Selecting the best TIG Welding Tungsten Electrode

March 8, 2021

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What is the best TIG welding tungsten?

As always, the answer all depends. The type, shape and thickness of the tungsten will affect your weld quality and appearance. In general, I tend to prefer to use 1.5% Lanthanated (Gold tip) for DC TIG and 0.8% Zirconiated (White tip) for AC, but that’s just what I’ve done for the last 20 years. Many people suggest that 2% Lanthanated (Blue) can weld everything you can just buy those and not have to worry about what tungsten you’re using when the tip gets ground off! I can’t fault their logic, I guess I’m just set in my ways.

Here’s a handy comparison table if you want to compare the difference between the different tungsten types, in case you want to try a few different things.

TIG Welding Tungsten Electrode 2% Thoriated 1/8" x 7" (Red, EWTh-2) 10-pk YESWELDER
TIG Welding Tungsten Electrodes 0.8% Zirconiated (White, WZ8) 10-Pack (3/32")
TIG Welding Tungsten Electrodes 1.5% Lanthanated (Gold, WL15) 10-Pack (3/32")
TIG Welding Tungsten Electrodes 2% Ceriated (Grey, WC20) 10-Pack (3/32")
WeldingCity 10-pk Premium TIG Welding Tungsten Electrode Rod Pure (Green, EW-P) 3/32" x 7" | 10-pcs
TIG Welding Tungsten Electrodes 2% Lanthanated (Blue, WL20) 10-Pack (3/32")
Tungsten Type
2% THORIATED (RED)
0.8% ZIRCONIATED (WHITE)
1.5% LANTHANATED (GOLD)
2% CERIATED (GREY)
PURE (GREEN)
2% LANTHANTED (BLUE)
AC/DC
DC
AC
DC
AC / DC
AC
AC / DC
Amp Range
Medium
Medium/High
Medium
Low
Low / Medium
Medium / High
Erosion Rate
Medium
-
Low
Low
-
Low
Spitting
Medium
Low
None
None
Medium
-
Power Source
Transformer
Inverter or Transformer
Inverter or Transformer
Inverter or Transformer
Transformer
Inverter or Transformer
Best Used On
Non corroding Steel
Titanium Alloy
Nickel Alloy
Copper Alloy
Aluminium Alloys
Magnesium Alloys
Non corroding Steel
Titanium Alloy
Nickel Alloy
Copper Alloy
Low Alloy Steel
Non corroding Steel
Aluminium Alloys
Magnesium Alloys
Titanium Alloy
Nickel Alloy
Copper Alloy
Aluminium Alloys
Magnesium Alloys
Low Alloy Steel
Non corroding Steel
Aluminium Alloys
Magnesium Alloys
Titanium Alloy
Nickel Alloy
Copper Alloy
TIG Welding Tungsten Electrode 2% Thoriated 1/8" x 7" (Red, EWTh-2) 10-pk YESWELDER
Tungsten Type
2% THORIATED (RED)
AC/DC
DC
Amp Range
Medium
Erosion Rate
Medium
Spitting
Medium
Power Source
Transformer
Best Used On
Non corroding Steel
Titanium Alloy
Nickel Alloy
Copper Alloy
TIG Welding Tungsten Electrodes 0.8% Zirconiated (White, WZ8) 10-Pack (3/32")
Tungsten Type
0.8% ZIRCONIATED (WHITE)
AC/DC
AC
Amp Range
Medium/High
Erosion Rate
-
Spitting
Low
Power Source
Inverter or Transformer
Best Used On
Aluminium Alloys
Magnesium Alloys
TIG Welding Tungsten Electrodes 1.5% Lanthanated (Gold, WL15) 10-Pack (3/32")
Tungsten Type
1.5% LANTHANATED (GOLD)
AC/DC
DC
Amp Range
Medium
Erosion Rate
Low
Spitting
None
Power Source
Inverter or Transformer
Best Used On
Non corroding Steel
Titanium Alloy
Nickel Alloy
Copper Alloy
TIG Welding Tungsten Electrodes 2% Ceriated (Grey, WC20) 10-Pack (3/32")
Tungsten Type
2% CERIATED (GREY)
AC/DC
AC / DC
Amp Range
Low
Erosion Rate
Low
Spitting
None
Power Source
Inverter or Transformer
Best Used On
Low Alloy Steel
Non corroding Steel
Aluminium Alloys
Magnesium Alloys
Titanium Alloy
Nickel Alloy
Copper Alloy
WeldingCity 10-pk Premium TIG Welding Tungsten Electrode Rod Pure (Green, EW-P) 3/32" x 7" | 10-pcs
Tungsten Type
PURE (GREEN)
AC/DC
AC
Amp Range
Low / Medium
Erosion Rate
-
Spitting
Medium
Power Source
Transformer
Best Used On
Aluminium Alloys
Magnesium Alloys
TIG Welding Tungsten Electrodes 2% Lanthanated (Blue, WL20) 10-Pack (3/32")
Tungsten Type
2% LANTHANTED (BLUE)
AC/DC
AC / DC
Amp Range
Medium / High
Erosion Rate
Low
Spitting
-
Power Source
Inverter or Transformer
Best Used On
Low Alloy Steel
Non corroding Steel
Aluminium Alloys
Magnesium Alloys
Titanium Alloy
Nickel Alloy
Copper Alloy

TIG Tungsten Size

As a general guide, tungsten diameter should be roughly half the thickness of the material being welded. A thicker tungsten will be able to handle high amperage and heat much better than a thinner one.

Tungsten Grinding

Keep your tungsten sharp! If your tungsten dips into the weld puddle, stop and sharpen it (or swap for another one you prepared earlier). When you first start welding, you will be stopping all the time – but as you progress you will quickly learn how to keep the tungsten uncontaminated.

Note that the thoriated (red) tungsten on the list above is radioactive! The radioactivity is not strong enough to go through your skin, however if you must not breathe in the grinding dust. Special care should be used when grinding these – only do so in a well ventilated area, preferably use a mask and clean up the dust after you have finished. Because of this, and the fact I like the 1.5% Lanthanated better anyway, I rarely use thoriated tungsten any more.

The tungsten should be ground lengthways (end to end), using a flat conical grind – exactly like a sharpened pencil. If you use an electric drill to spin the tungsten while grinding, you will tend to get a more unstable arc as the arc will ‘follow’ the grinding marks.

When welding AC, the tungsten needs a ball on the end. There is no benefit to trying to grind a ball – the welder will ball the tungsten in the first few seconds of starting an AC arc.

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