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I know that breathing in solder fumes is not really good for you. I happen to have some respirators lying around. Could I use this instead of a fume extractor? It might save me some money if I could just use the respirator?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not all respirators are rated for all fumes. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Sep 4 '18 at 16:31
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Sure, especially the ones with charcoal built in. However, in all the years I've been in this racket I've never seen a fume extractor or a respirator actually used.enter image description here

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  • \$\begingroup\$ We had vacuum fume extractors in some of the factories where I worked with hand-solder people worked since the mid-80'. All THT wave solder and SMT reflow also had fume chimney extractors. \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Sep 4 '18 at 18:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not saying it isn't a good idea. \$\endgroup\$ – Robert Endl Sep 5 '18 at 1:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know, I think a small vacuum hose line to external vent is all that is needed in front of the solder area and small hood for escapes if necessary. \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Sep 5 '18 at 3:34
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If the air filter is not expensive, sure you can use it with suitable air flow.

Solder fumes are entirely vaporized flux (evaporating volatiles).

Rosin core is distilled from acidic tree sap which is basically the nutrient and immune system of trees but its properties are suitable since it melts with solder heat, reduces solder surface tension and the coating over copper reduces oxidation.

**Do not accept** that not all people react negatively to these fumes, but limited exposure may not be harmful. Although it may smell nice of pine smoke, there may be trace amounts of nasty formaldehyde and toluene.

Rosin is a subset of Resin acids that are made from different mixes including organic acids. Inorganic strong acid flux (HCl) is used for non-electrical solder work.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do not accept that not all people react negatively to these fumes, but limited exposure may not be harmful. <<< too many negatives, I don't unstand what you're trying to say. Do you mean all people are affected whether they like the smell or not, or some people are not affected? \$\endgroup\$ – Neil_UK Sep 4 '18 at 16:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Neil_UK, I guess Tony is trying to say that humans were living around open fires and inhaling the burning pine tree sap for thousands of generations, and we are still here today. \$\endgroup\$ – Ale..chenski Sep 4 '18 at 17:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ No I'm saying, contrary to similar questions answered , it can be harmful to some. The MSDS states that some other trace gases such as formaldehyde, a known carcinogen exists in some Rosin fumes just as cigarette packages warn about cig. smoke. Yet some smokers live to > 90 and others die young depending on the product, immune system and consumption. So one testimonial is inconclusive and that's why good factories use fume extractors. Research supports this . pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/i360047a016 \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Sep 4 '18 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree @Neil_UK , but someone here said "not all people react negatively " so it's ok, but can't find the link. \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Sep 4 '18 at 20:24
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I find flux fumes pretty unpleasant when they're hot and concentrated straight off the iron, but less of a problem once they're cold and diluted in the air.

I simply take a deep breath before starting to solder, and then exhale a steady slow stream across the work, which blows the stuff away from my eyes, and reminds me not to breathe in.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I used to do this for years, yet still found myself inhaling quite a lot of it. Recently I discovered that a cheap 120mm fan sucks the fumes away nicely, even from 20cm away. I find it way more comfortable. Not sure if its much safer, as the materials still remain in the room. \$\endgroup\$ – akwky Apr 7 at 10:58
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I don't think solder flux fumes are particularly bad for you, unless you are allergic to them or something. I'm 50+ and have been soldering with tin/lead solder for years, with no noticeable health affects. The solder itself only melts, it is not vaporized, so you're not breathing in any harmful metal vapors.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Probably no worse than the formaldehyde in cigarettes that only seems to kill a certain percentage. \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Sep 4 '18 at 15:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ One situation that I know of that mandates forced vacuum ventilation of soldering related fumes is when re-working PCBs that have any kind of superglue on them. Accidentally melting some superglues releases hydrogen cyanide (if memory serves). Get even the slightest whiff of that in your eyes and it causes extreme pain immediately. Needless to say it's not a great idea to inhale that stuff either. \$\endgroup\$ – user98663 Sep 4 '18 at 16:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wikipedia says "Prolonged exposure to rosin fumes released during soldering can cause occupational asthma (formerly called colophony disease[13] in this context) in sensitive individuals, although it is not known which component of the fumes causes the problem." I guess I am not a sensitive individual. \$\endgroup\$ – CrossRoads Sep 4 '18 at 16:21
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Solder fumes are bad for all. Don't listen to the garbage they can cause unreversable lung damage. Without my respirator I took an accidental big lungful and my chest was burning for like half an hour. It re occurs I get the same burning chest pain on occasion from one big huff of the stuff. With a respirator I feel much better and safer.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not normal for solder to give off enough fumes to cause the effects you're describing. Is it possible that there's something unusual about your solder, your soldering iron, or your work area that could be causing this? (For example, could there be some goop melted onto the soldering iron that's giving off the fumes?) \$\endgroup\$ – user39382 Jan 17 '19 at 1:50

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