Proper Soldering Safety Tips and Techniques to Follow for your Protection
Soldering poses a few different risks and this is why the soldering safety tips are here to serve as your guide to safety. The process of soldering makes use of a soldering iron that becomes extremely hot. When you accidentally touch this part, you could suffer from serious burns. Moreover, the solder, or the material that you will heat with the use of the soldering iron, also gets hot and this adds up to the danger.
There is also an occasional air pocket that could pop when you will start heating the solder and this will make some bits of solder flying into the air and once this gets into the skin, could inflict burns. These, and the fact that a solder produces strong fumes, make soldering seem like a dangerous job.
Proper Soldering Techniques
It is important that you know the proper soldering techniques in order to ensure safety. Here are the things necessary to ensure proper soldering technique.
- Basic tools – the tools needed are the solder, wire stripper, flush cutter, utility blade, de-soldering bulb, vice and the electric soldering station, preferably the temperature adjustable type. Remember that not having the right tools can pose danger. This is the same tip to follow when operating power tools.
- Workspace – to ensure safety, the workspace must be uncluttered. Make sure to clear the area between the materials to be soldered and that of the soldering station stand.
- Prepare the soldering iron ahead- it is important that you check the soldering iron before you begin. Scrape off the oxides that can be found at the tip of the soldering iron and you can make use of a utility blade for this.
Next, adjust the iron to the appropriate temperature. It will be useless if you cannot get the solder melt into the soldering tip. Tin the tip by coating it with thin coats of solder. This can help to transfer heat in between the tip and its components. The sponge must be soaking wet when you do this. After this, run the solder tip over the wet sponge in order to remove any excess solder.
- Clean the surface – make sure to clean the contact surfaces. Clear it from any metal parts. Scrape the oxides off with the use of a utility blade. In some instances, it is much easier to tin the individual components first before joining them together. This is also an important tip to follow when it comes to welding.
- Position – next is to position the components with the use of a vice, also known as the third hand. Do not ever touch the metal part of a component with your bare hands.
- Timing is important – timing is necessary when it comes to soldering components altogether. The solder has to be melted completely at the joint in order not to end up a “cold solder point”. But remember that too much heat can also cause damages on the sensitive electronic component and could end up melting the insulator of the wire. The required time will depend on the heat transfer that is usually affected by the temperature of the soldering tip, the presence of rosin or flux, mass of the components, as well as how clean the contact surfaces are.
- Start over when needed – start again if your first attempt fails. Remember that the old solder may have impurities in them. So take off the old solder completely with the use of a de-soldering bulb or pump. Clean the flux or rosin residuals and start all over again.
Rules for Safe Soldering
There are also certain rules that you must follow in order to ensure safety in soldering. So these are the soldering safety tips to follow.
- Wear goggles. It is important that you wear proper eye protection for the safety of your eyes. When trimming leads or excess solder dross, be very careful of flyaway that could injure yourself and other people nearby.
- Choose a well-ventilated area to work in and make use of a fume extractor. Never inhale the fumes that come out of the soldering process.
- Return the soldering iron to its stand if not in use. Do not ever put it on top of your workbench. The tip of the soldering iron is very hot. Never touch the wire insulator and any flammable material in the area that you are soldering on. Put the soldering station on standby mode if not in use for more than a few minutes. Turn off the unit or unplug it when you are done.
- Make use of a circuit board vice, tweezers, pliers and clamps when holding certain components in order to prevent burns. Both the arms and legs must be covered in order to prevent burns as a result of the splashed hot solder.
- Make sure not to put drinks and food items near your working area. The solder is often made of tin or lead alloy and these materials are toxic. The flux is a chemical that is used to help in soldering metal parts together. It’s acidic by nature.
Clean up any spilled flux immediately and wash your hands after soldering. The flux can trigger acid burns to the skin and could damage your clothing as well. If you get acid burns, flush the affected area with water immediately.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after you handle solder and flux that contains lead. Make use of a solder that is lead-free whenever possible.
- Clean the area well when you are done working. Discard any of the silver and lead solder and dross inside a sealed container. Make sure to label the container with “lead/silver solder waste”. Make use of solder sponges at all times and any contaminated rags should be disposed of and considered as hazardous waste.
- Avoid fires when soldering by learning some of the fire safety tips. First of all, get yourself acquainted with the location of your nearest fire extinguisher. Make sure that all flammable liquids, such as glasses and solvents are kept off the table. Remove any clutter in your working space so you will have enough space to maneuver any hot item.
Remember that in order to minimize the risk of burns when soldering, there are two things that you need to take into consideration – protective equipment and positioning. Since molten solder can drip and spit, make it a point that you wear safety goggles at all times, and if possible, wear gloves when soldering. This will go a long way to preventing burns in the event that a molten solder will drip to your skin or splatter all over your face.
When you position yourself, keep visibility and gravity in mind. When soldering in the field, do not stand or sit directly below the object you are soldering. Gravity can cause melted solder to drop down easily and towards you.
On the other hand, if you are soldering with the use of a workbench, place the project as well as your hands in such a way that you will be able to see the soldering iron top clearly, as well as the components that you are working on.