What Do The Numbers On A Welding Rod Mean?

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One of the most important things that a welder needs to know is what each number on a welding rod means. Understanding what they mean will help you get the right rod for your project, which in turn will make your job easier and save you time. They come with what can be referred to as a "code" which consists of numbers and letters on the packaging, but what do those numbers actually mean?

The letter "E" stands for an electrode. The first two digits of a 4-digit number stand for the tensile strength. The first three numbers in 5-digit numbers also represent the tensile strength. And 3rd digit tells you about the position of the rod. Moreover, the fourth digit indicates the type of coating and whether the electrode's welding current (AC, DC, or both) can be used.

In this blog post, we'll take a look at what each number represents so you will know what to buy for your next project.

What is Welding Rod? 

A welding rod is a consumable item used for joining metals together through the process of fusion welding. Welding rods are applied directly to metal surfaces and then melted due to extreme heat.

Welding rods, also known as welding sticks or simply “electrode” for short, are generally thin metal bars that have a coating on one end. The main purpose of these rods is to provide a stable and clean way to repair any cracks in the base material you’re working with.

Besides this, welding rod comes in all different types of metal, including aluminum. In order to repair the crack or break in a welding rod, you should first use a grinder to clean up all loose pieces and rough edges.

The main difference between welding electrodes is their size. The smaller a welding rod/electrode’s diameter is, the more focused its heat will be. This allows for a more precise weld.

Related Post:

What Are the Most Common Welding Rods?

The most common welding rods are E6010, E6011, E6012, E6013, E7014, E7024 and E7018. Welding rods are the consumable that heats up and melts metal to create a solid weld (or bond), so it is essential for any welder's toolkit. Different types of welding rods are designed for different purposes, including vertical down welding (E8010) and flat position welding (E7014, E7024). These rods are in the form of 1/8- to 5/32-inch diameter are also common, along with several other sizes for specific uses.

What Do The Numbers And Letters Mean On Welding Rods?

What Do The Numbers And Letters Mean On Welding Rods?

The AWS has a system to know what stick electrodes are. It’s numbers and letters on the stick electrode. They are there because the stick electrode has properties, like what it does when it connects to things.

Steel electrodes are measured with this system too. Mild steel electrode measurements are mostly made using this method. Here is a list of that technology:

  • The letter "E" stands for an electrode.
  • Tensile Strength: The first two digits tell how strong the weld will be (tensile strength) in thousands of pounds per square inch (psi). For example, an E6010 electrode has a tensile strength of 60,000 psi.
  • Position: The third digit tells what you can do with this kind of wire: 1 means that you can use it in all positions and 2 means that it can only be used on the flat and horizontal fillet welds.
  • Coating: The fourth digit tells what you need to use this kind of wire: For example, if the number is 1 then you need to use AC, DC+ or DC- current or if it is 2 then you need to use AC, DC- current.

Let's take a welding rod with an E6010 number as an example. Here I'll share all of the necessary information about this rod with you.






Tensile Strength


Type of Coating & Current

Let's discuss four criteria in detail:

01. Number Format

Steel is a metal that contains more than one metal. In the case of steel, there are many different types and alloys depending on what type of steel you're talking about. For example, mild or low alloy steels usually have four or five digits in their prefix code followed by an "E" for electrodes to indicate that they can be used as electrodes in arc welding. These numbers may then include a dash and two-digit number to give details about the rod size such as E10011 which tells us this is a 1/8 inch rod.

02. Tensile Strength

The tensile strength of the electrode is shown by the first two digits and if it's a four-digit number, then 50 mean that the electrodes are at least 50,000 pounds per square inch. If they're five digits and 120, then they're at least 120,000 pounds per square inch.

03. Position

For welding metal, there are different positions that you can use the rod in. A "1" means that the rod is for all welding positions. A "2" means it's for flat and horizontal welding, and a "3" is for flat welding only.

04. Coating

The last number in the code is the type of coating and it tells what kind of current. Here I will list the types of coatings and what type of current it uses.


Type of Coating

Welding Current


High Cellulose Sodium



High Cellulose Potassium

AC, DC+ or DC-


High Titania Sodium



High Titania Potassium



Iron Powder, Titania



Low Hydrogen Sodium



Low Hydrogen Potassium



High Iron Oxide, Potassium Powder



Low Hydrogen Potassium, Iron Powder


05. Extra Numbers and Letters

Special rod for welding. The first letter A1, B1, B2, or B3 will tell you what the chemistry of the rod is. It also has an H number that tells you how much hydrogen will be diffused into the weld when you use it. And if the number ends with an "R" this means it resists moisture.

How Do Choose Welding Rod?

Choosing the right welding rod can be difficult.

There are many different types of rods, and it's hard to know which one is best for your project.

For flux core rods, make sure that they're rated at least 95% of shielding gas coverage. Solid wire offers a purer metal wear protection than a flux core rod. If you're planning on using solid wire, cut the welding rod to the proper length and use a separate filler wire to attach any additional lengths of wire if necessary. TIG or MIG welding? Either way, solid wires will work well for either type of welds.

When welding, you need to make sure that the material you are using is of good quality.   Low-quality materials can lead to a lack of durability in your welds and can even create more problems than they solve. That's why it's important to know how to choose welding rods. 

A great way of picking out which rod will work best for you is by considering the following: 

  1. Metal properties of the base metal
  2. Tensile strength
  3. Welding current
  4. Thickness and form of the base metal, as well as fit-up of the joints
  5. Position of welding
  6. Specifications, as well as service conditions
  7. The work environment

01. Metal properties of the base metal

If you want a strong weld, then you need to match the type of electrode that you use with the type of metal that is in the base metal. To do this, ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of metal is my base metal?  If it looks rough and grainy, then it is probably cast metal.
  • Is the metal magnetic? If it is magnetic, then the base metal might be carbon steel or alloy steel. If it isn't magnetic, then there are a few other options: manganese steel, 300 series austenitic stainless steel, or a non-ferrous alloy such as aluminum, brass, copper, or titanium.
  • Do I know if my base metal and electrode are the same kind? Higher carbon content will produce more spark than lower carbon content. This can be used to identify different types of metals. For example, A-36 grade steel would have more sparks than mild steel.
  • Does a chisel “bite” into the base metal or bounce off? Biting means that it's softer, so in this case, mild steel would have biting marks while high carbon steel would not. If the material bounces, then it is harder than what you could mark with a chisel. In this case, cast iron would be harder than mild steel.
  • What is an electrode made out of? Electrodes are usually metal rods that vary in composition and length. The one that you will be using is made of mild steel and is generally about three inches long and three-eighths of an inch thick. If the material conducts electricity well enough to give a visible spark on contact, then it is probably mild steel.

02. Tensile strength

To fix a crack or other problem, you have to match the tensile strength of the weld to the metal it is being done on. The first two digits on an electrode will tell you how strong it is. For example, if the number 60 is on an E6011 electrode, which means that, its tensile strength is at least 60,000 psi. If your metal's tensile strength was also 60,000 psi then this would be a good match for welding together your pieces of metal because they are both very strong and should not break while you are welding them together.

03. Welding current

Some electrodes work with AC or DC power. You can tell by looking at the fourth letter in the AWS (American Welding Society) classification, which tells you what type of coating are on it.

Different currents can produce different welds. "DCEP" type current, like the E6010, produces deep penetration and a tight arc. This can clean through rust or dirt that other currents might not be able to get through. It is good when you need to connect two pieces of metal together without too much space between them. The "DCEN" type current, like the E6012, provides milder penetration and works well when you are welding high-speed fillets in your project or in the horizontal position.

You can use an electrode like E6013 on clean new sheet metal and it will produce a soft arc. It has medium penetration and is good for welding new metal.

04. Thickness and form of the base metal, as well as fit-up of the joints

Welding is when you join two things together with metal. Thin metals are easier to weld than thick ones.

When you weld thin metals, use an electrode that has a low hydrogen content. This kind of electrode is called the 6013 and the AWS classification number for this kind of electrode is 15, 16 or 18.

You can also use a thin arc for welding thin metal because it won't go through the metal and make a hole in it like thicker arc would do.

If you are welding something thick, then you need to make sure that your electrode will work on that thickness of material too.

There are 3 different types depending on how thick your material is: E6010 (thin), E6012 (medium) and E6013 (thick).

Try to find a fit-up where there is enough space and beveling so you can use the electrode properly. But make sure that the electrode isn't too big for your metal or you won't have enough burn off to get through it.

If you use the right electrode, you will end up with a strong, crack-resistant weld that connects two things together.

05. Position of welding

To find out what position an electrode is good for, you need to know the third digit in its classification. You can find this on the electrode. The first two digits tell you how it's classified and the third one tells you which position it's good for.

1 = Stand for flat, horizontal, vertical and overhead Position

2 = Stand for flat and horizontal Position.

06. Specifications, as well as service conditions

It is important to make sure the part you are welding will be in good condition. If it will be very hot or cold, or if it will get a lot of shocks, you should use a low-hydrogen electrode that is more flexible. If you are working on something important like a pressure vessel or boiler, check to see if there are any welding specifications before using any electrodes.

07. The work environment

To clean metal, you should remove rust and dust. Dirt can make the metal not work so well. You should also use a wire brush to take off paint and grease if it is on there. Cleaning makes the metal work better and faster than before.


 Welding rods are an important part of the welding process. With so many options available, it can be hard to know which rod is best for you and your project. In this blog post, we’ve discussed some common types of welders as well as what the numbers on a welding rod mean and how they help determine which type will suit your needs best.

Last Updated on December 1, 2021 by weldinghubs

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