Can You Touch a Welding Rod During Stick Welding?

Written By: Liam Bryant

Reviewed By: Russell Egan

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Do not touch a welding rod during stick welding, as it can result in severe burns or electric shock. Wear proper protective gear, including gloves, and use an electrode holder to grip the rod, maintaining a safe distance from the electric arc and molten metal.

Touching a welding rod during stick welding can burn your skin or even shock yout but yet there are some exceptions when you do want to touch it.

You should never touch a welding rod with one hand while touching the metal being welded with your other hand. However, you can touch your electrode on purpose if you want to have easier starts or heat treat material by applying heat through an electrode. Just be careful and make sure to follow safety precautions when doing so!

Let’s explain more in detail those few instances when touching welding electrodes is helpful.

Can you touch a welding rod during stick welding

When Can You Touch an Electrode?

There are a few instances when touching the electrode might be helpful.

1. When you want to have easier arc starting abilities.

By having a piece of the electrode sticking out you can make a better electrical connection with your work piece, which will help start the arc easier.

NOTE: Be careful though! Since the electrode is not as hot as it's supposed to be for welding you may cause more harm than good by touching it.

2. When you want to test if your electrode is hot enough.

Using a metal object to touch the electrode can help you know if it’s hot enough for welding. This comes in handy when you’re not able to use an infrared heat gun (for example: safety reasons, or if one isn’t available).

NOTE: Make sure that what you are using is not of lower or similar electric potential as the electrode. This will ensure that you feel a mild tingling sensation if your welding electrode is hot enough for arc initiation.

3. When trying to heat treat certain material by applying heat through an electrode

For some materials touching the electrode against it while applying heat can help you achieve the desired material properties.

NOTE: This method is still relatively uncommon due to the fact that you can't really use this process on too thick of material or it will take an extremely long time for the heat to make it through. For thicker pieces, there are other methods (such as induction) that would be more effective.

So touching your welding electrode when its live during stick welding should be done by carefully following safety precautions and in very specific situations. In normal situations that are not designed for heat-treating or easier starts, touching your electrode during stick welding is not advisable.

What Happens If You Touch a Welding Rod Unprotected?

The only real danger when touching the electrode is for your safety. If you are working in an environment where there isn’t proper grounding, (such as outdoors on a windy day) you can arc your stick welding machine onto another object nearby and cause some damage.

Other than that, if you properly ground yourself before stick welding, touching the electrode while welding should be relatively safe.

Can You Get Shocked from the Electrode While Stick Welding?

You can get shocked from the welding rod. Even though it’s unlikely that this will happen (since electricity has to travel through your body in order to create the arc), you should still stay aware of this fact.

NOTE: As long as you are grounding yourself properly while stick welding (which includes wearing proper clothing) you should be fine to touch the electrode with no problems .

At What Voltage Can You get Injured by an Electric Shock?

For most people, 500 volts is the highest voltage that the human body can handle before it becomes deadly. This will vary from person to person and can depend on a number of factors such as your age, weight, respiratory system, etc.

NOTE: The amount of electric current that reaches your body is dependent on how well you are grounded and where you are touching when you are getting shocked. For example, you are much more likely to get hurt when you have wet hands or are touching something conductive while your are being shocked.

Still, if you are experiencing an electric shock when welding, it is usually better to cut the power rather than trying to touch something conductive to the ground.

What Increases the Probability of Getting Shocked When Stick Welding?

The following circumstances can increase the chances of your getting shocked while stick welding:

  1. Electrical storms are in the area.
  2. The machine is not grounded properly
  3. Your clothing is wet
  4. You are standing on a piece of metal while welding

What safety precautions should you take when welding in Electrically Hazardous Conditions?

When welding in electrically hazardous conditions, it’s important to make sure that you are wearing the proper clothing while stick welding. This includes :

  • Clothes – make sure you are wearing the proper clothing while welding. They need to keep ypu dry in any conditions.
  • Proper grounding – make sure that your machine is grounded properly and creating a safe electrical environment before welding.
  • Gloves – make sure you are wearing proper gloves while welding. This will ensure that you don’t accidentally get a shock from the electrode.
  • Boots – make sure that you are wearing proper footwear during stick welding. This is to ensure that you keep from grounding yourself just by stepping on a piece of metal that is touching the ground.

What Clothes are Best for Stick Welding?

Proper stick welding clothes should keep you dry and free of metal shavings. Best two materials we mostly use while welding is:

Leather – this is a very effective material for stick welding. It will prevent the metal shavings from sticking to you and getting on your clothes. Another benefit of leather is that it can also insulate against electrical shock.

Cotton/denim– these are good materials for stick welding due to their insulation and ability to keep you dry.

TIP: You might need to wear a special welding cap that has a flap over the backside so that no sparks will come through from the electrode as you weld.

What Gloves are Best for Stick Welding?

Proper gloves are necessary for stick welding. The best type of glove to wear are leather gloves with no exceptions!

Leather gloves will prevent you from getting electrocuted through the electrode as well as prevent your clothes from getting stuck to the metal shavings on your skin.

I Like Rapicca Leather Welding Gloves. They are of outstanding quality made from premium material.

Some pros about them:

  • Durability with AB grade of US split leather available on the market. ( A>B>C )
  • Unlike other stiff welding gloves, Rapicca gloves are softer
  • Protective gloves against mechanical risks
  • Protective gloves against thermal risks
  • Full cow split leather back till the cuff
  • Full cotton inside make comfortable and absorb sweat
Best Overall
Rapicca Welding Gloves

Rapicca Welding Gloves

  • Reinforced Double Layer Kevlar Padding
  • Guaranteed to Withstand Temperatures up to 932 F
  • 16-inch Extra Long Gloves
  • 1.5mm Thick Cowhide Leather
Best Value for Money
Lincoln Electric Welding Gloves

Lincoln Electric Welding Gloves

  • High Grade Leather and Soft Cotton Liner
  • Kevlar Threading and Leather Reinforced Stree Points
  • Inside Cuff Lined with Twill Cotton to Absorb Moisture
Best for Stick Welding
Miller Electric Welding Gloves

Miller Electric Welding Gloves

  • Fully Welted Seams
  • 13-inch Cowhide Leather
  • Comfortable Black Liner

What are the Best Boots for Stick Welding?

The best boots for stick welding are the ones that have a steel toe. These will prevent you from grounding yourself just by stepping on something conductive while doing your welding.

My top three recommendations:

Best Overall
Timberland PRO

Timberland PRO

  • Superior Quality and Craftsmanship
  • Extremely Comfortable Anti-Fatigue Footbed
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Durable, Rugged Exterior
Most Comfortable
Dr. Martens Industry Boots

Dr. Martens Industry Boots

  • Powerful 13 Amp Motor
  • 8,500 RPM Grinder Speed
  • Adjustable Guard
  • Runs off of AC/DC power
Best on a Budget
Skechers Industrial Boot

Skechers Industrial Boot

  • 3/4 Horse Power Induction Motor
  • Rugged Cast Iron Base
  • Precision Machined Aluminum Tool Rest
  • Rear Exhaust Ports in Wheel Guards

Is the Electrode in Stick Welding Positive or Negative?

In DC or direct current stick welding, the electrode is negative. In AC or alternating current, it is positive. It changes back and forth from negative to positive with each half cycle of the alternating current.

The electrode in stick welding is always the part with which you hold and add filler metal. It can be either positively or negatively charged depending on whether you’re using direct or alternating current, respectively.  

Many welders use direct current if they plan on performing any type of stick welding because it’s easy to control the heat input when compared to alternating current.

However, some people believe it makes more sense to use alternating current instead for applying stick welding electrodes.

Which welding process is more dangerous? DC or AC?

The more dangerous process in stick welding is alternating current. There are a couple reasons that are responsible for the increased danger.

  1. The higher the voltage, the more likely you are to get electrocuted (or shocked). This means that when you’re using alternating current, your likelihood of getting into an accident that could result in injury is higher than if you were using direct current.
  2. When working with AC stick welding electrodes, there is a lot less resistance. Because the material that you’re working with has less resistance, there is a greater likelihood that the heat will build up to the point where it could cause a fire or explosion if not properly vented.
  3. If using alternating current, make sure to use a grounding rod. This ensures that there’s a safe path for any electricity that may be trying to go from your body to the metal work piece.

What is the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Electric Shock?

Primary Electric Shock is when the electricity goes from one source to another. Secondary Electric Shock is when the electricity keeps going over and over again between something that is grounded and an object. During stick welding, both primary and secondary electric shocks are possible.

What to do if you get Shocked?

  • The first thing you should do if you get shocked while stick welding is to drop the electrode.
  • After dropping the electrode, step away from it so that electricity isn’t moving from the metal workpiece or ground then try to find a way to unplug whatever circuit you were using.
  • Try and touch something that is grounded with your hands. This may be a metal machine not plugged into the circuit or a piece of metal you can find on the ground. Using something grounded is important so that electricity stops going through your body and goes outside of it instead.
  • Depending on your injuries contact emergency medical personnel immediately.

What are Electric Shock Symptoms

There are several symptoms that someone will experience if they get shocked. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms while stick welding, you need to stop what you’re doing and unplug the circuit with the power turned off.

The symptoms of getting shocked include:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Burning feeling
  • Throbbing pain in your muscles
  • Numbness, tingling, or prickliness
  • Confusion

What if You Touch Two Electrodes Together?

If you were to have two electrodes touching each other that are also touching metal at the same time, this would create a short circuit in your machine’s electrical system which could cause some damage by overheating things or burning out components in your machine.

What Amperages settings Are Used in the Stick Welding Process?

The Amperage settings will depend on what material you are welding and the process you use. Most machines range from 70 amps to over 200 amps of output power.

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