Where to solder, concerns about fumes

Thread Starter

-live wire-

Joined Dec 22, 2017
912
When making things, you very often need to solder. So I got a soldering station and some RoHS solder. But I have not really been able to solder due to poor ventilation in my house. I want to avoid inhaling harmful fumes. So is going outside and using a regular fan enough? Would being too close still be a concern if they are being blown away? If the visible fumes are being blow away, are all of the harmful things too? Do they tend to stay around for a long time? I plan to solder almost daily, so even if it only has a slight adverse effect, damage could possibly build up over time. I want to make sure I am taking all the proper precautions. And is a fume extractor good enough if you are inside, or do you still need to open a window, etc? Is it doing its job if you see all the fumes going to it? I will probably get one in the near future, but the cost of decent ones can be prohibitive.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
12,507
Personally, I don't give soldering fumes a second thought. Fumes will be byproducts of the flux. Don't breathe in while soldering is the only precaution I take.

In most states in the US you should be able to use leaded solder legally. It's easier to work with. The risks of lead poisoning are minimal. Just keep it out of your mouth, wash your hands after soldering, and manage any solder dust from desoldering.
 

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,566
I think you are WAYYYYYY overestimating the danger from soldering, to the point of irrational hysteria.

I've been soldering on a near-daily basis for over half a century and have never taken ANY precautions against solder fumes. None. Zero. Zip. And my health has been just fine and dandy.

If you're really, REALLY paranoid about solder fumes, get a small fan to suck the fumes away from the immediate work area so you don't breathe them directly. Open a window if it'll make you feel any better.
 

Thread Starter

-live wire-

Joined Dec 22, 2017
912
I have heard from certain sources that inhaling relatively small amounts on a continuous basis could be detrimental to your health. I also just wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything I was completely unaware of, especially with RoHS solder often using heavier fluxes. The reason I use RoHS is I have pets and a family. Even if that were not the case, I would not want the possibility of significant lead exposure or to increase the lead in the environment.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
12,507
I have heard from certain sources that inhaling relatively small amounts on a continuous basis could be detrimental to your health.
Some people are hypersensitive to flux fumes, but most people aren't. Just don't breathe in the fumes and don't put your face over the soldering iron so you don't have fumes in your face.
The reason I use RoHS is I have pets and a family.
The risk is minimal. If you have any brass plumbing fixtures, you'll probably get more lead exposure from them than you would from solder. Anything soldered would likely be contained in an enclosure or covered with insulating tape. Lead isn't going to leach on to other things without direct contact with a liquid. Even then the risk would be low because the lead is in solid form, so only liquids that can dissolve lead would be a cause for any concern.
Even if that were not the case, I would not want the possibility of significant lead exposure or to increase the lead in the environment.
It's a nice thought, but you won't make much difference one way or the other. Unless you try to pollute/poison intentionally...
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
5,712
I've been soldering since I was seven years old. And nothing bad has happened to me. And I've been soldering since I was seven years old. And nothing bad has happened to me.

OK, enough foolishness. Really, I have been soldering for a long time. Not daily, but in some industries where daily activities involve soldering, either at a solder station or soldering machinery like a wave solder machine. And yes, I've not suffered any ill effects from any of it. That's not to say go ahead and be careless - no. It's wise to think of the possible consequences. However, RoHS stands for "Removal of Hazardous Substances". In particular, lead. So if you're using a "No-Lead" solder then that qualifies as RoHS. Being that non-leaded solder is more difficult to work with the fluxes have had to become a bit more aggressive. Organic fluxes, resin fluxes, all produce some fumes. But not in high quantities. And whatever you might inhale, your body can remove them. So long term exposure should not be a concern. Just don't have the solder smoke flowing up into your face. To avoid that you only need a small fan to influence the direction of air movement so that the fumes go a different direction.

For some reason I can't explain, the smoke ALWAYS goes in my face. Hence, I have a small fan nearby, blowing AWAY from my workpiece and away from me. Don't blow the fan directly on your workpiece as it will cool the iron and keep the solder from flowing well. Your question about soldering outside - - - very hard to do because the wind keeps stripping away the heat. When the winds are calm (zero) you're OK. But temperature and humidity will affect your workpiece adversely. Indoors is your best hope for good solder work. Even though your indoors environment is not climate controlled, it's relatively inert for the process. High humidity causes soldering issues, low humidity causes static issues. So your home work station should have a static mat properly grounded (earthed as some will say) and use a good ESD wrist strap connected to your workbench.

As for health concerns - just don't eat the solder or flux. You'll be fine. ME? I've been soldering since I was seven years old. And nothing bad has happened to me.
 

dendad

Joined Feb 20, 2016
3,724
I too have been soldering for over 50 years. And have spent probably 20 of those at some times in production soldering for days on end.
I had no fume extraction and thought it was ok.
Now I have lung damage. It may not be from that but who is to say? At the local hospital, when I told them I have never been a smoker, I don't think they believed me.
Solder smoke may not cause damage in most people but if you can, I would advise fume extraction. It can't hurt, and just may help.
This is what I have come up with, but really too late for me. It is just a "maybe help not to aggravate it" sort of thing.
https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1589533
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
5,712
I eat junk food, but I'm sure it has nothing to do with my weight issues.

Honestly, there's no harm in taking precautions. Unless you take them to extremes. Then your quality of life can be made to suffer. A simple fan to blow smoke away is probably all you'll ever need. As for what may accumulate on walls and furniture, um - don't lick them.
 

Thread Starter

-live wire-

Joined Dec 22, 2017
912
How old are you......and are you done breeding?
That’s a normal way to put it. I do not really want to share too much personal info here. I put a fake age and stuff for my account, so don’t bother looking there. :eek: I know. But if lead starts affecting my ability to have children (or seriously endangers potential children), then I think that would mean I’ve been exposed to a dangerous amount.

As has been said, you are being an irrational nervous nelly. If you're still nervous about soldering, get a fume extractor like
http://www.techni-tool.com/330ED011
It’s better than the practically suicidal people on these forums who ignore all safety precautions. I don’t exactly like the philosophy of “act first, never think or act again”. This applies more so to other situations - I don’t actually think you could die here if you inhale a few solder fumes or use leaded solder.

I've been soldering since I was seven years old. And nothing bad has happened to me. And I've been soldering since I was seven years old. And nothing bad has happened to me.

OK, enough foolishness. Really, I have been soldering for a long time. Not daily, but in some industries where daily activities involve soldering, either at a solder station or soldering machinery like a wave solder machine. And yes, I've not suffered any ill effects from any of it. That's not to say go ahead and be careless - no. It's wise to think of the possible consequences. However, RoHS stands for "Removal of Hazardous Substances". In particular, lead. So if you're using a "No-Lead" solder then that qualifies as RoHS. Being that non-leaded solder is more difficult to work with the fluxes have had to become a bit more aggressive. Organic fluxes, resin fluxes, all produce some fumes. But not in high quantities. And whatever you might inhale, your body can remove them. So long term exposure should not be a concern. Just don't have the solder smoke flowing up into your face. To avoid that you only need a small fan to influence the direction of air movement so that the fumes go a different direction.

For some reason I can't explain, the smoke ALWAYS goes in my face. Hence, I have a small fan nearby, blowing AWAY from my workpiece and away from me. Don't blow the fan directly on your workpiece as it will cool the iron and keep the solder from flowing well. Your question about soldering outside - - - very hard to do because the wind keeps stripping away the heat. When the winds are calm (zero) you're OK. But temperature and humidity will affect your workpiece adversely. Indoors is your best hope for good solder work. Even though your indoors environment is not climate controlled, it's relatively inert for the process. High humidity causes soldering issues, low humidity causes static issues. So your home work station should have a static mat properly grounded (earthed as some will say) and use a good ESD wrist strap connected to your workbench.

As for health concerns - just don't eat the solder or flux. You'll be fine. ME? I've been soldering since I was seven years old. And nothing bad has happened to me.
Lol. I got a soldering station, not just an iron. It allows you to adjust the temperature, from 0-890F. It has a thermocouple to regulate heat, I think. And I could maybe do it under a deck where the wind would be less of a problem. But do you still think it would be too difficult?

And if I’m in a poorly ventilated space, do they tend to stay around? Are they all lighter than air? Because in my basement the only ventilation is one small window close to the ceiling. So if they get blown away from me but then accumulate that could be problematic.

So for under $100, what does everyone recommend for a fine extractor? I want one that has a really powerful fan to not have to have it too close. I absolutely don’t care about noise. It should also have some kind of filter. An arm would be nice, but is not absolutely required.
 

BR-549

Joined Sep 22, 2013
4,938
I would put that $100 bucks in the equipment fund. Forget green solder. Do not directly inhale solder plume. That's it.

A lot of people have been soldering for long time. If it were really something too worry about......we would have a "solder disease". Like black lung. Solder lung. But we don't cause it doesn't.

Solder away.
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
26,417
I worked at a large aerospace firm where they did NASA grade soldering (you had to take a class and be certified).
All soldering in the manufacturing area was done in the open air with no fume hoods or other special treatment for the fumes.
If here was any danger I'm sure OSHA would have had a say.

if you are really concerned, another option would be to wear a particulate mask.
 

Audioguru

Joined Dec 20, 2007
11,249
My soldering iron has a regulated temperature so it makes a pleasant aroma of the flux. If you have a cheap soldering iron then it gets WAY TOO HOT and it incinerates the flux creating smoke that is probably bad to breathe. Get a good soldering iron.
 

panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
1,868
after soldering for MANY years, i have to see any effect. been doing this usually in small room with little or no ventilation. i don't try to inhale fumes - i blow (exhale) at soldering iron to keep fumes away and the clearest possible view of the job being done. few years ago while at McMaster soldering something in IEEE room, several concerned students shrieked from the hallway "he has soldering iron on - there are toxic fumes" .... tsk tsk snowlakes... ;-)
they cause way more damage to their health by sitting slouched 24/7, not exercising or stepping out in the sunshine...
 

ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,539
When making things, you very often need to solder. So I got a soldering station and some RoHS solder. But I have not really been able to solder due to poor ventilation in my house. I want to avoid inhaling harmful fumes. So is going outside and using a regular fan enough? Would being too close still be a concern if they are being blown away? If the visible fumes are being blow away, are all of the harmful things too? Do they tend to stay around for a long time? I plan to solder almost daily, so even if it only has a slight adverse effect, damage could possibly build up over time. I want to make sure I am taking all the proper precautions. And is a fume extractor good enough if you are inside, or do you still need to open a window, etc? Is it doing its job if you see all the fumes going to it? I will probably get one in the near future, but the cost of decent ones can be prohibitive.
Nowhere I've ever worked, or at my hobby had fume extraction. the fumes can be unpleasant but that's about it. radio news reported a few years back of a death caused by cadmium in solder fumes - I have to assume he'd been using cadmium alloy LMP solder, but they didn't specifically report that detail.

Fume extractor hoods probably don't cost that much - or you could pinch one off a scrap kitchen stove.

There's probably a choice between the cost and hassle of ducting and a hole in the wall to vent it outside - or just diluting it with the rest of the air in the room.
 
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