Breathing protection while soldering

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by vpoko, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. vpoko

    Thread Starter Member

    Jan 5, 2012
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    I've just started soldering and am concerned about health issues. I work in a well-ventilated area, about two feet from a window with an exhaust fan. Most of the smoke quickly gets sucked out. I do occasionally smell the smoke from the solder, though, and since I'm using solder with lead in it, I'm wondering what I can do minimize exposure to it. Would a surgical mask or a mask like what painters use help at all, or would those be useless for this type of thing?
     
  2. praondevou

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  3. Audioguru

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    Dec 20, 2007
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    Maybe your soldering iron is too hot?
    My soldering iron is 47 years old (it is a Weller that is still being made and sold today).
    It still works like new and has lasted so long because it controls its temperature so it is always at the correct temperature and does not burn its tip and burn (and make smoke) the rosin core in solder.
    Other cheap soldering irons get way too hot and burn the rosin which makes smoke then the rosin does not work properly.

    When I am soldering it produces a mild pleasant smell, not smoke.
    I like the smell of Ersin (English I think) solder, not Kester (American) solder.
     
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  4. MrChips

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    Oct 2, 2009
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    I always felt that if they could put marijuana into the rosin you would have a lot of happy solderers.
     
  5. mcgyvr

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    Then it would be "resin" core.. :)

    But like praondevou said the smoke/fumes do NOT contain lead (leads vaporizing point is WAY above normal solder temperatures). But the lead will be all over your work area/hands,etc.. You should always wipe all surfaces down, wash your hands, never have food in the area,etc...
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
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  6. vpoko

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    Jan 5, 2012
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    That's a very interesting point. I also have a Weller - with a temp control - but I always keep it on the maximum setting because I didn't know any better (I've only soldered twice in my life, yesterday and the day before). I'll try turning it down and see if that helps. Is my goal to use the minimum temperature that still melts the solder?
     
  7. mcgyvr

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    I set my Weller 600 deg F for leaded solder. 700 deg F for lead free.
    Fumes during soldering is perfectly normal..
     
  8. Audioguru

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    Some "adjustable temperature" soldering irons simply use a light dimmer circuit. Turn it down then when you try to solder it cools more and more and does not work. Turn it up and if you are not soldering then it gets hotter and hotter.

    My Weller soldering iron automatically senses the tip temperature. If it sits then it is 700 degrees F. When I try to solder something huge then it goes to full power automatically so that its tip stays at 700 degrees F. When I am finished soldering then the power goes down automatically to maintain the tip at 700 degrees F.
    Its tip does not burn like the tip in cheap too hot soldering irons and it lasts for years.
     
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  9. R!f@@

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    Apr 2, 2009
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    Now that's an Idea..!:D
     
  10. bountyhunter

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    Sep 7, 2009
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    Same thing with firing lead ammo: people freak out at the range and some wear filter masks but the amount of lead released in the air is negligible. But, the people who reload ammo without gloves and handle the bullets have more lead in them than a Chinese toy factory.
     
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  11. vpoko

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    Jan 5, 2012
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    Yup, that's mine. Though I found that turning it up to 3.5, instead of the 5 (max) I'd been turning it to, still works very well and seems to produce less smoke. I'm also noticing my technique is getting better, though being that I made only my third soldering attempt today I still have a loooong way to go. Practice, practice, practice.
     
  12. praondevou

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  13. Audioguru

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    Dec 20, 2007
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    The Weller article is their marketing plan to sell more soldering fumes fan/filters.

    When I solder a lot, I automatically hold my breath for a couple of seconds during each solder joint. I don't even think about it.
     
  14. praondevou

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    There are many more articles adressing the effects of breathing fumes, including university studies.
    Just wanted to share this information. Even if it doesn't contain lead it still may be a good idea to avoid constantly inhaling flux fumes. I have some minor health issues and I was wondering if they are related to year-long exposure to fumes....
     
  15. mcgyvr

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    yes.. NEVER a good idea to inhale the fumes.. As we have already stated the fumes do NOT contain lead BUT lead may be all over the work area as well as blown into the air.

    We have had OSHA come with their sniffer boxes you hang around a persons neck for an 8 hour shift and then the "filter" in it is examined for lead dust.. And we do A LOT of manual soldering.. (Hundreds and hundreds of points per operator)The results were VERY minimal amounts of lead..(well under the daily limits) BUT it was there and frequent exposure to both lead and flux fumes should be avoided as much as possible.

    Always use a fan or fume extractor to pull the fumes away from you as fast as possible. Always keep your work surface clean (daily or hourly cleaning). Never put your fingers/food in your mouth or smoke cigs,etc.. without washing your hands very well.
     
  16. Stuntman

    Active Member

    Mar 28, 2011
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    I have, on more than one occasion, gotten quite sick/nauseated after soldering for extended periods of time. I don't know if this is an allergy, coincidence, or a reaction to certain rosin's.

    Regardless, I found that a simple cheap small fan from Wal-Mart does better at clearing fumes than the Weller fume extractor at work. It does not take much air movement to drastically reduce the noticeable fumes at your solder area.

    I'd have to disagree with this one for a few reasons, most notably, lead is not readily absorbed through the skin. Same with solder. You can handle it all day, just avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or food.
     
  17. BReeves

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    Nov 24, 2012
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    I must be full of lead, been soldering stuff for about 56 years, was 12 when I was given my first Weller gun for Christmas. Have no idea how many times I've held solder in my teeth while holding the part in one hand and the iron or gun in the other. Of course this also put my nose about three inches away from the solder joint.

    Wonder what will get me first lead poisoning or cancer.


     
  18. GopherT

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    Nov 23, 2012
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    Elemental metals and alloys are much less toxic than the corresponding soluble salts. Lead (IV) oxide is the biggest problem from lead paint.

    Yes, solder in electronics and plumbing might add some lead to our bloodstreams but the part of the population that does solder were all a bit strange from the beginning (childhood) so it is difficult to tell how much it really impacts our brains over time.
     
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  19. mcgyvr

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    exactly!!!
     
  20. thatoneguy

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    Feb 19, 2009
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    True. With both soldering and reloading, ALWAYS wash your hands before eating.

    Far more lead is introduced into your system from ingestion than from inhalation. Keep lead away from things you plan to eat/drink, and you'll be fine.
     
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