Introduction: Make Your Own Solderpaste!

Picture of Make Your Own Solderpaste!

Have you ever wanted to reflow surface mount circuits but not wanted to pay for expensive solder paste?

Have you ever had a good de-soldering sesion and found lots of old solder particles all over your desk and wondered what to do with it?

Well, I have an answer to both of these questions in one hit. You can make your own solderpaste!

In this instructable we are recycling old solder, and parts of old PCBs and components.
The only non-recycled part is the solder paste.

This is useful for repairs on the go, if you need to solder wires together, you put some of this paste on the joint and use a lighter to reflow.

A little warning first. The used solder you might use could contain lead, especially if its salvaged from old boards. but since you solder you probably has already accepted the risks of such exposure.

Ok, now the formalities are out of the way, here's what you need:
> Safety glasses
> An old board to desolder
> A solder sucker
> Flux paste (or soldering paste as it is sometimes called)
> A pair of abrasive sponges (or some kind of abrasives that won't leave its own dust or flake off)
> A piece of paper to catch the solder dust
> A piece of plastic or something to mix the paste on
> Something to mix the paste with (I used a blanking plate from the back of a PC and a paperclip)

Optional:
> A cup of tea (I'm English so this is a must for me)
> A good soundtrack (For this instructable I listened to Billy Talent III)

The quality of the paste varies depending on how fine you can grind the solder, the quality of the paste used and the ratio between the two when mixing. This is something you will need to experiment with.

Step 1: Salvaging the Solder

Picture of Salvaging the Solder

For salvaging the solder it is best to use a solder sucker.

If you do not have one then all is not lost. To desolder without a sucker you can hold the board above the desk, heat up the solder joint and then hit it against the desk or hard object and the solder with splash off onto your desk.

If you do, then you can proceed with desoldering the solder joints. A tip for this part, when you re-arm the sucker, hold the tip over the piece of paper to catch what comes out.

When you are finished, tip the board on its side over the piece of paper to catch any particles that have fallen out onto the board.

When you feel you have gathered enough solder, we can move on to the next step.

Step 2: Refining the Solder Particles Into Solder Dust

Picture of Refining the Solder Particles Into Solder Dust

Here comes a step that varies the quality.

First you should pick through the particles with the tweezer and remove anything that is not solder.

You need to pour the solder particles onto an abrasive block, and while over the top of another peice of paper, grind the particles with another abrasive block.

repeat this as much as you feel adequate, re-pouring the paricles on the abrasive block as required.

when finished grinding, it would probably be a good idea to sieve the particles through a mesh of some sort, I didn't have one at hand so I just picked through with tweezers and removed any large particles that failed to grind.

If you have a better way of grinding the solder particles into dust, I would love to hear it, any improvement on this method would be good.

when you are satisfied with the powder/dust we can move on.

Step 3: Mixing the Paste

Picture of Mixing the Paste

Here is the fun part.

First we pour the solder dust onto a small pile onto the mixing pallete of your choice, I chose a lid from a tub of potato salad. I also deposited a glob of flux paste near it, I didn't glob it directly in because I didn't want the solder to get onto my brush.

The ratio of flux to solder dust is something you need to experiment with, too much flux and it you get flux running around the board during reflow (but it solders well), too little flux and the solder doesn't reflow correctly, it tends to bead up and stay as a paste.

The picture below of the newly made solder paste turned out to need a little more flux in it. once I added some more it worked great.

If you have completed all these steps, then well done, you have created a batch of solder paste!

I could stop there, but it would be rude if I didn't show it in action.

Step 4: Reflowing the Test Board

Picture of Reflowing the Test Board

Ok, I have taken the board I used in my last instructable ( DIY PCB ) and found a nice spot to re-use the layout.

I start by dolloping solder paste onto where the legs of the components will go.

then I place the components onto the paste, and then with gentle waves of the the reflow gun the solder paster began to reflow and complete the joints. (the first attempt didn't go as well as it should, I had to mix a little more flux into the paste and try again).

Once it cooled, I cut out the section of board with my tin-snips and filed down the edges.

After it was filled down, I put it the cell, pushed the button and it lit up nicely.

I hope this is helpful to someone.

Thanks for reading.

Dont forget to check out my DIY circuit board creation instructable

Comments

holymoses (author)2015-07-29

Now that it is said, let Evolution select!

skippershoneywell (author)2014-01-21

Or, to minimize the risk of aerosolizing and subsequently breathing in the solder:

place the file under water and, while wearing gloves, run the solder across the file. Drain the water, collect the filings, and in a draft-free space, let the particles dry. Once dry, mix the filings INTO the flux (to minimize agitating the filings into the air).

Yes, this method is more time consuming, but it virtually (IMHO) eliminates any health exposure, Until you forget to look before crossing the street and get run down by the motorist engaged in a text exchange.

aalain (author)2013-06-01

Congratulation! Nice work! I will try out.I need soldering paste for smd devices

waldosan (author)2012-01-24

this is really good don't you know. i'm not into surface mount stuff yet but it seems like this will be a simple yet useful idea that i'll find myself using often. where is a good place to get the flux paste, i think i have some but i'm pretty sure it's meant for plumbing.

dictatorofmyownworld (author)2011-11-23

Try a mortar and pestle for grinding the solder particles.

Apolo8 (author)2011-07-06

Try to freeze the solder first in the fridge...once it´s frozen try the coffee grinder...


Un Saludo...

phevtron (author)2011-03-23

we have the same paste :O

mjawed (author)2010-12-19

Good Idea to get easy solder paste...I really like this!
I believe that the recovered solder should be more grind to use with SMT components for better joints.

BTW...its great to try with..;)

Thanks for sharing!

ratgod (author)mjawed2010-12-19

I couldn't grind it much more with the abrasive blocks I had unfortunatly, but I do agree if it was ground more it would be perfect. I'm trying to find a better way of doing it. I should try an old coffee grinder and see if that works as good.

Many thanks for your comment.

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