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As all welders know, welding can be a hot and at times dangerous job. It is very important that you take your personal protective equipment (PPE) seriously. Along with other essential PPE such as welding helmets, respirators and welding gloves a good quality flame resistant (FR) shirt is considered an essential part of your protective gear. A good FR shirt will be compliant with NFPA 70E HRC2, NFPA 211, ASTM F1506.
A good quality FR shirt should not only be able to give you the protection that you need from flying sparks, they should be able to offer you comfort whist you work. Here we are going to explore the qualities that a good flame-resistant shirt should have and why we believe it is such an important part of your equipment.
Learn more about what we consider the best welding shirts.
What are the best materials that flame-resistant shirts are made of?
Although there a number of materials that are very well suited to welding, they all have a list of pros and cons that come with them. Some may offer better protection but are less comfortable or very expensive. It comes down to your personal preference on what characteristics of your welding shirt are the most important to you.
A lot of welders consider leather to be the best option for a welding shirt. Some of the reasons for this is that it offers a great level of protection and cutting resistance. It also lasts for a very long time making it very economical when you consider how long it will last you. Although leather has a good number of positives it also comes with its fair share of drawbacks. Some of these include its low breathability and comfort levels which can make this a poor option in hot conditions. It can also be damaged when wet and shrink when it is burnt.
Wool also has the benefits of repelling any slag and sparks. It may smolder or smell a little if exposed to sparks but it will never melt like synthetic fibers will. It is also a natural fabric that has many other benefits in itself. It is best suited to working in colder working environments as it does retain heat. It is a soft and very comfortable option that is washable and long lasting.
Although denim does not quite offer the same level of protection as some other fabrics such as leather it has a wide range of benefits that should not be overlooked. Some of these main benefits include the fact that it is very affordable and easy to find. It is comfortable as well as being easy to maintain and clean. It is also reasonably tear resistant and long lasting which makes denim a great option if you are on a budget.
Cotton is another good natural fiber that can be great for welding. The important thing to remember with cotton is that it needs to be a treated cotton or cotton blend so that it is flame-resistant. The main benefits of cotton include being light weight and extremely breathable. This helps with sweat evaporation while being very comfortable in hot environments. Many of these treated cotton shirts have extra air vents built-in to help to keep you cool while you work.
Things to Avoid
It is important to note that you should strictly stick to these materials and avoid wearing fabrics such as nylon, polyester and other synthetic material. These materials can actually melt when exposed to heat and can cause some very bad and painful burns. You can find a full list of synthetic fibers here (1).
Pockets are very handy when working but they can be a hazard when welding as splatter and sparks can end up in them and potentially lead to burns. When choosing a fire-resistant welding shirt make sure that you chose one with pocket that can seal shut.
Short sleeves are another thing that is best to avoid. For obvious reasons it is best to keep all of your skin covered for maximum protection. Although welding can be a hot job it is a must to take your PPE seriously and having your skin fully covered is a must.
If you are working in any hazardous environment it is extremely important that you take your personal protection seriously. Normal cloth can be flammable and this may cause your skin to burn. Clothing that is not flame resistance will not resist combustion, it may catch fire and continue to burn when it comes in contact with fire.
Flame resistant (FR) clothing has a fire self-extinguishing feature that gives the protection that you need. It is made from components that do not melt onto the skin. Flame resistant clothing comes with thermal insulation that protects the skin from breaking open when exposed to fire or hazards. There is an extensive range of FR shirts available on a wide price range that caters to every welders needs.
Read our comprehensive review on the best welding shirts here.