Skip to Content

Stick Welding Rod Numbers: What Do They All Mean?

As a welder, one may not give much thought to the numbers on the welding rod while welding. However, aside from your skills and practical knowledge, the right tools can make a huge difference in the quality of the weld you lay. And of primary importance is the welding electrode you use.

The welding industry has adopted the American Welding Society’s (AWS) classification of electrodes (welding sticks). The AWS uses an alpha-numeric code for electrode identification.

In this guide, I will talk about these welding rod numbers and their meanings. We will also cover other FAQs like:

  • How to identify the welding rod number on your rods? What does each number represent?
  • Tips for choosing the right welding rod for a project
  • And more…

Let us get straight to it…

Picture of welding rod.

Stick Welding Rod Numbers

The AWS (American Welding Society) classification system uses a series of letters and numbers in a code that gives essential information about the filler. 

There are thousands of stick electrodes, but the most common ones are the carbon steel core electrodes that conform to the AWS A5.1 specifications, viz., E6010, E6011, E6012, E6013, and E6014.

You also have E7018 and E7024 electrodes that are popular. This 4-5 digit alpha-numeric code is located at the base of the electrode where the flux stops.

Why do welding rods have numbers?

The numbers on welding rods indicate the type of metal in the rod and the welding rod’s recommended use. For example, a welding rod with the number 6010 on it is made of carbon steel and typically used to weld mild steel.

In contrast, a welding rod with the number 7018 is made of low-carbon steel and is used for welding thicker materials. By matching the welding rod to the material being welded, welders can ensure that they are using the correct rod for the job.

More specifically, the electrodes (welding rods) are also classified based on the position they will weld satisfactorily. Thus, you have two main categories: electrodes that will weld satisfactorily in all positions and the ones that will only satisfactorily weld in flat and horizontal positions.

Accordingly, carbon-steel core type electrodes with E6010, E6011, and E6012 weld satisfactorily in all positions, while the E-7024 falls in the flat and horizontal categories. 

Let us now take a look at what the numbers mean.

  • E – The letter E stands for the electrode. 
  • The first two digits following the E represent the tensile strength in psi (thousands of pounds per square inch). So, 60 means that the minimum tensile strength of the deposited metal will be 60,000 psi. Similarly, 70 in E7018/E7024 means that the electrode will produce a weld bead with a minimum tensile strength of 70,000 psi.
  • The third digit – if the third digit is ‘1’, the electrode can weld satisfactorily in all positions. If it is ‘2’, it cannot weld satisfactorily in all positions but only flat and horizontal.
  • The fourth digit – is either ‘0’, ‘1’, ‘2’, or ‘4’. This indicates the type of flux coating and welding current to use (AC or DC, or both). 
  • You need to read the fourth digit with the third one because it can help indicate the type of flux coating and whether you can use more than one type of welding current. This will help you get a clue about the resulting bead face, the pattern of penetration, and variations in the surface.

Tips for Choosing the Right Welding Rods for Your Project

When it comes to welding, choosing the right welding rod is essential for a successful outcome. There are many factors to consider, such as the type of metal you’re working with and the thickness of the material. Below are some tips to help you choose the right welding rods for your project:

  1. As a rule of thumb, never select an electrode having a diameter larger than the thickness of the metal you’re welding. Some experienced welders prefer larger electrodes since they help increase the speed; however, beginners should stick to thinner electrodes only. 
  2. Consider the position and the type of joint when trying to determine the size of the electrode. For example, in a thick metal section with a narrow vee, you can run the first weld with a small diameter electrode. This can ensure full penetration at the root. You can then make the successive passes with electrodes having a larger diameter.
  3. The largest diameter electrode is 3/16 inches for vertical and overhead welding, irrespective of the plate thickness.
  4. Larger electrodes make it challenging to control the deposited material. So, for the sake of economy, use the largest electrode that is practical for the task at hand.
  5. It takes twice the time to deposit an equal quantity of weld metal from 3/16th electrodes of the same type as it does from 1/4th inch electrodes.
  6. The benefit of using larger electrodes is that it allows the use of higher currents and also needs fewer electrode-change stops.
  7. Electrodes are also classified as fast fill, fill freeze, and fast freeze. 
  8. Fast Freeze electrodes  (also called reverse polarity electrodes) produce fast freezing deposits and a deep-penetrating arc. They have a slag and make flat beads. They are suitable for all-position welding and also for repairs and fabrication work.
  9. Fill-freeze electrodes, also called straight polarity electrodes, have a moderate deposit rate between the fast-fill and fast freeze electrodes. They are general-purpose electrodes that are used extensively in repairs. While you can use them in all positions, most welders still prefer fast freeze electrodes for vertical and overhead welding.
  10. Fast-fill electrodes are heavy-coated iron powder electrodes having a fast deposit rate, heavy slag, and smooth weld deposits. They are the ideal choice for flat welding.
  11. Electrodes with chromium and nickel are best suited for welding stainless steel. This is because of the low thermal conductivity of stainless steel that causes electrode overheating and improper arc action, especially at high currents.
  12. Choose special-purpose electrodes for welding copper and copper alloys, cast iron, manganese, cast iron, nickel alloys, and nickel manganese steel. Here, the basic rule in selecting an electrode is to pick one similar in composition to the base metal.
Welding Hazards

Best and Easiest Welding Rod for Beginners to Use

Welding can be done with various tools and materials, but one of the most critical aspects of welding is choosing the right welding rod. Welding rods are made from different materials, and each type of welding rod has its own unique set of properties.

Some people claim the best, and easiest welding rod for beginners to use is the E6010 welding rod. This welding rod is easy to use because it has a small diameter, making it easy to control. It also produces a strong weld that is resistant to rust and corrosion.

I know some welders that swear by the E6013 welding rod. This type of welding rod is made from low carbon steel, and it is coated with a thin layer of flux. The flux helps protect the weld from contamination, and it also makes the E6013 welding rod a top choice for beginner welders.

Still, others like the E6011 and E7018. The following table shows the pros and cons of different welding rods.

E6010Easy to use, very low spatteringNone
E6011Easy to useSpatters a lot
E6013Easy to use, very low spatteringProduces average bead
E7018Produces beautiful beads. Recommended for making first practice bead on steelHarder to use
Forney 31610 E6010 Welding Rod, 1/8-Inch, 10-Pound


As can be seen from the table above, the E6010 is an excellent all-purpose, deep penetrating welding rod. You can use it with 220-440V DC welders. It is similar to the AC/DC E6011 rod but produces a much smoother weld without a spatter.

It will even work on dirty, rusty pipes. Do not use the E6010 with an AC welding machine. Set the machine to DC, positive or reverse polarity. This rod comes in ⅛” diameter and larger sizes.

Forney E6010 1/8th inch 10-lb Rod

The Forney E6010 1/8th inch 10-lb rod is a bestseller for several reasons.


  • All-position arc
  • Made in the USA
  • Deep penetration on oily, dirty, rusty surfaces – requires minimum surface prep.
  • Suitable for vertical and overhead jobs with slight slag
  • Start easily
  • Create a smooth bead with low porosity and a good profile


  • Flux burns too fast
US Forge Welding Electrode E6011 3/32-Inch by 14-Inch 5-Pound Box #51123

E6011 (Dirty Welding Rod)

Beginners can also use the E6011 all-purpose arc welding rod for welding stainless steel with a 220V AC buzz box arc welder in all positions. It is especially recommended when the work is oily or dirty and when you do not have time to make the job pretty. For this reason, it is known as the ‘dirty welding rod.’

Its downside is that it produces a considerable amount of spatter – which are small globules of molten metal that stick to the base metal. It is best suited for making repairs on farm equipment.

US Forge Welding Electrode E6011 

This is a best-seller in the E6011 all-position rods. US Forge E6011 has excellent operating characteristics in all positions. 

You can use it with AC or DC polarity. It is ideal for beginners.


  • Easy to start
  • Deep penetration
  • No loss of arc mid-way
  • Great for beginners


  • They become hard to strike if they become moist. Store them in a dry, low-humidity, non-ventilated space.

What Is a 6013 Welding Rod Used For?

The E6013 is an excellent all-purpose welding rod useful for farm and home workshops. You can use it with 220V AC buzz box welders – especially when you want easy operation and outstanding weld appearance. You can use the E6013 in all positions. Some surface preparation is necessary, though. You can use this 60,000 psi tensile strength rod for projects such as building trailers. It has no spatter.

I recommend the Forney 30301 E6013 rod.

Forney 30301 E6013 Welding Rod, 3/32-Inch, 1-Pound

Forney 30301 E6013 rod

Forney’s all-purpose E6013 rod is easy to use. It is a general-purpose rod with shallow penetration in poor fit-up conditions. It yields smooth, flat beads in AC/DC.


  • Great for beginners – easy to operate
  • Smooth flat beads
  • Medium to heavy slag is easily removed
  • Medium to shallow penetration
  • Excellent on all types of mild steel fabrications


  • It might not be suitable for welding huge pieces.

What Is a 7018 Welding Rod Used For?

This is a high-quality rod that is a little trickier to use except in flat positions. It makes really nice welds. You need to keep the rod dry by placing it in a sealed can and heating it to 200 F for 8 hours just before using it.

Here is a great product:

Hobart 770479 7018 Stick, 1/8-10lbs

Hobart 770479 7018 Stick

Hobart 7018 stick welding rod is an all-position rod for low, medium, and high carbon steels. It runs on AC or DCEP/reverse polarity but isn’t recommended for low voltage AC.


  • Great price
  • Start quickly


  • Flux tends to crack easily.

What Can You Weld With Brazing Rods?

The process of brazing is often better than welding since the joint formed is water-tight, non-porous, and offers high corrosion resistance.

Brazing rods are used for welding most ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The process is adaptable to steel, cast-iron, corrosion-resisting steel, brass, bronze, and aluminum. You can use brazing rods to repair lawn equipment, sheet metal, tanks, etc. Standard copper alloy brazing rods are used for iron, cast iron, steel, brass, and bronze with borax or borax compounds for flux. 

Special silver copper rods with phosphoric acid for flux are recommended for corrosion-resisting steel. Aluminum alloy rods with fluxes are recommended for aluminum.

US Forge Welding Gas Welding Rods Flux Coated Low Fuming Bronze Brazing Rod 1/8-Inch by 18-Inch .8-Pound #02232

US Forge Welding Gas Welding Rods Flux Coated Low Fuming Bronze Brazing Rod


  • Easy to use
  • Value for money
  • Welds thin metals without overheating


  • Flux coating falls off 

FAQs – Stick Welding Rod Numbers: What Do They All Mean?

Where is the identification number located on a welding rod?

The 4-5 digit alpha-numeric code is located at the base of the electrode where the flux stops.

What does the number 7018 on the welding rod mean?

The first two numbers, ‘70’, indicate a very strong weld because of the pressure of 70,000 psi of the weld deposit. The 1 indicates that it can be used in any position, while the last two digits – 18 – indicate use with DC current and low-hydrogen.

What is the difference between 6013 and 7018?

The 7018 is used for general purpose carbon steel welding. It has a tensile strength of 70,000 psi. The 6013 is used where the weld appearance is important, like automobile bodywork, storage tanks, etc. The 6013 has a tensile strength of 60,000 psi. In layman’s terms, a 7018 will have more coating than the 6013 rods.

Key Takeaways: Stick Welding Rod Numbers: What Do They All Mean?

The welding industry has adopted the American Welding Society’s (AWS) classification of electrodes. The AWS uses alpha-numeric codes for electrode identification.

The ‘E’ stands for arc welding electrode. The first two or three digits after the ‘E’ indicate the tensile strength or the resistance of the material to forces pulling it apart. This is denoted in psi or pounds per square inch.

The third or fourth digit indicates the position for welding. 1 is for all positions, 2 is for flat and horizontal positions, and 3 is for flat positions only. The fourth or fifth digit indicates the type of current – AC/DC, straight or reversed polarity.

I hope this brief guide helps you understand the stick welding rod numbering system and choose one that best suits your needs.

More Welding Gear Reviews