The last time I welded was too many years ago in engineering school but a friend and I recently bought a welding machine and have set about trying to learn how to weld.

In researching what welding rods to buy, I found there are “sodium” rods such as AWS E6010 (High cellulose sodium) and “potassium” rods such as the AWS E6011 (High cellulose potassium). The web sites for example AWS Classifications Explained say E6010’s should be used for Electrode Positive DC (DC+) welding and the E6011’s can be used for any of AC, DC+ or DC-.

It makes sense that you would need charged particles to maintain the arc during zero crossings of the current but why should potassium work while sodium would not? Sodium and potassium are chemically similar and everything else is pretty much the same so why should potassium based rods work with both AC and DC while sodium based rods only work with DC?

Any insights will be appreciated.

  • $\begingroup$ MIG is much easier to use than stick if you can possibly make the change . Many decades ago I read that potassium "stabilizes" the arc:: however, other things like titanium also do that. $\endgroup$ – blacksmith37 Jun 9 '18 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ If the arc were more stable, that would help with running AC but why would potassium make it more stable than sodium? Maybe the higher molecular weight? That is something for me to dig into. Thanks. I remember MIG as being a breeze. The stick welding was not bad, possibly because because the lab guy got us set up exactly right. $\endgroup$ – user1683793 Jun 9 '18 at 2:29

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