Knowing how to store welding rods properly is key to getting consistent, high-quality welds. The integrity of welding rods diminishes significantly if they are exposed to moisture, direct sunshine, grime, or dirt. Therefore, the ideal conditions for storing welding rods are low humidity in a dry and dark place with consistent temperatures.
Welding consumables can be expensive. And working with defective rods can impact weld quality, appearance, and strength. While a DIY welder could get away with using sub-standard rods, it could be a costly mistake if the weld is for a load-bearing structure.
So, once you have finished your weld, the sparks have died down, and you have admired your work, you are left with a big question—how should I store my welding rods?
Storing welding rods is not as straightforward as it seems. Different rods or electrodes require storage at different temperatures. And every type of welding rod has a specific lifespan.
To help remove the confusion with welding rod storage, we have compiled this handy guide on how to store welding rods.
What are Welding Rods?
Welding rods are a consumable component of shielded metal arc welding (SMAW). Also called stick electrodes, the welding rods are made from various metals like steel, aluminum, copper, or titanium. Electrical current passes through the rod to produce an electric arc, and the rod melts to become filler material for the weld joint.
Most welding rods are classified as consumables—meaning they melt and become part of the weld. They have a mineral and metal powder coating that helps to protect the weld from impurities. In stick welding, the rods can be shielded arc, light-coated, or heavy-coated electrodes.
Welding rods for Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding are non-consumable. These sticks consist mainly of tungsten which doesn’t melt during welding. The rod’s purpose is to provide an electric arc, and a manually-fed wire provides the filler material.
Importance of Proper Storage for Welding Rods
Properly storing welding rods is critical if you want to produce quality welds. Incorrect storage exposes the welding rods to moisture, negatively impacting the electrode coating. Therefore, incorrectly storing welding rods causes excessive spatter, poor bead quality, rough weld surface, and weakened weld strength.
According to research, moisture in the electrode coating is a source of “diffusible hydrogen in welded joints.” Therefore, impurities like hydrogen can react with the metal. And this is one of the main reasons for cold cracks, internal porosity, excessive slag fluidity, and poor tensile strength.
It’s important to note that welding rods exposed to humid air for several hours require reheating before use. If you are unsure how long the welding rods have been out of storage, they need re-dried in a suitable holding oven. After being re-dried, you must store the rods in a suitable container.
Keep Welding Rods Dry to Maintain Quality
The quality of your welds is only as good as the type of consumables you use. This is why it’s imperative to keep rods dry and away from humidity when not using them. Any moisture damage or contact with water to the welding rod coating will negatively impact your work, resulting in welding defects.
The coating on welding rods plays a vital role in protecting the weld metal from impurities as it solidifies. Here are several reasons why you must keep stick electrodes dry to maintain a high-quality weld joint:
- Minimal spatter beside the weld bead
- Smooth weld metal surface
- Stable electrode arc performance
- Penetration control
- Easier to remove excessive slag
- Improved yield strength
- Better deposition rate
- Help to avoid internal or external porosity
How to Store Welding Rods
Different types of welding rods require different storage temperatures and conditions. The type of electrode you are using determines the type of container, the temperature, and the period of time they can be stored. However, there are several basic things to remember when storing welding electrodes.
Using a Welding Rod Oven for Storage
Keeping them in a rod oven is the best way to ensure proper welding rod storage. Portable bench-top electrode ovens can re-dry electrodes to remove excess moisture. They also keep rods at a stable temperature to avoid moisture developing on the coated sticks.
However, because of the expense, an electrode stabilization oven is only worth the money if you do a large amount of welding.
The electrode type determines how to store the rods in a holding oven and the temperature.
Most manufacturers recommend storing low-hydrogen welding sticks at 225°F to 300°F (107°C to 148°C) for optimal performance. However, you should avoid storing cellulosic types of rods with low-hydrogen ones to prevent poor performance. Some types of electrodes are moisture-resistant and can be stored without special electrode containers.
Here is a general guide to the usual temperature conditions for common carbon steel electrodes:
- Ambient air: E6010, E6011
- 100°F to 150°F: E6012, E6013, E7014, E7024
- 225°F to 300°F: E7016, E7018, E7028
Types of Rod Ovens for Storage
There are two types of ovens suitable for small workshops and long-term storage:
- Portable welding electrode ovens: These cylinder-type ovens are ideal for taking welding tools to a job site. They offer professional storage options without taking up too much room. The approximate price is $100 to $2,000.
- Bench electrode ovens: These small devices are about the size of a mini fridge and offer optimal storage conditions in a compact space.
The largest type of rod oven is a welding flux oven. However, these are typically for large workshops or manufacturing sites.
Airtight Containers for Welding Rods
If you use rutile or cellulosic electrodes, you can store them at room temperature in airtight containers. These electrodes are not sensitive to moisture and will last a reasonable time without storage in an oven. All you need is a dry container that doesn’t let air in.
Cellulosic rods (E6010 and E6011) and rutile rods (E6013 and E7014) are the easiest rods to store in home conditions. In their original packaging, you can store cellulosic rods at 40°F to 120°F (4°C to 48°C) with humidity between 50 and 70 percent.
Expert tip when storing welding rods at room temperature: Look at the last two digits on the rod number. If it ends in 10, 11, 12, or 13, you can store them at room temperature.
Unopened Lincoln Hermetically Sealed Containers
Purchasing stick electrodes in hermetically sealed Lincoln containers is good for storing a few rods. The rod containers keep humidity out and protect the welding consumables. However, you must store them between 250°F and 300°F after opening them.
Precautions When Storing Welding Sticks
Regardless of the option to store welding rods, you must be aware of proper storage precautions.
Here are a few helpful tips to ensure the rods function as expected each time you use them:
- Ensure welding rods are completely dry before storing.
- Store the rods in an upright position or side by side in a single row and flat position to avoid them knocking against each other.
- Any moisture on the rods can cause hydrogen embrittlement, leading to welding defects.
- Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on the correct storage temperature.
- Don’t store too many sticks in one container.
Labeling Welding Rod Containers for Easy Identification
It makes sense to label rod canisters clearly to avoid unnecessarily opening them. The rod containers should have the electrode number on the top. Other features of rod canisters should include an airtight seal, durable materials, and space to write additional information.
Avoid Sunlight Exposure When Storing Stick Electrodes
It’s crucial to avoid storing welding rods in direct sunlight. Of course, this isn’t an issue if you use a rod oven or airtight container. But if you use electrodes with a cellulosic flux coating, you must ensure no direct contact with the sun. Therefore, choose a dark corner of the workshop or enclosed unit to keep the rods out of sunlight.
Checking Expiration Dates on Welding Rods
All welding rods have a shelf life—typically two to three years. However, some electrode sticks have a shorter life; therefore, you should always check the date on the packaging. But even in ideal storage conditions, the stick will eventually expire, and you can no longer use it. Therefore, always keep a record of the expiry date.
Welding rods expire because high moisture content and poor temperature conditions affect the flux coating. This is why good storage conditions are essential to ensure the welding rods consistently perform well in the welding process and create excellent bonding strength.
Handy Tips When Storing Welding Rods
- It’s best to store rods lined up in an upright position and to avoid them from rubbing against each other.
- Always clean welding rods after use to remove any unwanted debris.
- Check the exact temperature to store welding rods—different types of rods require different temperatures.
- Clean the storage container before storing new welding rods.
- Don’t use welding rods if there are signs of rust, cracks, or damaged flux coating.
- Re-dry hydrogen rods exposed to high moisture or in direct contact with water.
Conclusion-How to Store Welding Rods
Storing welding rods properly is essential if you want them to perform well and last a long time. Whether you store your welding rods in an oven, hermetically sealed container, or dry environment, keeping them dry and away from direct sunlight is crucial. It’s also important to label the containers for easy identification, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on storage temperature and ensure that no moisture is present on the rods before storage.