What Causes Spatter When Stick Welding?

In gas metal arc welding (GMAW), the most common scenario is the creation of spatter. It’s nothing but the droplets of molten metal generated nearby the welding arc. This is something you have to consider seriously while developing any application.

Whether you are a professional welder or this is just a hobby to you who just love to fix small stuff using your welder machine, you have to take it seriously to get the best result. Before we see What Causes Spatter When Stick Welding, let’s see what sort of trouble spatter may cause:

  1. It may burn your skin and shirts.
  2. Loss of productivity or your cost of production will increase simply because there is a huge loss of material.
  3. Reduce your work efficiency by sticking your tools.
  4. A lot of cleanups will be required.

What Causes Spatter When Welding?

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You can’t fully eliminate the spatter but you can definitely reduce the amount of it. Now that we know what it is and what problems it may create, let’s see what causes spatter. Once we know the reason, we can take preventive measures. Here are the most common reasons for welding spatter.

Incorrect Amperage Settings

Your wire feed speed determines the amperage which should not be too high or too low. If the wire feeding speed is too high, it will cause spatter. There are two solutions to fix the problem. Either you have to increase the voltage or lower the wire feeding speed.

Incorrect Voltage Settings

From the first cause I discussed above you can guess it. Yes, when you set the voltage low, it will cause spatter. So, increase it accordingly to fix it.

Note: I will mention some other causes of spatter. But the most important reasons mentioned already. If the molten weld pool has any disturbance during the wire transfer into the weld – spatter will happen. Incorrect amperage and voltage are primarily responsible for this.

Incorrect Electric Stick Out

ESO or most commonly known as the Electric Stick Out measures the distance between your workpiece and the contact tip. The ideal distance should be ¾ inches and it can be increased a little if the amperage is set to high.

However, excessive ESO will cause not just the spatter, but also porosity problem too.

Steep Work Angle

In MIG welding, many people prefer either to drag or push. It’s simply the personal preference of the welders. But whether you like dragging or pushing, the working angle should never ever exceed 15 degrees. Because steep work angle will cause spatter for sure!

Contaminated Surface

Unless you are a well-organized welder, you will face the problem of spatter a lot. Regular welding work will leave rust, oil, grease, paint, etc. on the surface. Such contaminated surface will cause spatter a lot.

Technical Wire Feeding Issue

Erratic wire feeding will cause amperage fluctuations which will lead to generating spatter affecting the arc. So, it’s very important to make sure that the wire feeder can feed the wire at a constant speed.

Metal Transfer Modes

Among lots of metal transfer modes like spray transfer, globular and short arc transfer, only the spray transfer is ideal. The rest two – globular and short arc metal transfer will cause spatter a lot. In globular metal transfer, splashing will occur if the weld droplet falls into the molten pool.

To achieve the ideal spray metal transfer, you need to make sure there is at least 83% argon in the shielding mix. Whatever you do to keep the spatter level at a minimum level, don’t forget to wear a good welding jacket to protect your skin.

Low-Quality Shielding Gas

Not directly and not so common, but low quality shielding gas may affect the level of spatter. When you want a smooth arc, you need a higher amount of argon gas. Don’t go for the cheap 100% CO2. It will give you good penetration profile but will lead to a lot of spatter.

To counterbalance the spatter, you can mix argon with the CO2.

Low-Quality Wires

For precise welding applications, wire consistency is critical. With cheap-low quality wires, you can’t expect wire consistency in your delicate work. Yes, for some applications, the spatter may not be a big deal, but in other applications, you need to avoid cheap wires.

Arc Explosion

Short-circuiting will lead to the occurrence of fusion and a sudden large increase in the current will make the weld bead to heat up quickly. This is when spatter happens which is commonly known as the arc explosion. The weld bead may even break off and scatter if there is excess arc repulsion force.

Other Reasons

In addition to the above causes, there are many other reasons what will cause spatter. Atmosphere moisture, grounding location, improper torch angle, etc. may lead to spatter in welding.


Manufacturers around the world always thrive to control the level of spatter in their applications. They spend huge money on research and development to solve the problem. Even if you are an amateur welder, you should take steps to keep the spatter level at the minimum to increase productivity.

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