Stick Welding SMAW welding is a process which uses a consumable electrode which is covered with a flux. The welding machine is hooked up to a power source, which creates either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC) to form an arc between the electrode and the metal. As this arc forms, both the electrode and the metal melt, forming a molten puddle known as the weld pool. At the same time, the heat from the arc burns off the flux, which forms a layer of gas to protect the weld from certain atmospheric gasses which can affect the weld’s quality. This negates the need for a separate tank of shielding gas – and without it, you’d end up with weak, brittle welds. As the weld pool cools, it solidifies to form a joint. This process also forms a layer of slag which has to be chipped off – which does make it less time efficient than many other types of welding – but choosing the right electrode can help to speed up the process. Typically, SMAW welding is used for heavy-duty, industrial steel and iron jobs, but it can be used to weld aluminum, and other metals as well.