Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Solder fumes

In Hardware on Jan 13, 2012 at 00:01

Have you noticed that solder fumes always tend to rise up into your nose? As the type of solder I’m using is particularly irritating, I decided to do something about it, ending up with a very low-tech solution…

Normal fume extractors (Dutch link) tend to suck the air in, filtering it through a carbon filter to actually remove the fumes from the air, but I find them a bit unwieldy. Yet another power cable to clutter my workbench.

Here’s my solution:

DSC 2852

A small 12V brushless PC fan, which happens to still start up and rotate reliably at 3.6V, as provided by three Eneloop AA batteries. Stuck to a battery pack (with on/off switch) using hot glue, which also doubles as weighted base for it all. The fan is slanted slightly downwards, to better cover the area on the table.

The result is whisper quiet and generates a micro breeze which gently diverts the solder fumes away from my nose. This particular fan draws only 30 mA @ 3.6V, so it’ll last some 70 hours on a single battery pack. And since these are rechargeable batteries of which I keep a constant supply, that’s plenty for me.

Long live re-use!

  1. Nice recycling, but I think I will pass. I think I’m addicted to solder fumes, I find soldering strangely therapeutic.

    I remember resurrecting “dead” 80mm fans one particularly hot summer (yes, I know, I’m in the UK, stop laughing!). Seized sleeve bearings revived with a drop of oil, then arranged them round my desk and monitor with 12v “stolen” via a cable into my PC’s hard drive connector. IIRC there were at least eight of them.

    Much amusement in the office, but I was the only one who was comfortable, although it wasn’t quiet! Nothing lightweight stayed on the desk for long though either!

    Which does make me wonder, how far do your SMD bits fly?

    • I find soldering strangely therapeutic.

      Well, I’ll let you know when your therapy is going off in the wrong way <wink> :)

      how far do your SMD bits fly?

      Heh – the fan turns quite slowly at that voltage (my guess is 600..700 rpm), it’s barely audible and it really is a micro breeze. No effect on 0603 R’s, as far as I can tell…

    • LOL!

      I don’t think the therapy is intended to cure me (I’m beyond help) just keep me off the streets and away from anyone else!

  2. Depending on the solder-job, I’m using a 5 Volt USB fan from DealExtreme or a big table fan on the lowest setting. I’m not soldering enough to buy or build expensive professional tools other then a good quality soldering iron which allows me to do some SMD stuff and some basic tools. I’ve worked with “the good stuff” in a semi professional setting in the past though. So if you do this for a living in a lab with controlled air, you definitely want a fume extractor. If you do this at home a simple fan + an open window will achieve the nearly same.

    Nice solution though!

  3. You’ve got to get rid of the fumes. If they don’t cause cancer, at least it’s not good for your health. I use an Aoyue 968A+ rework station that includes hot air gun, soldering iron, and a built-in smoke absorber: It’s not cheap, but it’s very convenient as the absorber is attached to the soldering iron.

    • Actually, I’ve got exactly that same unit. But I find the soldering iron too bulky and too noisy for day-to-day use. Bit spoilt by my ERSA iron and the total silence around here, I guess.

  4. What type of solder do you use jcw?

  5. Can’t remember – a big spool of no-clean 0.5 mm stuff. Flows really well, but the fumes are irritating.

  6. Simple and gets rid of the concentrated fumes. I’d like it more if you have the window open though, sitting in a room of second hand solder fumes is no good for you either.

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