Soldering Trouble

by Parvathy Venkat
(Singapore)

I have come to dislike soldering . Lemme give you a bit of history. I took this course in stained glass in 2002. I haven't yet made a single project, 'cos it's soldering which deflates me totally.The following are the troubles I had initially:-


-The 100W iron became exceedingly hot and would scald me all the time in spite
of turning it off intermittently.
-The 60/40 solder would pool up. And angry bubbles would form all over.
- The tip of the iron would get all chewed up and have this knarled ugly green look and would cause a knobbly texture all along the soldered joints that I did.
-I bought a soldering sponge to clean but the goblin green look remained on the tip
and spread to the sponge.

I then bought 3 numbers of 70w soldering iron and 3 numbers of 50/50 solder. Now the following beguile me:-

-The solder doesn't flow. It knobbles up again.
-The tip of the iron is still green in spite of using both wet towel and soldering sponge.
-The iron doesn't remain hot in spite of keeping it on all the time.

Eagerly waitin for the answer,
Thanks and regards,
Aggrieved with my problems but delighted that there's a helpline!
Parvathy Venkat

Answer

It sounds like you're not using any flux or you're using the wrong flux. Also, are you sure the solder is pure lead and tin solder, not a solder used for electronics that has a resin core?

The resin core solder causes the green gunk you are telling about.

If you are using flux, look at the label and make sure it is a flux for stained glass work.

If you're not using flux, get some before you do any more soldering. I don't know what brands are available in Singapore, but make sure it is a flux for stained glass. Some fluxes are highly corrosive...that is not what you want! Try to get a water soluable flux. Here's a place to look at some of the brands of flux we use in the USA Flux. It will give you an idea of what to look for.

Your 100 watt iron will most likely be fine once you get the solder and or flux issue corrected. You might have to order a new tip for the iron if the old tip is too badly corroded.

I hope this helps you so you can get on to making some stained glass pieces. Seven years is way too long to be dealing with a soldering problem.

Comments for Soldering Trouble

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Nov 16, 2009
Soldering Trouble
by: Jet

Perhaps your soldering iron tip needs re-tinning also? I find that if the tinned surface has gone patchy, then the soldering looks very rough, and the iron seems very difficult to get on with!

May 19, 2009
Thanks for troubleshooting
by: Parvathy Venkat

Now I understand it must be the flux. Actually it was given by my teacher in 2002, in a small tupperware container , a big blob of it. She said that it would last me for quite a bit.
I plan on buying some new flux right away. Also can I continue using the 70w iron for the time being . And the 50/50 solder too?
Thanks a ton.

Answer
Yes...go ahead and use the 70 watt iron and the 50/50 solder. You may want a hotter iron as you gain experience in soldering, but for now, the 70 watt iron will be okay.

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