Soldering health and safety: What to consider
While you are soldering, health and safety should be at the forefront of your focus. Soldering is an established and fairly straightforward process, but it has the potential to be extremely dangerous.
Understanding how to solder safely is essential, so you need to make sure you’re up to speed before you even pick up your soldering iron. Not only will it keep you and those around you safe, but it will also improve the quality of your work and help you become more confident and teach you to use your soldering iron properly.
Health and safety considerations
We’re going to cover the most important aspects of health and safety while soldering. Some of these might seem obvious, but when you’re busy focusing on a particularly tricky soldering task, it’s easy to forget even the simplest of precautions. We hope this will help you to stay safe while soldering and avoid unnecessary harm.
Don’t touch soldering iron elements
While it’s common knowledge that soldering iron elements are hot, it perhaps might not be so well known just how hot they get. Some soldering irons can reach scorching temperatures of up to 400°C!
Common sense tells us not to touch hot objects, but in unexpected situations, you could easily forget this. For example, if you drop your soldering iron, you should never try to grab it. Regardless of whether it could become damaged or break completely, it’s not worth harming yourself to try and save it. You can buy a new soldering iron, but the damage to your hand might be irreversible!
Use a soldering iron stand
Keeping your soldering iron in a secure position while you’re not using it is essential. And by a secure position, we don’t mean leaning it up against another object. You need to care for your soldering iron tips as they can get extremely hot. Hot enough to burn through materials and damage tables, chairs and other equipment. This could also damage your soldering iron tip, so it really should be avoided at all costs.
To ensure your soldering iron is locked securely in place, the best solution is to use a soldering iron stand. Not only will this prevent accidents, but it can also benefit your soldering iron tips. JBC has produced a number of clever soldering iron stands that will put your soldering iron into idle mode while it’s not in use. This will cool down the tip, preventing it from being heated up for too long and elongating its lifespan.
The immense heat from a soldering iron can cause the solder to ‘spit’ in random directions. This is caused by air pockets or impurities in the solder popping as they react with the hot soldering iron tip. As a result, small bits of red-hot solder can be sent flying through the air.
It goes without saying that this could cause serious damage to your eyes. While it’s unlikely that this could happen (you shouldn’t always expect solder to go flying around the room as you work) there’s always a probability that it could occur. For this reason, you should eliminate the risk by wearing eye protection while soldering.
Use tweezers where possible
Tweezers are an extremely useful tool to have while soldering. They’re low cost and will make the soldering process many times easier. You can quickly and precisely place electronic components with tweezers, this then allows you to focus on the most important part - the soldering.
Rosin-free and lead-free solder
Solder wire can contain Rosin and lead. You should work with these materials if you are sufficiently experienced and understand the risks associated. In addition to personal protective equipment, you might also need a powerful fume extraction system to remove harmful toxins from the air.
This might seem like another no-brainer, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. If your soldering iron has any visible defects, then you definitely should not use it. While it might be pricey to replace, it’s not worth taking the risk with such a dangerous piece of equipment.
Another factor to consider is the wiring that you are using with your machinery. Damaged electrical wires can behave unpredictably, and as we all know, hot machines and faulty electrical wiring don’t make for a good combination. Make sure that your soldering iron, soldering iron stands and any other electrical appliances are safely plugged in and in good working condition.
Be first aid ready
While we hope that no serious incidents occur, there’s always bound to be the odd unfortunate accident every now and then. Even if you’re experienced at soldering and you follow every safety step, you never know when a piece of equipment might unexpectedly malfunction and cause a hazard.
This is why it’s important to always be prepared for a worst-case scenario. The most common injury is likely to be a burn, so be sure to have cool running water on hand, as well as clean wipes and antibacterial creams. If a burn has reached the epidermis (second layer of skin) or is larger than the palm of your hand, you should seek medical advice immediately.
Feeling safer about soldering?
Now that we’ve covered a few soldering health and safety basics, we hope you’re feeling a bit more confident about your next project. If you’re still a bit worried, the good news is that there’s plenty of equipment and information out there to minimise the risks and make soldering a far safer experience.
If you’d like to find out more about soldering, feel free to get in touch with our team. We’ve got plenty of experience and we’re always happy to provide assistance and help you to solder safely while achieving optimal results.