Stick Welding

How to Beat the Slag in Stick Welding

Stick welding

Stick welding is the best welding process for beginning or advanced welders who need to make clean, strong welds on metal that isn’t clean or ideal for MIG welding. Stick welding provides plenty of power and sends imperfections in the weld to the top of the weld puddle so that they can be chipped off with brush, hammer, or sand paper after cooling.

Stick welding alone doesn’t guarantee a clean weld that is free from impurities. Your welding preparations and technique have just as much to do with your weld as your ability to use a chipping hammer, wire brush, or sand paper. Here are some key stick welding tips for getting the best finished weld when there’s slag in the mix.

Stick Weld with Plenty of Power

You need arc force to push the slag in your weld puddle back and out of the metal joint. The more power you have, the less slag there will be, provided you don’t blast the weld joint and burn through. Stick welding at the upper end of your amperage settings ensures you can keep a tight arc and cerate a clean finished weld.

A stick welder working with lower amperage will not have enough power to push the slag, fuse the metal together, or keep the arc tight and focused. The arc may skip around and even cause spatter all over your metal—let alone all over yourself.

Stick Welding Technique

The angle of your stick welding arc plays a major role in keeping slag out of your weld puddle. A slight drag angle of about 15 degrees is a good place to start, but don’t be afraid to increase or decrease your angle if you’re working in vertical or horizontal welding positions that call for a slightly different angle. Your angle needs to be adapted to the position of your project.

However, if you don’t have an angle to your electrode, you’re just burning straight into the metal. Your slag won’t be pushed out to the top of the puddle and you’ll create a mess of a weld.

Avoid the 6013 Stick Welding Rods

Stick welding rods that are 6010 or 7018 are pretty typical for most welding jobs. While some welding schools use 6013, many working welders blame the 6013 rods for many of their problems with welds. Even welding at the correct amperage isn’t good enough to ensure that these electrodes will get the job done right in some cases.

Build Your Beads for Multiple Passes

One of the best ways to avoid problems with contaminated welds is to plan your welds for multiple passes. The wider the weld, the more you need to plan out multiple passes. If you don’t line up your beads correctly, the flux could be trapped inside the weld bead of your next pass.

File Your Welding Electrode

Slag will build up on the tip of your stick welding electrode, and while welders have come up with several creative (and dangerous) ways to remove these, the best plan is to keep a heavy duty metal file on hand. Your arc will suffer if you don’t take the time to file down your welding rod when the slag builds up.

Weld at a Steady Speed

You need power to push slag to the top of the weld puddle, but you also need the right amount of time for the slag to rise up. Welding at a steady travel speed ensures that you won’t burn through the metal, but you’ll give the slag enough time to rise to the top. Moving too fast will leave the slag right in your finished weld.

Clean Your Metal Before Welding

While stick welding can handle impurities in your metal work piece, it doesn’t hurt to take some preventative measures by cleaning, grinding, or sanding the weld joint in order to remove oil, grease, or any other imperfection that could ruin your weld.

Learn More about Stick Welders

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Ashley Tobian


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