A Guide to 6010 Welding Rods - Uses, Specifications and Settings

The 6010 welding rod has been a staple of industrial fabrication and pipe welding for over 70 years. First introduced in the 1940s, this versatile fast-freeze rod quickly became known for its deep penetrating abilities and usability across multiple positions. Over time, manufacturers refined 6010 formulas for increased strength and smoother arcs.

In this article, we'll explore the 6010 welding electrode. We'll look at its specifications, including size and flux thickness. We'll also discuss its various uses in welding, from thin sheet metal to thicker steel. So read on!

What is 6010 Welding Rod?

The 6010 welding rod is a versatile and widely used electrode in the welding industry. It consists of a metal core wire coated with a special flux. This flux is thicker than that of many other rods. Thus, it provides exceptional performance when dealing with contaminated or rusty surfaces.

When talking about the 6010 classification, the "60" indicates its usability and tensile strength, as categorized by the American Welding Society. The first two digits tell you it can be used for general-purpose welding and has a minimum tensile strength of around 60,000 psi. The "1" means you can weld in all positions - flat, horizontal, vertical, and overhead. And the "0" tells you it's a cellulose-based rod requiring DC electrode positive current.

In a nutshell, the 6010 is an easy-to-use, versatile welding rod. It penetrates dirty and rusty metals while resisting contamination. The fast-freezing slag system gives you great bead shape control. While not pretty, 6010 lays down a strong weld quickly, even in tricky positions. With the right techniques, you can use 6010 to make both your root pass and fill passes in a wide range of fabrication work. It's no wonder this rod remains popular today.

6010 Welding Rod Specifications

Rod Diameter: 6010 welding rods vary in size, with options ranging from 1/16" to 5/32". These different sizes cater to specific material thicknesses. Smaller rods, like the 1/16" ones, are handy for working with sheet metal, while the larger 3/32" and 1/8" diameters are better suited for thicker steel. Choose the rod diameter that matches your project's needs.

Thickness of Flux: The flux coating on 6010 rods is robust and designed to handle contaminated or rusty surfaces. In practice, the flux layer is approximately five times thicker than the rod's diameter. This thickness ensures effective protection and facilitates smooth welding, even in less-than-ideal conditions.

Tensile Strength: 6010 welding rods exhibit a minimum tensile strength of roughly 60,000 psi, though this can climb to over 80,000 psi depending on the rod's diameter. Smaller rods tend to have higher strength capabilities, making them an excellent choice for applications requiring increased durability.

Composition: Most 6010 rods are composed of calcium carbonate, calcium fluoride, iron powder, silicates, and a Varex-based high cellulose sodium component. These elements work in concert to provide the rod's specific properties and welding performance.

Polarity - 6010 rods should always be welded with DC electrode positive or DCEP. The electrode being positive means welding current flows from the rod to the grounded base metal. DCEP gives you a stable arc with deep penetration, thanks to the focused heat. It also gives a strong shallow deposit resistant to cracking. The heavy flux coating works best with reverse polarity as well. Never use AC or electrode negative with 6010.

Welding Positions: An outstanding feature of 6010 rods is their versatility in accommodating various welding positions. Whether you're working on a flat surface, a horizontal joint, a vertical seam, or an overhead connection, 6010 rods are up to the task. They offer flexibility for a wide range of welding projects.

6010 Welding Rod Uses

Root Passes

The 6010 welding rod is a top pick for laying down root passes when you're joining two pieces of metal, like pipe welding or structural fabrication. Its deep penetration capability helps create strong root beads in multi-pass groove welds. I've used it extensively in my experience.

Dirty/Rusty Base Metals

6010 rods shine when you're welding on surfaces covered in mill scale, rust, or other contaminants, such as old tanks and machinery during plant maintenance. The substantial flux coating on these rods acts as a shield, preventing weld contamination.

Field Repairs

When you're out in the field making quick fixes on farm equipment or machinery, 6010 is your trusty companion. It's a go-to choice for on-site repairs, even when optimal conditions aren't available.


For shops dealing with vertical structures like stair rails or overhead welding, 6010 is a game-changer. It's versatile and can handle all welding positions. I used it extensively while fabricating the topside modules of an offshore oil rig.

General Fabrication

Whether you're working on machinery parts, ironwork, or structural frames, 6010 can tackle both roots and fill passes in general fabrication. It's a shop staple, especially for small job shops specializing in custom metalwork.

6011 Welding Rod Settings


For most applications, run a voltage between 22 and 27 volts when using 1/8" 6010 rods. Thinner rods may call for 20-24 volts, while heavier rods can handle 24-29 volts. Too low voltage gives insufficient penetration and poor bead shape. Too high voltage increases spatter and chances of burn-through. Gauge thickness and find the optimum voltage for full penetration without excess heat.


With 6010, a good starting point is around 40-60 amps per 1/8" of rod diameter. However, consider the job - thicker metals need more amperage, as do vertical/overhead welds. Watch your arc - too little amperage causes stubbing, while too much creates undercut. Adjust until you achieve a steady, forceful arc and proper bead reinforcements.

Vertical Uphill Welding

For vertical climbs, keep your arc length tight at 1/8" or less and maintain a consistent travel speed. Angle the rod 15-20° uphill and focus heat on the upper weld edge. Keep voltage on the lower end and use a whip & pause technique for proper fusion. Go slowly to prevent slag runs.

Arc Length

Most welds can be done at an arc length around 1/8" to 3/16". Get the rod too far away, and the weld will be cold. Too close, and flux burns off prematurely. Listen for the crisp, cracking sound of a dialed-in 6010 rod. The slag should freeze quickly and neatly along the weld seam.

Travel Speed

Travel speed impacts heat input and weld penetration. For thin materials under 1/4", go slower at around 5-8 inches per minute. For thicker metals over 1/4", increase travel speed to 8-12 inches per minute. If it goes too fast, you'll lack fusion and get a poor tie-in between beads. Too slow, and you risk burning through. Listen to the rod and find the sweet spot.

Comparison: 6010 vs 6011 Welding Rod

When it comes to 6010 vs 6011 welding rods, the differences come down to usability and end results. Both feature a similar fast-freeze, penetrating type of flux coating to handle rusty and dirty metals. However, the 6011 creates a more visible slag, while the 6010 has a smoother finish.

In terms of usability, the 6011 has a soft arc with minimal spatter, making it novice-friendly. You can strike up an arc easily with a light touch. The 6010 has a more forceful arc, requiring a firmer whip motion to avoid sticking. So beginners often find 6011 rods more forgiving and easy to learn.

For structural work and pipe welding, the 6010 excels on root passes thanks to its deep penetration into the joint. You can easily achieve the full penetration needed for strong welds. Meanwhile, the 6011 is better suited for fill passes with its wider bead profile. It's also a bit tougher for vertical-up welding.

When it comes to finished appearance, the fast-freezing flux of the 6010 provides an exceptionally smooth bead with little cleanup needed. The 6011 tends to leave behind a more visibly ridged slag deposit, requiring extra brushing or chipping between passes. The buttery arc and newbie-friendly behavior make 6011 a great choice to learn with. But for critical root welds and smooth finished welds, reach for the 6010 with its tremendous penetrating action and smooth operator nature.

Comparison: 6010 vs 7018 Welding Rod

The 6010 and 7018 are two of the most common welding rods, but they have key differences in their intended uses. The 6010 is built for penetration on dirty or rusty steel, while the 7018 offers greater versatility and strength on clean metals.

The 6010 has a thick flux coating and fast-freeze slag system designed to withstand contaminated metals and prevent porosity. It offers deep penetration capabilities thanks to its higher current capacity and forceful arc. You can use it for root passes in pipe welding and fabrication.

Meanwhile, the 7018 operates at lower amperages with a lighter arc force. It requires a clean surface and higher operator skills to control the molten puddle. The 7018 offers all-position welding capabilities with minimal spatter. It excels at filling passes with its wider bead profile, depositing more weld metal.

When it comes to mechanical properties, the 7018 is hard to beat. Its higher alloy content increases strength, flexibility, and impact resistance. The fast-freezing flux of 6010 allows for good bead control but results in a brittle deposit prone to cracking from hydrogen.

For structural applications, the 7018 is a top choice thanks to its higher strength and crack resistance. It also offers better shear strength because of its wider bead width. The 6010 is limited to root passes and select fill passes for non-critical welds. If you're welding dirty metal or need deep penetrating power, a 6010 welding rod is ideal. But for stronger, more versatile welds on clean steel with good ductility, the 7018 is hard to top.


Over my 15 years as a welder and fabricator, I've used miles of 6010 rods. While not the prettiest or strongest, 6010 earns its place on every job site and shop floor. Its fast-freeze slag gives good bead control for root and fill passes in all positions. The deep arc penetration handles less-than-ideal metals and joints.

Sure, it takes practice to run 6010 smoothly and prevent sticking. But once mastered, you'll find yourself turning to this versatile, forgiving rod for repairs, production welds, and everything in between. Like a tough but friendly old dog, 6010 rods stick to the tasks and keep making good welds job after job.