Whereas the type of the abrasive used to follow clearly from the term “sand blasting”, nowadays difference has to be made between different kinds of abrasives. The silica sand that was used in former times can be applied now only with special permit due to the risk of silicosis; these special permits have to be applied for at the competent authorities. Silicosis is a disease (also called black lung) caused by finest silica sand entering the lung and there it clogs the air sacs.
By using the blasting method various kinds of work can be performed now. The number of abrasives that can be adjusted to the respective purpose of work is therefore high. There is no universal abrasive. The selection of the respective grain sizes is decisive besides the selection of the abrasive. Bigger particles transfer higher kinetic energy and are thus well suited to e.g. break open thick layers. Quicker and steadier cleaning results are, however, obtained by a big number of smaller particles.
Slag, corundum, steel shot and glass have proven to be suitable apart from some very special abrasives.