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Inexpensive Way To Try Both Leaded and Lead Free Solder

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redg:
Returning to soldering after a hiatus of several years, I'd like to try both leaded and lead free solder.

I thought that I’d post about a financially sensible way to do this because I haven’t seen it discussed in earlier threads. An authorised Kester vendor, NTE Electronics, markets what it calls Kester Pocket Paks. See the screen capture below.

I’ve ordered two Pocket Paks via Amazon:

Kester 44, 63/37, 3.3% flux, ⌀ 0.8mm/0.031”: $7.35
Kester 48, SAC305, 3.3% flux, ⌀ 0.8mm/0.031”: $5.95

For my purposes, ⌀ 0.8mm should work well, and Kester recommends 3.3% flux for both of these solders.

I also ordered a Kester 186 Flux Pen, which Kester also recommends for these solders: $10.10.

Amazon U.S. is the vendor as well as the shipper for all three products.

There’s a gentleman who sells small packs of Kester and other solders on Amazon, eBay and Tindie, but I decided that Pocket Paks and a 186 Flux Pen is the right combination for me.



redg:
Next day delivery from Amazon for the Pocket Paks. I should receive the Kester 186 Flux Pen on Thursday. Given that Amazon is the vendor, I don't know why it would take five days for delivery of the Pen.

The attached photo shows the Pocket Paks. The tubes are 11cm (4.3") long, about 14mm (0.5") in diameter.

Plenty enough solder to test Kester 44 (leaded 63/37, white tube) and 48 (lead free SAC305, green tube).



redg:
One of the factors that I'll consider when deciding whether to go with leaded or lead free will be cost. The table below shows the prices for the Pocket Pak solders as bars, as solid wire and as Kester 44 and 48 wire embedded with flux. The prices are from the website of an authorised Kester vendor.

I'm curious about what the market is for solid wire. Note that it costs quite a bit more than more heavily processed flux core wire.

I'm also curious about what Kester's reputation is based on. I assume that there are a good number of companies that can make bars and solid wire of equal quality. If so, when people talk about brand quality, it would appear that they're actually talking about either differences in how well flux is incorporated into wire or the quality of the flux itself.







narkeleptk:
I've been using rel22 lately, happy enough with it.  I rarely use leaded solder mostly because of my young children hanging out in my workshop but its pretty much all the same for me, just different temp settings on my gear. I do dislike the extra clean up care needed with leaded solder tho so probably even with out the kids I'd stick to lead-free in most cases.

redg:

--- Quote from: narkeleptk on May 09, 2021, 11:04:56 pm ---I've been using rel22 lately, happy enough with it.  I rarely use leaded solder mostly because of my young children hanging out in my workshop but its pretty much all the same for me, just different temp settings on my gear. I do dislike the extra clean up care needed with leaded solder tho so probably even with out the kids I'd stick to lead-free in most cases.

--- End quote ---

Thanks, your post got me thinking about this further. I've decided that I'll go with lead-free solder unless my test of Kester 44 and 48 gives me compelling reasons to go with leaded. I may be able to ensure that all of my finished work eventually goes to a recycler. However, I've now done some reading on dealing with solder waste. I'm not prepared to throw it in with my regular garbage, and I'm not interested in collecting and isolating it and taking it to a recycling operation. Also, I had enough from the pandemic of treating my hands as a source of contamination. One of the real benefits of being vaccinated was dispensing with that rigamarole :)

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