First of all,
the disclaimer! This information is general in nature and is
not intended to be a comprehensive presentation of all the hazards
of glass etching or of all the safety precautions. You must always
read and follow the safety instructions provided by the manufacturers
of the equipment and supplies you purchase. Obtain, read and understand
the Material Safety Data Sheets provided by the manufacturers of
the materials you purchase to use in etching.
etching is one of the safer crafts you can do, it does involve machinery
and high pressure air, so there are certainly things you have to
be careful of.
always protect your eyes and your skin from the abrasive particles
from the blaster. This is generally done by blasting in a self-contained
blasting cabinet with gloves. The gloves protect your hands and
arms and the window in the cabinet protects your face and eyes while
allowing you to see into the cabinet to control the etching of the
glass. If you are blasting in a blast room or outside, you should
always wear gloves and a blasting hood.
you should always protect your lungs from exposure to blasting dust.
If you are blasting in a blasting cabinet, the cabinet's dust collector
will take care of the dust generated while blasting, but you must
follow the manufacturer's recommended procedures for proper maintenance
of the dust collector for it to be effective. Otherwise, wear a
good quality, dual cartridge respirator (with dust cartridges) anytime
you are exposed to the dust - like when you refill the blaster,
sweep the floor, empty the dust collector, and when opening and
closing the door of the blast cabinet to insert or take out the
glass you are etching, etc.
blast in a blast room you will be exposed to concentrated levels
of dust, and a cartridge type respirator is inadequate to protect
you in that situation. You should use a separate air supplied hood
and air pump certified for breathing air when you are in a blast
If the noise
from the dust collector is loud, or when you blast in a blast room
at higher pressures, you would also be wise to wear ear plugs or
other hearing protectors.
etching is not nearly as dangerous as many types of wood working,
welding, jewelry making, or even pottery. However, it is important
to educate yourself about what dangers there are and to protect
yourself. Always read and follow manufacturer's safety procedures
and you should be very safe.