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Marking Wire Solder


In our University Jewelry Studio, our Professor (Richard Mawdsley),
uses a system of bending wire solder to readily prevent mis
identifying temperature ranges. He’s used the system over 30 years
and does not recall if he started it or if it was a shop practice at
K.State or elsewhere.

____I      I______  HARD   (offset & return)

____I                      MEDIUM     (offset)

____O________  SOFT  (single loop)

It is an easy to use system as mis identified wire is bad news. I
once soldered sterling with sterling wire (it worked but not readily
and not "repositionable!! (long sad story- -painful)) Anyone else use
this or similar systems? Thanks, ED


I prefer to put a colored bead on the wire–red for hard (takes a hot
flame), orange for medium, yellow for soft, and green for very soft.
I use purple for IT solder. Easier for me to remember.


For marking and storing wire solder, I like to coil a length of wire
and put it in a 35mm film container. The film containers are marked and
have a hole punched in the lid for the wire to be pulled out as
needed. Timothy A. Hansen


Hello Edward Wales and a warm welcome back to Hanuman,

   Anyone else use this (means to identify various solders) or
similar systems? 

Since I prefer to have pieces of solder and therefore cut up my
solder, I have found that a different form for each type of solder
works well. Even in small pieces, it’s easy to identify each flow
type. Wire makes little “pillow-shapes” when cut into small pieces
Sheet (or strips) - cuts into various size squares and rectangles
Pre-chipped are uniform shapes - the ones I have are little discs

The pre-chipped is more expensive, so use that form when buying the
least-often used solder. I’ve often wondered why the makers of pre-
chipped solder don’t all get together and agree on a commonly
accepted shape of chip for each type of solder. Then regardless of
where it is purchased, the shape indicates the type of solder.

Another trick that works only for sheet, is to color the whole sheet
(both sides) with magic marker before cutting it up… different
color for each solder - leave the most commonly used solder
UNCOLORED. The color seems to last indefinitely and “burns off” in

I recycle the little metal pans from eyeshadow to hold the three
solders on my soldering block - secure the pans with straight pins if
you want. Marking the inside of each pan with the appropriate
initial (H or E or M) helps to quickly identify them too. Different
colors would also work unless you’re colorblind (grin).

It’s trying to be springtime in Kansas; too early I fear. When the
redbuds come out, I’ll believe it’s truely spring. Thank you Hanuman
for all you do; Orchid missed you. Judy Willingham

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Extension Associate
221 Call Hall Kansas State Univerisity
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-1213 FAX (785) 532-5681


I cut wire solder into 12-15 inch lengths and mark the ends by
bending them into shapes. An S shape for hard, U shape for medium, a
loop like a cursive E for easy, and two E loops for extra easy. I use
this system with my students, and they rarely get confused by it.
Karen Hemmerle Boulder, CO


to store solder wire i grab 9"x 5" zip lock bags (which i order by
the 1000 & use for everything except 5 pound pieces of rough), mark
the solder e, m, or h with a magic marker, run the marker over the
coiled wire once, stuff it in the bag and hang it up within easy
reach. you can see which one is needed in the clear bag, it doesn’t
roll around, & you can see when it gets low. now, if i could just do
the same with those five pound chunks of rock. ive


I was taught to mark my wire solder similar to your method:

#70, a double kink  |___

#65, a single kink____

#60, a loop ___O_____________

#56, a double loop ___O_O___________

#45 (brass-colored), the end doubled on itself, with a single kink

#30 (brass-colored), the end doubled on itself, with a single loop

Sheet solder kept in labeled film canisters, some chipped, some
strips, some rolled. Except for #75, which I use so much of, I just
keep it in a big strip in my bench drawer, marked #75 with a carbide
tip on both sides, all over.

Granulated solder in marked glass vials, which can have paste flux
added as needed, for the amount needed.

As a general note of interest, silver solders are denoted as #75,
#70, etc., according to the silver content in their composition, e.g.
a #75 contains 75% silver, a #70 contains 70% silver. This is less
confusing than trying to figure out extra hard, hard, medium, easy,
extra easy, super easy, and extra super easy :slight_smile:

K.P. in WY

    It is an easy to use system as mis identified wire is bad news.
 I once soldered sterling with sterling wire (it worked but not
readily and not "repositionable!! (long sad story- -painful)) Anyone
else use this or similar systems?  

Precedence: bulk

Yes, it is an easy system, and one could wish that your dear and
beloved professor’s marking would/could be omniglobal. But, ha-ha,
life is not that easy. Even here in little Denmark I know of at least
five different systems of marking silver solder (and gold solder for
that matter, too). I will not go into details, but just mention that
some make a ninety degree bent on the solder, which then describes it
as extra hard, two bents equals hard, three bents medium, four equals
light and five extra light; others use 'm’s and ’ v 's and 'o’s and
triangles and squares, so it is not at all this easy. No, I really
would love if we could agree on a general and international ‘code’ on
this subject, but I don’t think there is much hope. Anybody else with
another experience?

Niels From springtime Denmark where the daffodills are showing their
yellow heads and the rain is pouring.


One way that I have used in the past before I returned to sheet
solder is to bend one end according to the grade of solder. One bend
(L) for easy, Two medium looks like a gamma, And three which
makes a little square at the top which makes it look like a piece of
wire with a on the end. Hope my description isn’t too cryptic!!!


I don’t have too much experience in this topic, but if I understood
well you can make it taking your alloy to form an ignot of 6,8 or 10
K, so the ingot has first to be converted in a thin square wire using
a rolling mill (passing it through the different grooves) and then
this wire has to pass through the holes of a drawplate as up to you.

Be sure that every two o three grooves and holes the wire has to be
tempered (red light color but not too red).

Jose Luis