What is your opinion of these portable filter systems for
soldering/welding. I am presently getting some info on a couple
different types right now. Is anyone using these presently? I love
doing metalsmithing and lapidary work , but not enough to suffer
healthwise from it.
We use portable filtration units. But before that I’d like to
comment on what you said, " I love doing metalsmithing but not enough
to suffer healthwise from it."
I really admire that statement. When I read it I was instantly sent
back in time to when I was growing up around the business. I recall
as a young boy when my father was teaching me how to solder at age 10
while sitting at his bench (by the way his bench was in our home)
when he said, “Now remember son, never touch this!” It was a bottle
of mercury. A real ole timer he was. Imagine working with mercury.
I know I speak for many veteran bench jewelers (you know who you
are) when I say some have become accustomed to traditional ways of
working the bench that one tends to forget and or overlook the
serious hazards of some materials which they might have worked with.
Or taken unnecessary chances when they knew they shouldn’t have. It
wasn’t that long ago when those asbestos round soldering pads were
still in use. What! You still have yours in the drawer???
An old master jeweler (55 years exp) we knew would on occasion say,
" I’ve stripped and bombed so many times, I’m immune to cyanide!" He
wasn’t serious of course but he was very careless in my opinion with
how he worked with it, especially the removal of toxic fumes from his
shop. A simple fan facing the window with the sink in between. He
never would wear a mask. You could see the old stains on the ceiling
near the sink from improper mixture. You would think he’d be an
expert after all them years. KaaaBoom!!! Woops water must have been
too hot! Hence, the chemical process by why it’s called, bombing. I
always wanted to develop for the “bombers of the industry” the
perfect safety sealed capsules that released after melting when only
submerged in hot water the perfect quantities of peroxide/cyanide in
relation to a metal weight chart - but that’s another dream. Run with
it people Don’t forget the holding tank!
As for me, I promised myself and made a decision 15 years ago that I
would never use cyanide anymore. That was that! I simply found other
ways to strip which I find much more controllable than bombing.
Like many in this forum, I feel this is an important subject that
needs special attention regarding chemical mist, fine dust and
gaseous vapors for the long term exposure of the career artist, as
well all health related issues for the industry. Quick fixes or home
made gadgets are a great first thought for most of us jewelers
because they tend to be more affordable. Why buy an expensive
centrifugal dryer for removing water stains after steam cleaning when
a $10. blow dryer works just fine. Your right! But when considering
making your own ventilation, just make sure you know exactly where
those harmful fumes are going. Out a wall to where?
As I’m not familiar with all the particulars of your home. Some
things come to mind. Do you have kids? Animals? A vegetable garden?
To expand further, when I think of working out of my home ( wait - I
qualify - I live at my shop 12 hrs a day - home sweet home) I think
of children, animals and unforeseen accidents that could potentially
occur. What - no children! What about the neighbors? Hmmm, a garage
which my bench tanks have to share with an approaching car(s)
everyday. Not if you saw my kids car front bumper.
Some quick food for thought for extra care when anyone is
manufacturing at home.
Kids - Serious strict rules about tanks, torches and sharp tools.
Lock the chemicals. Unplug the rolling mill if electric when not in
use. Yikes! Don’t forget! Animals - Not near my bench, they like to
lick things and knock things over. Tanks - Chain those tanks well to
the wall. If in the garage, well out of range of approaching vehicles
- check for leaks periodically. The tops of the tanks are the most
important thing to protect. Make sure nothing from a shelf above can
fall onto the open and close valve of the tank etc etc etc and many
Sorry - got carried away to a distant land - see what a well
deserved Hawaiian Friday beer can do to ya - 1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3
tequila - FLOOR!
I think this was about portable filtration - back to business for
the serious minded
We use portable filtration systems. While the portables we use were
quite costly, we truly feel the benefits when using our units called
the “Mini Vac” which has up to 560 cfm each of collection power for
anywhere (on wheels) we need in our factory.
Made by Airflow systems www.airflowsystems.com in Dallas Texas,
these units are a high quality designed systems made out of heavy
gauge steel cabinets (the size of a low style 2 drawer filing
cabinet) utilizing collection hose maneuvering arms (stiff arm hose
has top or side mount options) with 3 stackable filters inside. Two
hepa filters with a third bottom filter of activated carbon in a mesh
Important Note: Activated carbon is a proven method for trapping a
variety of molecular pollutants and gaseous contaminants. If the
units you’re looking at don’t have activated carbon filters - find
some that do - or put your own in. Microscopically, activated carbon
is a sponge-like pore substance that can collect and retain chemical
compounds on its surface. Simply put, it’s the best for a portable
We use 6 of these mini vacs for our plating, soldering, vulcanizing,
investing and casting departments. They are widely used and in high
demand in soldering computer boards. A more descriptive example in
filtered usage is our need to produce sometimes as many as12 silicon
rubber molds in a typical day. As you might imagine, the odor
generated would be quite considerable producing uncomfortable work
conditions for everyone in that department without the use of our
Again ours cost a bundle - but well worth the investment in our
view. Check them out, www.airflowsystems.com they may have a smaller
more affordable system for your needs. Our main objective in making
our decision to purchase the units was to go with a good quality
local air filtration system for our work stations which improves and
promotes a healthy work environment. To that end, we also protect our
most important company asset " Our employees".
Hope it helps. Sorry about the long reply everyone. I enjoy
reflecting on the past with fond memories of Dad at the bench when he
was alive. After many years of having a distant relationship I was
fortunate enough to work with him the last 10 years of his life. I
truly value his knowledge as I do this wonderful forum.
Best Regards to All with Aloha,
Steve in Hawaii,