If you don't want to be inhaling nasty heavy metals while soldering, solder fume extraction is a big deal. But, if you look online or in stores for solder fume extractors, you'll find that they sell for around $40 up to thousands of dollars! After figuring out exactly what kind of solder fume extractor I wanted (a really awesome one with multiple duct-arms to use for multiple soldering stations!), I wrote down all the specs I could find, and headed to my favorite local hardware store, McGuckins in Boulder, CO.
I was able to build a working solder fume extractor for $70, when I would have purchased a similar one for $1200! Awesome!
For this solder fume extractor, I used carbon filtering. Other extractors also use HEPA filtering. I tried HEPA filtering using a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner HEPA filter, but found that it restricted the flow of the fumes too much. The extractor ended up blowing the solder fumes around rather than sucking them! However, implementing a HEPA filter is definitely a possibility, and I might try using both carbon and HEPA filtering in the future!
Step 1: What You'll Need
For the one-armed extractor, you will need:
1 5" In-Line Duct Fan
1 6 foot length of metallic Dryer Hose (Duct Hose)
(I used 6 feet... you can use however much you need!)
1 Activated Carbon Pond Filter
1 Metal Plumbing "step down" piece (used as inlet piece)
3 5" Hose Clamps (Worm Gear Clamps)
1 Power Cord (with loose wire ends)
3 Wire Nuts
Step 2: Attach Power Cord to Fan
Connect the white wires together, the green wires together, and the black wires together. To use a wire nut, simply insert the two ends (together) into the bottom of the wire nut. Twist the wire nut until it stops!
Once all three wires are connected, plug in the fan to make sure it works!
Step 3: Put the Filter on the Fan
The fan should have the airflow direction indicated on it somewhere, but its a good idea to plug it in and make sure that you are attaching the filter to the outlet of the fan. Wrap the filter over the outlet of the fan, and secure it using a hose clamp. Tighten the hose clamp all the way, and pull on the filter a little to make sure it won't come off, or let any air escape without being filtered!
Step 4: Put the Duct Arm on the Fan
Lastly, attach the step down piece to the other end of the hose. Make sure that the large end of the step is the end that is attached to the hose. The small end of the step down should be the part taking in the solder fumes. Once again, attach the hose to the step down with a hose clamp. Tighten it down, and give it a tug to make sure its secure.
Congratulations! You have just made your very own Solder Fume Extractor! Go test it out! You should solder within 6 inches of the extractor inlet for ideal performance.