Today I got flashed some three times while practicing. Bad timing when
pulling down the helmet. Just a fraction of second each and no lasting
discomfort. Are there long term effects to be feared? BTW, I use contact
I've been practicing with 6011. I find this rod harder to start than
6013. I have noticed that the arc seems to starts better and is more
stable when the coating is toasted (as a result of stickups). Of course
when the coating gets charred the rod loves to get stuck and when arcing
produces hege globs of molten metal! Comments?
Thanks in advance
You're *probably* fine. If not, You'll wake up tomorrow morning feeling
exactly like someone threw a handful of sand in your eyes. It's
uncomfortable in a way few things can be, and an experience you won't soon
forget. I only ever got flashed that bad once (three times too many!), and
that was about fifteen years ago, and...brrrr that hurt! Here's a link to
the medical description:
I panicked; no one had ever told me about it, and I had no idea if I'd done
permanent damage to my eyes. I had my wife drive me to the emergency room,
and they gave me some drops to deaden the pain, and I was better the next
day. I've been more careful since then. But I've gotten brief flashes at
times, and not ended up with a case of 'welders flash' like that; as I said,
you may be fine. Learn to flip your helmet down with a nod of your head.
The less motion of your body, the less chance of the tip of the rod getting
away from you.
I've found that 6011 rod can be hard to start. If you strike it light, it's
liable not to arc at all, and if you strike it harder it sticks. Somewhere
right in the middle is the perfect arc, but it's a narrow window, and takes
practice to find consistently. I don't stick-weld a lot any more, so when I
pick it up I have to practice a bit to get the feel back. The first rod I
run works a lot like you're describing--and I've done a lot of stick-welding
at various times in my life. One thing about 6011 rod is that once it
strikes it will maintain an arc quite a ways away from the metal. If the
rod is being stubborn, you can strike it hard and quick with a circular
motion that doesn't give it a chance to stick, but starts an arc that will
maintain as you bring the rod up and around. You're not really welding at
that point, but the light from the arc will allow you to see to bring the
electrode back down onto the steel and begin the bead. It's not the subtle
approach, but it will start a sticky rod. As you develop your skill, you'll
find you need tactics like that less and less. Keep at it; it's just a
matter of practice.
Cheers and keep your rod dry,
If this happens, an old remedy is to cut a raw potato and put the fresh
cut surface on your eye. One Summer while in college I was helping a
weldor with fit-ups for a shift. I woke up in the middle of the night
with a "hot needle" in my eye. I woke up my parents and Dad, who had
been there - done that, told me about this. I lay back down with
potatoes over each eye and the next thing I knew it was morning.
Randy Replogle (Central Indiana)
Email address is legit
Eye damage from UV is cumulative. 3 times is no big deal but you don't want
to keep doing it. Are you using an autodarkening helmet? If not, you may
want to buy one. After all, how much is your eyesight worth?
This is only from my humble experience: Use the amperage listing on the
welder as a rough guide only. Assume it is +/- 30%, especially if you
picked up a used one at auction or something. You never know if the
knob (or whatever) came loose and someone put things back wrong, or if
things are just not reading correctly.
Go with your gut
Koz (who's welder reads 160 amps to run 1/8" 6011 properly)
When recently doing (British) City & Guilds, we were shown warm your
rod before start your run, so can jump to weld-run and restart within
the second. For the C&G test-pieces, you do a break test, so these
welds have to be good to pass. So what you do -- have a scrap piece
of metal beside your test peiece or what you are working on. Strike
the arc on the scrap. Doesn't matter how messy then! Burn the rod
for a second or two or three to get it running. Then skip across into
the start of your weld run. The warm rod will get up to conditions
much quicker than if you strike from cold on the actual weldment.
The charred end and sticking -- if the end of the rod (6010 or 6011)
is charred, particularly if the charred stuff has flaked away, it will
stick / be sticky. And it will run effectively as bare wire until the
fluxed part of the rod starts arriving at the arc. Not so good.
Nitrogen pick-up (-> brittleness). Porosity.
6010 and 6011 are cellulosics. The charred end is the cellulose
burned away. Commonly seen, but something is wrong. Using too high a
current? For 2.5mm rod (about 0.10inch) the current should not be
higher than 70A. (slight cheat - if you immerse your rod in water for
a minute or two, the rod seems OK up to 80A - plus the water getting
into the arc makes it more ferocious still - so more current and more
ferocity = good penetrating power. Not for quiet sensible people).
But anyway, if youo have a charred end, you should definitely start on
a piece of scrap. You will know when the cellulose is getting into
the arc - there will be a sudden transformation as the arc becomes
roaring & crackling plus straight and narrow. Then move to your
Well, Richard's suggestion... Anyone?
There's "Richard's deranged insomniac cellulosic musings" here
Pictures of cellulosic (6011) lap joint, including section-and-etch, here
As a beginner in a community college welding class I lasted 2 days with the
flip down helmet.
Buy yourself a good quality auto darkening helmet and you will never have a
One other thing that you should be doing is wearing Safety Glasses under
In addition to keeping your eyes intact when chipping, grinding, and free
from flying slag, real ANSI-rated "Safety Glasses" are UV blocking. It's
the UV that really messes you up.
You can develop cataracts from repeated flash. *Always* wear safety
glasses when welding, good ones that offer UV protection. Then if you
flash yourself, it is just a nuisance, and not damaging to your eyes.
Even if you weren't concerned about flash, wear those safety glasses.
Little balls of molten metal have a way of getting *under* your welding
hood. You don't want one to wind up in your eye.
It does matter to your vision quite a bit actually. I have been welding now
for 31 yrs professionally. At times I get called into other shops to aid
them even. I was at the one shop which had approx 40 some odd welders all
working around each other at the same time. All my life I never needed
glasses to read or drive or other, but now I do. I was at this shop for 6
weeks only and had to see an optometrist approx. 5 times. There was flashing
around me at all times and when you lift your shield at times for checking
your work, bang, bright light. Shortly after that I needed to wear glasses
to drive as my eyes do not focus as well anymore, and, yes the optometrist
said it is burnt retina from the flashing only from that short time at the
one shop. SO, BE VERY CAREFUL AS FLASHING CAN NOT JUST HURT BUT SCREW UP
YOUR VISION AS WELL.
Gee, isn't that why they sell those nice portable divider screens
with the canvas or dark Orange/Yellow/Grey colored plastic UV filter
material in them? ;-) So that other workers in the area or passers
by can't get their eyes accidentally arc-flashed simply by walking
past a welding work area?
And the screens should always be used, or improvise something with
available materials to screen the work area from direct view. Let's
face it, people simply can't help but look that way when they see a
flash of light, even the ones who really know they shouldn't. Like a
moth to the flame...
I just looked them up (#395 pp3068) - unless there's a deep discount
available the factory built ones are rather expensive for what they
are. ($90 to $145 each - Ouch!) I could buy a bulk roll of the
curtain plastic, weld up & paint some square tube frames, and screw
the plastic in place with some Aluminum extrusion stretcher bars and
TEK screws (and a Roper-Whitney Jr. hand punch to make holes) for a
WHOLE LOT less than they want through Grainger. Sounds like a good
Rookie welding project...
There are the days I wish I'd brought my automatic hood with me so I
could watch and learn from a master welder - but you can only pack so
much crap in a 3/4T Van and expect it to move under it's own power.
--<< Bruce >>--
Bruce L. Bergman, Woodland Hills (Los Angeles) CA - Desktop
Electrician for Westend Electric - CA726700
In a - for profit - commercial operation you can't come close to beating
that price, for personal use, I'm sure you probably can.
I agree, it must be a poorly run shop if the hands are constantly being
flashed. That's just plain dumb. 40 welders in a small space is no excuse
either, this type of work is done properly and safely every day. Working, or
continuing to work in such a place doesn't make sense, assuming you are a
competent, aware adult who knows that arc rays can be damaging.
Like I'm so fond of saying, you create your own conditions.
If you would actually go and look at some of the massive shops that I have
worked in you would see that they are cheap when it comes to safety. The one
shop I did work at for a brief period which will remain un-named (CoverAll),
they do not have blinds at all. They even have you like only a few feet aeay
from each other as well as across from each other. Then when you are done
doing your weld on your stucture beam which were in the 75 to 100 pound
range you had to then dead list it your self onto a hanging hook that was
approx 2 - 3 above your head. Then they get real pissed at you after a few
days you cannot make it to work as you are at the chiropactors. Some of the
men that were working at that place also got fired then and there as soon as
they said they did not wanna try or have to lift the said object for the
weight standards were only half of that. With me they got nailed by the
government for 3 months of pay for claiming that I did not have a reason for
chiro visits even there own company doctor was the one that sent me. So no
matter what any other welders say to do or that is safe, LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
AS IT IS YOUR EYES AND BACK TAKING THE SHIT NOT THERES. You know like the
ones that say get a auto shade helmet, YOU ARE NOT WEARING IT AT ALL TIMES
AT WORK SO STILL WATCH YOUR EYES. THOMAS' Wrought Iron Works.
I've done the big "OOPS" one way or another and struck an arc with my shield
up a few times and woke up the next morning feeling like my eyes had been
sandblasted. I found that time and eye drops are the best bet. Though I have
seen some "welders eyes" that needed closer medical attention when I worked
in our E.R. at the hospital(12 years as a paramedic), but I wonder if these
clowns even bothered using a shield.
As far as contact lenses. Don't worry. the stories that you have heard about
some guy somewhere fusing his contacts to his corneas and then removing his
corneas with his contacts are nothing but urban legends.
I used to wear contacts, and asked two ophthalmologists the same question.
They said that they are always being approached with this question, and no
it has never happened. If you have permeable contacts they might feel a
little dry, but there will be no harm to your eyes because of this, but you
might have a bear of a time getting them in the next morning.
Hope this answered your questions on "welders eyes".
Get yourself an auto-darkening helment. The prices have come doewn a
bunch since I got mine 10 years or so ago. I can almost understand why
an old hand that has been welding for 20 or 30 years might shun the new
technology but why would a novice want to do everything the hard way?
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