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A reasonable soldering approach

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by willie45, Jan 23, 2021.

  1. willie45

    willie45 TDPRI Member

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    With retirement approaching, I have only recently decided to start modifying guitar electronics after years of letting a tech do it for me. I'm also about to start on a partscaster build. Both of these will mean I'm going to be getting into soldering.

    My wife is unhappy with the fumes around me or even in the house. I was pretty sceptical but after a bit of research I quickly found that there was a potential health hazard with Rosin fumes. I also have a bit of a health issue which means I need to be a bit careful around chemicals ( proper coffee and ciggies are things of the past for me ) so I'm going to take precautions. So far I've considered the following ideas

    1. I thought maybe opening a window and blowing a fan in the general direction of outside might do the trick. A bit hit and miss perhaps.

    2. I also wondered if ( as we have plenty around these days ) if wearing a surgical mask might do the trick. The masks I use are disposable and are 3 ply. I would have thought that if these stop a virus they would stop particles from flux vapour.

    3. Alternatively, once the weather gets warmer I would do it in the garage with the door open.

    4. Last I thought I could buy a cheap filter like this

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/KOTTO-Abso...s=soldering+hepa+filter&qid=1611442539&sr=8-3

    But then I look at the filter they supply and it seems ridiculous.

    I realise many people are unaffected by these but some are and my logic is why take the risk as I already have an issue, even though most people, would probably be fine. I have also heard of those who have suffered from relatively short exposures so I'm hoping to avoid unnecessary risk without going crazy about it.

    What would you were the merits of my various proposed methods above?
     
  2. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Can you get close to an exterior window? Set up a fan blowing toward the outdoors at the window next to your work bench. London isn't all that cold, maybe keep a space heater under the table.
     
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  3. boop

    boop Tele-Holic

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    Yes ventilation is a must, I'm more carefree about this than I'd like to admit, but if I'm doing soldering of any amount for a length of time. I do it in the garage, or next to a fan exhausting out a window

    A mask will help some with the particulate, but not the organic gases, and you'd still be getting the fumes in the house.

    The extractor will probably depend on the quality and capture of the fan/filter. Probably nothing is as good as ventilation being pumped outside
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
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  4. willie45

    willie45 TDPRI Member

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    Thanks chaps. I know it isn't freezing cold but it's still pretty chilly for my old bones but I'm not going to be going at it for hours on end so the window is certainly a do-able option. Do you feel this would be enough of a precaution?

    Shame the mask is out. Is there any mileage in using something like the cheap thing I linked but replacing the filter with something a bit beefier to trap the bad stuff?

    How long do these particles stay in the air I wonder? If I used the spare room with an appropriate mask ( maybe something like this ? )

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/3M-Mainten...oldering&qid=1611443915&s=diy&sr=1-14-catcorr

    and then left it for an hour would it be pretty much 100% safe?
     
  5. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Afflicted

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    I think you're on the right track with a small unit. I've found a few by searching Amazon for "solder fume extractor hepa" and my suspicion is that the ones that actually work well are expensive.

    I probably need to do something myself.

    Having a room exhaust fan to at least draw away the fumes and particulates from your workspace would help. Ideally exhausting outside your home, I guess.

    I have done things in the past with a standard box fan and a furnace air filter and tape, but I won't vouch for its effectiveness.
     
  6. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I hooked up a little muffin fan near the soldering station, with a handy switch. When I'm soldering, the fan is blowing any smoke away. There's lots of them on ebay.
     
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  7. willie45

    willie45 TDPRI Member

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    Thank you.

    I'm intrigued by the idea of getting one of these cheaper extractor things and putting a decent filter in it. is there any material that would do the trick cheaply and well? I mean would something like wads of cotton wool help?

    OTOH maybe a small fan blowing to the window is easiest and sufficient. I don't want to be overly paranoid.

    As you can tell, I'm new to this soldering business and have been reading a fair bit trying to learn how to do it right. One of the things I read a lot is not to blow on the work to cool it. I'm assuming you'd need to angle the fan so that it's blowing above the work and catching the smoke as it rises a bit to avoid blasting air onto the soldered part?
     
  8. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Yes, you want to aim the fan so it clears any smoke, but doesn't blast the joint you are working on. I use a test lead with alligator clips to aim it where I want, so I can adjust it quickly and easily. A computer fan will do the same job.
     
  9. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    For most of us, I don't think it is much of an issue. We are not soldering 8 straight hours/day. The amount you can inhale is proportional to how much smoke you are making. If I solder 2 caps in a month, I don't feel I am loading up on toxins. But if I am going to sit down and solder an entire amp board in an evening, I am going to ventilate the area and wear some kinda mask, even if the mask is useless. Any kind of fan works better than nothing. I have never felt the need to exhaust the air outside, but again, I don't solder much. I just don't feel it is necessary to make a special soldering booth to solder a couple guitars a year. But then, I also smoke a cigar every now and then as well. Life on the razor's edge!!
     
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  10. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    No, just put a fan at the open window drawing the air away from you and outside. Air will move toward a working fan. Set it on high speed, blowing away from you ... it'll get all the vapor.
     
  11. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Afflicted

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    I think creating a steady airflow away from your work area would suffice, about enough to exhaust cigarette smoke.

    I have seen HEPA-rated furnace filters actually, maybe fastening one of those to a cheap box fan isn't crazy like I thought it was. An advantage to this is that a box fan is large enough that it can run more slowly and create enough movement without being too loud ( hopefully ).

    [ EDIT ]

    I am thinking more of CFM air movement and how to cycle the air in the room more than a vacuum approach right at the source. Just clarifying that, now that I realize it myself! :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
  12. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    A small fan will work. Soldering a circuit board doesn't produce a cloud of gas.
     
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  13. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have severe Emphysema from working in Silicon Valley, soldering all day with no ventilation, flux smoke in my face 8 hrs. a day, and I smoked cigarettes while I was doing it! That's how stupid I was. I also breathed a lot of other deadly chemicals, like Dow-Therm, an industrial coolant made by Dow that's so acidic it eats through copper pipes. So, it would eat through the pipes on the burn-in ovens we used it in, and it would leak all over the floor in the oven room where I worked. It was so bad that the barrels it came in had skulls and crossbones on them, and the warning list said "don't breathe this stuff, especially when it's hot". It's always hot, it's used as a coolant! It's a miracle I'm still alive.
     
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  14. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Afflicted

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    Oh , yes, I agree. But it will be loud, and need to be near the work.

    A large fan with an attached furnace filter just requires a roll of tape to assemble, and could be placed anywhere in the room. I think. Also all the parts are big-box home improvement store items.

    The easy assembly and flexible placement option is what I'm thinking about.

    But you are right too.

     
  15. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    I have a small fan, about a 4" diameter blade, got it at Walmart. Use it for cooling off the tube amps at hot gigs. It blows plenty hard to clear soldering vapor and it's nearly silent.

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. loopfinding

    loopfinding Tele-Afflicted

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    It’s just burning rosin, which is essentially pine sap (not lead or tin or whatever, takes much higher temps for those to vaporize). Now, if that’s your job, 8 hours a day for years, there is a risk of developing asthma from burning rosin...but in the short term/sporadically, can’t see it being worse than sitting by a fire pit for a few hours. If you’re not making a career of it, I think you should be okay just cracking a window, buying a cheap tabletop fume extractor and dissipating the smoke.

    Now the lead...Luckily lead dross is too heavy for the dust to float. But uh, wash your hands diligently and isolate the lead dross, if you’re using lead solder. The risk there is ingestion via contact, not fumes, and it can get everywhere. Or just use lead-less solder - it’s not too bad to work with in larger sizes.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
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  17. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted

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    A fan blowing will effectively distribute it evenly around the room: you may as well do what I do and blow gently at the work surface as you solder. A mask is basically useless for the fumes (unless you wear a cartridge mask as for spray-painting).

    Best is to have an extractor fan with some flexible ducting to the work site. If your soldering times are short and sparse, perhaps doing it in a well ventilated area is the most practical.
     
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  18. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Unless there is a wind blowing into the window, a fan at the window blowing out will vent air (and fumes) out of the window. At least that's how it works on this side of the planet.
     
  19. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Afflicted

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    Is there an off-the-shelf filter that will fit that fan easily?



     
  20. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    I was building boards with thousands of solder connections on them, so I didn't use rosin core solder. I used coreless solder, and a water soluble liquid flux that I'd saturate the board with. So, that's what I was breathing for 8 hrs. a day.
     
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