The easier that flux core wire is to use, the better the finished product will be. You want a wire that will keep you in control throughout the entire welding process.
Flux Core wire is sought after for the ability to be used without shielding gas. Additionally, it works well when welding galvanized (zinc-coated) metal and dirty steel. We’ve reviewed a lot of flux core wire welders, but you can also run flux core through a standard MIG welding machine.
Which is the best flux-cored wire to buy? A lot of that will depend on the type of work you are doing. I’m going to look at wire performance and price to help you figure out the best one to buy.
Frankly, the flux welding process (FCAW)has improved so much that I think most people can skip the shielding gas, and just get one of these self-shielded wire options. A lot of our readers have picked up cheap Harbor Freight Welders and want a better wire option than what comes with those machines.
The 7 Best Flux Core Wires
Forney 42300 E71TGS .030-Diameter, 2-Pound Spool – Best All-Around Wire
Forney is an American-based brand that does a lot of its manufacturing overseas. The end result is that you get a really good set of affordably-made products.
However, if you run into any problems with your products, Forney has an entire team of customer service representatives in Colorado. They stand behind their products and are one of the favorite brands among DIYers and Hobbyists.
This E71 wire is a down-and-dirty, fast-feeding wire. It’s going to love it when you crank the speed and the amperages up and lay down a quick weld bead. What you’ll love about this wire is that it isn’t finicky, and it feeds well. Plus, the flux has a robust cleaning mechanism so you can get welds to stick on metals that haven’t been perfectly prepped.
For welding stuff in your backyard, it’s going to be difficult to find a better wire.
INETUB BA71TGS .030-Inch Flux Cored Welding Wire – Great For Low Amp Work
This Italian-based brand is starting to get some traction here in the US. I might want to run some more in-depth field tests on their wire before I move it higher, but one of my buddies is saying that INETUB is quickly becoming his favorite brand.
This stuff feeds great. Their 2-pound spool is going to fit your cheap Harbor Freight 90 amp welder. You’ll be out slinging beads on your fences with your little 110v welder, and the neighbor will be wondering how you got the entire MIG welder out there — the beads look that good.
This gives you an excellent puddle and is low spatter, making it easier for a newbie to control the puddle. It’s also great for multi-pass welding, where you need to lay down multiple beads.
At the same time, it is the perfect choice for single-pass work as well.
If you want a self-shielding wire that offers minimal spatter and that works well at low amperage, this INETUB deserves a place in your shopping cart.
Blue Demon E71TGS Spool Gasless Flux Core Welding Wire
High-Quality Weld Beads. Blue Demon is one of the top brands when it comes to consumables for welding. Their filler wire performs very consistently, and you can typically find it at a competitive price.
This is the only wire on my list that is suited for welding stainless steel. Note that this also requires your welder to be able to switch to electrode positive (DCEP) to run this wire.
The Blue Demon 308LFC comes as a thicker .035 wire. Not all machines have a wire feed that can handle this thicker material. Using a thicker wire can be handy when trying to fill in gaps.
It meets the standard AWS A5.22 for DC welding current and is going to work for stainless steel, mild steel, and galvanized steel.
This wire can be a little finicky on the feeding speed. A lot of folks are finding that it works well with a speed of 3-5, and with a higher voltage. It is a fragile wire and takes a little finessing to get it going.
Once you get it dialed, though, it lays down beautiful beads.
Hobart E71T-11 Carbon Steel Flux Core Wire
Hobart makes some of the best welders that are easy to use. Their welding wire works well in their welders and is sought after to improve the performance of many cheaper welding machines.
What I love about this wire is that it is perfect for a light of light-duty shop work. Got some steel broken? This wire feeds well and lets you fix just about anything.
There have been some complaints about spatter from this wire, but that seems to vary from user to user.
Overall, this is one of those wires that you’re going to see on the shelves of all the local stores. That should tell you something. After all, those local stores don’t want their customers to come back in and complain to them!
If you are dealing with a light-duty welder, go with the smaller .030 wire, but the thicker .035 wire is also available if you are running over 100 amps.
LINCOLN ELECTRIC CO ED031448 .030 Gasless Flux Core
Lincoln Electric might be one of the godfathers of welding brands. You will see spools of their wire on every shelf across the nation.
This welding wire is going to handle welds with thicknesses from 5/16 inches up to about 1/2 inch thick. The narrow .030 wire gets good penetration in the metal, which can let you “punch above your weight.”
The other nice feature is that it works well as a multi-pass welder. You can lay down multiple layers of welds in order to build up the thickness and get the depth you need. This can let you use a little 90 amp welder to weld up to 1/4-inch if you are in a pinch.
Welding City Gasless Welding Wire
If you are tired of all of the 2-pound spools that I keep mentioning, this 10-pound roll of E71T-GS will be a welcome price break.
You can load this into a standard MIG welder. Simply load it where the MIG wire goes. If your wire drive has the feature, you can sometimes turn the drivel roll around and use the knurled side (or buy a knurled drive knob). Knurled drive knobs grip the hollow flux core wire better and help you get a more consistent feed.
Even if you don’t have that feature, this is a solid choice.
It comes in all sizes, including the larger .045″ diameter.
This might not be the cleanest wire, but if your welding machine can handle the bigger spools, this is a good one to keep on the shelf. If your MIG welder runs our of shielding gas, you can swap our the solid wire with a roll of this Welding City wire and get the job done without a hitch.
Lincoln Electric NR-211MP Thin Metal Wire
Most of the wires on this list are some variant of the E71 wire. E71 is an extremely versatile wine that works great for most welding types.
However, for thin metals, and thin, galvanized metals, you want a wire that is going to perform well at lower amps to keep from melting through the thinner metal.
You’ll notice that this is sold in a 10-pound spool or bigger. So a lot of you with small, 120v welders (l won’t be able to use it. Originally, this wire is commonly sold for industrial applications. It loads well into CNC welders and is the industrial choice for welding sheet metal and galvanized metal.
If you need a good wire for welding thin metal, this one from Lincoln is going to be the best.
Flux-Cored Wire Buying Guide
Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) wire has a hollow core that contains flux. As you weld, this flux melts, helping to clean the welding surface and simultaneously releasing a shielding gas, making it a self-shielding flux.
There are some flux core MIG wires available that are designed to require a shielding gas, but those are designed for specific, high-speed commercial applications, and I left them off this list. Most of you will need self-shielding flux.
The beauty of FCAW wire is that you can use it in any welding positions, including upside down.
Your wire diameter is limited by what your welding can accommodate. Your drive roll and contact tip will generally be designed to handle one or two of the common wire sizes.
If you have a smaller welder with under 100 amps, you will want to choose a thinner wire. Closer to 140 amps, it makes sense to use a thicker wire.
However, the wire size also plays into the thickness of the metal you are working with. A thicker metal will generally require a larger wire and higher amperage.
The most common flux core wire diameters are: .030″, .035″ and .045″.
Most commercially available flux-core wires are of the E71 variant, which is great for mild steel and any other standard steel with relatively low carbon content.
You can find 308LFC wire, which is very similar to the popular 308 MIG wire but made for gasless work. This stuff can work on stainless steel and leaves an attractive weld bead.
Some wires have more flux in them, which makes them better suited for working on dirty metals.
This is a big one that trips up a lot of shoppers. Most small welding machines will only accept a 1 pound or 2 pound spool. While you can save money by purchasing a larger spool, you’ll want to check your welder and buy the right size.
There are no adapters that will connect a 10-pound reel to a 2-pound wire drive roll. It’s one of the most maddening mistakes you can make.
Mild Steel Flux Cored Wire Polarity
Most of your FCAW welders will be DCEN or “Direct Current Electrode Negative.” This means that the electrode is negative, and the grounding clamp is positive.
If you are trying to MIG weld, this setting will be the opposite of what you are used to using for solid wire, and you will need to switch your settings from DCEP to DCEN.
The exception is that 308 stainless wire which uses electrode positive or DCEP.