I am interested in learning more about low temp solders. A friend of
mine has become very interested in metalworking and she is showing
some innate talent at forming. She is making various copper forms
that she is turning into garden ornaments and fountains. She has a
background in making stained glass. So much of what she is making is
assembled with soft solder containing lead.
I work with precious metals and avoid the lead stuff completely.
Even the copper garden art I have made I used lead-free soft solder.
My experience is limited though with these types of solders. I can
tell that compared to the lead-free stuff that I used, she does seem
to get a bit stronger bond with the leaded solder.
I have been reading on the subject in the Brehpol Theory and
Practice of Goldsmithing book. There is a good section in there on
various solders. But I wondered if any of you could tell me more. My
main concern is for her health. How much is exposure is too much?
Does heating these low temp solders with a torch rather than a
soldering iron, possibly taking them beyond there normal melt temp,
expose you to dangerous fumes? Will a copper fountain that is
assembled with small amounts of leaded solder slowly contaminate the
water that runs through it? Any thoughts on the longevity of these
joints when exposed to the elements outside? (She does apply an
acrylic sealer to the pieces which may help protect the joints a
I have shared a good deal of metalworking with my friend
involving forming and shaping. I have showed her how to create
greater surface area and contact in her joints to improve the
stability of her soft solder joins. I have also showed her how to
hard solder pieces. But she does not currently have a torch that can
supply enough heat to really hard solder these larger pieces. Also
the copper tends to get so annealed during the process of hard
soldering that soft soldering really does show some advantage.
Thanks for any info on this topic you can pass along.