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.


14 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.

    2. Jay says:

      Ceriated is orange. Thoriated is red.

  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!

  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.

  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.



  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 ?

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