Everything you ever wanted to know about Thorium

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As many TIG welders know, thoriated (red) tungsten has in the past, been a preferred tungsten electrode blend.  But that’s old skool thinking– there’s better options out there… more on that later.

If you’re like me, you enjoy learning about all kinds of things especially as it relates to welding and metal fabrication.  I recently stumbled across this column over at Salon.com, Blogging the Periodic Table.  It’s a fascinating look at each of the elements in the periodic table–  and each one has a story.  You can read all about Thorium. Though this column doesn’t include information on welding, there some interesting and fun facts sprinkled throughout.

Now if you’ve been TIG welding for a while, you’re all too familiar with the RED tungsten electrodes.  This thoriated blend of tungsten electrode is popular because it is a good general purpose electrode (good for all metals and all machines) has excellent arc behavior and lasts long….  because of the nature of thorium, however, there are some health concerns due to vapors and grinding dust. At Arc-Zone we recommend you only use it if you are contractually required to, especially as there are better alternatives out there.

For more detailed information on health and safety concerns regarding the use of thoriated tungsten electrodes, check out the AWS Safety and Health Fact Sheet: Thoriated Tungsten Electrodes.

We almost always recommend our ArcTime Hybrid Tungsten… it is truly a state-of-the-art improvement over the old thoriated electrodes with excellent ignition properties, low burn off rate and it lasts a long time! I’ll let our spokes model tell you more about it:

To explore other options, check out Arc-Zone.com’s Guide to Selecting Tungsten Electrodes.


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