Let me give a bit of simple advise for all those concerned with
soldering fumes. While it is true that some of the stuff we burn is
not healthy for us, the amounts that we are burning are very small in
a small shop environment. The most basic air circulation system will
take care of these fumes, unless you are truly burning quantities of
the stuff. I have a simple fan on my bench, like the ones used to
cool computers. They are very quiet, and move air away from me. As
the fumes are dispersed into the room, the number of parts per
million of the nasty stuff decreases to a safe level. So, try this
simple test in your shop: place a TINY piece of incense next to the
piece that you are going to solder. As you solder, be sure to hit the
incense with your torch. If you immediately smell incense, you are
definitely also breathing in harmful fumes. If not, you’re OK.
Again, if you are burning up lots of nasty stuff, you will need to
vent this somewhere else besides the room you are in. Venting it
outside only lets the parts per million expand to a safer level. Wood
smoke from your fireplace (or campfire) is not healthy either, so you
vent it away or stay out of the smoke. I am saying all this because
beginning metalsmiths are reading this forum and wondering what they
must purchase to keep themselves and their families healthy and safe.
Before you invest lots of money in trying to filter the air around
your workbench, just do this simple test. Remember that even the
tiniest bit of incense is more concentrated than the cadmium or
fluoride fumes from your soldering. Keep fresh air in the room, keep
your big nose off the charcoal block, and don’t lick the flux brush!
And stop polishing everything at your bench!
If you are sensitive to the fumes, or just paranoid, spend the money
on a real filtering system, not a dust filter. Personally, I find the
fumes OUTSIDE my studio to be far more harmful than the ones inside,
and driving to work is probably the riskiest thing I do every day.
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