Have you ever had your face and neck sunburned or deeply tanned while wearing your welding helmet? It sounds counter-intuitive. The helmet is supposed to protect you. Why isn’t it?
My wife noticed that I was looking deeply tanned after several days of welding. I also had what looked like sunburn on the sides of my neck. In addition, I had a white band at my hair-line which could only have come from the welding helmet since that is where the front part of the head-gear sits on my head. My nose is especially sensitive to sunburn and had been tingling.
I wear glasses with UVA and UVB coatings.and noticed that the area around my eyes was not getting tanned. Clearly my eyeglass lens coating was performing properly.
I have two auto-darkening Miller helmets – these are expensive helmets and highly regarded as being top quality. One has 2x magnifiers for Tig welding, the other has no magnifiers. What could I be doing wrong? The extreme tanning on my face seemed worse with the Tig welding helmet. Could the 2x magnifiers be intensifying the rays?
1. Shade control? I tried raising it to 10.5 but it was too dark. I had to drop it down to 9.75 in order to see the puddle to control it properly.
2. Sensitivity? I had it at Medium. I changed it to Medium-High. Perhaps a milli-second less would help.Over thousands of welds, that interval could slowly become substantial.
3. Delay? This sets how long the lens remains dark after the bright welding light ends. I had it halfway between Min and Max – I raised it to Max, which is about 1 second.
4. I put in fresh batteries – the CR2450 batteries should test at 3.1 volts when new. (2.8 volts is too low and triggers the low battery warning). Note to self: in winter, keep the helmet in a warm place. The batteries will show low voltage when cold.
Still, I seemed to be getting tanned/sunburned while welding. Reading the welding forums helped. I realized I had been welding highly reflective aluminum and bronze. The burns on my neck must have come from reflections off of the metal and/or my welding jacket.
Solutions to Welding Helmet Sun Burn
1. Put masking tape on both helmets and write on it, “Wear SunScreen”. Otherwise, it is easy to forget.
2. Wear 50 spf Sunblock on face and neck.Replenish every 2-4 hours.
3. Wear welding leathers and make the neck snaps tight. Welding leathers also protect the wrists better than the green jackets do.
4. If wearing a green welding jacket, pop up the collar and clip the two ends together. Keep a clip attached to each of the collars of the several welding jackets I own.
5. Wear a breathing mask.This covers the nose and half the face. I am usually grinding while welding, so this makes sense anyway.
6. Wait a second after finishing a weld and let the puddle cool. The metal is still emitting ultraviolet rays when it is red-hot. Now I control my impulse to immediately look at the weld by counting one-one-thousand.
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