Extreme heat is well in hand with leather and Kevlar gloves
Properly constructed welding gloves are essential to stay protected from the tremendous heat generated during the welding process, often upwards of 3,200 degrees Celsius.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard Z1949.1:2005 requires that all welding gloves be flame-resistant, and recommends using welding gloves made of "leather, rubber or other suitable materials."
The wide selection of leather welding gloves available reflects the popularity of leather for its protective quality and the comfort that a natural skin offers. Goatskin leather is considered a premium choice because it is thin and pliable but durable.
However, without some form of supplementary protection, all-leather work gloves will heat up, crack and break down.
Welding gloves containing Kevlar fibers are excellent because of their strength at high temperatures and flame resistance.
When dealing with fire, the best welding gloves have either Nomex heat-resistant materials and/or Kevlar threading.
Combining Kevlar and Nomex with high-quality goat or deerskin gives this kind of work gloves protection from 400 F to about 700 F of direct flame contact. (Cowhide welding gloves are not as fire retardant and will break down rapidly.)
Key features of the best welding gloves
Some of the most important features to look for in welding gloves include
- Kevlar-threaded seams for heat resistance
- welted seams for protection from sparks and splatter
- reinforced palm, double thumb patch and knuckle guard
- aluminized heat-stop lining
- generous sizing to reduce hand fatigue
- flame-resistant foam lining for high radiant heat conditions
- cotton lining for comfort and hygiene
- aluminized back that reflects up to 95 percent of radiant heat for maximum protection in high radiant applications.
Other important requirements of the ANSI standard are that welding gloves need to "be in good repair, dry and capable of providing protection from electric shock of welding equipment." This is due to the risks of water or perspiration causing an electrical hazard.
Welders can choose between five-finger welding gloves or two-finger welding mitts. Another option is choosing between welding gloves with snug-fitting cuffs or flared gauntlet cuffs.
No matter which welding gloves you choose, make sure they are designed for the hazards and tasks specific to the welding environment.