Sodablasting is a method of stripping unwanted layers from a surface without harming the surface itself. This process uses sodium bicarbonate, the same chemical that makes up baking soda, and blasts it through a hose using compressed air. Sodablasting will remove layers of dirt, paint or oil from a surface. The process is very easy on hard surfaces because the sodium bicarbonate is much softer than metal and masonry. It is also safe to use in food preparation areas and around people, as the chemical is essentially non-toxic.
The primary use for sodablasting is removing dirt and paint from a surface. The abrasive particles will impact the site and strip the unwanted materials away. As a result of sodium bicarbonate’s chemical structure, it works equally well on hard contaminants, such as rust, or soft contaminants, such as oil. In addition, the material is only toxic is very high doses, so it works well to clean high-traffic kitchens such as the ones in hospitals and schools. This means the same system can function in several different areas with no modification.
The secret to sodablasting lies with the sodium bicarbonate itself. The chemical is very friable, meaning it breaks apart with very little applied force. This causes the particles to have an impact on a surface and explode outwards with great force. This force is applied all around the impact site, so even though some of it is directed at the surface, most of it is not.
The smaller repelled particles push the unwanted material away from the impact site. The impact of a single part of sodium bicarbonate is very minor, but when hundreds of thousands hit all at once, the effect is much greater. Since the majority of the force is applied perpendicularly to the impact site, the underlying surface is unharmed.
The equipment used for pressure cleaning all looks very similar, but the tools used for sodablasting are a little different than most. The system consists of a compressor, an air tank, a canister that holds the sodium bicarbonate, a hose and a nozzle. The user will often strap the equipment to his back or use a wheeled floor model. The main difference is in how the equipment works inside.
In most cases, pressure cleaning works by injecting an abrasive material into an active pressurized air stream. Sodablasting is the exact opposite; the air pushes the sodium bicarbonate directly. This moves more material in less time, but it only works as a result of the materials' high friability. If a sandblasting system were to operate the same way, the hose would clog often and the low friability sand would damage surfaces before the user could stop it.