This wire has a serious attitude problem against solder

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Lestraveled, Feb 3, 2016.

  1. Lestraveled

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
    I have a problem that I am getting no where with. I bought a 300 ft roll of super flexible 12 ga. wire. The strands looks like they are copper plated over some metal.

    All of the attempts at soldering happens the same way; the wire heats up, the flux begins to boil, the wire starts taking solder, solder flows well for 3 to 5 seconds and then stops flowing. After that point the solder beads on top of the wire and falls off. I have tried four different kinds of flux and three kinds of solder.

    Here is some pictures

    Unsoldered wire

    Rosin flux with 60/40 solder


    Stay-Sliv flux with 60/40

    Electronic silver solder , flux that came with it.


    In all of the above attempts, the wire took the solder for a few seconds and then like a switch, stopped taking solder.

    I tried acid core solder but that was a disaster.

    The only way I can use this wire is to crimp it into a lug.

    Has anyone experienced this behavior and have any suggestions??
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2016
  2. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    I have found copper plated aluminum wire in a Kenmore clothes washer motor.
  3. Lestraveled

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
    I suspect that the interior metal is aluminum.
  4. SLK001

    Senior Member

    Nov 29, 2011
    A crimp is a superior connection to solder anyway.
  5. Lestraveled

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
    Not when you have to interface to a PCB. I build high current, smart battery chargers. A 20 amp terminal PCB connection is not cheap, nor reliable.
  6. hp1729

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2015
    Are you obligated to use that wire?
  7. Sonoran Desert Tortoise


    Oct 30, 2014
    The very fine strands are not conducting heat from strand to strand. Use a piece of 26 to 30 gauge wire as a twist tie to tightly bundle the strands. Then heat well before adding solder at the twist tie. Solder should flow up to the insulation if it is tight. No flux should be needed if you are heating to a high enough temp. Cut off the end where you had the twist tie and your tip is tinned.
  8. Hypatia's Protege

    Distinguished Member

    Mar 1, 2015
    Seems the solder is dissolving the plating and, in effect, 'washing it off' the substrate --- Is moderation of solder volume and temperature an option?

    Best regards
  9. tindel

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 16, 2012
    Seems too thin to support a copper-clad wiring - all the copper-clad I've seen has been solid wire. The bare wire doesn't look the right color to be pure copper... but color on monitors and cameras can be funny. Are you sure it's all copper. Seems that there is a chemical test if I remember my highschool chemistry properly. A quick google search didn't turn up much though. A quick magnet test might tell you if it's pure copper or not.

    Have you used your iron on something else recently? Is your iron properly tinned and clean? Have you used your 60/40 successfully in other applications?
  10. Lestraveled

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
    I will try a lower temperature and quicker approach.

    I will try a few things to determine the actual composition of the wire. I will dip the wire in some a weak sodium persulfate solution to remove the copper (if it is copper). Then I will try some ferric chloride. Aluminum reacts violently to ferric chloride.

    My soldering station and 60/40 solder is in good health and has been used successfully on recent soldering jobs.

    I bought a 300 ft roll of it. It wasn't cheap. It has great flexibility, so I want to make it work.

    Thank you all for your suggestions and inspiration. I'll post the results in a few hours.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2016
  11. AnalogKid

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 1, 2013
    Been doing it since the 70's. Press-fit 10-pin power bug, a fat split-ring lock washer (no star washers), and a torque limited screw driver. It might take up more pcb area than a hole with a wire in it, but it works very well. We also pump 75 A per connection point into a backplane using a machined power bolt with an M4 screw surrounded by a ring of vias. A lot of our stuff is MIL-rugged for various vibration environments, where direct soldering of a wire to a pc board is a big no-no.

  12. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2014
    Could be copper plated steel wire,did you try using a magnet to test it out?
  13. joeyd999

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 6, 2011
    On a goof, try 'rinsing' the wire with alcohol or even an aggressive solvent (paint thinner?) prior to soldering. Methinks there is something coating each strand. Do you have a link to the wire specs?
    Roderick Young likes this.
  14. cmartinez

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 17, 2007
    If the core material is either aluminum or steel, then there is now way you'll be able to solder it using conventional methods... I'm gonna check and see if there are alternatives.
  15. Lestraveled

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
    In the application I bought this wire for, one connection is very tight. I may have to try something like what you suggest if plan A fails.

    Will do. News at 11.

    Good idea, I'll try it.

    I tried to find the wire specs but no joy.
  16. gerty

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 30, 2007
    I bought some 2 conductor, clear jacket zip wire once. It had the usual copper looking and tinned looking conductors. Both were aluminum, couldn't even solder to the copper colored one, don't know what the copper coloring was on the jacket. Went back to the place that I ordered the wire from, and nowhere does it use the word copper in the description.. Lesson learned.. Sounds like you may have some of the same.
  17. Kermit2

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 5, 2010
    That fine of an aluminum wire would never be used in a flexible cable if made by a reputable company. Aluminum does not "flex" like steel would. It has a fatigue limit and repeated flexing weakens it. Flex point would eventually break all the inside strands of aluminum. To over come this a larger than needed gage wire would be required.

    Some strong lye would reveal aluminum. Same type of reaction as zinc and hydrochloric acid. Aluminum oxide and lots and lots of hydrogen gas.
  18. KJ6EAD

    Senior Member

    Apr 30, 2011
    I thought it may be litz wire too.
  19. joeyd999

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 6, 2011
    If you hit the wire with a propane torch, does it smoke?
  20. Dr.killjoy

    Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
    Could you use a non insulated crimp terminal and crimp the wire to the terminal and solder the other end to the pcb??? I was referring to the butt splice connector ..