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Steel Grit VS Aluminum Oxide Sandblast Media

Steel grit and Aluminum Oxide have similar uses for surface preparation when sandblasting. Both blast medias have advantages and drawbacks which we will cover so that you can best evaluate whether steel grit or aluminum oxide would be better for your needs. We will also cover common uses for Aluminium Oxide and Steel Grit. Sandblast media is one of 6 factors you can control to increase the speed at which you sandblast which you can learn more about the other factors here. 

Aluminum Oxide & Steel Grit Common Uses

  • Steel surface preparation – Aluminum Oxide and Steel grit are excellent for removal of coatings from metal surfaces. They are also effective at creating a surface profile to promote adhesion of your coating.
  • Mill Scale Removal – Both medias excel at removal of mill scale from a products surface.

Aluminum Oxide VS Steel Grit, Aluminum Oxides Advantages

  • Capable of Higher Production – Aluminum oxide is a harder media than steel grit with a rating of about 9 on the mohs scale. Due to the hardness of aluminum oxide as well as the angular format that it often is provided in it will cut a surface profile faster than steel grit.
  • Greater ability to remove surface contaminant – Due to the hardness of the media and its angular nature Aluminum Oxide can take off surface contaminant that may not be able to be removed by steel grit very effectively.
  • Compatabile with stainless steel – Aluminum oxide will not impregnant stainless steel with iron which can be an issue for steel grit

Aluminum Oxide Disadvantages

  • Cost per cycle – In general Aluminum Oxide is about twice as much per cycle compared to Steel grit. This is due to the smaller number of reuses you get using aluminum oxide.
  • Hard on equipment – Due to its higher mohs rating and angular nature Aluminum oxide tends to be harsher on sandblast equipment. To reduce these issues it is often recommended to have your sandblast system properly modified to utilize aluminum oxide

Steel Grit Advantages

  • Reuses – Steel grit is able to be reused a lot more than aluminum oxide  It is common to be able to reuse steel grit 150 – 200 times before it needs to be replaced.
  • Cost per cycle – Due to its high reuse rate steel grit is typically a better price per cycle compared to aluminum oxide
  • Not as aggressive on equipment – Steel grit is typically not as aggressive as aluminum oxide which can reduce the rate at which your blast equipment wears

Steel Grit Disadvantages

  • Issues with Stainless Steel – Like most blasting processes the media will occasionally embed in the substrates surface or nooks and crannies of the product your blasting.  With stainless steel this can be an issue when using steel grit because the iron of the steel grit can cause corrosion of the substrates surface.
  • Slightly less production – Since Steel grit is not as hard as aluminum oxide it will tend to not be as fast at removing surface contaminants


Steel grit will be slightly slower in production and can have issues with stainless steel. Steel grit will cost less per cycle and be less aggressive on your sandblasting equipment, it will also get more life cycles out of it. Aluminum oxide will allow for faster removal of surface contaminants but will be cost slightly more and be harder on your sandblast equipment. By knowing these benefits and drawbacks you can better decided if steel grit or aluminum oxide is right for you.

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