Soldering Iron fumes health doubt

Thread Starter

JosXD

Joined Mar 16, 2022
63
Hi,

Mates I hope you are doing well, here I am with a doubt about soldering iron fumes, because today I replaced the buttons of a key fob.

I do my solder jobs at outdoors, I'm not a electronics engineer, I'am a software developer so I do this as a Hobby, like 6 to 10 times yearly.

So today even the wind was blowing in the begining I noticed some of the fumes was coming directly to my nose, about 7 times I put the solder wire to the iron tip those fumes came to my nose and I think I breathed them.

The solder wire has a composition of 60/40 tin/lead and its flux is modified resin, which I read it can cause asthma, and above 500°C it will release lead fumes, my soldering iron is 35W so won't reach 500°C. But the risk of asthma can be just by breathing the fumes at any temperature.

I also used a kind of paste or flux that comes in a flat pot, it doesn't says nothing about asthma, but it says It can cause several eye problems if there is eye contact.

I started soldering at 21, today I'm 28, I know some of you have decades doing this because is your daily job.

So guys what do you think, should I be prepared with a salbutamol/alburetol? or breath 7-10 times the whole fumes of the iron tip a couple times yearly is too few to harm me?

Hope your answers, :D.
 

Audioguru again

Joined Oct 21, 2019
6,610
A cheap soldering iron has no temperature control so it gets way too hot and incinerates the flux making smoke.
My Weller soldering iron has temperature control so it melts the solder and flux producing a pleasant aroma with no smoke.
Maybe cheap solder has cheap flux that smokes.
 

boostbuck

Joined Oct 5, 2017
492
It should be avoided - its always wise to observe best-practice in matters of safety, but I've been breathing that stuff in all my life and I don't THINK I've been affected.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
5,019
For lead to reach its Vapor Phase it takes a lot more than 500°F, it is 1740°C. The smoke is environmental dust and crud burning off along with rosin fumes and smoke from the flux. And most residential dust is skin detritus.
 

Thread Starter

JosXD

Joined Mar 16, 2022
63
It should be avoided - its always wise to observe best-practice in matters of safety, but I've been breathing that stuff in all my life and I don't THINK I've been affected.
Hey BoostBuck nice nickname, yes I have a small fan, but like it was taken apart during a tunderstorm, I decided to not used because it was outdoors, but when I noticed tha various smokes in arrow came into me, I brought the fan and put some rocks to held it in place.

It is just me that I think I smoked 7 whole smokes in arrow sounds a lot, could cause cancer.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
16,688
The solder wire has a composition of 60/40 tin/lead and its flux is modified resin, which I read it can cause asthma, and above 500°C it will release lead fumes, my soldering iron is 35W so won't reach 500°C. But the risk of asthma can be just by breathing the fumes at any temperature.
There is no risk of lead fumes at normal soldering temperatures. There is a small chance of breathing problems caused by flux especially if you're hypersensitive.
So guys what do you think, should I be prepared with a salbutamol/alburetol? or breath 7-10 times the whole fumes of the iron tip a couple times yearly is too few to harm me?
Just don't breathe in while you're actively soldering. That, and not putting your face in the path of the fumes should be sufficient to avoid issue.

I actually like the smell of resin and recently found that the resin, at least from fir trees, is sweet.
 

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Thread Starter

JosXD

Joined Mar 16, 2022
63
There is no risk of lead fumes at normal soldering temperatures. There is a small chance of breathing problems caused by flux especially if you're hypersensitive.
Just don't breathe in while you're actively soldering. That, and not putting your face in the path of the fumes should be sufficient to avoid issue.

I actually like the smell of resin and recently found that the resin, at least from fir trees, is sweet.
Hey dl324,

Thanks for sharing that document, It was like the fumes were following me, I think I read on another forum where a guy said he likes the smell of resin too.

But in your opinion, I soldered for about 30 minutes and took a whole breath of 7 smokes from the contact of the solder wire and the iron tip, don't you think that was a lot of resin for a day?
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
17,814
I have been soldering for a whole lot of years (70) with no problems so far. But it is a good idea to arrange the air flow to avoid breathing the fumes very much. Consider that NO smoke is good for you, although some is much worse than others. For soldering applications avoid the smoke from aluminum soldering flux, it is rather toxic. At least that is the warning from the manufacturer that they put on the tube. The smoke from ACID FLUX is also bad. That is used for plumbing and auto body work, it corrodes electronic parts.
 

Thread Starter

JosXD

Joined Mar 16, 2022
63
I have been soldering for a whole lot of years (70) with no problems so far. But it is a good idea to arrange the air flow to avoid breathing the fumes very much. Consider that NO smoke is good for you, although some is much worse than others. For soldering applications avoid the smoke from aluminum soldering flux, it is rather toxic. At least that is the warning from the manufacturer that they put on the tube. The smoke from ACID FLUX is also bad. That is used for plumbing and auto body work, it corrodes electronic parts.
Hey MisterBill2,

I think you've replied on some of my other posts, nice to see you again.

By chance, do you think you have smoked the same quantity of fumes in just 1 day like I did today?
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
17,814
Some days were much smokier than others, and soldering for an 8 hour shift, no telling. It was not the focus of my attention, when every connection had to be right the first time. Mostly I was able to be upstream of my solder smoke.
 

Thread Starter

JosXD

Joined Mar 16, 2022
63
Some days were much smokier than others, and soldering for an 8 hour shift, no telling. It was not the focus of my attention, when every connection had to be right the first time. Mostly I was able to be upstream of my solder smoke.
I understand, 8 hours soldering shift must be tired, I just were 30 mins soldering, probably I melt solder wire 30 times with the iron tip and 7 of 'em were smoked, I avoided the other with the fan.

Fortunately just took me 30 mins to do the job, if not more smoke.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
8,973
While you should try to reduce your exposure to the soldering fumes as much as practical, the level of exposure you describe is not a concern unless you have some sort of pre-existing health problem.

If you find you exhibit the symptoms of asthma after soldering, get a respirator or even an N95 mask. The resin smoke particles are quite large and it is most likely to act as an irritant to the throat and lungs if anything.

But, if you have no symptoms, given the very limited exposure you describe, I would be ore concerned about hand washing afterwards to avoid potentially ingesting lead than the smoke of the burning rosin.

I think it is worthwhile investing in a better, temperature controlled iron both to reduce the burning of the rosin and improve the soldering results.
 

Thread Starter

JosXD

Joined Mar 16, 2022
63
While you should try to reduce your exposure to the soldering fumes as much as practical, the level of exposure you describe is not a concern unless you have some sort of pre-existing health problem.

If you find you exhibit the symptoms of asthma after soldering, get a respirator or even an N95 mask. The resin smoke particles are quite large and it is most likely to act as an irritant to the throat and lungs if anything.

But, if you have no symptoms, given the very limited exposure you describe, I would be ore concerned about hand washing afterwards to avoid potentially ingesting lead than the smoke of the burning rosin.

I think it is worthwhile investing in a better, temperature controlled iron both to reduce the burning of the rosin and improve the soldering results.
Hi thanks,

I have a 8cm cpu fan to take the fumes away, but like it was taken apart by an accident I didn't try to use in first instance but after dealing with some fumes decided to use it.

There is a problem with it, you need to work too close to the fan to extract the fumes like 10cm distance which sometimes can make things dificult.

I want to buy 3 pc fans and put them in series to increase the range of extraction.

I didn't get a headache, but after use the isopropyl alcohol to clean the board. I got a bit of throat irritation and dry mouth, I think it was mostly for the alcohol rather than the fumes not sure at all.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
8,973
Hi thanks,

I have a 8cm cpu fan to take the fumes away, but like it was taken apart by an accident I didn't try to use in first instance but after dealing with some fumes decided to use it.

There is a problem with it, you need to work too close to the fan to extract the fumes like 10cm distance which sometimes can make things dificult.

I want to buy 3 pc fans and put them in series to increase the range of extraction.

I didn't get a headache, but after use the isopropyl alcohol to clean the board. I got a bit of throat irritation and dry mouth, I think it was mostly for the alcohol rather than the fumes not sure at all.
Taking reasonable precautions to limit exposure to the smoke and chemicals is a good thing but spending too much time and effort is just a waste.

Two suggestions:

I have had very good luck with this sort of inexpensive fume extractor. It makes positioning a like easier and includes activated charcoal filters which do a very good job of capturing the particulates. You can actually see the smoke go in and not come out.

1700642189497.png
I have been considering using one of these fans, designed for greenhouse use, along with the charcoal filters made to reduce odor that fit on to them. They use standard 4” hoses (like for clothes dryers) and can accept attachments intended for woodworking dust collection. The fan is speed controllable. The net result is a pretty custom, high capacity fume extractor with a fast that can be located far enough away to eliminate the problem of noise.

1700642483043.png1700642536559.png1700642652144.png1700642813548.png
 

Thread Starter

JosXD

Joined Mar 16, 2022
63
Taking reasonable precautions to limit exposure to the smoke and chemicals is a good thing but spending too much time and effort is just a waste.

Two suggestions:

I have had very good luck with this sort of inexpensive fume extractor. It makes positioning a like easier and includes activated charcoal filters which do a very good job of capturing the particulates. You can actually see the smoke go in and not come out.
Thanks for the examples friend, I think the 3 fans + the fexible hose as the picture you put in the comment will do a nice job, I have some carbon filters to put on the fans.

The adjustable angle looks cool but one fan not sure if it will extract with enough force throught the hose or yes?
 

Janis59

Joined Aug 21, 2017
1,821
The lead fumes is carcinogenic and genotoxic, colophonia fumes is carcinogenic, zinc fumes are toxic, soldering pasta fumes are acute toxic etc etc, including the ROHS soldering metal what is overtoxic because of bismuth, indium etc rare metals. BUT, its gone the near 60 years as first I took the soldering hammer in between the fingers and still alive. Thus, those toxicities are actual only if You poison yourself every day. If solder indeed 16 hr 7 days a week, MUST make a ventilation, and I recommend a good one. But if solder 5 minutes once a week, just ventilate the room after work, opening the window. Human body is brilliantly designed let the short in-excessive expositions to the poisons makes a minor harm or nothing.

RE""after use the isopropyl alcohol (..) got a bit of throat irritation and dry mouth"". ---> Means ventilation is insufficient. Good You aren't using the benzene. One my friend used it for cleaning the pcb when still was not known how carcinogenic it is. He ended with nose carcinoma grew larger as his head. Only the good was he washed at young age but ended at 99 with 1/2 years old.
 
Last edited:

Thread Starter

JosXD

Joined Mar 16, 2022
63
The lead fumes is carcinogenic and genotoxic, colophonia fumes is carcinogenic, zinc fumes are toxic, soldering pasta fumes are acute toxic etc etc, including the ROHS soldering metal what is overtoxic because of bismuth, indium etc rare metals. BUT, its gone the near 60 years as first I took the soldering hammer in between the fingers and still alive. Thus, those toxicities are actual only if You poison yourself every day. If solder indeed 16 hr 7 days a week, MUST make a ventilation, and I recommend a good one. But if solder 5 minutes once a week, just ventilate the room after work, opening the window. Human body is brilliantly designed let the short in-excessive expositions to the poisons makes a minor harm or nothing.

RE""after use the isopropyl alcohol (..) got a bit of throat irritation and dry mouth"". ---> Means ventilation is insufficient. Good You aren't using the benzene. One my friend used it for cleaning the pcb when still was not known how carcinogenic it is. He ended with nose carcinoma grew larger as his head. Only the good was he washed at young age but ended at 99 with 1/2 years old.
Thanks for your answer,

Glad to know isopropyl isn't as bad as other cleaning chemicals, and yes I used it in my room instead in outdoors, I use to solder in outdoors.

I think the people who works putting or decorating nails use a solution that smells as strong as the isopropyl alcohol.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
8,973
Thanks for your answer,

Glad to know isopropyl isn't as bad as other cleaning chemicals, and yes I used it in my room instead in outdoors, I use to solder in outdoors.

I think the people who works putting or decorating nails use a solution that smells as strong as the isopropyl alcohol.
Nail polish remover is geneurally acetone.

IPA is safe if the exposure is limited. It is not nearly the problem other volatile cleaners present.

Don’t forget that many things are now designed to be cleaned with water. But, used distilled or deionized water—tap water will leave mineral salts that can affect the operation of the device.
 
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