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.  

Welding Aprons

 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.

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.

All of the materials mentioned above helps to insure that the apron won’t ignite when sparks fly. However, it is crucial to know that some aprons are only flame-retardant treated. These will lose flame resistance properties after laundering.

It is important to pick a welding apron that provides the right combination of strength, protection and comfort.

Something worth mentioning is high heat from welding can make colors bleed from certain aprons onto clothes. Keep this in mind when choosing and wearing your new apron.

Style Preference

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.

Additional Options

There are additional differences in the type of apron that you might choose to wear:

  • There is a split leg style that snaps or ties basically behind the knee; sort of like chaps for cowboys or motorcycle riders.
  • Also, there is a side split option where the top front is covered and it ties in the back, like an apron.
  • Additionally, a full jacket that snaps up front and made of fire resistant material is available.
  • There is a full-length apron made of leather with the tie at the neck and back.
  • And for complete bodily protection, a full suit much like overalls is offered.

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.

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.

Viewers Choice

-Steiner Bib Apron 4,5*/5-perfect for tall or short people, abrasion resistant, and incredibly durable.     

-Hobart 4.5*/5- one size fits all, has pockets for small tools, has adjustable straps even though they are thin and may break.

-Lincoln Electric Brown 4.5*-5– weather resistant, flame resistant, perfect for flame and spatter protection.

-Caiman 4.5*/5- has bib pockets, made of pigskin, breathable and durable.

-Black Kevlar Mesh- 4.8*/5-made of Nomex fiber, puncture, cut and flame resistant and resistant to high temperature and splash proof.

Vertical Stick Welding Tips
Welder with Bibs

Other Safety Gear

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 shoes or 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. 

For more on the best footwear for welders, click here!

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.

For an interesting article about welding caps and why they are made like they are, click here! 

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.

A Little Welding History

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 around1000 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. 

Advancements continue!

For additional information on the tools we use, view our Recommended Equipment Page, here!