You may have heard about dry ice blasting as an environmentally friendly way to clean or strip surfaces. This innovative technique uses compressed air to shoot tiny dry ice pellets at high velocities to remove coatings, residue, or contaminants. If you are considering using dry ice blasting specifically for stripping wood, you may have some questions. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about using dry ice blasting for wood stripping.

How Does Dry Ice Blasting Work to Remove Finishes from Wood?

Dry ice blasting works differently than sandblasting. Rather than abrasives, it uses solid carbon dioxide that converts to gas on contact, essentially flash-freezing the coating. The expanding gas embrittles the coating or finish and contracts the wood slightly. This allows the finish to pop off easily with the force of the accelerated dry ice. So dry ice blasting removes the finish without damaging the underlying wood.

Is Dry Ice Blasting Safe for All Types of Wood?

Dry ice blasting is safe for use on most wood types. The process does not substantially alter or damage the wood grain or subsurface cell structure. However, it is always best to test first, especially on softer woods like pine. Start in an inconspicuous spot and examine the surface to ensure no unwanted effects before overall stripping. Also, avoid prolonged exposure in one area during stripping to prevent unwanted deep-freezing damage.

What Kind of Finishes Can Be Removed With Dry Ice Blasting?

The freezing action of dry ice enables it to easily pop off multiple layers of finishes from wood, including polyurethane, stains, paint, epoxy, lacquers, varnishes, and sealants. It effortlessly strips even the most stubborn surface coatings to reveal bare wood. It also cleans out pores and grooves better than other stripping methods.

Does Using Dry Ice Blasting Raise the Wood Grain?

One of the advantages of dry ice blasting for wood finishing removal is that it does not substantially raise the wood grain the way chemical strippers or sanding might. Removing a finish using only non-abrasive compressed air and CO2 pellets does not roughen up the wood surface. This means less preparing sanding and working after blast stripping before re-applying your desired sealant.

How Long Does It Take To Strip Wood With Dry Ice Blasting?

The amount of time needed for dry ice blasting to strip finishes from wood depends on a few factors – the thickness of the finish layers, the size of the area being stripped, and the intensity of the blasting machine. In most cases, though, dry ice stripping can remove multiple layers of finish from wood in a single pass, taking only a few minutes per square foot.

Can I Rent a Dry Ice Blaster for a DIY Wood Stripping Project?

While dry ice-blasting equipment purchases may be pricey for the casual user, you can often find rental options from cleaning supply companies. Renting a compact blaster for DIY projects can make the process more accessible. When renting, opt for a machine with adjustable settings and remember to take safety precautions like eye shields seriously. Proper handling is key with high-pressure blasting. Without the proper knowledge of how to properly use the equipment, you risk causing damage. For this reason, it is best to reach out to our professionals for help.

What Are Some Safety Measures for Dry Ice Blasting?

Using dry ice blasting requires some safety measures due to the fact that the machines shoot particles at very high velocities. For this reason, it is vital to wear appropriate goggles to protect the eyes. Heavy-duty gloves also safeguard from skin exposure during handling and cleaning. Since dry ice transforms from solid to gas, the process depletes oxygen. Therefore, dry ice blasting must be performed in a well-ventilated area. Avoid lingering fumes by allowing the released gases to dissipate.

How Do I Dispose of Dry Ice Pellets and Blasting Residue?

Fortunately, dry ice pellets fully sublimate as they hit surfaces, so they don’t leave behind solid waste. However, they still shoot off whatever coating they removed from the wood, so you’ll want safety gear to avoid contact with this debris. And because dry ice converts to regular air, you can dispose of pellets or residue without special clean-up or hazardous material precautions after blasting. Just allow all ice and waste to fully dissipate after the job.

Is Dry Ice Blasting the Most Eco-Friendly Stripping Method?

One major advantage of dry ice blasting for wood finishing removal is that it is very eco-friendly. It does not use any solvents, chemicals, abrasives, or excessive water. There is no messy cleanup of toxic materials. And unused dry ice simply reverts back to air, so there’s no contribution to landfill waste. The process generates no secondary contaminants or byproducts. That makes dry ice blasting one of the greenest stripping solutions available.

What Results Should I Expect with Dry Ice Blasting for Wood Stripping?

When done properly, dry ice blasting removes layers of finish effectively without damaging the raw wood underneath. It cleans deep into pores better than other stripping methods, too. Expect totally clean, bare wood to be revealed once you strip away the finished layers. And since dry ice blasting does not rough up the wood surface like sanding, you can move right on to staining, sealing, or clear coating once stripping is complete. Keep in mind that compressed air can still damage the wood if aimed directly at it for too long, so focus on targeting just the finish you want to be removed. With the right technique, dry ice blasting preps wood beautifully for your planned refinishing.

Hopefully, these answers explain what dry ice blasting is all about and how it can quickly yet gently strip wood surface coatings. From understanding the technology to proper handling and disposal, following appropriate dry ice blasting protocols allows you to responsibly reveal beautiful bare wood. Doing so without harmful chemicals makes dry ice stripping an ideal eco-conscious option over traditional methods. 

Contact Our Experts in Burlington, WI

If you need to have wood stripped quickly, our team at Raw Restoration Blasting can help with dry ice blasting in the greater Burlington, WI, area. Call us at 262-417-6836 to get a quote for your project.