Non-Sparking vs Anti-Static Tools: Which One to Choose?

May 19, 2022

Both non-sparking and anti-static tools have a common purpose - to prevent fires or explosions in production facilities where flammable materials are present. However, they are both designed to prevent specific hazards and should not be confused. Non-sparking tools are characterized by the absence of ferrous metals (steel and iron), which means they do not produce sparks that can ignite under the right conditions.


Anti-static tools are carefully designed to work within a grounded equipment system to prevent static electricity from building up to a level that could damage electronic equipment or provide a sufficient charge to start a fire or explosion.


However, the absence of sparks does not mean that the tool cannot also be anti-static. When properly grounded, non-sparking tools can also prevent electrostatic discharge.


When do I need a non-sparking tool?

Non-sparking tools are important for use in facilities that may have explosive atmospheres or where there is any reason to be particularly concerned about the possibility of a spark causing a fire or explosion. This usually involves production facilities that contain flammable gases, mists, dust, or liquids. Non-flammable tools are commonly used in oil refineries, paper companies, and ammunition plants. Food processing facilities that use powdered milk, egg whites, cornstarch, grains, flour, or cornstarch may also use non-sparking safety tools, as these tools can create combustible dust hazards.  


T Type Wrench

 T Type Wrench

What is a non-sparking tool?

Non-sparking tools are essentially tools that do not contain ferrous metals. Ferrous metals include steel and iron, in all their different iterations. Items made of carbon steel, stainless steel, cast iron or wrought iron have the potential to spark.


Non-ferrous metals include aluminum, copper, brass, silver, and lead. However, they are not the only materials used to make non-sparking tools.


Common non-sparking tools are made from the following materials.





Copper-nickel alloys

Copper-aluminum alloy

Copper-beryllium alloy



Plastic is a common non-sparking material for items such as spatulas, scrapers, paddles, and spoons. Tools that require higher tensile strength, such as hammers or screws, are often made of copper alloys, but people tend to avoid using beryllium because of its potential toxicity.


Even non-sparking tools can cause a reaction called a "cold spark," which does not have enough heat to ignite the most flammable substance, carbon disulfide. Cold sparks can still give the appearance that sparks are occurring, but they are safe even around the most flammable substances.

Non-Sparking Tool

Non-Sparking Tool     


When do I need anti-static tools?

Electronic components - especially motherboards - are extremely sensitive to electrostatic discharge (ESD). A simple static charge generated by a worker walking across the floor to a workstation can damage the motherboard, rendering the entire assembly useless. Most industries don't need to worry about ESD, but when flammable gases (such as acetone or methane) are present in the air, even a small discharge can cause a fire or explosion.


What is an anti-static tool?

Antistatic tools are more complex than not containing a specific type of metal. They must be part of a complete procedure for safely discharging static electricity.

Non Sparking Case Opener

Non Sparking Case Opener

Static electricity is formed naturally through three different processes.


Frictional charging: two materials (such as a sock and a carpet) come into contact and then separate.

Electrostatic induction: a charged object comes close to an ungrounded conductive object.

Impacting an object with energetic particles: This is primarily a problem for spacecraft.

The most effective electrostatic prevention is not a single tool, but a system of precautions, grounding mechanisms, and lack of highly charged materials. Together, this creates an Electrostatic Discharge Protection Area (EPA) that secures electrostatic discharge (ESD) sensitive materials.


The principles of a successful EPA include  

No highly charged materials

All conductive materials are grounded

Workers are grounded

Electrostatic charges are prevented from accumulating on ESD-sensitive electronic devices

The hand tools you use in this environment are typically made of plastics that are specifically designed to work in this delicately balanced system. These electrostatic dissipative (ESD) tools have a balanced charge and low surface resistivity, which means they do not gain or lose charge from surrounding objects and surfaces. These tools have a precise operating temperature and humidity range. If they are used outside of these ranges, they may still generate static charges.

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