Over the years, I’ve worn all kinds of pants when welding, from your normal cotton cloth pants to denim jeans. If you’re new to welding, you might wonder why do welders wear jeans while welding. Does it protect them somehow, or is it just for the looks.?
Many welders wear jeans because it is made of a tightly woven cotton fabric called denim that does not burn easily. It also protects well against ultraviolet and Infrared radiation, lasts a long time, and is more affordable than wearing fire retardant clothing.
If you’re new to welding or have been doing it for a while and looking for welding pants that will hold up to these tough conditions, keep reading. I’ll also share a special tip at the end of the article that will help you get more life out of your jeans.
Why Do Welders Wear Jeans – 5 Reason
If you’re a welder, you know how important it is to wear clothes that will hold up against the harsh welding conditions. If you’ve never welded, you must know how to protect yourself from all the dangers of welding.
Below are my top tips as to why you should wear jeans when welding.
1. Burn Through
To start, jeans are made of a tough cotton fabric called denim. Cotton, by nature, does not burn easily. This doesn’t mean it won’t burn, but it takes more than just a few sparks to catch them on fire.
As your welding sparks will fall from your weld. With bare skin or plastic fabric types such as Polyester, these sparks will melt through and burn you. I’ve had this happen when welding with a pair of sweatpants on.
However, the worst part about wearing the wrong pants is the slag. Sometimes, when you weld, small pieces of metal can break off and land on your pants.
In most cases, this slag will likely burn right through Polyester types of clothes but with jeans, it will take more time to burn through.
2. Radiation Protection
Jeans also do a great job of protecting your legs from getting burnt by the radiation welding gives off. Welders burn and melt metal between 10,000 and 15,000 degrees.
As a result, the welder puts out ultraviolet and infrared radiation that can give you sunburn. I’ve had this happen a few times, and it does not feel good.
The bad part is most people’s legs don’t get a lot of sunlight, especially your upper legs. If any part of your legs is exposed, it will get burnt.
However, jeans do a great job of protecting your legs from this intense radiation. I recently had an employee who learned this the hard way when he had a hole in his pants and had a 2nd degree burn on his leg.
3. Long Lasting
Jeans are also a strong and durable material. This means they will last a long time. More so than other types of pants you might weld with, like 100% cotton pants.
The thing I found with 100% cotton pants is that they are thin and don’t protect as well as jeans will. I’ve found people who weld with 100% cotton pants typically go through 2 to 1 over welder who wears jeans.
The only downside to jeans is that they tend to tare somewhat easily if they get snagged on something. If you get a hole in your jeans, you’ll want to patch it with something before you start welding.
Quick Tips: I’ve found a rag and duct tape to work the best to protect your leg from welding flash if you happen to rip your jean while at work or at home.
I guess it’s like they always say, duct tape can fix anything, or at least till you can get a new pair of jeans.
Next, you also have to look at the affordability of your clothes. If you’re planning to wear fire retardant clothes be prepared to spend some money as this type of clothes can get quite expensive.
You’re looking at between $50 to $200 for a decent pair of fire retardant pants. If you work five days a week, you’ll need at least 5 to 6 pairs of pants, and you can see how expensive this can get.
Now let’s look at what a pair of men’s work jeans cost.
As you can see, men’s work jeans are much cheaper, running between $22 to $33 a pair. Buying 5 or 6 pairs of these pants can be much cheaper.
Important: This does not imply that jeans are fire-retardant material.
So if cost matters to you, jeans are a great way to go. Later in this article, I will cover where to get your jeans.
Finally, the last thing to consider is the rotation of jeans you’ll need. If you have a job requiring you to wear durable pants, jeans are a great way to go.
As I showed in the last tip, jeans are a cheaper alternative to fire-retardant pants. If you have a job that requires you to wear them, you’ll want to buy several pairs to keep them in a rotation.
For example, I have 11 pairs of jeans. I use one pair each of the five days of the workweek. I wear the second 5 pairs next week and wash the five from the week before.
The extra pair is just in case I have to work an extra day in the week or tear a pair of pants.
Why Do Welders Starch Their Jeans
Want to know a simple way to toughen your jeans up even more? Then you consider starching them to help strengthen them. Why should you do this?
Starched jeans will make them more rigid and tough. It will help protect your legs from getting burnt by falling slag and sparks. It also helps to resist stains and keep them cleaner.
So if you want to add a layer of strength to your jeans, have them starched.
Where To Get Jeans for Welding
Finally, you might be wondering where to get jeans for welding, and for this, I have two possible solutions.
1. Ask Your Uniform Supplier
Your first option is to talk to your uniform supplier at your place of work. For example, at my shop, we use Cintas.
They offer a wide range of uniforms but can also get you jeans if your workplace allows you to have them. I have a few workers who prefer jeans over 100% cotton pants because of how well they work at protecting them.
On top of that, they will wash them and keep fresh new pants in rotation for you every week. If you can do this, it will be a lot cheaper than buying them yourself.
The other option you can look at is buying them on Amazon and keeping them in your rotation. If your place of work does not provide uniforms, you can try this option. Here are a few pairs I recommend.