Although water, sand and shot blasting give great results for surface preparation, advances in technology are giving contractors new ways to strip and prepare surfaces for refinishing and painting. Dry ice blasting is one of the new techniques on the market that can be useful in certain applications.
One of the biggest problems associated with any kind of blasting is the removal of the abrasive medium from the work area once the surface has been stripped. Water blasting requires vacuuming or suction to keep the work surface clear. Sand and steel grit particles have an uncanny ability to worm their way into unexpected places, making a quality clean up somewhat time intensive.
Clean up after a dry ice blasting procedure is simplified by the characteristics of the material. Dry ice blasting uses frozen pellets of carbon dioxide as the abrasive medium. Carbon dioxide is a gas under normal temperatures and pressures, so when the pellets hit a work surface, they sublimate straight into a vapor, leaving no condensation.
Once a surface has been stripped using dry ice blasting, the only clean up required is the removal of the old paint and debris knocked loose by the cleaning procedure.
Dry ice blasting does have drawbacks. The machinery used to deliver the stream of dry ice pellets is very loud, and operators will have to wear hearing protection. Since the dry ice sublimates into carbon dioxide, proper ventilation of the area is absolutely critical.
Coming Up: How Dry Ice Blasting Works