What are Thoriated Tungsten Electrodes?
Tungsten Electrode1

Used for their ability to withstand extremely high temperatures without eroding and limited melting, thoriated tungsten electrodes are used for arc welding with the TIG process and plasma welding. An inert gas such as argon or helium is used to protect the electrode, arc, and pool from atmospheric contamination.

Are Thoriated Tungsten Electrodes All The Same?

No.  TIG welding electrodes come in a variety of types and diameters, with additional metallic oxides to prevent weld contamination, increase the stability of an arc and the current-carrying capacity of the rod, and jump-start the arc.

What are Oxides?

The five primary oxides are zirconium, thorium, lanthanum, yttrium, and cerium, all of which improve the arc start during DC welding.

Are Thoriated Tungsten Electrodes Hazardous?

Well, Thorium (Th) is slightly radioactive, so precautions should be taken.  Especially when preparing the electrode for use during the grinding and shaping process prior to welding.  We highly recommend that you wear protective respiration, eye, and body equipment.  It’s simply not worth taking a risk of inhaling or ingesting the tungsten particulates.

According to the International Institute of Welding Health and Safety Commission VIII, there are no specific hazards regarding storage, handling or welding but dust extraction equipment should be used on the grindstone and respiratory protection should be worn by the operator during grinding. This is covered by the Health and Safety Executive Guidance note HS(6) 53 The selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment.  Distributors and shippers of thoriated tungsten must comply with state and federal DOT laws.

Where Can I Buy Thoriated Tungsten Electrodes?

At WSI, we offer a full selection of thoriated tungsten electrodes in many sizes to suit your welding needs, as well as the safety gear to keep you safe when handling the tungsten, and the inert gas to make sure your weld comes out clean and precise.  Contact us with questions at 561-848-5520, and one of our industry experts will be happy to help you!