What Shade Do You Use For Arc Welding?

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Welding Helmet with Shade

There are different types of welding, and each type uses a distinct fuel or mechanism. In arc welding, an electric arc is created to melt metals. Arc welding is basically fusion/ welding, wherein you join pieces or sheets of metal together using electricity to generate heat around 6500 degrees Fahrenheit. You can guide the arc along the line where the two metal pieces meet. The extreme heat melts both the tip of the electrode and the edges of the metal, thereby fusing them. That sounds good, but such extreme temperatures bring a major concern: damaging heat and light. 

Ensuring Your Safety

Before we discuss the appropriate lens shade for arc welding, we need to talk about how dangerous arc welding can be without precautions in place. Beginners should understand the hazards involved with arc welding, and even welders who have been doing it for a long time should remind themselves why wearing their helmets is a basic requirement. The nature of this job exposes you to a number of risks. If you have insufficient training, please don’t go anywhere near a welding machine. 

Arc welding is potentially explosive. That’s why you shouldn’t do it just on any surface. You should put the workpiece on a firebrick. In no situation should you lay the work to be welded on the floor. The extreme heat from the arc can cause an explosion on the floor. Moreover, the welder cables should be away from the work table when you’re working so they don’t catch sparks and molten splinters. 

Keep in mind that welders can electrocute you, so insulating mats must be set in place. If you’re prone to having sweaty hands, wear rubber gloves before donning welding gloves. Make sure that the area is dry. Moreover, arc welding shouldn’t be done on dirty or rusty metals. Depending on the material you’re working on, you may need a wire brush or a sandpaper to clean it. Sometimes, you may need a cleaning solvent. 

Before you start welding, you need to understand how hazardous the activity is. We can go to great lengths, discussing potential hazards of arc welding. But for the purpose of this article, we’re let’s focus on one particular hazard.

Arc Radiation

Radiant energy spreads in all directions from the arc. When you’re working, you’re too close to the source of this electromagnetic energy that you can suffer from different eye and skin burns. The arc produces a type of radiation common in welding. Ultraviolet radiation is a household name, but it’s one harmful aspect of welding that welders should protect themselves from. 

UV radiation can burn your cornea and cause the so-called arc eye or welder’s eye. You may not feel the effects right away. If you’re wearing insufficient eye protection, you may be able to endure several hours of damaging UV light without feeling anything, because the effects may manifest several hours after you’ve been exposed to harmful radiation. 

The delay in the manifestation of symptoms makes arc welding radiation deceptive. Symptoms of arc eye or photokeratitis include pain in the eyes, feeling there’s sand in the eye, tearing, and sensitivity to light (photophobia).  This is just one of the risks of arc welding without eye protection (1). 

The Right Lens Shade for Arc Welding 

If you’re doing any type of welding, you need to wear eye protection that’s appropriate for the type of work you’re doing. Welding lenses or helmets are basic safety gears for welders, and they come in different shades. Different types of welding require different lens shades. Generally, the higher the amperage you need for the kind of work you’re doing, the higher the energy output and the more heat and light are generated. The more heat and light are generated, the darker your lens should be. 

For arc welding, lens shades range from 10 to 14. For shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) with a current of 60-160 amps, you need at least a shade 8 lens, although shade 10 is recommended. Raise the current range to 160-250 amps, and you’ll need a shade 12 lens. Above 250 amps, you need a shade 14 glass. For flux-cored arc welding, you need a shade 11 lens if you’re working current is anywhere between 60 and 160. From 160 to 250 amps, you need a shade 12, and you need a shade 14 above 250 amps. 

Occupational Safety for Welders 

OSHA required companies to ensure the safety of their workers. If you’re a professional welder working for a metal fabrication or an automotive repair shop, for instance, your employers should provide welding helmets. The American Welding Society (AWS) has outlined details for choosing the right lens shade. AWS also recommends safety glasses with top and side shields, which protect the eyes from splinters and other debris. In addition, work areas should have screens or curtains so that other workers aren’t exposed to radiation. 


Arc welding doesn’t just expose you to extreme heat. It also exposes you to damaging levels of ultraviolet radiation. Left unchecked, this radiation can burn your skin and eyes. Exposed eyes are at risk of corneal burn, a painful condition commonly known as arc eye. Wearing welding helmets with a lens shade of 10-14 should provide enough eye protection. 

We consider safety to be the most important thing when welding. The great news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good quality welding helmet. Click here to see the Best Welding Helmets Under $100.

Sam Cobb

Sam Cobb

Chief Editor

Hi everyone, my name is Samuel but all of my friends call me Sam. I have been a very hands on person ever since I was a kid. Back in those days I was more interested in wood work and have always been a very keen gardener. I find physical projects very rewarding and love having something practical that I can use that I have made with my own hands.

As I have progressed with my DIY skill set I have focused more and more on working with metal. Now my favorite projects are combining my metal working skills with my wood working skills.

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