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Lead solder - health warning

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George L.

New Member
Hello everyone,

I am so sick of lead based solder... there is all the fuss of how lead is bad for your health, the smoke is bad to inhale, the rosin is really bad too...LEAD POISONING...and inhaling the solder smoke by accident has me fed up... I just can't take it anymore.

I found a lead free alternative on ebay, Kester Lead Free Solder 16oz.

Instead of lead it has Tin 97% Copper 2% Antinomy 0.8% and Silver 0.2%

I didn't know what Antinomy was...did some research and found that is is toxic similar to arsenic. WHAT???? :shock:

Does anyone have any experience with leads free solder, is it easy to us, smell good, etc?

Also, justDIY mentioned electrically conductive epoxies , this would be so much better than solder, where or when can I get my hands on some of this (it will probably be toxic :lol: )

thanks,

George L.
 

DirtyLude

Well-Known Member
I have some lead free solder, but I just can't get the stuff to work properly. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but I gave up on the stuff. I wouldn't mind using it if there just a trick I'm missing.
 

zachtheterrible

Active Member
Just turn a fan on when you solder :lol:
I haven't had the opportunity to use leadless solder, but I hear it has a higher melting point and is just all-around harder to use.

Don't quote me on this, but I think that the rosin core is the only thing you need to worry about not breathing. The lead doesn't become airborne.

As for electrically conductive epoxies, do you really want to wait for your circuit to "set up"? :lol: Each thing that you epoxy is going to take 5 times longer than just soldering it. I don't think electrically conductive epoxies are meant for what you are thinking of. Epoxy is meant for holding things together.
 

Oznog

Active Member
Solder isn't realistically the threat you describe. You can't absorb anywhere near a significant amount of lead through normal soldering. As far as I know the fumes are the rosin flux, not airborne lead compounds. This would likely be equally true with lead-free solder.

Electrically conductive epoxies are completely inappropriate for board assembly. Lots of reasons- doesn't freeze in place as you go, doesn't bond as well to metals, messy (doesn't ball up on metal), can trap air bubbles, not as good an electrical conductor, doesn't handle as high a heat, and I could list another half dozen reasons. And yes the uncured components of epoxy are quite hazardous, more so than solder.

I'd say you're greatly overestimating the problems with solder if you ask me.
 

George L.

New Member
thanks for you imput guys.

Since you are saying the rosin is the problem, not the lead, then do they have a solder that doesn't contain rosin? Also, this may be exaderating, but is inhailing solder smoke as bad as a cigarette?

so far I am getting the impression that I should stick with the classic lead based solder.

Has anyone else had any trouble with the lead free solder?

thanks,

George L.
 
I use 60/40 tin/lead solder (if I got those in the right order...I think) - I used to use lead-free (parents made me) but it just didn't work as well; I found it hard to get it to "behave."

I'm guessing inhaling the fumes is not a good thing to do....just solder in a well-ventilated area. I have an old cooling fan to draw the fumes out of my direct workspace and shoot them across the room....works reasonably well but I'd prefer a blower fan and a vent outside....

Maybe I'll set up a vent hood some day and weld in my basement too :lol:

And inhaling solder fumes is probably worse than a cigarette.

https://www.aaroncake.net/electronics/solder.htm

The afformentioned site said:
Remember that when soldering, the rosin in the solder releases fumes. These fumes are harmful to your eyes and lungs. Therefore, always work in a well ventilated area.

-Infamous
 

k7elp60

Active Member
I have been soldering will tin/lead solder for over 50 years. I know of no ill effects. It is my understanding that the lead has to be heated much to a much higher temperature than at soldering temperatures to have any ill effects.
I plan to keep using tin/lead solder as long as I can hold the soldering iron and the solder.
 

zachtheterrible

Active Member
I think the only real danger with lead solder is getting it on your hands and eating it while eating.
 

awright

Member
Lead-free solder

The primary push for lead-free solder is to reduce the amount of lead leached out of landfills into the water supply and into the environment in general. It is not primarily to protect the solderer, although I wouldn't be surprised that an argument has been made that it is necessary to protect the user.

Lead free solder has obvious advantages in plumbing, since we all drink water that has passed through soldered pipes.

For hobby scale soldering activity, a simple muffin fan near the work drawing smoke away from the solderer should improve things a lot, even though I'm sure that it wouldn't pass OSHA regulations. In larger scale soldering operations, they frequently use a fume extractor consisting of a flexible tube allowing the fumes to be picked up very close to the work and a vacuum cleaner turbine motor that draws air from the work area through a filter that cleans the air before exhausting it.

I've been soldering for 60 years with no precautions and, um, unh, what was I saying, again?

awright
 

Dr.EM

New Member
Since I changed to a decent iron, i've used the lead free solder its reccomended to be used with. I've always found it easy to use, even in less than ideal situations (boards at angles in confined bits of equiptment). There are visible fumes occasionally though which are quite near to me (I rarely solder anyhow, mostly just breadboard things), I have a computer fan that might be able to help a little bit.
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
I was part of a study by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) a few years ago into the health hazards from soldering. They had already tested workers on production lines, and wanted tests on serice engineers to see if there was any hazard there.

While they were testing me, I asked what the concerns were!.

There are NO health hazards from the lead in the solder, but there were slight concerns about the possibility of asthma being caused by the fumes from the flux. The HSE admitted though, they had not been able to find a single asthma sufferer working as a TV service engineer!.

The results of the test were that fume extraction was required in a production environment to prevent the slight possibility of asthma being caused - but that it was NOT a problem in a service environment.

I probably solder more than most people on this list?, certainly I solder 6 days a week sometime during the day - and I consider there's no problem whatsoever!

So I would suggest you carry on soldering as normal!.
 

stevez

Active Member
I recall discussing this with a freind who is an Industrial Hygenist. Her comments are generally consistent with what's already been presented - the solder doesn't get hot enough to become part of the "fumes" in a normal soldering operation. She did express some concern over absorption thru the skin but that sounded like more of a standard warning rather than something specific to solder-I'll ask next time I see her. She also noted that the fumes aren't necessarily "safe" for one to breathe so her normal practice is to recommend exhausting of fumes.
 

JimB

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Have a look at the HSE website www.hse.gov.uk
Somewhere on there is a booklet called "Solder fume and you", which discusses the SMALL risk of asthma and other respiratory illnesses from the fumes from the rosin flux in solders.

Use your lead/tin solder and be happy, I will.

It is all part of the safety and environmental hysteria which has taken over western industry in recent years.

JimB
 

George L.

New Member
Hello,

I guess I am exaggerating the toxicity of lead based solder.

I don't want to jump to conclusions here but I developed a light case of asthma after a peak time in my soldering career. My doctor claims I have asthma :roll: , I have been given everything to stop my 6 month + constant coughing, inhalers, allergy medications, pills, humidifier, dehumidifiers, etc. Nothing helps. I have never smoked or done anything like that. :D

Next time I go for a visit I will mention solder. I am not saying is is the solder (unlikely) but there is a chance.

(cough, cough) :(

There is not solder with a substitute for rosin is there?

thanks for all the help.

George L.
 
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