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Flame Resistant Fabric & Fibers: What You Need to Know

a welder using a flame resistant fabric

If you’re familiar with flame-resistant (FR) welding apparel then you’ve definitely heard of treated fabrics and fibers or intrinsic textiles and fibers. When discussing fabrics and fibers that are flame resistant, there are several significant variances. Safety failures could occur if those variations are not understood. Understanding what they are and how these work in particular settings is important. Here, we define these terms and discuss some of the applications in which they are used and how they should be cleaned and processed.

What Is Treated Fabric in Flame Resistant Fabric?

Treated fabric is a fiber blend that, when combined with other pieces of fabric, forms a garment. This fabric can be thought of as the stage of production between fiber and garment. Treated fabrics have had a flame retardant chemical applied to them to make them flame resistant. The fibers used in these fabrics are not typically regarded as protective. Because of the chemical treatment, they become flame resistant.

 

The fibers used in these fabrics are typically 100% cotton or a blend of cotton and nylon. In terms of durability, the fabric made of cotton fibers has little abrasion resistance. Fabrics containing nylon fiber perform significantly better in terms of abrasion resistance. Utility, oil and gas, chemical, and petrochemical applications benefit from treated fabrics.

 

Water with a hardness of 1.5 grains (25ppm) or less should be used to clean treated fabrics. Hard water contains mineral salts that can leave deposits on the fabric, so less hardness is preferable. These deposits may compromise the garment’s flame resistance. If the garment is exposed to an ignition source, the deposits could even serve as fuel.

 

What are Treated Fibers in Flame Resistant Fibers?

Treated fibers have a flame retardant chemical applied during the fiber formation process. As a result, the fibers become flame resistant. For the life of the garment, fabrics made from treated fibers are flame resistant. Normal wear and laundering will not remove the flame retardant chemical. Only if the garment becomes torn or soiled to the point where the soil cannot be washed out will it no longer be flame resistant.

 

One type of fiber is treated with 100% rayon. These fibers are treated during the fiber formation process and are flame resistant indefinitely.

 

A fiber blend of cotton and Modacrylic fibers is another option. Fabrics made from these fiber blends have a soft and comfortable cotton-like hand. Modacrylic fiber contains both soft and strong components. It is also chemical and solvent resistant. As a result, these fiber types are ideal for use in flame-resistant environments.

 

These fiber types have a broader range of applications. Industrial protective clothing, utility work uniforms, and firefighter uniforms are all good matches. It is recommended that treated fibers be washed in the same manner as treated fabrics. If exposed to an ignition source, hard water may leave deposits that could ignite.

 

The only major distinction between the two types of care is that Modacrylic/cotton blends should be treated in soft water with non-chlorine bleach because chlorine bleach weakens the fabric.

flame resistant fabric

What exactly are innate fabrics and fibers?

Chemical treatment is not required for naturally occurring fabrics and fibers. The FR properties are an important aspect of fiber chemistry. Once again, these fibers are FR fibers, but this time from the manufacturing process. Normal wear and laundering will not cause inherent fabrics or fibers to lose their flame resistance properties. Throughout its life, the garment will retain its flame-resistant properties.

 

The most common inherent fibers are modacrylic fibers. They are most commonly used in blends with other naturally flame-resistant fibers. Modacrylic fibers are frequently blended with varying percentages of lyocell, para-aramid, and polyamide-imide fibers. These combinations result in a long-lasting fabric that meets the NFPA 70E CAT2 and NFPA 2112 standards. NOMEX is used in clothing as a stand-alone fiber or as a blend with KEVLAR.

 

Petrochemical, electrical, and utility industries all use inherent fabrics and fibers. Firefighter station wear and turnout gear are another popular application. Most natural fabrics and fibers should not be used in welding operations or around molten substances. Caring for natural fabrics and fibers is the same as caring for treated fabrics and fibers. Because hard water contains mineral salts that can leave insoluble deposits on the fabric, soft water is recommended. These deposits may compromise the garment’s flame resistance. Chlorine bleach is also not advised because it weakens the fabric.

 

With FR clothing, proper garment care is essential. The right maintenance makes sure that FR properties are not jeopardized. Your safety at work will be improved by educating yourself on what Flame Resistant fabrics and fibers are. 

What’s the best Leather for Welding?

best leather for welding

Leather is a natural material that has been used for centuries to make clothes, shoes, and other items. It is made from animal skin and fat and can be made from many different animals including cows, elks, pigs, goats, deer, and sheep. All these types of leather have their own unique properties which can be used to determine the best type to use in certain situations. Here we talk about the best leather for welding for the best welding protection

 

Types of Leather, what’s the best leather for welding?

Before we decide on anything, it’s best to get to know the types of leather and what makes them different from each other. 

 

Goatskin

Goatskin is suitable for jobs requiring high tensile strength and flexibility. This type of leather is thin, soft, and pliable but it provides excellent protection against cuts and abrasion. The higher lanolin levels in the skin provide a moisture barrier, and the thin nature of the material allows for excellent fingertip control. 

 

Because of this, Goatskin leather is ideal for MIG welding. When combined with dexterity, it makes an excellent choice for TIG welding. Kidskin, very soft and lightweight leather from young goats also provides the required durability and abrasion resistance and is the highest quality leather for fingertip sensitivity.

 

Cowhide

The most common type of leather used for welding clothing is cowhide leather. This is because it is durable and flexible. It can withstand the heat generated by the welding process and will not melt like other types of leather would.

 

Its tough structure resists abrasion, sparks, and spatter, making it an excellent choice for tough jobs involving metal inert gas and stick welding. Cowhide is naturally water- and dirt-resistant, making it simple to care for. Although slightly more durable than elkskin, it is not as soft. 

 

Cowhide, on the other hand, is preferred over other non-leather materials for comfort, allowing it to be worn for longer periods of time. Cowhide leather is an excellent choice due to its abundant supply and durability.

 

welder at work

Deerskin

Deerskin gets its toughness from the fact that deer spend so much of their time in thorny, rough environments. Despite its toughness, deerskin leather is lightweight and pliable, making it one of the softest and warmest leathers readily accessible. It’s also one of the few types of leather that, when wet, returns to its original shape and softness. Thicker cuts of deerskin leather are ideal for MIG welding, while thinner cuts are ideal for TIG welding.

 

Pigskin

Pigskin is a dense leather, so it is less flexible than other leathers on the market. But because of the small pores in the skin, it allows the wearer’s skin to breathe which is great for welding gloves. Pigskin leather has a supple feel and retains its softness after being wet. Pigskin leather, though, is not recommended for use in areas where moisture levels are typically high. This type of leather is ideal for MIG and stick welders who require a high level of durability.

 

Elkskin

Elkskin leather is one of the softest and thickest leathers available. It’s the most heat-, flame-, and abrasion-resistant leather, and it won’t harden as quickly as other options. It remains soft even in hot and humid conditions and conforms to your hand, allowing you to move freely and comfortably. Elkskin’s heat resistance makes it ideal for stick welding.

 

Sheepskin

Unlike other leathers, sheepskin is tanned with the wool intact. Wool acts as an insulator and is resistant to flames and static electricity. Sheepskin is thin and elastic, allowing for flexibility and sensitivity, making it ideal for TIG welding. Its natural lanolin content helps heal sensitive and inflamed skin, and the fibers absorb perspiration.

3 Reasons Why Leather is Excellent Fabric for Welding Clothing

welder working

It may seem obvious, but whether welding indoors or outdoors, a welder requires flame-resistant and fire-retardant PPE for protection. The immediate dangers are flames, molten metal, and sparks, which must be avoided. One of the greatest fabrics for protecting a welder from burn injuries is leather.  Leather is a great material that protects against both sparks and flames as well as heat. That is why it makes an excellent fabric for welding clothing. Welding boots and gloves made of 100% leather are required safety equipment for welders.

 

Wearing leather welding clothing over other textiles for welding has three indisputable advantages. Let’s take a closer look.

 

3 Reasons why Leather is an excellent fabric for Welding Clothing

1. Leather prevents heat from burning the skin at high temperatures.

 

Heat, not only sparks, can burn the skin when welding because temperatures reach to dangerously high levels. That’s why it’s critical that the clothes you’re wearing not only resists fire, but also heat. Leather is impervious to heat. 

 

One of the most compelling reasons why most experienced welders prefer to wear leather jackets while welding is because of this.

 

welder working

 

2. Leather is both puncture and abrasion-resistant.

Leather has good fire resistance. If sparks come into direct touch with it, it self-extinguishes. It is indeed proven to withstand the test of time. Leather (mainly top grain leather) may last for years without being damaged due to its resilience and abrasion resistance.

 

However, because pure leather is animal skin, you must use it with caution. Cleaning the leather surface will be the most important component in determining how long it will last.

 

3. Leather shields you from sparks and flame.

Unlike leather clothing that is flame-resistant, flaming sparks can easily penetrate clothing. This can cause burn damage to the welder.

 

Pure leather is extremely durable and fire-resistant. That means a single spark spattered directly on the leather surface will not leave holes. It will also not allow sparks to get into direct contact with your skin and cause burn injuries. That’s why wearing leather boots and welding jackets are highly recommended for protection against sparks and flame. 

Summer Welding Clothing

welding outdoors

Summer is here! That means making sure that you have your summer welding apparel ready. Comfort is a top priority when it comes to welding in the heat. You need the right fabric and the right kind of welding clothing to make sure you get maximum protection while keeping yourself cool at the same time. Here, we give you a list of summer welding clothing that you must have to get the comfort and protection you need in this season. 

 

Summer Welding Clothing

Light Weight Clothing 

With the heat, it will be harder to move because of the discomfort one can feel. Wearing lightweight clothing under welding PPE helps you change that. This also gives you the opportunity to take in cooler air whenever the wind blows while you work. Lightweight khaki pants and khaki shirts are what you should be wearing while welding during this season. 

 

Light-Colored Clothing

In terms of the color of clothing, go with white colors. As known to many, light-colored clothing reflects light while dark-colored clothing absorbs it. White welding shirts and white welding caps are great to have. 

FR welding shirt

Wear a Pancake Hood

A pancake hood is potentially cooler than a shirt hood or a flip hood. Mainly, this is because air can pass through easily to the head as opposed to a hood that hinders or traps the air from getting in. 

 

FR Welding Shirt 

A breathable and lightweight flame retardant welding shirt is definitely a must-have. Working in the summer months doesn’t mean you compromise safety for comfort. With a high-quality FR welding shirt, you get maximum protection while being able to move freely. Get a consistent airflow to keep you cool in the hear while getting protection from sparks. Some even come in khaki color which all the more makes it better.

 

Welding Sleeves

A good pair of welding sleeves are also good to have in the summer months. If you need protection but can’t have a full-on leather welding jacket, leather welding sleeves can give you the protection you need for your arms. It also allows for more movement. 

leather welding sleeves

FR Cotton Welding Jacket

A leather welding jacket is definitely a must-have. But when you talk about working under the heat of the sun during the summer, you need an FR cotton welding jacket instead. It’s flame retardant so you get protection, it’s lightweight as compared to a leather welding jacket which allows a consistent flow of air to circulate and cool your body. 

FR welding jacket with leather sleeves

Hybrid FR Leather Welding Jacket

A hybrid FR leather welding jacket might just be what you need exactly when welding in the summer. You get the protection you need from leather welding sleeves but have the comfort of an FR cotton welding jacket. It’s having two pieces of welding protection in just one piece of clothing. This gives you the mobility you need while getting superior protection for your skin and the comfort of a lightweight cotton fabric that allows a consistent airflow. Perfect for the welder in the summer!

Welding Jacket with Leather Sleeves: A Must Have

Using protective clothing for welding projects such as welding jackets, gloves, helmets, and sleeves is critical in staying safe and avoiding potential injury. However, because there are so many different options, welders should know how to select the right protection for a specific need. Take welding jackets with leather sleeves, for example. 

Welding Jackets with Leather Sleeves, Why it’s a Must Have

For us to know why it’s a must-have, let’s first talk about welding sleeves and welding jackets separately. How they’re designed and why they’re important.

Welding Jackets

Since professional welders are exposed to fumes, heat, and sparks, a welding jacket is essential as all-over protection. This means it is an unrivaled piece of PPE that protects the shoulders, arms, torso, neck, and back. 

Welding jackets are designed to be resistant to heat. They’re made with quality fabric that offers degrees of abrasion and electrical resistance. Welding jackets come with snap closures, nylon straps, and leather strings. Their seams are enhanced with a metal aluminum liner. The most common material is leather. 

Welding Sleeves

Leather welding sleeves, on the other hand, protect the welder’s arms by preventing hot debris, spatter, and parks from coming in contact with the welder’s skin. Since leather is dense and thick, it prevents heat from penetrating through the garments. 

When these sleeves are attached to welding jackets, they provide added protection in low-volume welding processes. The sleeves also allow good and fluid movement with a natural feel. Leather sleeves soften with use and withstand moisture without becoming stiff. Leather welding sleeves are very durable and have a longer lifespan. You can also use this for most welding jobs. 

Welding Jackets with Leather Sleeves

Welding jackets with leather sleeves offer more protection. Since heavy welding tasks require more protection than cotton-based PPE, it is best to opt for leather. In fact, it is the best material for welding PPE. Leather protects welders from any type of thermal contact or mechanical aggression from welding so the welder’s security is preserved. Other advantages of choosing welding jackets with leather welding sleeves are that they’re economic, resistant to cuts, and have a long useful life.  

Waylander Welding Jacket with Leather Sleevs

The welding industry recognizes the importance of safety equipment such as welding jackets with leather sleeves. This type of welding equipment should meet the EN ISO 11611 regulation as an industry standard for welding clothing. Beyond the industry standards, however, welders jackets with sleeves should also be comfortable to ensure high productivity levels and so that welders can go about their work all day without any problems. Just remember to try on the jacket of choice to determine if it fits nicely and that it allows you to carry your work in a controlled manner. 

Welding Sleeves: A Complete Buying Guide

welding sleeves

Welding Sleeves: A Complete Buying Guide

welding sleeves

Welding Sleeves are the ideal alternative for arm protection especially when welding jackets become too heavy for the job. Flame resistant cotton welding sleeves or even leather welding sleeves are on the list of things to have for welders everywhere. They’re not that expensive and they’re easy to use. The question is, how do you choose the best welding sleeves, and what works best for what you do?

According to a 2019 study by Arnold and Itkin, there are over half a million American welders and 1 in 250 construction workers die from a welding injury. So, whether you’re a professional welder or not, welding clothing like welding aprons, jackets, sleeves, and protective equipment should be your top priority.

Why use welding sleeves?

Welding jackets have long been the standard for safety and protection while on a job. While it gives optimum protection, there are some that require more arm movement and functionality. And for that, you need welding sleeves – the ideal alternative that protects against heat, flame, and sparks, all while maintaining mobility and comfort.

Welding sleeves are also much cooler than welding jackets. This is why it’s used often most especially for those who work in warmer climates. On top of that, these sleeves aren’t just useful for welding, these are also used for gardening, grinding, woodcutting, or other jobs that need arm protection.

How to Choose the Best Welding Sleeves

Welding sleeves come in different styles, materials, lengths, and colors. It is basically up to you to choose what’s most comfortable for you. But in making that decision, you need to consider these factors.

Welding Sleeves length

Ideally, welding sleeves are worn from the wrist to mid-bicep. That way, the shoulders are free to move and function. For the average male who’s arm length measures 25 inches, an 18-inch sleeve would work. But for those who have longer arms, 23-25 inch welding sleeves would be a better choice.

A quick tip is to measure the length from your wrist to your regular short-sleeved shirt. That way, you get an accurate comfortable length specific for your body.

Level of Heat Protection and quality of material

The quality of the materials used for your welding sleeves directly affects the level of heat protection. To know what kind of material would work best, think of the kind of job you do most of the time.

Assess how exposed you are to heat and how long you work in that condition. Also, think about the amount of slag and spatter you are subjected to while on the job. Once you know that, you can now choose the material that would best fit you. There are different types of fire retardant fabrics and each has its distinct property and use. For welding sleeves, materials used could either be Kevlar, leather, or cotton. Let’s take a look at these three up close.

Types of welding sleeves

Kevlar welding sleeves

For maximum heat protection, go for Kevlar welding sleeves. Kevlar is a strong synthetic fiber that is used to protect workers from abrasions, cuts, and heat. These are lightweight, flexible, and overall comfortable.

Unlike cotton, Kevlar fiber doesn’t shrink when exposed to heat and can be machine washed. Dry cleaning wouldn’t be a problem for normal cleaning.

Leather welding sleeves

Leather fabric is well-known for its flexibility and resistance to heat, fire, and cutting. It’s economic and can be reused for a longer period of time. While it isn’t as machine wash friendly as Kevlar and cotton welding sleeves, cleaning leather is fairly easy, similar to how you clean leather welding jackets. Read more about how to choose the best welding jacket on our blog.

welding sleeves
Get this Waylander Welding sleeves and the welding apron seen on this photo on Amazon.

While leather welding sleeves are readily available in the market, there are those that are made of cowhide split leather reinforced with protective Kevlar which could be a better choice. Check out this type of welding sleeves on Amazon. The combination of the two fire-retardant fabrics gives you the functions and properties of both which makes it a reliable means of protection.

Cotton welding sleeves

Cotton sleeves which are considered to be the most comfortable since it is the lightest. It’s thinner and breathable but they’re also the least heat-resistant as compared to Kevlar and leather. It offers protection from sudden flame exposure and light-duty welding sparks. Like Kevlar, these are also machine-wash friendly.

Welding sleeves style and comfort

Most of the time people buy welding sleeves for style and how good it would look on them. Style comes after you get to know the right measurement and the right material for what you do.

In choosing, you need to consider comfort and functionality. This would mean answering a few questions like, “Would the style get in the way of how I work?,” “Is this easy to wear?,” or “Would this fall off while I work?”

welding sleeves

Welding sleeves come in a wide array of styles. There are those that are just worn and secured by adjustable elastic, those that have a thumb cutout that covers the hand partially, those that fit like compression sleeves and some that are adjustable by cuffs and snaps. There are also welding sleeves that have a cooling design that keeps your arms cool and dry so you can work longer and harder.

welding sleeves
Get the Waylander Welding sleeves seen on this photo on Amazon

Whatever style you choose, you need to make sure it all works together to give maximum comfort, functionality, and protection.

These three factors to consider in choosing the best welding sleeves serves as a complete buying guide for those who are out in the market to buy one for themselves. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced welder, having a pair of welding sleeves is a great addition to your list of protective clothing knowing that you have that alternative means of protection anytime. Make sure you read more on welding clothing and protective equipment. 

welding sleeves
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