Solder - Kester vs generic

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industrialarts

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Thanks for all the input, a lot of useful info here. However, there are also a lot of different applications being discussed so as always YMMV :)

Me, I doubt I would use lead free unless required to by law. I don't want to use a product that's even slightly harder to work with. Again, I do repair and mod work on amps, synths and pedals. Sometimes access to a solder point is very limited so solder that flows quick and easy is my main criteria. Health aspects of lead are of minimal concern to me, I live in Chicago and ride a bike in traffic, I'm sure I breath as much lead that way as I do soldering. But I can see if you sell products in the EU how it would be a concern/ necessity.

Some of the products mentioned are not readily available in the states (as far as I could tell from Google), some seem overpriced for my needs. The AIM products look interesting, I'll check them out some more.

In any event, I found 1lb of Kester 63/37 made March of this year. I'll compare it with the cheap solder I am currently using and post any significant or noticeable differences

Thanks again for all your help
 

warpie

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AFAIK the fumes of the lead solder do not contain lead. It's the flux that smokes. The danger is when you touch the lead solder and then you touch your mouth with your hands before washing them very well. Smoking or eating are some examples.

Not that the fumes are healthy. I'm strictly talking about the lead.

I might be wrong though...
 

cyrano

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Even just touching solder on a daily basis will get you lead poisoning in a few decades. Just ask any typesetter who worked with Linotypes before they went digital. Oh, wait, not too many of those folk are still around.

What's amazing about lead poisoning is that mankind keeps forgetting about it. The Egyptians knew about it, but that knowledge was lost. The Romans re-discovered it, to lose it again.

In Modern times, the British MD who discovered the cause for "Cider disease" was driven to madness, ending up in the insane asylum. His victorian fellow countrymen lived in a nightmare of different poisonous household items, from pigments in wallpaper to adulterated milk, so lead probably wasn't their biggest worry. And the early industrial capitalists certainly didn't care, as buying positive news was routine in those days.

The first plant in the US that leaded fuel had 22 workers. 12 of them ended up in the asylum, as "criminally violent". Most of the others died before the disease made them insane.

The problem with lead isn't that it's so poisonous, it's that once introduced in a system, you can't get it out. It doesn't matter if it's the human system, or an ecological habitat.

The kids from Flint, Mi, will get damages, but they never will get back the brain cells they lost. Some of them will never live to be old, as lead poisoning causes a plethora of other ailments, like anemia or even infertility.

Equisetum (horsetail, snake grass, puzzlegrass) is capable of extracting some heavy metals from the soil, but lead is one of the very slow. Using Equisetum to clean up would take centuries. As long as people drop their old TV in the creek, lead is the number one poison in there.

Admittedly, there seem to be HF transistors that use beryllium, but those are rare and there's very little as it's just the dopant. I'm sceptical that beryllium tweeters really are made from that metal, as it is extremely poisonous. Should be prohibited, IMHO. Then there's cadmium and some others to worry about...
 
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swpaskett

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There are applications where lead free solder cannot be used, such as anything that goes into space. Tin whiskers grow excessively in low to zero-g environments. I have seen whiskers up to two inches long that have survived space shuttle landings. Granted, few of us will encounter those conditions in the work we do.
 

Whoops

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Me, I doubt I would use lead free unless required to by law. I don't want to use a product that's even slightly harder to work with. Again, I do repair and mod work on amps, synths and pedals. Sometimes access to a solder point is very limited so solder that flows quick and easy is my main criteria.

so no reason for you or any DIYer to use lead-free solder, it turns into a pasty blob instead of being liquid like lead solder.
The problem is the fumes, and that has to be avoided don’t breath those fumes but that is exactlely the same for lead or lead free solder , both fumes are bad.
The reason for the ban on for commercial products that used lead solder has to do with the end of life of the product , because when it goes to waste it has lead in it.

for fumes in any solder use a fan with a charcoal filter, those are pretty inexpensive.

but has we are not building comercial products and are into DIY and repairs Lead 60/40 solder is 1000 times better
 

cyrano

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I still use leaded, of course, but I don't throw the remaining solder in the bin. These leftovers go into a collection bucket, to be recycled with other dangerous waste, like chemical products.

Sometimes, I'm amazed at the weight if I haven't emptied that bucket in a while.

As I smoke, I don't worry about fumes too much. I've got a fan on my desk, but when doing repair in the field there usually isn't time or space for a fume extractor. In that case, I hold my breath while soldering...

:D
 

cyrano

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so no reason for you or any DIYer to use lead-free solder, it turns into a pasty blob instead of being liquid like lead solder.

Not even for repairs on equipment that is unleaded?

I've tried that and sometimes, my leaded doesn't seem to mix too well. Besides, the resin burns at the higher temp required. And higher temps with resins makes them more noxious. Probably more toxic too.

Admittedly, most of the solder I have atm is brandless. I ran out of the good stuff, my local shop is selling electric bikes in stead of electronics these days.

I've been told by my nephew, who's an engineer, that you shouldn't mix. He tutored at uni, so I don't tend to disagree...

;)
 

Whoops

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Not even for repairs on equipment that is unleaded?

I try not to mix when I repair equipment with lead free solder.
What I do is that I remove completely the lead free solder from the component and PCB hole with a sucking pump and braided shield, now I also have a nice Hako FR for that.
After the clean up and removal I then use 60/40 for soldering the new component.

there was times on the field when I didn’t have a sucking pump and I had to mix, it worked well for a fast repair. But I always prefer to remove all the lead free solder from the affected part
 

amplexus

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I still use leaded, of course, but I don't throw the remaining solder in the bin. These leftovers go into a collection bucket, to be recycled with other dangerous waste, like chemical products.

Sometimes, I'm amazed at the weight if I haven't emptied that bucket in a while.

As I smoke, I don't worry about fumes too much. I've got a fan on my desk, but when doing repair in the field there usually isn't time or space for a fume extractor. In that case, I hold my breath while soldering...

:D
I do the same. I have a bunch of 1L plastic bottles that all my removed lead and slag from the solder pot goes into and then taken to my local haz waste drop when full.

It’s definitely a less than ideal situation to “mix” so I generally keep lead free around for working on new gear also.
 

lassoharp

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I tried some non name lead free solder from China. It's horribly fussy and inconsistent as far as drying into the expected shiny joint and it hasn't simply been a function of temperature. Not sure what's up but I get uneasy seeing fresh joints harden with that mealy dull appearance.
 

neil.johnson

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I've been using Multicore 99C alloy (99.3% tin, 0.7% copper) solder wire with Crystal 502 no-clean flux for years. Really nice lead-free solder, flows well, nice clean joints. But only on new components and boards. This is with Metcal soldering station running at 790'F (421'C).

For anything old, I'm still on Multicore 60/40 with a Weller TCP.
 

moamps

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I have been researching for a long time a lead free solder that will be of satisfactory quality to me and that will be able to replace the old lead solders. The best so far proved to be Stannol HF32 Sn99.3/Cu0.7 which has a flux of 3.5%. It is this information about the higher percentage of flux that seems to be very important, because solders with more flux are much better soldered according to my experience. I also heard from a friend (unverified) information that a solder with a low percentage of copper ensures a longer service life of the soldering tip.
 

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