Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Adding flux to powdered solder, also, powdered zinc?

Hi all,

I like to try to make things from scratch, at least once or twice, and so made myself some solder, aiming for Hard and Eutectic.

I am filing some down to use as powdered solder, and was curious about adding boric acid, or borax, or both, directly to the powder.

I remember reading Victroria Langford’s site, hers does contain the flux and for paste, she advises to just use some water. Something similar, though, i’m really not looking to get anyone’s trade secrets. It’s the sort of experimental learning.

The other wonder i had, i read somewhere a blurb that just said to use Zinc Oxide if you intend to powder your solder; what if you made a Eutectic alloy, then instead of pre-preparing various hardnesses, you added a touch of powdered zinc or zinc oxide as you worked? I imagine the idea was to prevent the Zinc from burning off, as zinc oxide has a much higher vaporization temp. What i don’t know, is if the intent is to reduce the oxide to a metallic state IN the melt, or just disperse it in the melt without actually alloying it. And in that case, would it even matter if it was in the alloy itself.

Cheers!

I made a bullion of solder to create powder for filigree. Problem is grinding it. Anyone have any suggestions on how to do this without taking hours to get enough powder for a small piece??

I spray my pieces woth Cuprinel & add powder.

Got a flexshaft or a dremel?
I used a carbide bullet burr, but any cylinder or ball burr should work well.
If you have space, put down a large sheet of wax paper, watch the direction it fires the powder, grind away!

Or, grab a small container (i used a large pill bottle, tupperwar can work too), grip the nugget with locking jaw pliers so its tightly held and no fingers near it, and grind in there.

I have read someone say they put a burr or similar in their drill press, and put paper underneath.

Other suggestion often accompanying these reads are to use a magnet over the poweder after in case of any steel file bits falling in.

1 Like

Brian, that was a great success…why didnt I think of that! Considering the price of powdered solder for I’ll grind on a bullion for sure, but using a file wasn’t the best solution! Appreciate your help!

1 Like

I have a newbie question (like most all my questions are at this stage :rofl:). I did a little, very little, research to see how and why powdered solder in used and I was wondering why this has an advantage over the use of those soldering pastes sold in syringe tubes? Thanks, Bruce

Since you have looked at Victoria Lansford’s site, take a look at her filigree and how it is made. You will see the advantage of this type of solder over solder that is applied in paste or small pallions. I make very simple filigree pieces with larger frame and filler wire that can be soldered with paste and pallions, but when I try to work with 28 gauge filler, it become very difficult to solder it without the type of solder that she uses. Pallions and paste will, at least in my experience, typically over fill the small twists and the texture is lost. Her work is amazing regardless of how it is soldered…Rob

1 Like

Thanks Rob, headed there now!

No words…her work in all categories is nothing short of master"s Master! I’ve always believed that God gave us talents and personalities that we carry with us into heaven. When I see work like Victoria’s, I’m thankful to Jesus that I’ll have an eternity to continue learning and doing what I love!

2 Likes

I’m so glad it worked out!
I am up against something i’m not sure about now, and need to ask, i figure i’ll try here before starting another thread…

What colour should your solder come out as?
I tried to make some easy solder this weekend, and it came out still a bit of a pale-gold colour. Once filed, it’s even more evident in the colour. I didn’t get a chance to solder with it yet, but i worry about the colour.

Is this normal? When i purchase solder, it appears silver-white! Powder, dark gray. Hard solder, still silver-silver. Did i mess up?

I took one of Victoria’s workshops almost 20 years ago before she came out with her powdered solder. Before that class I tried working with the paste solder. She recommends the hard version with good cause. Paste solder has a bad habit of pitting. less so with the harder versions. To sum up my experience with the paste, I myself do not think everyone, hated it. I found laying a little bit of wire solder on top of the joint I wanted to solder and heating from below, worked best for ME!. Then Victoria came out with her powdered solder. I was one of the first to gladly buy it. Again, for me and not saying anyone else, I hated it worse than the paste. I had purchased her little ingot and diligently had filed it into a small vial of solder. I went back to that and using the ingot powder. Since that time I searched for powdered solder I didn’t have to make myself (it’s not as easy as it seems) I found a lady who makes it for others who lives in Southern Florida. Many here know her name, and the company she has. Right at the moment I’n not stable enough on my feet to go into the disaster my garage is, nor ask my husband to go out into the mess he created to find one of the little bottles I have of her solder. I’m sure someone will chime in here.

Reason I don’t like Victoria’s solder and again this is my opinion and not every ones. When you start to heat the solder up to melt it, it mushrooms upward and displaces the pieces I have worked so hard to get set into the frame. Stand near me when it happens and you get a free Danish not suitable language for work or young ears lesson. I learned quickly to use my soldering pic to push the errant wires back down. They never went back exactly where I had them positioned. With the non fluxed solder, I had a slight raising of the bubbling solder, but it didn’t mushroom up. This may seem minor, but when you have spent nearly quite a while positioning your work, the last thing you want is the to have travel. Yes you can learn to deal with it. Yes Victoria’s solder is great for many. I found what works best for me.

Aggie

1 Like

Thanks for the honest opinion from your experience Aggie, and for the hilarious view into what it might look (or hear) like when the objects you worked so hard to position get up and start dancing! lol! While i’ve never done anything as intricate as filigree, I know the frustration of chasing a dancing soldering job. I’ve had the soldering paste tucked away in my drawer for awhile but never used it until the other day. Trying to place a bunch of design items around the bezel and getting all the tiny solder chips in the bezel in the right place and keep my sanity was a challenge…bumpity bump, scooch, bump, #@$%*! So I tried a mixed approach using some paste solder to keep things in place while positioning the chip solder inside the bezel, and some in strategic spots outside to reinforce my confidence that it would all get soldered all in one heat and it worked great! Gotta experiment and do what works for you I guess is the lesson learned…thanks Aggie!
Bruce

I think the person you are referring to is Beth Katz, (Unique Solutions:
(http://www.myuniquesolutions.com/)

Neil A

YESSSSS Neil that’s her.

Aggie

Making your own solder is fine, and may seem cost effective, BUT and that is a BUT bigger than my butt, the time it takes to make it is not worth the time. To save a few dollars you will lose tens if not hundred dollars just making the solder rather than making your jewelry. We balance time in our profession. Time spent making jewelry as opposed to making supplies is money in our bank account. Making supplies takes that money away while we think we are making or saving money. Been there done that,

I have to argue with this a tiny bit, not from the perspective of your opinion or knowledge, clearly you know what you like and what works for you, but i see this comment fairly often and i find it a touch frustrating: “you can make your own X (wire, sheet, solder, flux), but it’s never worth it”

For true professionals, who have steady streams of business or production, that will generate income based on how efficient you are, sure, makes sense. You have two basic costs: time and money; if the cost of the materials pre-made is worth less than the time investment, it’s simple efficiency.

On the other hand, many people asking, are not there. Maybe they have part time shops, Etsy, shows, or hobbyists. The time cost there can be a wildly different calculation. If you are a hobbyist, or unknown, or learning, there is no guaranteed income from your production. You may work on a single piece for days, even weeks, in between full time jobs/kids/life, and may not even sell the items; or sell them not expecting a true profit, but recovering some costs.

So efficiency can mean different things. If your goal is the experience, doing “more work” learning the intricacies and some sense of pride of doing everything from scratch, then the time/cost calculation is vastly different than production and sales. I personally love to make things from scratch scratch, or as close to as possible. I would, if i could, start with ore, even once, just to do it. For me, alloying my own metal, drawing my own wire, making my own solder, is part of the experience that i’m looking for. I have very little time in my life, but it’s not the type of time that costs me money; in that sense i have far more time than i have money. Making a piece that will cost me 60-100 dollars in parts, will not be recovered, ever. If i do manage to sell a few pieces, that cost me instead 20-30, i may at least recover some amount of that, while also getting that experience i crave.

/end rant. so sorry for the wall LOL. But also, thanks a bunch for your input!

I regularly go down some rabbit hole that I don’t emerge from for days following a bit of curiosity. Often it is a result of asking myself if I can make something that I can easily buy. I just did that with magnetic clasps. I can afford to do it for just the reasons that you identify. I do the same thing with gardening. I often say that I grow $10 tomatoes…Rob

Brian a well thought out argument in the vain of the Socratic style is a presentation of your differing ideas, and then coming to a middle ground where both can find suitable common ground. No problems with your argument at all. We have different perspectives as you have brought out. Some of the things I do, I want to go for the less work route like making solder is one of those. In others I tend to get into all the little things and will not compromise and take my time. In cooking I’m so damn picky about everything I want the freshest ingredients and all items are made from scratch. My enchiladas I even go so far as making my own cheese. I get the milk from a local man with a few head cows. It’s the taste of the final product that keeps me doing it that way. I could buy all of the ingredients already made and crank out the enchiladas in less than an hour, but the two days I take to make them.
So you see we all have our perspectives.

Aggie

Man Aggie, too bad for me you’re on the opposite coast; those enchiladas sound amazing! :yum: