Do welding rods really differ that much?
Yes! For instance, it is more important to keep certain types of rods away from moisture more than others. But, it is important to keep all rods dry and away from humidity as much as possible.
Low Hydrogen rods are the most negatively affected by moisture than any other grade. Having said that, affeced rods are probably less important to the hobby welder than they are to the code welder, who’s welds must meet minimal standards.
An example would be a person using a slightly defective rod to weld nuts and washers together for an art piece compared to, for instance, a welder manufacturing steel trailers for hauling heavy equipment down populated highways.
Again, the code welder’s standards must be higher than the average garage welder’s standards, generally speaking.
The Code Welder and Dry Rods
The best way for a code welder or any welder for that matter, to ensure that the best quality rod is being used every time is for them to:
- Open a brand new sealed container of welding rods at the start of each job.
- Use rods straight from a rod oven. That is if the rods went straight into the rod oven immediately after opening a brand new container.
- Use rods that have been left out and potentially exposed to humidity for a very short amount of time then, subsequently dried per the manufacturer’s recommendations and then stored in a rod oven.
- Use rods that have been stored in a dry, sealed container immediately after opening the original, sealed container.
The Garage Welder and Dry Rods
Everything is relative as they say. The same holds true for your welding rods and how you use them. Depending on what you are building and for what purpose, should determine how much time, money and effort you need to spend worrying about keeping your welding rods dry.
As stated above, not all rods are as adversely affected by a small amount of humidity like others are. A welder does not need to worry as much about the E6011 rod soaking up humidity as they would an E7018 rod.
Having said that, I think it most important to, at the very least, store all unused rods in a dry, sealed container immediately after opening their original container. I have kept E6011 rods for long periods of time like this with no issues whatsoever.
As a matter of fact E-XX10, 11, 12, & 13 rods can be stored in dry boxes at room temperature. In contrast to that, nearly all other grades of rods are recommended to be stored at temperatures from 150 – 400 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Why do welding rods need to be kept dry?
Electrodes that have been degraded by moisture will not deposit quality welds as well as a dry rod will. Rods that have absorbed too much moisture may lead to weld cracking and porosity. Other welding characteristics such as arc performance may be affected as well.
A low hydrogen rod coating that has absorbed moisture may result in a weld with hydrogen induced cracking. Especially in harder metals with a yield strength of 80,000 psi and higher.
Harder metals are inherently more brittle to begin with. Using wet, low hydrogen rods potentially increases the brittleness in the weld. This may cause under surface cracking and porosity which is only detectable by X-ray testing or destructive testing.
In addition, it may cause surface cracking, surface porosity, excessive slag fluidity, difficulty in removing slag and a rough weld surface.
How do you re-dry low hydrogen and other electrodes?
When done by the book, re-drying restores the electrode’s ability to function as originally designed. The specific time and temperature for the re-drying process depends on the type of electrode.
Exceeding the recommended temperatures or heating at lower temperatures for longer than specified is NOT recommended!.
The number of, “Good old boy,” ways to re-dry rods are numerous. For the serious welder performing serious work that needs the weld to be at least as strong as the base metals, only a rod oven will do.
When using a rod oven always remember to spread the electrodes out in the oven to ensure each electrode reaches the correct drying temperature.
Any electrode in which the coating begins to flake and break off should not be used. Any rod, that while welding displays a noticeable difference in the amount of spatter, porosity or weak, erratic arc force should also be also discarded.
For low hydrogen rods that have been in direct contact with water or have been exposed to high humity: **Pre-drying is recommended for 1 – 2 hours to lower the risk of oxidation of the alloys and to prevent cracking in the rod’s coating. Please reference the chart below from Lincoln Electric for Re-drying Low Hydrogen Rods.
Condition of Electrodes
Pre-drying Temperature **
E8018, E9018, E10018, E11018
Electrodes exposed to air for less than one week; no direct contact with water.
650 to 750°F (340 to 400°C)
700 to 800°F (370 to 430°C)
Electrodes which have come in direct contact with water exposed to high humidity.
180 to 220°F (80 to 105°C)
650 to 750°F (340 to 400°C)
700 to 800°F (370 to 430°C)
Re-drying non-low hydrogen electrodes
Most rods stored in dry, sealed containers are going to be good to use for a long time. However, if exposed to humidity for long periods of time, stick electrodes from opened containers may pick up enough moisture to affect welding characteristics or weld quality as previously stated.
If for any reason, moisture does appear to be a problem, you may choose to store your electrodes in heated cabinets at 100 to 120°F.
It is possible that some electrodes from wet containers or extended contact with high humidity can be re-dried. Please reference the chart below from Lincoln Electric for Re-drying Non-Low Hydrogen Rods.
Final Re-drying Temperature
E6010: Fleetweld 5P, 5P+
E6011: Fleetweld 35, 35LS, 180
E8010-G: SA-70+(1), SA-80(1)
Fast Freeze – excessive moisture is indicated by a noisy arc and high spatter, rusty core wire at the holder end or objectionable coating blisters while welding.
Re-baking of this group of stick electrodes is not recommended.
E7024: Jetweld 1, 3
E6027: Jetweld 2
Fast Fill – excessive moisture is indicated by a noisy or “digging” arc, high spatter, tight slag, or undercut. Pre-dry unusually damp electrodes for 30 – 45 minutes at 200°F to 230°F (90 – 110°C) before final drying to minimize cracking of the coating.
400 to 500°F (200to 260°C)
30 – 45 minutes
E6012: Fleetweld 7
E6013: Fleetweld 37
E7014: Fleetweld 47
E6022: Fleetweld 22
Fill Freeze – Excessive moisture is indicated by a noisy or “digging” arc, high spatter, tight slag or undercut. Pre-dry unusually damp electrodes for 30 – 45 minutes at 200° – 230°F (90° – 110°C) before final drying to minimize cracking of the coating
300 to 350°F (150 to 180°C)
20 – 30 minutes
Depending on the seriousness of your project or the welding work you do in general, spending money on a rod oven is probably not necessary. I have never had one nor feel the need to ever own one.
I use E6011 rods almost exclusively on milder steel. Now, I have come across E6011’s that were damaged by moisture but if you simply keep them in a sealed conatainer you will not have very many problems even after several months.
The good thing about it, I can purchase E6011’s in large quantities which saves money. Then, I can store them for long periods without worrying.
Since this site focuses on the beginner, I doubt many of you will be welding higher strength metals necessitating the use of higher strength rods.
At least not for a while. But when you do, be sure to use the correct electrode for the steel you are welding. Especially, if the failure of the weld could possibly endanger life or limb now or in the future.
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