The best solder for electronics work takes some time finding, however I can save you much time, and money by writing about my experience, this way you can get the best quality solder straight away without wasting half of your life.
The Best Solder
The best kind of solder is one, which is not harmful to your health; therefore, lead free is certainly the right direction to take. Today, you can get 100% tin solders that are fine for hobby and schoolwork, because you can make some shiny and strong reliable joints with tin.
The next step is to choose the flux, which is a chemical that prevents oxidation when a metal gets hot. Cored solder means that there is a hollow core going through the length of the wire, which usually contains flux. The most commonly used flux is rosin core however, rosin may trigger asthma in people with this condition. Therefore, there is an alternative flux chemical, which does not cause this problem. Since asthma is on the rise in UK, the best solder is probably one that does not have rosin but instead has synthetic flux.
Therefore, where children are concerned, I would recommend lead-free and rosin-free solder, because in a school environment, they will forget to wash their hands, and many schools will not have an extractor to remove the rosin acid fumes.
The next step is choosing the best size of solder wire. The gauge number determines the size of solder thickness. Gauges 18, 20, 21, and 22 tend to work best for electronic circuit board work, and through-hole electronic components. Gauge 18 is 1.22 mm diameter, whilst gauge 22 is 0.711 mm diameter. If your soldering irons are 18 W, then choose the thinner one, because it melts 100 % tin solders easily.
Warton Metals also provide samples, so it might be a good idea to talk to their expert on the phone to get advice on the proper solder for microelectronics projects. It is a British company, which manufactures some of the purest solders manufactured to tight and strict regulations.
If you are buying from places such as eBay then you need to be aware of the different types of solders that are available and the different names and terminology used because it can be confusing and the sellers will not be forthcoming with the information. If you are buying cheap solders from sellers in China then you have very little idea of what is inside those solders, or whether it adheres to international guidelines.
Since July 2006, the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (ROHS) guidelines prohibit the use of unnecessary large amounts of lead in solders. It is now possible to buy solders such as Omega that are totally lead-free, and they usually contain tin, silver, copper, zinc, antimony, and other metals instead. This is not only good for your health but also good for the environment as well.
I switched over to Omega and use it for everything from small electronics projects to electrical wires and circuit boards. Small pencil soldering irons and even a soldering gun works fine with this solder. I usually use it to renovate antique computers for the museum, together with my vintage Antex Soldering Irons.
When you heat a metal, it has the tendency to oxidise forming a layer of oxide, which prevents the solder from bonding to the metal. Flux is a reducing agent, which removes this oxidation so that the solder can bond to the metal easily.
Flux core, also known as cored solder wire, is also a very important word to remember when buying solder. If you are buying solder for electronics use, you need flux core, which has a hollow core containing flux that runs lengthwise through the wire. As the solder melts, the flux releases from the core into the join.
There are many different types of flux and it is important to know about them. Plumbers use an acid based flux; however, this is too acidic and therefore corrosive for PCB use, as it will eventually eat away the copper traces.
Colophony is also a word that you will come across often when you are buying solder. It is another name for rosin. It comes from the Greek word “Colophonia Resina” which means resin from pine trees. If you are an asthmatic, then you might have noticed getting “wheezy” when you breathe in solder fumes containing rosin acid.
Asthma is a big problem in schools and colleges, and many students carry Ventolin and Becotide inhalers these days. The last thing you want is to have a class full of students wheezing and coughing because you were foolish enough to buy solder containing lead and rosin acids. If you are in charge of buying, and you care about your student’s health, then you need to get Omega Rosin Free Cored Solder Wire, Order Code: MC1. Warton Metals are the makers of the Omega solder, which is why most manufacturing firms, schools, and colleges tend to buy in bulk from there.
- Order Code: MC1
- Tel +44 (0)1706 218888
This Article Continues...Solder for Electronics and Schools
Solder for Asthmatics
Omega: Rosin and Lead Free Solder