Please NOTE: Relax, I weld on full protection gear, the following question is purely in theory.

Electricity safety question, I am a noob in electricity so hence the question:

  1. Is the power circuit during welding "separate" from the main power circuit? I read somewhere the transformer inside the welding machine using electromagnetic to perform the step down voltage, so you can get higher current. This means the current/electrons from the main do not flow into your welding piece, the main circuit is merely providing energy to push the electrons in the welder circuit to flow from torch to clamp vice versa, am I right?

  2. If point 1 assumption is right, if my wet hand is holding the live electrode holder or clamp, and standing on wet ground with my bare feet, I presume I don't get electrocuted because the current not flowing back to the welding machine? Cheers!

  • 2
    1) Electric welders have a lot of complex electronics in them that regulate the power coming from them, it's more than just a transformer. 2) If you're welding in bare feet, you deserve to get electrocuted. Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 1:54
  • 3
    welding is like frying bacon: don't do it nude
    – P2000
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 2:55
  • 1
    @whatsisname my electric welder has an on/off switch and a knob that moves a lump of iron into or out of a transformer - no electronics...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 6:55
  • Usually you do need to be connected to the ground clamp circuit/wire and electrode clamp circuit/wire(ground clamp in water, bare feet in water, and you holding electrode clamp) to get a shock if everything is in good condition. If there is a problem with the welder(case is live) and you are both on wet stuff, have fun
    – crip659
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 12:46

2 Answers 2


Most welding is done a LOW VOLTAGE. A common stick welder like you might have in your garage is capable of 10-50V or so. So while it's possible in theory to electrocute yourself with a 50V source, it's quite difficult.

If you were to connect the ground lead and the electrode lead to your body with some conductive gel across your chest you might succeed.

But using it under normal conditions (i.e. dry) and while wearing shoes and gloves the danger is minimal. Of course most people wear such protective gear to keep hot slag and sparks from burning their skin or falling onto their feet which is extremely painful.

  • In my point 2, assuming the arc circuit is isolated to the main circuit by the transformer, if I am only touching the live electrode lead and stand on the concrete floor with my bare feet, would I still get electrocuted? AFAIK it's an open circuit?
    – James Lin
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 2:43
  • When changing an electrode the open circuit voltage on some can be 80v and yes you can get a shock easily, just depends on the path - changed an electrode and my ear completed the circuit…
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 5:02
  • OP seems focused on mains voltage powering half of a transformer, and therefore the arc circuit is “isolated.” But in reality it is not isolated, it is coupled to the incoming circuit. While it is true that the same electrons in the primary circuit (winding) are not the same ones traveling in the secondary (arc) circuit, they do create a voltage in those secondary windings.
    – Tim B
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 2:36

The "live electrode holder" is insulated between the electrode holding part (welding power) and the part you hold.

And you should be wearing welding gloves on your hands, for a variety of good reasons (UV burns, weld-spatter burns, etc.)

The welding circuit is between the live electrode and the welding ground (an uninsulated clamp, typically) clamped to the workpiece. Any contact between welding ground and "wet dirt/earth/ground" is incidental and fairly high resistance, but again, the same valid reasons and risks apply to "not welding in bare feet" as apply to not welding without gloves.

So, you are either asking absurdly hypothetical questions, or doing welding all wrong. The only point where you should have even potential of contact to the live electrode is when changing electrodes, and in normal conditions the electrode coating and your glove provide adequate insulation for that to be done "live" - or you can switch off before changing electrodes in your barefoot gloveless wet welding style, with burns and skin cancer.

  • There are old welders, there are bold welders, but there are no old, bold welders. Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 15:29
  • Relax, thanks for your input, I wear full protection gear when I weld, the question I asked was completely in theory: if main circuit and secondary circuits are insulated, if the secondary circuit not closed, would I get electrocuted, that's all.
    – James Lin
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 4:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.