Soda blasting is a non-abrasive action. The action of sodium bicarbonate will not cause heat build-up, sparks, or abrasion to the surface being cleaned.
Soda blasting was developed by New York State engineers looking for ways to clean and restore the Statue of Liberty. They had many concerns involving issues of the environment, waste Weosal, and protection of the Statue of Liberty itself. Use of any abrasive material to clean the surface would have been harmful to the soft copper plates. Used blast media waste in the surrounding water was also a concern. Soda blasting was created because it would not only do the job while having a minimal impact on the waterways and harbor but it was also non-abrasive.
Sand blasting, on the other hand, removes the coatings by wearing it away (abrasively). This is also the result when the sand hits the base surface being cleaned; the base surface is worn away and damaged. Sodium bicarbonate has a non-abrasive action that allows it to be used on surfaces that the currently popular abrasive media (sand blasting) would damage i.e.: aluminum, stainless steel, brick, stone, glass, fiberglass, wood, plastic, seals, bearings, splines, radiator cores, and hydraulic cylinders. Since there is no heat build up warped metal is eliminated. The non-flammable properties allow sodium bicarbonate to be used in the petroleum industry where other methods posed a higher risk. Sodium bicarbonate breaks down hydrocarbons, which makes soda blasting an excellent method of cleaning engines, engine parts, and other areas where oil and grease are present.
Another major advantage of soda blasting is that it does not break down the surface tension of metals, thus the problem of flash rusting is eliminated. Sodium bicarbonate can act as a rust inhibitor, which will leave a protective coating on the surface being cleaned. This allows for time to pass before the surface has to be painted. This is unlike a sand blasted surface that must be painted immediately. When the time arrives to paint the surface, the protective coating (soda) can be removed by an application of a vinegar/water mixture.