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Storing and Re-drying Electrodes

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) electrodes must be properly stored in order to deposit quality welds. When electrodes become absorb moisture from the atmosphere, they must be dried in order to restore the ability to deposit quality welds. Electrodes with too much moisture may lead to cracking or porosity. Operational characteristics may be affected as well. If you’ve experienced unexplained weld cracking problems, or if the electrode arc performance may have deteriorated, it may be due to your storage methods or redrying procedures.

storageAll electrodes must be dried to the right level to perform properly. Even a small amount of moisture in low hydrogen electrodes can lead to major weld problems such as internal porosity, weld cracking or poor operating characteristics. We will look at three different types of electrodes:

1. Low Hydrogen Electrodes

Storing and exposure limits

SMAW electrodes with low hydrogen coatings, such as E7018 and E8018-C3, must be kept very dry since hydrogen induced cracking can easily occur, especially in steels that are 80,000 psi and higher yield strengths. To keep these electrodes dry during storage and to prevent welding defects, here are some suggestions:

  • Purchase these electrodes in hermetically sealed containers, which provide excellent protection against moisture pickup.
  • Do not open the hermetically sealed containers until the electrode is needed for use.
  • When the cans are opened, electrodes that will not be immediately used should be placed in a cabinet at 250 degrees to 300 degrees (120 – 150 degrees C).
  • Electrodes should be supplied to welders in quantities that can be consumed within time limits that are dependent on the electrode type and strength level. For example, standard E7018 electrodes can be safely be exposed to the atmosphere for 4 hours whereas standard E11018 electrodes are restricted to only ½ hour.


When the hermetic seal is broken, (either deliberately such as when a can is opened, or accidentally as when a can is punctured) a can of low hydrogen SMAW electrodes must be redried. When the electrodes have been exposed to the atmosphere for period of a few days, the electrode can be re-dried. The following re-drying procedures should be used:

  • To re-dry, electrodes should be removed from the can, and placed in suitable oven. The electrodes should be spread out in the oven so that all electrodes will reach the drying temperature. The can of electrodes should not be put in the oven; the cardboard liners can char, and the temperature of the electrodes will not be uniform.
  • When the electrodes are initially placed in the oven, the temperature should not be greater than half the re-drying temperature. The electrodes should be held at that temperature for ½ hour before heating the electrode to the final temperature.
  • For mild steel low hydrogen electrodes governed by AWS A5.1 (such as E7018), the final re-drying temperature is typically 500-800 degrees F. For low alloy electrodes governed by AWS A5.5, the final re-drying temperature should be 700-800 degrees F. The manufacturer’s recommendations should be followed.
  • One hour at the listed final temperature is satisfactory. Do not dry electrodes at higher temperatures. Also, several hours at a lower temperature is not equivalent to using the specified requirements. Moisture becomes chemically bonded (absorbed) to the electrode coating and those chemical bonds must be broken at the proper temperature for the proper length of time or the electrode can be damaged.
  • Any electrode should be discarded if excessive re-drying causes the coating to become fragile and flake or break off while welding. Or, dispose of the electrode if there is a noticeable difference in handling or arc characteristics, such as insufficient arc force.

2. Austenitic Stainless Steel Electrodes

Storing and exposure limits

Austenitic Stainless Steel for SMAW must be kept dry. Typically, the first problem that will be noticed with welding with such electrodes that have been contaminated with moisture will be weld porosity. Other operational characteristics may also be affected. To keep these electrodes dry during storage, here are some suggestions:

3. Non-low hydrogen electrodes

Storing and exposure limits

SMAW electrodes such as E6010 and E7014 are not low hydrogen, and yet it is important that these electrodes also be properly stored. Unlike the low hydrogen electrodes that always must be kept dry, some of the non-low hydrogen electrodes need some moisture in the coatings in order to perform properly. If these electrodes are too dry, they may not function properly. Alternative, excessively moist electrodes may cause other problems. The following procedures should be followed:

  • Store these non low hydrogen electrodes from the freshly opened containers in heated cabinets at 100 degrees – 120 degrees F (40 – 50 degrees C).
  • Do not use higher temperatures, particularly for electrodes from the “Fast Freeze” group, which includes Lincoln Shield-Arc® and certain types of Fleetweld® electrodes.


Follow these simple storage, exposure and re-drying techniques to ensure the highest quality welds, as well as the best operational characteristics from your SMAW electrodes.

Reprinted from Lincolnelectric.com

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