Different Types of Blasting Media

In the process of media blasting, compressed air is used to blast an item with different types of gritty substances (called media) to remove contaminants or create etching. These media are safe for the environment and the surface upon which they are used. Different media are used for different purposes, and understanding the various types is helpful when approaching your needs. Here is a look at the different types of blasting media.

Aluminum Oxide

This is the most common and widely applied abrasive substance used for blast finishing and preparation of the surface. Aluminum oxide is exceptionally sharp and long-lasting. One of its biggest advantages is that it is hearty and can be recycled for many repeat uses. It is available in a variety of hardness ratings and grit sizes.

Crushed Glass

With its jagged edges and angular profile, crushed glass makes for an aggressive treatment to remove heavy coatings and contamination on the surface. Non-toxic and inert materials are used which are completely safe and contain no heavy metals or free silica. Since it is so light, much less of the material is used—as little as half that of other approaches.

Glass Beads

Like crushed glass, the materials used in this form of blasting are safe, non-toxic and contain no heavy metals or silica. The pre-formed ball shapes polish as they blast, leaving the metal bright and smooth when the process is complete. These materials can also be recycled a number of times.

Plastic Blasting Media

Plastics can be used as an abrasive. They are ideal for quick stripping and offer a very predictable and standardized performance. When paint needs to be stripped from delicate metals, plastic, automotive surfaces, aerospace materials or composites, plastics are often the perfect choice.

Silicon Carbide

The hardest of all the blasting media, this material cuts extremely fast. It starts off as a series of small blocks which quickly splinter during the blasting process, it can be used many times. In fact, it is the most recyclable of all the blasting media. It is often used for etching stone and glass.

Pumice Blasting

Pumice is often used in blocks to remove callouses from skin, and the soft, gritty stone is also a great media for light blasting jobs. If the operation requires a delicate touch to protect the underlying material, pumice may be ideal.

Steel Shot

When you need to clean and strip a metal surface, steel shot is the way to go. This material is a series of small steel balls that are fired at the surface to remove materials and leave the surface with a polished and shiny sheen.

Steel Grit

If the operation needs a very aggressive approach, steel grit works fast and removes a wide variety of contaminants. It is great for etching metal.


Organic materials like corn cob and walnut shells are environmentally friendly and excellent for protecting the underlying surfaces. Corn cob is used for delicate and soft operations like wood surfaces, where walnut shells are indicated for more aggressive stripping.

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