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Well-known electronics tool manufacturer Weller offers a whole mini-website aimed at promoting their Zero-Smog campaign: a plea to you to stop breathing in the nasty stuff released in the air when you’re soldering. And even a quick look at the site shows that the contaminants you smell when soldering are truly hideous health-wise.

Even after you’ve switched to lead-free solder, Weller says there’s still plenty of nasty left — everything from airborne particulate matter to toxic gasses and solvents. Thankfully their mini-site offers lots of advice to help you understand the risks and the options available to you to prevent experiencing those risks.

Of course, it’s no surprise that Weller recommends their own products. But even if you don’t choose Weller, the site’s a great read. Their selection guide walks you through the whole process from selecting either a tip or volume extraction system — tip extraction sucks up the nasty right from the tip of your iron while volume extraction pulls air from around the work area — to maintaining it and understanding how using an extraction system might impact your work.

Remember: The life you save might be your own. Or that of an employee with a workplace injury lawyer for a cousin.

Zero-Smog [Weller]


12 Responses to Are You Breathing Solder Fumes?

  1. Retardo says:

    But that solder/flux smell is one of the best smells going! It’s in a league with Hoppe’s #9, wood smoke in the fall, and those sugar-coated roasted sidewalk peanuts in NYC on a cold day.

  2. Bill says:

    I’m dead.

  3. Chris W says:

    Unless you solder daily, you probably don’t have to worry. Just keep away from the concentrated fumes by holding your head slightly to the side. Second hand tobacco smoke is a greater hazard, IMHO.

  4. Gordon DeWitte says:

    Or use an Edsyn Fuminator to get help remove the fumes.


  5. Old Coot says:

    I’m with Retardo. Those smells are priceless, even that of the purple primer for gluing PVC pipe. It means I’m probably doing something productive.

  6. ElecEngineer says:

    Solder fumes? Really? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Seriously. Think about it for a second. What’s the vapor point of Lead? Tin? Any metal used in soldering? The liquid point and the vapor point are to wildly different extremes. If the soldering iron is getting hot enough to vaporize the metals used, you’ve got bigger problems. Like scorching the epoxy-fiberglass board. Or melting the copper traces (not just lifting them). Those fumes are generated entirely by the flux that’s within them. 99% of it is natural resin. Some sanity folks. There are much worse things in the air around you (especially if you’re in Frisco near the Exide recycling plant or anywhere near Ellis county due to TXI). You’ve been watching way too much sensationalist reporting.

    • Calaverasgrande says:

      you are being irresponsible by being so dismissive. You are correct about the vapor point of lead, tin, silve and copper. Much lower than soldering iron temp. Solder flux can have other chemicals in it that are bad. Like halogen. Lead free solder requires 650 or better to make a good joint. And the result of that is much more fumes being produced as well as VOC products such as formaldehyde (formalin) a poison.

  7. Mrten says:

    A quote from the site: “The temperature needed to create a good solder joint using lead-free solder is also higher, causing a stronger reaction within the flux and creating more solder smoke with a greater number of particles. Lead-free soldering produces up to 250 % more particles between 0.5 and 1.0 microns in diameter, the size that is the most dangerous to inhale. In addition to particles, solder smoke can contain isocyanates, aldehydes, and other unhealthy substances.”

    No metal vapors mentioned there, but they do on other places on the site else? If not, I’d say that’s a straw man you’re attacking there.

  8. MeasureOnceCutTwice says:

    Usually it’s my eyes that are bothered the most. But blowing gently while making the joint is usually enough to keep the smoke away while not affecting the joint quality.
    And i agree – that smell is right up there with movie-theater popcorn!

  9. Kurt says:

    I keep a very small (3″) diameter fan on my bench, and have it blowing across when I am doing a lot of soldering, or especially, using a lot of superglue, which I find bothers my eyes sometimes. While not a perfect solution, I imagine it reduces the hazard enough so that my occasional use is not too harmful. What the heck, none of us make it out of here alive in any event.

  10. B. Foo says:

    Just another company cashing in on the whole green/global warming/save the planet scam.

  11. Orpheus says:

    Actually, the real risk is colophony (rosin) allergy, which can develop from ongoing contact or inhalation with rosin fumes. it is an important occupational hazard. Last I checked it was one of the top occupational disabilities in the UK (but with their national health care, they categorize “disability” differently). It’s not uncommon for the UK govt to pay to have someone retrained in electronics assembly, only to have them come up allergic in several months, and need retraining for another line of work.

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