Solder Border onto Zinc


I was wondering if you could help me with a problem. I am making tealight lanterns where three sides are composed of glass with copper foil and the fourth is a zinc frame (all I have) holding glass foiled marbles. When I attempt to attach the zinc frame to the copper foiled edges of the other glass panels the solder gets this 'cruchy' look, like there are little bits in it. I am using a ton of flux, and made sure that the zinc was clean first. Do you have any idea why this is happening and what I could do to fix it?

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Your flux might be contaminated if you are using a liquid flux and dipping into the bottle each time. Once it's contaminated you will have all sorts of problems with your soldering. If you use liquid flux you should pour a small amount, from a new bottle, into another container, like a jar lid, and use out of that. Discard any left when you're done soldering.

Try using a paste flux rather than liquid and don't use "a ton" of it. When I solder zinc I use Nokorode paste flux (available at most hardware stores and stained glass supply stores), and there are other brands that most stained glass stores sell.

The crunchy look you described sounds like your iron isn't hot enough. Zinc takes more heat than copper foil, so either turn up your temp controller or turn it off all together.

Lastly, make sure you keep your iron tip clean when you're soldering. Wipe it frequently on a wet folded up paper towel or a wet sponge.

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Soldering Aluminum and Galvanized Wires.

by Galit

I would like to add aluminum and galvanized wires as decorations on top of the stained glass and as extensions around a piece of the glass. How do you solder the above wires? I tried to solder it to the foiled edge of the glass. It did not hold. Any suggestions?


The galvanized wire should solder beautifully. Try cleaning it it with steel wool before soldering it. If it keeps giving you trouble, tin it first.

Aluminum does not accept solder. Use tinned copper wire. It comes in a variety of thicknesses, so you should be able to find the size you want for your decorative work.

Also, make sure you have a solid union between the foil and the wire. After you have applied the solder, hold the wire in place until the solder cools (which is only a matter of seconds).

The piece you're working on sounds interesting. We'd like to see it when you're done. If you'd like, you can submit a picture on the photo gallery page.

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Undoing a Finished Stained Glass Piece

by Teresa Bost
(Escondido, Ca. USA)

Hello. I need help with a question that I have not been able to get an answer for. About 5 years ago I started a stained glass project with 17 pieces to it. It was meant to be a suncatcher. I did a sloppy job and put it aside. I recently found it and would like to take it apart and redo the whole thing. I had put too much solder between the pieces and the outside ring still has copper foil on it. Do you think it can be saved or could you give me advice on how to take it apart again? I am still a beginner. I learned and have done about 5 pieces of work in the last 14 years. A friend taught me. I'd like to try and get started again and thought I would finish this one project. The piece is a sun. Thanks for any help you may be able to give me.

There are directions on my web site for repairing a copper foil piece. You can use the technique to take your entire suncatcher apart. You can find the tutorial at Repairing Copper Foil.

After you have it apart, pull off the foil (which isn't always as easy as it sounds!). You might have to scrape it off with a retractable knife blade.

After the foil is off, clean the edges of each piece of glass with something like Goo Gone (an adhesive remover). That will remove any remaining adhesive left behind from the foil. Then wash the glass with warm soapy water. Now you're ready to put on new foil and solder it back together.

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When or how often do I need to wash off the flux?

(Toronto, ON, Canada)

I am doing my first large mirror frame and would like to know when and how often I must wash the flux off. I do not think that I will complete the soldering in one sitting(standing). Do I wash as I go?


When you are done with a session of soldering, wipe the panel with paper towels to get off as much flux as possible. Slide it in a plastic bag or cover it with plastic film such as Saran Wrap. It will be fine until you're ready to solder again.

If you were going to leave it for weeks or a couple of months, then you would spray it with a flux remover then wipe it dry. You would still store it in plastic until ready to solder again. The plastic will help keep the foil from oxidizing, although it would still oxidize if left for a long period of time (3 or more months).

You will wash it when you are done soldering the entire project. If you wash before you're finished soldering, there is a danger of tearing the exposed foil, or worse yet, getting water under the foil which will cause the foil to lift during your next soldering session.

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