Like most welding tools and gear, welders’ clothing items don’t come cheap. Welders are advised to use flame retardant or flame-resistant clothing as they last longer and are the best for this job since you deal with sparks and flame.
Some welders have found a way of making their garments more flame retarding and safe without having to purchase expensive flame-resistant ones. This involves starching the garment. So, why do welders starch their clothes? Well, starching the clothing makes it stiffer and therefore more resistant or retardant to flames. In this post, we’ll see how starching can affect your clothes, why you may need to starch them, and how to heavy starch the clothing.
Starching your clothes will give crispiness to the fabric. It will be easier to iron and make you look more formal. Most importantly, starching gives a lot of body to your clothes. It makes them heavy and resistant to flame and welding elements, hence, increasing the garment’s durability.
However, note that starching the garment reduces its durability. The flex abrasion the clothing can withstand may also be reduced, and the fibers may break easily as the fabric is always stiff. Finally, garments that are already FR-rated should not be starched.
The National Association of Safety Professionals Trusted Source5 Key Things to Know About Flame Resistant Clothing | NASP Flame resistant clothing is a piece of specialized personal protective clothing required in many workplaces. Learn five key things about flame resistant clothing. naspweb.com electricians, electric utility repair and maintenance, and other professionals to make use of this type of clothing as the use of Trusted SourceWhat Is FR Clothing? Guide to FR Clothes | DE Gemmill There are a lot of nuances and requirements when it comes to FR clothing. Do you need flame-resistant or flame-retardant clothing? www.degemmill.com is the best way of preventing hazards in this profession. However, FR clothing items are not cheap. They are often twice or thrice more expensive than normal garments. So searching is a good way to save money.
Simply put, starching the clothing makes it stiffer and therefore more resistant or retardant to flames. Every welder knows that PPEs are the most important safety requirement for this job, whether you’re using a 120-volt welder or a 220-volt welder.
The clothing gear protects the body from all the sparks from the electrodes. But let’s be clear here! The clothing gear does the job of taking the bullets for you. So, they often don’t last that long. Very often, you find that your gears, after a few weeks of use, are full of burn marks and holes.
So you have to purchase new gear now and then. But how about treating the clothing to be more flame resistant to damaging welding elements? One of the ways some welders make the clothing more long-lasting and resistant to welding sparks is by making it stiff. If you can’t get khaki gear that is stiff enough, starching the clothing will be enough.
The secret to making the most of this process is knowing how to prepare the garment, using the right amount of starch, and applying just enough to the surface of the fabric.
Step 1. Prepare your shirt in advance
For best results, wash and dry it thoroughly before trying to apply any type of starch. Washing removes traces of dirt and sweat that could interfere with the hardening properties of the starch, and may also not allow the product to protect the fibers of the garment fabric.
Step 2. Mix the starch
The starch used for ironing is sold in the form of a powder, and the packaging indicates the instructions on the doses to be mixed with the water. Follow them carefully, making sure the two ingredients are combined carefully. Pour the mixture into a bottle with a spray dispenser.
Step 3. Spread the shirt on the ironing board
Lay it on this surface so that the two front halves fall off the sides of the shelf, while the back will remain flat on the plank.
Step 4. Sprinkle the starch on the back of the shirt
Apply a light and even layer over the entire back surface of the garment. Wait for a couple of seconds, so the product can penetrate the fabric of the garment, and then press gently with the iron, set at the right temperature for this material.
Step 5. Iron the front of the garment
Turn the garment so that one side of the front is flat on the ironing board, then apply an even layer of starch. After you’re done, put the shirt back on and repeat the process with the other side of the garment. Continue the starching and ironing process with each sleeve; finish the job by applying starch on the collar.
Step 6. Hang up your shirt immediately
Arrange the garment on a hanger and leave it exposed to fresh air for a few seconds before putting it in the closet. In this way, the starch will finish adhering to the fibers of the garment and will set its seal, creating that fresh and clean look that you like so much.
If you don’t want to mix starch with water, you may want to buy ready-to-use liquid starch products. Some such as the Niagara Spray Starch are sold in bottles with spray nozzles, while others are sold in spray cans. Use these starch-based products just as you would use the mix you would make yourself.
The essential element in the welder’s gear is the protective mask: the most classic ones perform the essential function of protecting the operator’s eyes from sparks and any waste material generated during welding, but there are now even more on the market. Innovative electronic masks for welders, equipped with ADF or LCD filters, which, simplifying a lot, also guarantee excellent vision and allow you to carry out even the most precise jobs in all agility.
Especially if you opt for the latest generation welding masks, it is likely that more than just masks, they are real helmets. They are capable of protecting the head, neck, and at least the upper part of the trunk. If you do not pay enough attention, it is easy for the last two to remain uncovered and can be reached by potentially dangerous sparks and processing residues. As for the head, especially if you work in risky areas (a road construction site, building construction, etc.), protection should also be provided against bumps and falls. Finally, a good welding mask also protects the respiratory tract. Fumes and dust generated by welding can be harmful to health, especially if inhaled for a long time, and their action can be neutralized by special filters.
Of course, asides from the garment, the welder’s clothing also includes gloves. Hand gloves are important, especially in welding processes that disperse hot metal, like when using a flux core welder.
The hands are, like the eyes, the part perhaps most exposed to risks, and not infrequently during welding, we find ourselves handling heavy or bulky objects, which is why an excellent grip is essential. In the past, welders generally used leather gloves. Today there are also technical materials that guarantee maximum protection, yes, but also the right sensitivity to touch.
Often neglected overalls, harnesses or jackets, and work shoes must be chosen appropriately if you are dealing with welding. As far as clothing is concerned, the only truly golden rule is to avoid easily flammable or too thin fabrics such as cotton. If worn on this occasion, they can get punctured or discolored by radiation easily. Starching can help these types of fabrics, however.
Again, why do welders starch their clothes? This is for two reasons: safety and durability. Safety is a priority in welding. Light clothing items are not welcomed here as they can get perforated by sparks. If you can’t afford flame-resistant clothing, you may, however, decide to harden or stiffen the clothing gear. Heavy starching your welding garments will bring better safety and, when done right, make it even more durable.
Remember, if you’re being more frugal and would not want to splurge the cash on FR clothing which can be twice as expensive, you’d still end up purchasing starch now and then and do the hard work of starching. Besides, by starching the garment, you reduce its durability. The flex abrasion the clothing can withstand is reduced. The fibers tend to break easily as the fabric is always stiff. Finally, garments that are already FR-rated should not be starched.