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WilliamRichards 1st February 2013 05:36 PM

I want to teach my son how to solder
I have some old solder which contains lead; I would prefer not to use this with my son, I am consider using kester lead free solder however I am not sure if it will work with my old 15 watt solder iron. I have heard lead free solder needs higher temperature to melt. Does anyone know if I need a hotter solder iron or will I be fine with my 15 watt solder iron

What other soldering accessories would you recommend, would a flux pen be useful.

Also regarding removing solder, is a de-solder pump better than a de-solder braid.

bear 1st February 2013 06:26 PM

Nothing will happen to the lead, it doesn't vaporize at soldering temperatures.

60/40 is not eutectic, 63/27 is, a better choice.

Also you can buy a nice inexpensive variable temperature iron (asian import) from a variety of sources, including Mouser and other online vendors. You want an iron with sufficient temperature, proper temperature and a good tip. Buy extra tips.

Flux pen is not required.

The 15watt iron is likely not a good choice.

I prefer desoldering pump, others love braid. Braid never worked well for me personally.

spwalek 1st February 2013 06:32 PM

I prefer a desoldering pump. Not the skinny one one from Radio Shack, one like this (OK Industries DP-100 | Desoldering Pumps).

I don't like lead free solder, it's hard to work with and the higher temp may be a factor with the 15w iron. As long as you don't ingest the solder I don't think it's a serious issue, kind of like the lead/tin solder joints on copper plumbing. The amount is so small as to be negligible.

Enzo 1st February 2013 08:24 PM

I hate lead free solder. I have to fix it too often. Fortunately I can still use lead solder in the USA. The main concern over lead in electronics is that it might leach out into the ground water if it is placed in a landfill. The EU requires it, so now everyone has to use it in manufacture.

The fumes and vapors you see/smell when soldering is not lead, and as bear said, it is not harmfull. Speaking only as one example, I have been soldering for close to 60 years now, and have so far not had any accumulation in my system. MY doctor told me as long as I kept it out of my mouth I;d be OK. So I don't eat solder.

Lead free solder doesn;t melt as well, or reheat as well, is more brittle and likely to crack, it grows "tin whiskers", and doesn't wet to surfaces as well. I suspect it does not respect its elders nor clean its room either.

I do not like braid, and prefer a hand pump (or my desoldering station). I like the metal pumps over the plastic ones, myself.

Oh, and I find the squeezie bulbs about useless.

mor2bz 1st February 2013 08:40 PM

I thought that lead was now found to be harmful in ANY quantity, and that would
include lead absorbed through the skin by contact.

still not a problem, just don't touch it.

bear 1st February 2013 09:44 PM

Sure, so don't drink any water in a city... most cities still have lead pipes in the water system. Copper pipes were all sweated with lead solder... etc.

Soldering won't do squat to you.

Other things like solvents and other chemicals are much much more likely to cause some sort of long term harm. Including stuff they routinely add into "food". My opinions do not represent the staff or management.

tomchr 1st February 2013 09:48 PM

+1 on the OK Industries DP-100 (or its ESD-safe equivalent) desoldering pump. Those things rock.

For learning how to solder. Take bare PCB material and have your son drill 0.8 mm holes in it at regular intervals. Scrub it thoroughly to clean off burrs and oxide. Then run solid core wire through and solder. Once he can make a nice volcano shaped solder joint, move on to real circuits.


Enzo 1st February 2013 11:16 PM

That is the thing, your skin isn't absorbing lead through the skin. If you ingest lead, your digestive system will chemeically absorb it, but that is not skin. That is why they don;t want it in the groundwater, because there it WILL get into your system when you drink it.

I'm with bear, I am much more afraid of the solvents I use, the adhesive chemicals, lubricants and silicones I get al over my fingers, than I am about lead from solder.

A couple thoughts. There are many inexpensive electronic kits, anywhere from the very basic to the more involved. A couple simple kits make good practice for soldering. If you ruin it, you are not out much, and you do need to make good connections for it to work, so it is not just busy-work practice. And you wind up with some little gadget.

Next, it is not hard to find discarded electronics. Look in the trash, someone will be tossing an old VCR or cassette deck or something. Take it apart - that alone is good practice - and remove the circuit boards, use them for practice. Now you have something with lots of parts on it. You can unsolder the parts, resolder the parts. Move the parts around. All good practice, and ther is no danger of spoiling anything of value.

tinitus 1st February 2013 11:37 PM

I have my solder tin roll in a small plastic bag, and it stays in there

and I always wash my hands immediately after soldering

btw, I might have had minor small local infections in a few of my fingers, from handling old print boards scrap, trying to collect components
scrap is nasty stuff, not recommended

bear 2nd February 2013 12:23 AM

local infections? long term? seek treatment!! serious.

simple small cuts, apply antibiotic ointment if needed.

i've collected scrap boards for years, gotten hundreds of $$ worth of "free" parts, I think it is a great way to get a good "junk box".

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