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Factors to Consider When Choosing an Abrasive Material

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

Did you know that the material used makes a huge difference in the outcome when it comes to abrasive blasting?

If you use the wrong abrasive for a job, you may have to start over because the anchor pattern isn’t right or because the damage has occurred to the blasted surface.

You will find several different types of abrasive blasting applications, including surface prep for coatings cleaning and finishing. Pairing the right abrasive media with the right delivery – siphon blast, direct pressure, wet blast, or dry blast – will ensure your efforts are successful.

Blasting for Finishing and Surface Preparation

Choosing the right abrasive media for the preparation of a surface is essential. That’s because each type of media has unique characteristics and creates unique surface profiles.

The anchor pattern created by an abrasive determines how well a coating will bond to the prepped surface. The anchor pattern you want to create for applying a coating depends on the surface you are treating.

What to Consider When Choosing an Abrasive

Here you can learn about the top factors to consider when choosing an abrasive material.

Mohs Hardness

One factor to consider when choosing an abrasive is where it falls on the Mohs Hardness Scale. The scale goes from low numbers, which indicates soft minerals, to higher numbers, for harder minerals.

For example, aluminum oxide has a rank of nine while corn cob ranks at a four.

Softer abrasives produce a finer finish, while harder ones are beneficial when removing rust or corrosion.


Modern blasting abrasives come in different densities. The denser a molecule is, the tighter the atoms are packed together.

When you use a denser particle, it will have more of an impact on a small area. Particles that are not as dense don’t create as deep of a profile.


When using abrasives for blasting, you will find four basic shapes:

· Rounded

· Sub-rounded

· Sub-angular

· Angular

Mesh Size

You also need to consider the mesh size. Usually, it is best to use the finest abrasive you can to create the needed surface profile. Most abrasives are measured in mesh size, microns, or grit size.

Recyclable vs. Total Cost

Some of the blasting abrasives used today, such as silicon carbide or aluminum oxide, will cost more upfront, but they are more affordable over time. That’s because you can recycle and reuse them multiple times.

Other abrasive blast media options, such as metal slag or crushed glass, are mainly used for outdoor blasting jobs. These are meant to be used and then cleaned up. They are more affordable than other options but can only be used for a few cycles before being thrown out.

Finding the Right Blasting Media

Finding the right blasting media may seem like a huge challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. With the information here, you know what factors to consider to ensure you get the desired results. Being informed is the best way to find the blasting material that best suits your needs.

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