Whether it is an anti-spatter spray, a paste or an emulsion: anti-spatter agents for welding are available on the market in many variants - for using on the welding torch, on the work piece or even on both.
They all serve the purpose to avoid time-consuming rework by removing weld spatter from the work piece, to reduce downtimes due to frequent wear part changes, and to ensure that tools used in the welding process, such as clamping devices, always remain fully operational.
What role does it play whether an anti-spatter agent is flammable or non-flammable? Moreover, are all non-flammable anti-spatter agents equally good?
We will give you an overview of the advantages and differences of non-flammable anti-spatter agents and show you what´s important to know.
Protection against weld spatter by using the proper anti-spatter agent
During welding, you can usually not completely avoid spatter, especially during MIG welding or MAG welding. It is therefore important to be able to remove the weld spatter quickly and easily. Flammable and non-flammable anti-spatter agents both do their job: They help to prevent weld spatter from sticking to the work piece, tool or the gas nozzle of the welding torch and thus ensure uninterrupted, constant working. Rework is significantly reduced, thus saving time and money.
Therefore, during the welding process, you should always have the anti-spatter agents at hand, so that you can use it at any time. For this reason, the anti-spatter spray, paste or emulsion can usually be found right next to the workbench within easy reach.
Flammable anti-spatter agents used for welding can become a danger to the welder and everyone around. Because during welding it is getting hot and sparks are everywhere. This can be very unpleasant if one of these sparks, for example, turns a spray can into a flaming projectile! Or the anti-spatter agent itself goes up in flames during welding and represents a safety risk for the welder. A spark is often enough to ignite the rag, which is used to wipe away the anti-spatter agent and is therefore soaked with it. Nobody wants a fire in the production hall!
Luckily, there are also non-flammable alternatives of anti-spatter agents so that you are on the safe side during welding!
Advantages of non-flammable anti-spatter agents
Anti-spatter sprays for welding usually contain a mixture of propane and butane as propellant. That makes them highly flammable. Therefore, there are often restrictions and special requirements regarding transport or storage, and they cannot be used everywhere, such as in confined spaces without sufficient ventilation, in container construction and shipbuilding or generally in countries and markets where flammable anti-spatter agents are prohibited.
Furthermore, there is always the already mentioned risk that a burning rag or a spark lands on a spray can or bottle and thus there is a considerable safety risk for the welder.
Non-flammable release agents have significant advantages here, because on the one hand, they have almost no restrictions for transport and storage and can even be used in narrow construction parts and confined spaces with limited ventilation. On the other hand, there is no risk of the anti-spatter agent itself going up in flames and exposing the welder to unnecessary risk, because it is made on a water-soluble basis.
Another underestimated advantage is the cost factor: the propellant gas (propane / butane) usually fills up the majority of the spray can in the case of flammable anti-spatter sprays, and the anti-spatter agent itself makes up a much smaller part. This means, that you often pay more money for the propellant instead of the actual substance that you need. With non-flammable sprays, the main component in the spray can is the anti-spatter agent itself. Therefore, you only pay for what you really need!
However, not all non-flammable anti-spatter agents on the market are equal. There are differences here, too, which should be taken into account when choosing the right anti-spatter agent.
Differences in non-flammable anti-spatter agents
What exactly does “non-flammable” actually mean? What requirements must an anti-spatter agent meet in order to be considered "non-flammable" and what are the differences among manufacturers?
Different regulations and guidelines apply to the classification:
First, there are the GHS guidelines. GHS stands for “Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Chemicals“. The classification of chemicals – in terms of labelling hazardous substances – is based on the individual raw materials of the overall product. Anti-spatter agents belong to the group of chemicals. Therefore, the GHS guidelines classify whether an anti-spatter agent is a hazardous substance and define which labeling is required.
When it comes to flammability, according to the GHS chemicals are considered as non-flammable if they can be exposed to temperatures of up to 60 ° C without going up in flames. Then they do not need a hazard pictogram.
In addition, for sprays from pressurized gas cans the “Council Directive 75/324/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to aerosol dispensers” (testing according to the Aerosol Directive) applies.
All anti-spatter sprays fall under this guideline, as they are defined as aerosols or aerosol dispensers. The test according to the Aerosol Directive classifies an aerosol as "non-flammable" if it contains 1% or less flammable components and its chemical heat of combustion is less than 20 kJ/g. In the case of spray aerosols – this includes all types of anti-spatter sprays – this is also proven by an ignition distance test and/or an enclosed space ignition test.
Anti-spatter sprays containing a propane/butane mixture as propellant fall into the “flammable” category according to these test criteria. Anti-spatter sprays containing non-flammable propellants such as nitrogen, compressed air or carbon dioxide are classified as "non-flammable".
The flammability or non-flammability of the aerosol in its entirety is tested by these guidelines and thus goes even beyond the GHS requirements, which only relate to the ingredients.
However, with both directives the question arises: Do they really guarantee safety when using anti-spatter agents? Can I actually use anti-spatter agents that have been classified as "non-flammable" according to these regulations without any concerns during welding?
According to the GHS guidelines, a mixture must withstand a temperature range of up to 60 ° C in order to be classified as "non-flammable" – however, the temperatures during welding are far above 60 ° C!
For example, if you spray your work piece with a conventional non-flammable anti-spatter spray or wet it with a conventional non-flammable emulsion and then start welding directly, the anti-spatter agent can quickly ignite despite the "non-flammable" classification. The welder himself may not notice immediately that there is a fire when he is fully concentrated on his work with a darkened visor and only has the brightness of the arc in front of his eyes. Due to the protective clothing, it can also happen that the welder notices very late that the first flames have already reached the body.
The good news is that there are also anti-spatter agents that can withstand the usual welding temperatures without going up in flames!
ABICOR BINZEL has developed its own standard – the ABICOR BINZEL NF standard – that goes far beyond the guidelines of the GHS and the CLP regulation for the classification of flammability.
ABICOR BINZEL NF products must proof that they are non-flammable by passing several standardized in-house welding tests under various practical conditions. In these tests, a large number of common combinations of active shielding gases, a wide variety of work pieces and welding processes are used to prove that the anti-spatter agent does not ignite and thus to ensure the highest possible safety requirements.
Only those products that pass all tests without igniting are allowed to carry the label "NF" (= non flammable) in their name and are given their own stamp. This stamp shows at a glance which products comply with the ABICOR BINZEL NF standard and accordingly ensures more safety for welders and companies. Because for us it is always about “Safety first”!
Many anti-spatter agents are labelled as "non-flammable", but only ABICOR BINZEL NF products guarantee that the legal rules and standards are exceeded and give welders the maximum safety!
Thus, you have to worry less about usage, storage, transport and safety and you can fully concentrate on welding!
An overview of all NF products from ABICOR BINZEL can be found in this flyer.
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