I am using STICK and MIG welding at the moment. Due to certain circumstances I am only able to do this kind of welding over natural surfaces (read grassland). While there is nothing preventing me from doing so, I would like to protect that ground from being contaminated with metal sparks/slag.

I was therefore wondering what would be a good material to cover the ground around my welding area that would catch the metallic debris so that I can easily clean it up and not contaminate the ground?

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    The 'sparked' metal is very hot and main concern/worry is fire starting. Flames can start hours after. Best is a large surface cover(plates of metal) that won't burn or let hot stuff though. Wood panels(4x8 plywood) and a water hose is second best. Wet down large area after working all the time.
    – crip659
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 21:39
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    Would add to my comment to hose down the area again. Grassland/area with vegetation can start burning very fast and get out of hand. Removing grass/vegetation down to dirt around area should be done before anymore welding.
    – crip659
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 21:56
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    What about a few pieces of cement board, the kind used before tile? And maybe a border around them a few inches high to prevent sparks from rolling off the cement board onto the grass. Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 23:04
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    Fire hazard has been taken care of dutifully. The surface below would not catch fire even if one would start a fire just on the ground. I think "grassland" was confusing. It is lushious green grass that is absolutely not interested in burning :-) Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 20:57
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    About brazillion miles of pipe have been welded "over ground" and I never heard or read of any problem from spatter ( other than going down a shirt collar.) Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 21:51

2 Answers 2


As you've included the "clean up" aspect in your question, you've added a bit of complexity to the answer. Wetting the area will prevent a fire, but won't make it easy to collect the debris.

For such a task as welding, the sparks are limited in travel, sufficiently enough to provide for covering the ground with a tarpaulin. "What? Tarps melt or catch fire!"

Visit your friendly DIY big-box store and purchase a few hundred pounds of play sand. Spread it to an inch thick or so, over the entire sparking area. The logistics are not convenient to pick up those hundreds of pounds, but it does prevent contamination and allow for complete clean up. One could then sift out the particles from the sand, although I'd consider a bagged magnet in combination with screening.

  • Sand sounds like a very good idea, I think the predicament I am in was not adequately conveyed in my question. I have a yard and I want to weld in it. Said yard does not appreciate metal sparks (it wont burn from it, but metal + nature == bad). So ultimately I am looking for a material that will collect the metal from welding that I can either destory cheaply or clean easily. Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 21:05
  • Sand alone would work, but the clean up requires the ability to sift or collect the sand, hence the suggestion of tarps. One could also consider a more elaborate set up, with deflector panels (not Star Trek versions) and a water filled tarp to cool and collect the flying slag.
    – fred_dot_u
    Commented Oct 3, 2021 at 0:01
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    @YanickSalzmann don't forget, the metal came from nature in the first place. Little bits of slag will eventually work their way down into the ground. Unless they're releasing toxin (and a lot of them), it's just going back from whence it came.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 3, 2021 at 0:02

Fiberglass blanket. Catches sparks and wont catch fire. Can cover a large surface area. Only downside is fiberglass strands getting loose and causing a mess or itchyness. Is not permanent either as if a spark is big enough it will burn through and cause a hole, ruining the blanket

  • I've used sand, cement boards, plywood, and fire blankets, +1.
    – Mazura
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 23:18

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