Why Use a Welding Apron?

Safety is the key issue when wearing a welding apron; meaning that it protects you and your clothing from hot metal and slag  that is generated while welding, grinding or using a cutting torch.  

As you might imagine, burns are the most common injury for a welder. 20-25% of them result in a hospital visit.  Spatter and sparks can cause second and third-degree burns. They can also ignite clothing materials.  

What are welding aprons made from?

The quality of a welding apron will certainly depend on the fabric or material used in its construction. Welding aprons should be made from an extremely durable material like cowhide or pigskin leather.

The use of aprons whether made from traditional cowhides or unique pigskins provide a high level of protection when any welding task is involved.

There are two basic types of aprons available. There are half aprons that offer lower waist protection and full aprons that protect the welder’s entire front side.

I highly recommend the Lincoln Electric welding leather apron very reasonable priced.

Lincoln Electric KH804 Brown One Size Flame-Resistant Leather Welding Apron
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Some aprons are made of heavy denim or cotton. These are available at very reasonable prices compared to their leather counterparts. High-quality aprons use flame retardant cotton to better protect the welder from high heat or even open flames.

NOTE: It is crucial to know that some of them are only flame-retardant treated. These will lose flame resistance properties after laundering.

Also, keep in mind that excessive heat from welding can cause colors from certain aprons to spill onto your clothes.

How to choose welding Apron Style?

It is important to pick a style that is comfortable. Make sure it fits well because an uncomfortable piece of clothing is less apt to be worn. A comfortable fit can assure a smoother welding operation even after long periods.

You might find welding aprons that wrap, clip, or tie at the waist, providing protection from the waist down, more comfortable. Of course, a welding jacket of some sort will be needed to protect your upper torso.

Others may prefer a full welding apron that looks similar to a chef’s apron. Obviously, these one-piece aprons provide more coverage and protection.

Welders come in different sizes so various length aprons are available. Consequently, picking the right cut and style is fairly easy whatever build you may be.

You will want to consider your welding style in addition to the welding tasks at hand when picking the best aprons to use. For instance, long aprons are better in providing more protection and safety. But, it is crucial to also put into consideration mobility and practicality.

Half-cut aprons can offer lower protection compared to longer aprons but provide more mobility and comfort. To get both mobility and coverage, split leg welding bibs is definitely the way to go.

Different Welding Apron Types

For different scenarios, several types of welding aprons are advised. I’ll go through the most common types / groups of welding aprons and show you some photographs so you can figure out which one is right for you.

Basic Protective Aprons

These aprons offer comfort, light-weight, adequate protection, and convenience. They are used in some industries that include healthcare, maintenance, manufacturing, and carpentry. Some of these aprons are used in lab settings and some are even disposable.

NOTE: For welding, never use or wear anything besides heavy denim, cotton or leather. Never use plastics or polyester-type materials as they can melt to your skin.

Flame-Resistant Aprons

Such aprons works best for work environments that expose users to flame, intense heat or electric arc. These are flame-retardant aprons that offer needed protection in situations wherein users are exposed to high heat or open flame.

Lets look at different Flame resistant apron styles:

  • Split leg style that snaps or ties behind the knee; sort of like chaps for cowboys or motorcycle riders.
Leather Welding Apron Split Leg for Men - Spark | Flame | Heat Resistant Bib Apron by QeeLink - Heavy Duty Cowhide Leather
  • Side split option where the top front is covered and it ties in the back, like an apron.
Waylander Full Length Welding Apron – Authentic Split Leather Cowhide and Kevlar Reinforced Stitching; Shop Apron for Welders, Blacksmiths and Machinists; Bib Tool Pockets and Cross Strap Back
  • Full jacket that snaps up front and made of fire resistant material is available.
Leaseek Leather Welding Jacket - Heavy Duty Welding Apron with Sleeve (X-Large)
  • Full-length apron made of leather with the tie at the neck and back.
Lincoln Electric KH804 Brown One Size Flame-Resistant Leather Welding Apron
  • Complete bodily protection, a full suit much like overalls is offered.
Jewboer Leather Welding Apron Jacket Anti-scald Work Apron Heavy Duty Weld Coat Clothes with Neck Sleeves(XL)

Other Safety Gear You Need

Wearing the proper protective equipment or PPE can protect you from the elements of the job. For eye protection, welders must use welding helmets, safety glasses, and goggles when appropriate.

Flash burns are no fun and very painful. As is digging slag out of ones eye. Donning a flame resistant jacket or bibs can save on purchasing new work clothes every month in addition to protecting your skin from burns. 

For hand and arm protection gloves and welding sleeves are important. Especially if performing vertical or overhead welds.  

Depending on air particulates, some jobs may require a respirator. When in doubt, use one. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Your work welding boots are also important as slag falls to the ground at your feet. Jobs may require steel-toed boots due to safety issues surrounding the product being worked on. 

On a personal note, I also found that wearing a welding hat, like a baseball cap, but sort of like a beanie, is helpful and comfortable to wear under your welding hood. Besides keeping your hair protected, it helps to keep the welding hood on snugger.

TIP: Read my interesting article about welding caps and why they are made like they are.

It is important to do your research and choose your personal protective equipment wisely. Choose less based on price, but more for comfort and that it performs to your needs.

Welding History of Protective clothing

It is interesting to contemplate how the use of protective clothing evolved along with metal working throughout history.

It is believed that the history of welding began in Egypt around 4000 B.C. where the first metal used was copper.  Eventually, bronze, silver, gold, and iron were used. Especially, when forging swords out of hardened solder.

Ironwork started around 1000 B.C., with the shaping and bending of the
iron metal by using furnaces to produce swords and spearheads.

In the Middle Ages, the closest thing to welding were the tools used by a blacksmith. The metal would be heated in the fire until it was soft and moldable, or beat with a hammer on to an anvil.  

As the metal cools it loses its pliability. Consequently, heat will have to be added repeatedly until the proper shape is acquired. The metal can then be forged into a sword or spear for weapons. The metal can also be made into jewelry and ornate metal boxes.

Origins

In 1880, French Scientist August de Meritens patented the process for carbon arc welding and it became a popular method of joining metals.

An American inventor patented the first arc welding process using a metal electrode in the 1890’s. The metal electrode melted the metal and joined the two metals with filler.

This is still practiced today. In the 20thcentury gas welding was perfected and research into gas shielding of the arc and weld area led to important breakthroughs.

Since those very early years, techniques have improved dramatically. Plus, a variety of ways to unite other metals together have been discovered. MIG and TIG welding are great examples. 

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