Author Topic: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)  (Read 1170 times)

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Offline Robert Smith Eco Warrior

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Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« on: April 22, 2021, 08:28:44 am »
Hi All,
I need to buy some more solder. The roll of 'Multicore' rosin based 60/40 1mm solder I bought a million years ago is nearly at an end so I shall buy some thinner stuff. I am looking at the RS site as I have some other things to buy too. They have their own 'RS Pro' brand and a couple of others a bit more expensive.  I have looked at a number of other products over the past few years and the 'RS Pro' brand seems to be like their version of Tesco 'Value' or Lidl 'Essentials' range. Is their RS Pro solder any good?
 :-+
 

Online wizard69

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2021, 08:39:07 am »
No idea here.   Store brands can vary from barely usable to as good as anything else.   Worse they can vary a lot over time as supplier change and the care factor goes down.   I'd suggest sticking with a brand name solder unless you have really good reports from professional users of store branded solder.


As you note a roll of solder last for a very long time on a work bench.   As such one shouldn't get too hung up on costs.   It would be easy for a roll to last you for the rest of your life on a hobby bench.   Even in a professional environment, doing repairs 8 hours a day, a roll will last a very long time.

Hi All,
I need to buy some more solder. The roll of 'Multicore' rosin based 60/40 1mm solder I bought a million years ago is nearly at an end so I shall buy some thinner stuff. I am looking at the RS site as I have some other things to buy too. They have their own 'RS Pro' brand and a couple of others a bit more expensive.  I have looked at a number of other products over the past few years and the 'RS Pro' brand seems to be like their version of Tesco 'Value' or Lidl 'Essentials' range. Is their RS Pro solder any good?
 :-+
 
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Offline horvat.kamca

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2021, 09:01:19 am »
I've to buy solder on ebay, because stores in CZ are selling PB free solder only - Sn99,3/Cu0,7 with melting point 240°C. I still have half of roll Kaina 60/40 0.5mm, melting point 190°C, works perfectly for through hole soldering.

Since solder is quite cheap, best way to approach this would be to buy samples from stores, ebay, aliexpress, compare them and make youtube video about it. Huge number of viewers is guaranteed.
 
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Offline Refrigerator

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2021, 09:16:15 am »
What i've noticed with solder is that the consistency of the flux inside is very important. Cheap solder can have spots with very little flux in them, which i find very inconvenient when i need just a dab of solder and the dab ends up being dry because there was too little flux.
I have a blog at http://brimmingideas.blogspot.com/ . Now less empty than ever before !
 
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Offline Robert Smith Eco Warrior

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2021, 09:25:05 am »
Hi Refrgerator.
That is good information.
I was thinking of going for their version with a higher percentage of flux as my sons and I only tinker so a bit more clean up is not an issue and some of the components I have gathered over the years are a touch tarnished. Having more flux in the solder might go some way towards having less fluxless sections of the solder.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2021, 01:01:35 pm »

This reviewer does a pretty decent job looking at the "experience" of a number of different solder brands:

 
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Offline Peabody

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2021, 01:48:40 pm »
I don't know if Digikey UK is an impossible shipping situation for you, but if not, they carry 2-4 ounce spools of ChipQuik solder.  It's 63/37 RA.  I have no experience with it, but would assume if Digikey carries it it should be ok.
 
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Offline Robert Smith Eco Warrior

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2021, 03:55:59 pm »
Hi Silver Solder,
That video popped up in another post earlier too. I watched it earlier. The old Maplin Adepo solder he first showed is the solder I currently have and I thought, as it is getting very old and not a great deal left, I thought I would get some new stuff to replace it. Even though it is really old it seems to come out pretty well in his tests.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2021, 04:31:18 pm »
Hi Silver Solder,
That video popped up in another post earlier too. I watched it earlier. The old Maplin Adepo solder he first showed is the solder I currently have and I thought, as it is getting very old and not a great deal left, I thought I would get some new stuff to replace it. Even though it is really old it seems to come out pretty well in his tests.

Yes, it was obvious from his tests that the biggest difference is in the flux (apart from the one poor Chinese product that seemed to contain impure metal).

The other big factor is the thickness of the solder wire...  0.022" is as thick as you probably want to go if you are using it with SMT components and pads.  E.g. where you pre-tin one pad, then hold the component with tweezers and solder that end, then finally solder the other end real quick while applying a tiny dab from the roll (works great with a small pencil tip iron).

If you are working with larger, through hole stuff, thicker wire is fine, I never use more than 0.050" thick stuff for 'normal' electronics.  Those two sizes cover everything I do.

 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2021, 07:21:14 pm »

Sure, but for hobby use, you can cut the "solder universe" down a lot...

 

Offline TimFox

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2021, 07:55:58 pm »
From legitimate vendors, restricting myself to my favorite Sn62, Ag2, Pb36 alloy, the important difference between solders is the flux in the core.  I prefer the old-fashioned rosin core for my tube-oriented work, but many of the modern solders have water-soluble ("no clean") flux in the core.  Of course, one should NEVER use acid-core solder, which is intended for plumbing purposes, on electronic joints.  Another difference, is the wire diameter, which can be chosen depending on the type and dimensions of solder joint that you need.  The fine wires can be used on large joints, but you need to push a long length of the wire.
 

Online coppice

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2021, 02:19:17 pm »
The alloy should be as is described by the maker, unless you get some really dodgy product. Surface corrosion can vary a bit, but that's not usually a big deal. What varies a lot is the flux content. The composition of the flux varies. The way the flux is distributed in cores through the cross-section of the solder varies. These factors can affect solderability quite a lot, and obviously affect the type of flux residue you have to clean away afterwards. The general type of flux is usually specified for any particular solder, but one maker's "rosin flux" may be very different from another's.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2021, 02:22:49 pm »
No not really, every brand enhances their own composition of the material that enhances the better performance

Are you talking about the flux?

Because it is hard to imagine how you can "enhance" a mix of e.g. Sn62, Ag2, Pb36...   without it becoming something else!  :D
 

Offline Humanoid

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2021, 05:21:27 pm »
I've been using the 63/37 Kester leaded solder with rosin core and it works great. I have a thicker and thinner spool (can't recall the sizes off hand, but they're the standard sizes most everyone uses). I still add flux sometimes, but most things, especially small, the solder by itself is fine. It melts quick and solidifies quickly. I think I got mine from amazon for around $25-$30 a spool. The thicker solder is good for making cables, thinner for components/pcb work.
 
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Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2021, 05:26:58 pm »
I've been using the 63/37 Kester leaded solder with rosin core and it works great. I have a thicker and thinner spool (can't recall the sizes off hand, but they're the standard sizes most everyone uses). I still add flux sometimes, but most things, especially small, the solder by itself is fine. It melts quick and solidifies quickly. I think I got mine from amazon for around $25-$30 a spool. The thicker solder is good for making cables, thinner for components/pcb work.

A beginner could do a lot worse than following this example.
 
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Offline TimFox

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2021, 06:51:12 pm »
I agree.  The eutectic alloys (e.g. Sn62 Pb36 Ag2 ternary and Sn63 Pb37 binary eutectic) are safe bets, for applications that do not require lead-free.
 

Offline coppercone2

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2021, 07:40:52 pm »
No, multicore is better, but mostly when you are soldering properly, I..e you tin the iron, cut the solder with ultra flush cutters, then solder (following aerospace guidelines). If you do alot of stuff treating solder like cement it means less.

But if you are at work I recommend the best.
 

Offline Refrigerator

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2021, 12:44:24 pm »
No, multicore is better, but mostly when you are soldering properly, I..e you tin the iron, cut the solder with ultra flush cutters, then solder (following aerospace guidelines). If you do alot of stuff treating solder like cement it means less.

But if you are at work I recommend the best.
But for hobby use i don't think it's worth going to this much trouble.
Most hobby projects end up in the "maybe someday" box anyways and the only time they fly is when you toss them in the bin after they blow up.  ;D
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Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2021, 01:50:01 pm »
No, multicore is better, but mostly when you are soldering properly, I..e you tin the iron, cut the solder with ultra flush cutters, then solder (following aerospace guidelines). If you do alot of stuff treating solder like cement it means less.

But if you are at work I recommend the best.
But for hobby use i don't think it's worth going to this much trouble.
Most hobby projects end up in the "maybe someday" box anyways and the only time they fly is when you toss them in the bin after they blow up.  ;D

If that happens a lot, time to scale back the ambition level on new projects!  :D

Works for me, anyway!
 

Offline coppercone2

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2021, 11:16:32 pm »
Yes, if you are having reliability problems its mostly a question of work (to increase hand eye skill or to follow procedure better)

this could mean, using a fiberglass brush to scrape, cleaning with alcohol, calibrating the iron, cleaning the iron, fluxing, wetting the iron, wetting the iron with a water sponge for real, improving time, replacing a tip, etc.

I would say the most imporant thing is to use the most agressive flux and to clean. I was very surpized by what kind of boost I got from using 'task wipes' (i.e. kimwipes). Putting the extra money on an alcohol dispenser, isopropyl, flux pen and a box of mini wipes will improve your soldering work much more then throwing money at insane levels of luxury flux dispersal melting pipe networks). it feels a little wasteful to buy kimwipes but its actually easy to clean with them an alcohol. I get surprising cleaning power from kimwipes + iso, similar to using the very expensive flux-off product.. I think paper towels are some how NOT the ticket here. It just works.

I have NO IDEA, I was getting piss poor performance from alcohol and lunch napkins, so bad that infact I thought it was a fools game, and I was ready to do something like buy a case of flux off.. but I got the dispenser and box of wipes after watching a youtube video on proper soldering that really seemed like they would not give you mis information and I was surprised.. its like getting good polishing foam for your car.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2021, 11:21:11 pm by coppercone2 »
 

Offline BlackICE

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2021, 03:10:53 am »
I have some kimwipes from a job I had over 40 years ago. I haven't used them to clean off any flux. My method is use a toothbrush with isopropyl alcohol and scrub the PCB and parts with that. Is that the right technique?
 

Offline coppercone2

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2021, 08:08:19 am »
I almost find the brush not relevant, the kimwipes even got original flux off 1960's PCB

give it a try, I dab it in the alcohol dispenser then scrub it over the solder joint and it seems to do a very good job of absorbing the flux into the tissue, and its pretty resistant to tears and leaving stuff behind. I never had them before and I totally stopped bothering with paper products and flux, because of the poor performance of most towels for flux related things. I bought it when I watched those advanced soldering classes on youtube, they basically made it seem like its good enough to put into an airplane after a kimwipe with alcohol, and it seems to be. They also clean the iron with them. There is less tracking and cross contamination with a brush, it seems to be instantly absorbed into the wipe.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2021, 08:15:34 am by coppercone2 »
 

Offline BlackICE

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2021, 09:32:29 am »
But I do mostly through hole stuff and the pins would snag the kimwipes.
 

Offline Robert Smith Eco Warrior

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2021, 11:42:33 am »
What happens to flux that gets under surface mount components and chips etc? Can you soak the board for a good while for the flux to disolve if you can't get to it to scrub or wipe it off?
Is the remaining flux a problem anyway? We live in a notoriously damp region and damp seems to get into everything somehow. I am thinking of varnish dipping my circuits once complete but wondering about trapped flux.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Are all solder brands equal? (except obviously dodgy stuff)
« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2021, 02:45:08 pm »
I almost find the brush not relevant, the kimwipes even got original flux off 1960's PCB

give it a try, I dab it in the alcohol dispenser then scrub it over the solder joint and it seems to do a very good job of absorbing the flux into the tissue, and its pretty resistant to tears and leaving stuff behind. I never had them before and I totally stopped bothering with paper products and flux, because of the poor performance of most towels for flux related things. I bought it when I watched those advanced soldering classes on youtube, they basically made it seem like its good enough to put into an airplane after a kimwipe with alcohol, and it seems to be. They also clean the iron with them. There is less tracking and cross contamination with a brush, it seems to be instantly absorbed into the wipe.

+1 for the Kim Wipes, they are amazing.

I use the method seen in the advanced videos, i.e. use a brush "through" a piece of Kim Wipe.  It is amazing how well that works for mopping up residue.
 


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