Before you try your hand at welding anything, it is vital that you have and know how to use welding helmets. These protective devices should not be considered an option but rather a requirement. Failure to use welding helmets while working can lead to serious injury and even blindness. If you are not sure exactly what you need, the following guidelines will help you get started.
If at all possible, avoid borrowing welding helmets from someone else or purchasing the first used helmet you come across. Welding helmets come in a variety of weights and sizes, and it is important that you find one that fits your head comfortably and does not place extreme pressure on your neck or shoulders. This is especially true if you plan to do a lot of welding, as wearing a helmet that is too large, small or heavy for an extended period can cause painful muscle strain or headaches. On the same note, be wary of buying a used helmet at all. Unless you know and trust the seller, you cannot be certain that it has not been damaged in some way, opening you to potential exposure and danger.
Be sure that the welding helmets you consider meet all state and federal regulations and guidelines. Your best bet is to check with the U.S Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to learn what materials are acceptable and what ratings you should look for.
Many current brands of welding helmets provide an auto-darkening feature. What this means is that the lens in the helmet blackens automatically when bright light is present. This feature saves you the step of having to move the shield up and down manually. These helmets do require some source of power, so be sure to take that into consideration. You can find auto-darkening helmets that are solar powered or battery powered, so choose the option that best suits you.
Finally, you must establish how much you want to spend. Welding helmets range from quite affordable to rather expensive. Look for the best helmet that you can comfortably afford. If your budget is tight, avoid cool-looking but pricier designer helmets and stick with a functional and economical option instead.