Pure tungsten vs thoriated electrodes for tig welding aluminum
Pure tungsten has never been my first preference for tig welding aluminum!
I have never liked it. All the old welding books I have read (and I have read a bunch of them) stated that Pure tungsten electrodes were the best for tig welding aluminum. But every time I would use pure tungsten I wound up swapping back to good ole 2% thoriated electrodes. As soon as I pumped up the volume on the amperage, the pure tungsten would quiver and dance on the end and finally if I went too hot, would take a tungsten dump in my weld. Who needs that?
And to avoid the quivering ball on the tip, the only fix it to use a larger tungsten... so I would be using one or two sizes larger than I do with 2% lanthanated or thoriated...and I dont usually have any 5/32" in my tool box.
Thoriated electrodes may not ball up evenly but they carry much more amperage without taking a tungsten dump in your weld. That often means using one size smaller electrode and that is a very good thing.
For thirty years, I have welded alloys loaded up with chromium, cobalt, manganese, and a host of other elements known to cause cancer in 48 states. And they think I should be worried about a slightly radioactive element in my electrodes I have been using for 30 years?
I worked in a metallurgical lab for 5 years and we had a Geiger counter available to check for radiation leaks. I ran the Geiger counter over several packs of 2% thoriated electrodes and guess what? Zilch! Nada! Bupkis!
Of course its not the best thing to work with hazardous materials. But it is reality.
I guess I should have listened to Mom.
I should have studied harder. I should have gone to college. But I was immature. It just wasn't for me. I felt lost and useless in college.
I cut class a lot and even got my picture in the school newspaper for catching a big Bass. I was fishing in the college lake when I was supposed to be in class. Maybe it was a bad decision. But it was mine to make. Then I went to welding school and became a welder...and at least I felt like a man.
No one here gets out alive so make things right with the Big Man now.
If you are concerned about thoriated electrode radioactivity, try 2% lanthanated electrodes. They are just as good as thoriated electrodes and cost about the same.
But stay away from little pieces of crap called pure tungsten.