What is the best tungsten for welding stainless? Red? Grey? Purple? Blue?

thoriated-red-tungsten-10pk

2% thoriated ( red)  is probably still the best tungsten for welding stainless.

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What is the best tungsten for welding stainless steel?

I have been using 2% lanthanated tungsten for over 10 years now as an all purpose electrode for everything....both AC and DC tig welding.

2 lanth is a good all around tungsten...some say its the best all around tungsten for AC and DC tig welding.

But being the best "all around" tungsten for both Aluminum and Steels does not mean 2%  lanthanated is the single best tungsten for welding stainless steels.

There is not one single type tungsten that is best for everything.

There are only best choices for specific situations.

Are you tig welding razor thin knife edge seals? then low amp starts and a long lasting sharp tip are 2 of the most important things you need.

Are you pushing the limits on a 200 amp air cooled torch walking the cup on heavy wall stainless pipe?

Then you want your tungsten to stay sharp at high amps.

It boils down to what tungsten features you need the most for what job you are working on.

  1. Is it low amp starts?
  2. Ability to hold a point at high amperage?
  3. Consistent restarts?
  4. all three of the above?

2% thoriated ( red)  is probably still the best tungsten for welding stainless.

2% thoriated is still the most popular tungsten electrode overall because it has good low amp starts, holds a sharp tip at high amperage, and has consistent restarts.

But what about the others?

  • 2% lanthanated
  • 2% ceriated
  • rare earth purple.

All these will do just fine on stainless and are all pretty good substitutes for 2% thoriated tungsten.

  • 2% lanthanated has a very high amperage carrying capacity on both DC and AC so if you are TIG welding stainless but also need to weld aluminum occasionally, then 2 lanth is a good choice.


  • 2% Ceriated holds a sharp point on DC at low and medium amps and also works very well on AC at low to medium amps.


  • Purple tungsten like E3 has a high current capacity too, works well on both DC and AC and provides great multiple restarts.

2% thoriated tungsten has come under increased scrutiny for safety sake because of the radioactive element thorium.

I am not a physicist or scientist and whether or not the radioactivity of 2% thoriated is any more harmful than all the other elements a welder sees is way above my pay grade.

Thankfully, there are now good alternatives to thoriated tungsten electrodes.

If you are still in doubt as to the best tunsten for welding stainless steel, you might do well to start out with a small quantity and see which one you like for your specific tig welding application.

A 3 pack  of 3/32" assorted tungsten should give you the answers you need without being stuck with a bunch of tungsten you dont like.

Our 3 pack assortment has one each of:

2% lanth

2% ceriated

purple rare earth



thoriated-red-tungsten-10pk
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