Can solder get "old"?

I was a student in 2016 and got a lot of solder in my student pack, enough that still use it to this day. That being said…

I just cut a whole bunch of jump rings and am making some chain using this old solder. After it was built, I went on to shape the links into a paper clip shape and every single one of them has failed at the join. I am beside myself and don’t understand how this can happen other than old solder. Joints were clean and not overly fluxed, tight and ready to go. I just dont understand why EVERY joint failed miserably. I’m looking at a big pile of wasted work and I’m mad about it.

Has anyone else ever run into this issue? I’m so frustrated.

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If your solder is still in sheet or wire form, fold a small piece of sandpaper in half and draw your solder through. Then cut only enough pallions for a day or two. Store the cut pieces in a screw top container; I use old lip gloss pots.

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Give it a cleaning with a fine sanding pad, then wash and dry it. I use solder that is decades old.

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Much of my solder is 10 years old or more. Works fine. I cut paillons, zillions of them, and store in little watchmakers tins. No, I don’t sand them, or flux them. Just put 'em where needed and heat the surrounding metal. Works a treat every time.

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Are you sure it’s solder you are using? Do you have sufficient heat? Do you hold heat on the join for a tiny bit after solder has flowed?

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Where did you get the material that you made the jump rings out of? Is it possible that it isn’t what you think it is? If it is, did you see the solder flow? Don’t worry too much about the amount of flux you use. It is better to use a lot than too little. If I am just soldering jump rings, I put the solder chip on my soldering pad, lay the ring on the chip with the joint over the chip and then heat from above until the solder flows into the joint towards the heat. This is frustrating. My brother and I joke that we sometimes forget how to solder. When it happens, I stop and clean the entire soldering area and refresh my chemicals. Good luck…Rob

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I’ve done the same and also store them in small airtight containers. I am at a loss.

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Yes, I always leave the heat on a bit after the solder has flowed just to make sure both sides are joined and the solder has flowed completely. Brand new wire, perfect joins-both sides lined up perfectly. I am at a loss. The only thing I can think of is bad solder. Nothing else makes sense. I’ve been making chain (maille) since 2000 and I know what I’m doing usually. Nothing makes sense to me right now.

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I have. I’ve done all of that. Honestly, I’ve sanded, cleaned, re-fluxed, re-soldered but they just keep failing. The wire is new and from Umicore (I’m in Canada) so honestly, I just can’t figure this out. I’m not a novice and I’ve tried everything. I just don’t know.

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I acquired a fair amount of sheet silver solder back in the early/mid 1990’s. I’m still using it and it still works as expected. So, I don’t think there could be any aging problems with your solder. However, it’s easy enough to try with some new solder. Eliminating possible problems one step at a time is sometimes the best way to discover what’s going wrong.
– alonzo

Solder can oxidize but deterioration would only happen in a very acidic environment. I have solders that are 50 years old and they still work fine. Almost all solder fails come down to heat, dirt and oxidation.
Jo

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I think if I had this problem I would cut some snips of the “solder” and some of a similar size of thin silver sheet. Then I’d put them next to each other on a soldering block and apply the torch to see which melted first. I suspect that the OP might have confused solder and silver sheet. That’s the only explanation I can think of. If the “solder” does melt before the sheet then it is…solder. If that’s the case, possibly the flux isn’t flux? -royjohn

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Silver solder does not ‘spoil’ over any amount of time. But it does get dirty, and it does oxidize–and dirt and/or oxidation will keep the solder from running. So old solder (just like new solder!) must always be scrupulously cleaned. If it has already been cut into tiny bits, you would not really be able to clean it properly, as it really should be cleaned by abrasion e.g., sanding.

Janet in Jerusalem

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I have used 20 year old silver solder without problems, even when the solder appeared somewhat dirty… but everything including what you are soldering as well as the solder has be been clean. if you are using sheet solder, don’t cut off the paillons or chips until needed for use…keeping the sheet or wire clean is easier than cleaning small cut pieces…
silver solders contain zinc. The more sinc, the lower the melting point. Zinc which will very gradually oxidize at the surface giving the sheet a dull appearance, not like shiny new…it doesn’t take much to clean a piece of sheet or wire shiny new…just rubbing against an abrasive sponge for cleaning the sink is enough…the oxidation is only at the surface and doesn’t penetrate into the metal… are you sure what you are soldering is compatible with the solder? it sounds like that might be the case…

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try pickling it before using

It’s not the solder. I have chip solder from 2010, oxidized and some pieces have a green patina (maybe from contact with copper). Flux and heat seem to make everything flow. I don’t bother cleaning my sheet solder with a scrubbie ever. Anything organic on either the solder or the piece itself will burn away with heat.