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Solder: Lead vs Lead Free

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#1 ReThink

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 06:07 AM

I see multiple mentions on this forum such as this one and other mentions online such as this one where the mod in question uses lead-free solder, and was curious as to why lead-free is used in mods. 

I researched to find differences between the solder alloys I have used in the past to solder various things (tin/lead 60/40) and have found that lead-free is harder to melt and is grainy when cooled, and as such cannot think of why someone would want to use it over tin/lead or some other combination. 

I considered the fact that people may worry about (their health?) lead in the solder, but I'm fairly sure this point is moot if you are soldering properly with proper gear. 

So please, tell me what solder you use in your builds, and why. 

 

Alternatively/Additionally, take this strawpoll for a more analytical approach as to who uses what:

http://www.strawpoll.me/10437828

 

Edit: fixed a grammatical error


Edited by ReThink, 09 June 2016 - 06:08 AM.

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#2 DjOnslaught

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 08:13 AM

Lead free when heated to the right temperature and combined with rosin either externally or as rosin core solder melts with 0 issues and flows as good if not better then lead/tin solder.

Rosin is used interchangeably with Flux in my experience

Edited by DjOnslaught, 09 June 2016 - 08:15 AM.

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#3 shandsgator8

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 08:47 AM

I just bought whatever was at my Radio Shack, which only sold lead-free, if I recall correctly. I think it had rosin core. Works just fine for all my electrical applications (Nerf rewires, R/C, battery packs, working on circuit boards, etc.)

 

As for the lead being a health risk, just make sure you wash your hands after using it and avoid breathing the fumes.


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#4 ReThink

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 08:49 AM

Lead free when heated to the right temperature and combined with rosin either externally or as rosin core solder melts with 0 issues and flows as good if not better then lead/tin solder.

Rosin is used interchangeably with Flux in my experience

But even so, why would people go out of the way to mention the type of solder used AFTER the fact, or to specifically mention one kind to use for a build as if there is a functional difference? 

It implies some sort of performance difference in terms of conductivity, etc., which I fail to read anywhere


Edited by ReThink, 09 June 2016 - 08:49 AM.

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#5 shandsgator8

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 08:51 AM

But even so, why would people go out of the way to mention the type of solder used AFTER the fact, or to specifically mention one kind to use for a build as if there is a functional difference

It implies some sort of performance difference in terms of conductivity, etc., which I fail to read anywhere

 

It makes them feel smart and important.


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#6 The2ndBluesBro

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 08:55 AM

The lead free is theoretically healthier but harder to work with, plus there's really no health benefit since at regular soldering temperatures the lead doesn't vaporize anyway, the fumes are the flux which is in lead free and regular solder. Just get lead solder its cheaper and as long as you don't eat it or something stupid like that you'll be fine. Also since lead solder is easier to work it will usually make better contact so conductivity is (functionally) better.

Edited by The2ndBluesBro, 09 June 2016 - 08:56 AM.

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#7 shandsgator8

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 08:56 AM

The lead free is theoretically healthier but harder to work with, plus there's really no health benefit since at regular soldering temperatures the lead doesn't vaporize anyway, the fumes are the flux which is in lead free and regular solder. Just get lead solder its cheaper and as long as you don't eat it or something stupid like that you'll be fine.

 

That's good to know!


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#8 Langley

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 09:34 AM

 

It makes them feel smart and important.

99% of the people who work on flywheel blasters would never have picked up a soldering iron otherwise, including the people who make the guides. 

 

My solder has lead in it.  I don't make any claims about what is better, I just use what I have and try to remember to wash my hands when I'm done.  All I know for sure is that you should never ever pay less than $10 for a soldering iron, whether it's from harbor freight or a discount surplus website. 


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#9 shandsgator8

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 09:45 AM

I believe in the axiom: "the more hazardous it is to your health, the better it works."

 

However, I never noticed a difference in performance or ease of use, when using either lead or lead free solder. I don't think I've used leaded solder in decades, though.


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#10 DjOnslaught

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 11:01 AM

I did electronics diagnostics and repairs for a hospital equipment manufacturer for about 19 years, always used lead free flux (rosin) cored solder never had any issues and 98% of my work never came back for any issues.
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#11 CaliforniaPants

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 01:39 AM

you've stumbled onto one of the longest running arguments around, you can read for years and never come to a conclusion. just use nice quality of whatever you can get easily/reliably and you'll learn how to make it do what you want; at least thats what Ive learned.

 

also even though you dont have to worry about lead fumes remember not to just sit there and breathe in that smoke for a few hours at a time, lungs are important.


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trans as shit because fuck you


#12 Zack the Mack

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 12:45 PM

Pro product developer here.

 

If you're new to soldering, remember:

  • Flux fumes, from leaded or lead-free solder, will burn your lungs and dry your skin.
  • Use a fan to suck the fumes away from you. Don't blow the fumes away - the fan will also blow the heat away. 
  • Don't apply solder directly to the tip of the iron! Hold the tip against both soldering surfaces until the wires or pads are hot. Apply solder directly to the surfaces and they will melt the solder. Then remove the iron. If you melt solder right onto the iron, the flux burns off too quickly to work.
  • If you're soldering wires together, first coat each stripped end with solder. Then, thread some heatshrink onto the wire. Then, twist the stripped ends tightly together. Then solder, then shrink the heatshrink.
  • Use heatshrink for crissake.
  • Don't solder electronics while they're still in the blaster! The heat will deform the plastic.
  • Stranded wires are easier to tuck into place than solid wires.

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