The Best Tungsten for TIG Welding Aluminum

With all of the different TIG machines around, with some offering inverter technology and all offering varying degrees of power, it can be tough to figure out the best tungsten for TIG welding aluminum. Many welders have shared stories of 2% thoriated electrodes balling up and pure tungsten welds leaving a mess of metal to grind down for the rest of the afternoon. With that in mind, what is the best tungsten electrode for TIG welding aluminum?

Tungsten Image

The Tungsten you choose will depend on a few factors. They include your particular machine, the thickness of the metal you’re welding, and the settings you have available. So here are a few tips and general rules that will help you start. Keep in mind that some of these tips may change based on your particular machine.

Learn About Tungsten for TIG Welding Aluminum

The following electrodes can be used for TIG welding aluminum, but there are a few rules and caveats that will need to be discussed below:

  • Orange: 2% ceriated (on AC)
  • Blue: 2% lanthanated (AC and DC)
  • Gold 1.5 lanthanated (AC and DC)
  • Red: 2% thoriated (DC only)
  • Green: pure tungsten (DC only)

Don’t use green on the AC side since pure tungsten will ball up, especially if you’re using an inverter. Some welders have a particular favorite kind of tungsten. They may swear by thoriated or pure tungsten. The truth is that each kind of tungsten listed above can work if you have the right settings and the right application.

It’s easy to mess up when TIG welding aluminum, so there are plenty of other things to consider.

The Electrode Size for TIG Welding Aluminum

One of the most common mistakes for welders working with aluminum is they choose an electrode that is too small. You often need to consider a 1/8” electrode for welding aluminum in order to get enough heat and to create a stable arc. Too small an electrode will create a sloppy weld.

If you’re working on AC with a lanthanated electrode, you may be able to use a 3/16” or 3/32” electrode. So the key is to match your electrode choice and size with the settings and the project.

The Best All Around Electrode for TIG Welding Aluminum

While each tungsten electrode has its advantages and disadvantages, one of the safest bets is 2% lanthanated that is ground to a point with a flattened tip. Many welders prefer lanthanated for both AC and DC because it holds up well and provides a stable arc for a clean weld.

Learn more about how to choose the best electrode.

Related Products

CK Worldwide 2% Thoriated Tungsten

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Weldporn Assorted Tungsten

Weldporn Five Flavors Assorted Tungsten

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Weldcraft 2% Lanthanated Tungsten

Weldcraft 2% Lanthanated Tungsten Selector

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Weldcraft Pure Tungsten

Weldcraft Pure Tungsten (EWP)

SKU: WCR-EWP

 

34 thoughts on “The Best Tungsten for TIG Welding Aluminum”

  1. Alex Capten says:

    The making of different alloys using tungsten is really a great achievement . There are many properties of tungsten which make it more powerful metal then other because it’s nanocrystals stability . The above information is very helpful for a researcher .

  2. Andreas Kaufmann says:

    I am sorry, but what you write about the green pure tungsten electrode is just the other way round. It is mainly used to weld aluminium alloys and magnesium which are both welded with alternating current (AC). It is correct that the tip rounds up, which is just what we want to weld aluminium!
    Further, the color of the ceriated (2% CeO2) electrode is gray. By the way this electrode welds DC and AC but is especially good on DC!
    The orange color stands for one of the thoriated (4% ThO2) electrode. The ceriated electrode basically replaces the lightly radioactive thoriated electrodes.
    Still I give you an overview of the colors of the thoriated tungsten electrodes:
    WT10 1%ThO2 yellow
    WT20 2%ThO2 red
    WT30 3%ThO2 purple
    WT40 4%ThO2 orange

    1. Dave says:

      I fully agree, “Pure Tungsten” or Green has always been my first choice for Aluminum or Magnesium for almost 30 yrs. This was the electrode I was taught to use in welding school.

      1. brandon says:

        neither one of you understand the difference between transformer and inverter based welders. this isn’t 30 years ago, its today. inverter machines do not perform well with green tungsten due to the high frequency of the switching.

        1. SR Steel says:

          SR STEEL

          everythig it’s going to depend in the machine you used, if is a trasformer machine(old technology) you can used the green tungsten, but if is an inverter machine (new technology) you need to use the gray of formerly orange tungsten with point and a litlle flat point, for aluminum. Actually with the inverter machine you can almost weld all of the common metals with the same gray tungsten.

          1. Eugene says:

            thank you, SR steels, I have a just bought an “Aluminium Welder – 220 A – 230 V – Pulse – 2/4 Tact ” any tips on how to go about the settings as I have no clue? ta.

        2. Eugene says:

          what colour is the best Brandon? I’m a new beginner and any point to point tips may help. ta

        3. JOHN DOUCETTE says:

          Thanks Brandon so true Inverter arc does not compare to older copper transformer or windings ! been a welder 50 years boilermaker in nukes & fossil power plants and frequency much better on old square wave ! this is progress of chepper machines !!

      2. Jim says:

        Hey Dave I agree,
        Welder over 40 years Green pure tungsten on aluminum AC. BALL UP TUNGSTEN. ON
        DC REVERCE POLARITY FIRST. RED TUNGSTEN 2% THORIATED TO A POINT ON S/S and METALS CONTAINING IRON
        HAVE FUN JIM

    2. Jay says:

      Ceriated is orange. Thoriated is red.

    3. Joe David Townsend says:

      I agree 100%! Been welding aluminum for 43 yrs & i use pure tungsten on ac/continuous. I use thoriated /red on s.s. & steel, machine set d.c. -. Thought I was wrong or going c r a z y ! Till I saw the rest of you ol’ timers chiming in.

  3. welding platen says:

    Nice post. Great information is given for welding aluminium process along with the helpful tips. This information is going to be so useful for welding department of an industry.

  4. kamlesh desai says:

    i want to weld allu tube of 3mm thick and 2mm on the oreviius pipe i am using ac dc tig welding machine which type of tungston rod is to be used and what is the size of welding rod is to be used what is the dfismetet of welding rod

  5. Jeff kermath says:

    I thought I was stupid for a second until andreas chimed in about the green “pure tungston” so whoever wrote this should go.back to welding school!

    1. Noname Joe says:

      My inverter machines specifically say NO green tungsten use whatsoever! With the new machines things changed.

      1. Mike says:

        You are correct,old timers are talking about transformer machines not the new inverters.

      2. Emery says:

        My new machine says the same thing big red sticker screen to dummy proof it and I use to have an old Miller 300 something or other I used and green was the only thing in the shop, the had was helium too not Aragon, I just got my first new age harbor freight welder and have a bunch of 2% cremated with it. Got on here afraid I was going to blow something up and it’s not super clear from all the comments what is the actual truth. Guess I’ll find out by trying it out.

  6. Mark says:

    I’m taking a two G welding test with a green pure is my choice. I’m welding . 065 aluminum round tube. I’m purging with argon to be safe with a 1/8 “ gap. This is the advise of a 50 yrs. experience welder an the welds look great. Wish me luck! Miller welder 351 with purse.

    1. Kaushik says:

      Hi, i want to weld 0.9mm thk aluminium strips, kindly guide about which tungsten..ceramic size and few tips..to do weld, your feed back higly appreciated..

  7. Ryan says:

    I run dynastys and syncrowaves, will still choose green or I still swear by red, ran it at many shops with no problems. I don’t like blue, grey, or orange. Red and green hold nice balls with a very stable, straight on arc up and down the slope. Blue, grey and orange, even light blue, I can never seem to keep a stable arc for more than a single pass, they ball up or create fingers on the tungsten that swirls the arc all crazy, can’t stand them. Forced to use grey at my shop and I burn thru them like crazy, which is 2% ceriated. I go between pure and 2% thoriated personally, no issues, will run damn near forever with a great arc if you don’t contaminate

  8. Banuchandra says:

    Hello sir, I want to know which tungsten is better to use alloy wheels in the thickness of 10mm welding.

  9. BENNY RODRIGUEZ says:

    TECHNOLOGY HAVE CHANGED MY FRIENDS. IM AN AEROSPACE WELDER AND WE HAVE TO FOLLOW NOT ONLY THE NEW TECHNOLOGY BUT ALSO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION(FAA) RULES. WE CAN’T JUST GRAB AN ELECTRODE AND START WELDING. IF YOU WANT TO BE A TOP WELDER BECOME AN AEROSPACE ONE.

    1. terry miller says:

      Totally agree with Benny! When lives depends on it, you had better do it right.

  10. kuk silva says:

    we weld aluminium; why the tungsten rod is burn in a short time when welding and the ceramic nozzle is more heat . we use 2.4mm tungsten rod – green

  11. kuk silva says:

    why tungsten rod burn when alluminium welding . it is 2.4mm and ceramic nozzle is burn why is it ?

  12. Stephen says:

    Ceriated used to be orange. It has been gray for a few years now.

  13. Angel says:

    I have a Longevity 200sx inverter tig machine.
    Welding s/s and different steels no problem with “Blue” tungsten…
    But that same tungsten is splintering and actually shattering on the tip when I weld aluminum.
    Please somebody help me with this.
    What tungsten do I need?

  14. Yz450rdr says:

    You can use the green tungsten on an inverter like the Dynasty 350 , you just need to turn the frequency down to 60 hertz and you won’t burn the tungsten .

  15. Lincoln Miller says:

    Oh I’ve seen some stuff man.. and some thangs I just put my hood down and don’t pay no mind to what others are doing around me but maybe ol red when he changes the bottle

  16. Luis says:

    I’m learning as I go and a buddy of mine ask me to make him an intake manifold , what tungsten would you guys recommend ? I’m using a Everlast tig welder pointers tips thanks for the help

  17. AldrickExGladius says:

    Miller Syncrowave 350p
    been using PURE(Green) tungsten for aluminum for the longest time and then finally made the change to 2%LANTHANATED(Blue) tungsten in the past 2 yrs and i cant recommend it enough for aluminum.
    still use 2%THORIATED(Red) tungsten for all steels(stainless or not)

    @Luis
    how do you make an entire intake manifold by welding? even if its for a basic straight four cylinder carburetor engine, its gonna take some “CNC-ing”.
    and you’d have to give more info into what you’re welding, but the above picture, description, and comments on the forum should give you all the info you need.

  18. Paul Craig says:

    Miller says pure Tungsten on an inverter welder isn’t recommended.
    “Ceriated or lanthanated tungsten for AC TIG?
    Maximizing the benefits of inverter technology in AC TIG welding depends on many factors. An especially critical one is selecting the right tungsten for the equipment and the application.

    In the past, pure tungsten was considered the only choice for TIG welding materials such as aluminum, magnesium or other alloys that require an AC arc.

    But the inverter technology used in today’s AC TIG welders has resulted in more tungsten options. Pure tungsten is no longer the recommended option. Modern alloyed tungsten electrodes, often referred to as rare earth tungstens, contain elements such as cerium or lanthanum and outperform traditional pure tungsten — helping to optimize quality and productivity in the operation.”

    https://www.millerwelds.com/resources/article-library/selecting-the-right-tungsten-a-critical-issue-to-get-the-full-benefits-of-ac-tig-inverter-welding

    1. bakersgas says:

      Thanks for sharing Paul that is a great post!! We will have to do an updated post on this topic!! Especially with all of the new AC TIG machines on the market.

  19. Casey c Marascalco says:

    personally I prefer 1% zirconiated for aluminum another point ( no pun intended) is that sharpening your electrode to a point is a total waste of time for aluminum for what reason ? because 30 seconds after you crank amps thru your electrode it will ball up which is what you want a nice shiny little ball I pull my electrode right out of the pack and it works perfect no hocus pocus no voodoo no space head ideas

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