available to purchase directly from the 10X Engineered Materials website.