Sandblasting: Which Abrasive Medium to Choose

A sandblasting contractor uses different types of abrasive media. It always depends on the project. It also depends on the material and the results you want. If you have large areas or surfaces to clean, it is better to hire a contractor. A sandblasting contractor can do the job more efficiently and in less time. With that said, let’s move on and discover some interesting things about abrasive media.

Sandblasting – Basic guidelines to make the right choice

Many DIY-ers, hobbyists, and artists invest in a portable mini sandblasting kit. The mobile kit indicates what media to use with the unit. Ensure that you choose the equipment that fits your purpose.

Are you interested in sandblasting? If your answer is yes, you should know the different abrasive materials available for each project. Here are some quick tips.

  • Use a softer medium if you are a newbie.
  • Glass beads make metal surfaces shine.
  • Aluminum oxide is suitable for paint removal.
  • Plastic is softer and great for removing paint from aerospace and automotive parts.

Variety of sandblasting media

If you are new to sandblasting, this article can help. We have listed the different types of sandblasting media. Sandblasting media is the abrasive material sprayed on the surface. Whether you want to clean, remove stubborn debris, strip paint, shape, or prepare a surface for painting, it’s vital that the right abrasive particles are used.

The choices vary. They are like sandpaper grits. For example, some media are highly abrasive (complex media). Others are gentler (soft media). Softer media are for delicate projects. Choosing the right medium is important because it will affect the result.

It pays to know about the different sandblasting media. Who knows, you might have smaller sandblasting projects you can do yourself later.

Here are the different types of sandblasting media. You can see their various applications.

Steel grit and shot

Most contractors use steel shot (rounded) or steel grit (angular) for heavy-duty sandblasting. They use the medium for shot-peening and deburring. They are also effective in removing tough outer coatings.

Glass beads

Sandblasting Los Angeles CAManufacturers use soda lime to produce glass beads. They are round. The shape prevents damaging the surface under the grime. Glass beads provide a bright, clean, and smooth finish. You can use them on metals like copper and bronze. You also use the medium to clean brass, steel, and aluminum. Contractors use them to prepare metal surfaces for powder coating and painting.

Black beauty

Black Beauty is a coal slag. Would you believe that it is a recycled product? This coarse and abrasive material comes from coal-burning power plants. Coal slag is perfect for removing coatings and other foreign materials from concrete and steel surfaces.

Aluminum oxide

Aluminum oxide is hard. It is reusable, cheap, and durable. The angular particles are available in different sizes. You can use aluminum oxide for grinding and deburring jobs. It smoothens rough edges, too. The smaller particles are good for smoothing and polishing metal surfaces.

Silicon carbide

For the toughest sandblasting jobs, contractors choose silicon carbide. This is the hardest among the lot. It can do the work in less time. Silicon carbide is available as coarse grit. But silicon carbide is also available in powder form. Use it to polish harder materials such as granite. It can grind glass and remove mill scales. Many artists use silicon carbide for glass, wood, and stone etchings.


mobile_portable_sandblastingStaurolite comes from various mined rocks. The natural stone particles are suitable for removing rust, mill scale, and thinner paint coatings. The medium is hard and brittle. But staurolite does not produce too much dust.


Plastic grits are available in various sizes and densities. They are also available in multiple shapes and hardness. Plastic grits come from plastic compounds like polystyrene and polycarbonate. Professionals use them to remove paint from parts of land and air transportation.

Walnut shells

Black walnut shells for delicate sandblasting jobs? This is a surprise. But the shells are abrasive when ground. Walnut shells are not as hard as plastic and metal media. They are used for cleaning and polishing fragile objects. You can also use walnut shells for deburring and barrel tumbling.

Corn cobs

It is surprising to know that corn cobs can be a sandblasting medium. Corn cobs are ground, just like walnut shells. The particles are good for cleaning delicate surfaces. You can also use it to remove old paint coating, grease, and grime. Corn cob particles do not break down easily. They are reusable.

Are you surprised that there are so many abrasive mediums for sandblasting? You can now clean more surfaces through sandblasting. Therefore, manufacturers developed different types. If you are prepping wood, metal, concrete, or stone, you now know which medium to buy.