TIG Tuesday: How to Choose the Right Tungsten for TIG Welding
Once you’ve invested in a top of the line TIG welding machine for aluminum welds or detailed projects, get the most out of your welds by picking the right TIG welding tungsten. Whether you’re using AC or DC processes for TIG welding, here are some tips to keep in mind when it’s time to stock up on TIG rods, including a new rod you may not know about. At the end of the post we’ll also link to a Baker’s Gas and Welding customer favorite.
Choosing the Right Color Tungsten for TIG Welding
Each TIG welding electrode has a specific color classification that makes them easy to identify. Based on the composition of the electrode, welders will find specific applications and benefits that may work best for each electrode. Here is a brief roundup:
Green TIG Welding electrodes are pure Tungsten and are used for AC welding, often for aluminum and magnesium. They tend to be commonly used because they are inexpensive. However, they also burn up much faster than the other alloy electrodes, so prepare to stock up if you go this route.
Why use green, pure tungsten electrodes? They work well on AC sine wave welding and form a solid balled tip that results in a stable arc. Besides the high consumption rate, it doesn’t start as well as thoriated or ceriated electrodes, which remain the favorites among many welders.
Red Thoriated TIG Welding Electrodes are among the most commonly used electrodes because the 2% thorium mixed with the tungsten is durable and versatile. Welders can grind the tip of these electrodes to a sharp point and enjoy and stable arc that last a long time. The final weld puddle is cleaner since the electrode leaves fewer deposits, and thorium allows for easier arc starts and higher current-carrying capacity.
Switch between AC or DC welding with Thoriated electrodes. Welders can work on projects that include thin aluminum, titanium, carbon steel, stainless steel, and nickel. Since thorium is radioactive, welders remain cautious about using these electrodes.
Orange Ceriated TIG Welding Electrodes contain about 2% percent ceriated and are ideal for DC welding and lower current processes. Since it can weld carbon steel, stainless steel, nickel alloys, and titanium, some welders have found that it works well as a replacement for thoriated electrodes.
Ceriated is not recommended for welding at higher amps since the heat can change the composition of the electrode. Welders prefer to work with Ceriated electrodes at lower temperatures for small, precise parts, pipe fabricating, and welding thin metal.
Gold Lanthanated Electrodes for TIG Welding work in both AC and DC (electrode negative) settings since they can be sharpened or balled respectively depending on the project. It can weld steel from a square wave power source and it offers reliable arc starts and arc stability.
Due to its durability and versatility, some welders use Lanthanated in place of thoriated since there are no radioactive elements in the metal.
Brown Zirconiated TIG Welding Electrodes have a minimal amount of Zirconium and are best used only for AC welding jobs. Since the zirconium is a strong metal that resists cracking, it produces a stable arc and resists contamination. It can also carry an amperage current that is comparable to thoriated electrodes.
Gray Rare Earth Electrodes typically note which rare-earth oxides are present in the rod. These electrodes can be used for AC and DC welding jobs, but welders should take care to read the details of each metal listed on the package. At their best, rare earth electrodes can be counted on for a stable arc, longer life, and a current that rivals other electrodes even though they are usually smaller.
Shout out to our friends at Blue Demon for the chart below! (Page 37 of their new catalog)
Get All Five TIG Electrodes in One Set
Can’t decide which electrode to purchase? Try out the new Weldporn Five Flavors Assorted Tungsten. These electrodes have been proven to provide stability and consistency in every weld. There are two of each electrode included in the set.
The options for the 3/32” electrodes include:
- 2% Thoriated
- 2% Ceriated
- 2% Lanthanated
- Pure Tungsten
The Purple Electrode Option
Purple E3 Tungsten If you’re looking for a safe alternative to thoriated electrodes and a longer lasting version of pure Tungsten, then you may want to consider the E3 Tungsten electrode that blends three oxides together. It has better ignition rates, it runs cooler, and there is no radiation. Compared to thoriated, it may even sustain a faster ignition and a more stable arc over time.
The E3 Tungsten is designed to give better arc starts and a longer lifespan for the electrode compared to pure Tungsten.
Learn More about TIG Electrodes
You can find the best deals on TIG welders, TIG accessories, and TIG welding consumables at Baker’s Gas and Welding. You’ll find instant savings, rebate offers, and free shipping on most orders over $50. Check out our best-selling Blue Demon TIG rods for your welding shop.