A Soldering Guide for Beginners, Kids, and Electronics Students

This guide is for beginners and kids responsible enough to use a soldering iron supervised. It might also be useful for teachers as well, especially those teaching technology subjects.

There is a general-purpose soldering safety guide, which I have tried to make interesting to read. There are some useful tips for students and some practical ideas for beginners.

This is a very basic article which explains soldering in simple terms and which might serve as a good online guide for quick reference for anyone new to the world of soldering.


The Good Old Days

When I bought my first Antex Vintage Soldering Iron SK1 Kit in the 70s, and it came with a useful booklet titled “How to Solder Guide”. I learnt mostly from that and the rest through trial and error, but mostly error :-)

My Friend Rufus... started in electronics back in the prehistoric days. Back then, the Cathode Ray Tube and the emission of electrons -- beta radiation -- was a new discovery thought to have magical properties good for the health! Countless Victorian bloggers wrote articles on the rejuvenating properties of beta radiation. Of course, we know a lot better now, but Rufus did not and all his hair fell off!

Then of course, lead was the next big hype. There was lead in pipes, paint, and lead chromate in food. Rufus was happily enjoying the lead fumes and life was never so good he thought. Consequently, Rufus lost many brain cells repairing valve televisions. It was not the fumes, but the fact that he never washed his hands after soldering!

Hence, if you are someone young starting out, then use some plastic gloves, and remember to wash your hands afterwards. Because you really do not want to end up looking like my friend Rufus.

ROHS

We know a lot better these days, or at least think we do as these things go... We have ROHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) guidelines, and regulators to keep us safe from the bad stuff.

As well as being the lead-free directive, it also restricts the use of five other toxic chemicals. Most people will probably have heard of mercury in thermometers and old batteries. Many are familiar with cadmium in rechargeable batteries as well. Hexavalent Chromium is an industrial waste mentioned in the Erin Brockovich film. Polybrominated diphenyl ether is also bad and mentioned in one of the old Quincy episodes... Who said that television was bad for you?

Whilst it is too late for my friend Rufus, who never paid any attention to safety guidelines, it is not too late for the new students that are aspiring to become great electronic engineers.


The Good Stuff

Some of the latest modern solders that are available are environmentally friendly and do not contain any lead, rosin acid, or halides. The clever consumer will always switch to the cleanest solders that are now available.

This is a multi-page guide, which continues in the following pages. I hope it is of use to someone!

This Article Continues...

A Soldering Guide for Beginners, Kids, and Electronics Students
Soldering Guide: Safety Tips
Choosing the Right Solder Wire
How to Solder
Soldering Guide Basics
Soldering SMD Guide
Soldering in Space
How to Choose a Soldering Iron
Omega: Rosin and Lead Free Solder