here are a great number of sand blasting media available, these include mineral abrasives and synthetic abrasives. Examples of both are aluminum oxide and plastic. Depending on the requirements of the process others use silica sand, glass grit or glass beads and even coal slag. Silica sand is a one-time grit while aluminum oxide for example can be reused many times; there are also bio-degradable media such as corn cob and walnut shells.
The hardest sand blasting media is aluminum oxide, the only thing harder is diamond. This material is extremely abrasive and as a result it cuts through material very quickly. As it creates hardly any dust it is the media of choice when working with hard metals. It is often used to etch a matte-finish or various designs on the surface of the metal.
Coal slag is the material that is the after product from coal burning power plants. This material is inexpensive and is often used for paint and rust removal on ships and steel structures such as bridges.
Plastic media is a synthetic, it is available made from various types of plastic and it is available in different shapes and sizes. This material is ideal for stripping the paint from cars that are being prepared for re-painting; this media removes all of the paint but leaves the sheet metal untouched. Another media which does the same thing is pumice.
As the name implies, sand is a common sand blasting media. It is inexpensive and effective, the problem with sand is that it is dusty and leaves behind a mess which has to be cleaned up. As silica sand is thought to be a carcinogen its use has been banned in some countries.
Glass beads and glass grit are effective and recyclable. These media can be reused a number of times which makes them quite economical even though the initial cost is higher. As a rule of thumb in blasting, the smaller the beads the smoother will be the surface. Glass beads are often used to remove calcium build-up from the tiles that surround swimming pools and hot tubs, it is also used to clean fiberglass and remove mold and light surface rust.
The gentlest of all sand blasting media are corn cobs, walnut shells and baking soda. These materials can be used on wood without damaging the surface or raising the grain, they are often used when preparing a wooden structure for painting.
Opti-Blast produces the highest quality plastic sand blasting media. The various media are perfect for use on aircraft, automotive finishes, car engines, RVs, boats and electronics.