Introduction: Pocket Sized Solder Fume Extractor

Picture of Pocket Sized Solder Fume Extractor

This Instructable will show you how to create a compact solder fume extractor. I built this because I have limited space to store my tools and I wanted something that would fit easily in my toolbox. It does sacrifice some effectiveness for a smaller size but it works well enough for me as I don't solder very often.

Step 1: Parts List

Picture of Parts List

For this project you will need
Altoids Tin
Whisper Bio Bag aquarium filter cartridge small size
9V Battery
9V Battery Connector
40mmx 40mmx 10mm computer fan
4 screws (I used m3 x 18mm screws I had lying around) and nuts
switch (I got this one out of an old clock)

Dremel with a cut off wheel
Soldering Iron
Wire Strippers

Step 2: Making the Case

Picture of Making the Case

First mark out where you will be drilling the fan holes and the hole for the switch. For the bottom of the case I drew it out on a piece of paper and made several copies to tape in place. The screw holes for the fan i used where 33mmx33m apart and the hole for the fan was about 38 mm in diameter.

Drill the screw holes first then cut the hole for the fan. I used the Dremel for this but a hole saw might be an easier way to do it. The extra copies of the layout came in handy for this as the paper tears up a lot faster than the tin.

For the lid I traced a rough outline of the filter with a sharpie and gradually cut it out with the Dremel. You will want to clamp it down or put it in a vice to hold it in place. If you get it close enough the filter will stay in place without needing anything to hold it. You want the filter to be as close to the opposite side of the hinges as possible to make sure it will close when everything is put together. Removing the lid from the tin first makes this step easier.

Cut the hole for your switch wherever you want to place it.

File down any rough or sharp edges

Step 3: Wiring

Picture of Wiring

First you will need to remove the connector from computer fan wires. You can also remove the yellow wire altogether if you want as it is unnecessary for this project.

Solder the connections together as shown in the diagram. The circuit is pretty basic.

Step 4: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Install the switch to the case. I used super glue for this.

Screw the fan in place so that it blows air towards the filter and put in the battery.

Reattach the lid if you have not done so already and your fume extractor is complete.


Arty Marty (author)2013-11-25

Yes this is a awesome idea. I will be making one. I make jewellery and small sculptures and it's useful to have something like this for not only soldering, melting plastic, etc etc..

I'll make mine out of 18650 rechargeables which should give better cheaper runtime.

Another thing that you don't want to be breathing in is LEAD fumes. A problem if you are reworking/fixing something.
And don't assume that just because something is marked Lead Free/RoHS that it is..
Just the same way you don't automatically assume that the 32gb SDHC Class 10 memory card you got from ebay for $5 is 32gb (and not a 2gb one with an extra "3" screen printed on it)..
As for all those that say "Ive been doing xxxx for years and never got sick" All I can say is good for you. There have been people texting while driving, not bothering with the safety on a gun, not wearing a seatbelt, smoking, having unprotected sex, riding a bike without a helmet, not using a safety harness, not wearing ear or eye protection blah blah blah... They all think it will never happen to them. and they are all winners.... And every hospital in the world has an emergency department that is full with a 4 hour wait 24/7 ... full of people that did a thing many times before... but today their lucky number came up. Go there ask them "please put up your remaining hand if you woke up this morning with the intention of ending up in an emergency ward before the end of the day." haha

mschwartz3 made it! (author)2017-04-30

I made these a few years ago from a KipKay video. USB one isn't that great but 9v is good.

happy lasering (author)2015-09-12

easy way to get computer fans:make friends with people doing the computer business(second hand computer shops) and just by buying them lunch you can get loads of computer serious...

happy lasering (author)2015-09-11

suggestion: after super glueing the switch, use hot glue(a lot) to ensure it doesn't fall off

vlad-sf made it! (author)2014-09-26

Man, I had so much fun making this little project. COOL IDEA!

I had to learn to use a Dremel, learn to solder, and learn the difference between AC switches and DC switches.

At first I used an AC switch and I learn that with those the 9V battery get in short circuit because of the way I wired the switch. Lucky me I noticed the battery getting hot before an fire incident happened.

Thanks for this great project!


MoonDocker (author)2014-01-20

How long does the 9 Volt battery last?

jabulani141 (author)2014-01-13

were can i get altoids empty cans

darkcheops (author)jabulani1412014-01-13

Easiest would be to buy a pack at a gas station or a grocery store. They usually have them by the checkout. If they are not available near you amazon sells them.

egdette (author)2013-12-30

nice!!!!:) lol

MmeKae (author)2013-12-27

Know it's a super simple circuit, but is the negative battery wire connected to the switch? Typically thought black wires are negative, but the diagram is telling me it's supposed to be positive. Am I misreading it (incredibly possible) or are the wires just different?

darkcheops (author)MmeKae2013-12-27

You'll be okay either way. It is generally better to try to have the switch on the + side of the circuit but for this application it won't really make a difference.

Skeleton key97 (author)2013-12-08

Nice! I think it will really help me. I also have limited space

walshlg (author)2013-11-25

Don't forget part of the fumes is vaporized solder - are you using lead??

cyberkeeper1 (author)walshlg2013-12-04

its the flux that's vaporizing, not the metal. you cant vaporize metal with only 700 or so degrees of soldering iron heat... besides, vapor and the term vaporization only can be associated with liquids and liquid metals (such as mercury), which tin and lead are both not.

walshlg (author)cyberkeeper12013-12-06

thanks for the correction

kidharris (author)2013-11-26

I don't get it. As far as I can see this will not extract any thing, it merely moves the fumes around in the room. You can buy a tiny battery operated fan for $5, but its not going to help either. The fumes have to be absorbed by a filter or removed from the building to do any good. If this was medicine, I would call it a placebo. Please, correct me if I am wrong.

Also, I know a lot of you are worried about health hazards, but, another very real hazard is that the "fumes" in many instances are vaporized acids or other corrosive compounds that condense when the cool down and cause material damage. There was a roofer in Ft. Worth, Texas that fell to his death when he walked across a 40 foot high metal roof section that was directly over an area in a factory where a lot of welding and soldering was done. The "fumes" had been condensing on the bottom of the metal roof for years and had ate up the metal so that it was very thin. The top of the roof looked ok because the paint was impervious to the acids and in some places the paint film was all there was left. He fell through the roof and died.

darkcheops (author)kidharris2013-11-26

The fumes are blown through the filter.

kidharris (author)darkcheops2013-11-26

So activated carbon water filters will condense & filter out acids? Sorry, I'm not much on chemistry. How does that work?

darkcheops (author)kidharris2013-11-26 Here is a link about carbon filters. I'm not sure about the acids but activated carbon will remove most of the other nasty chemicals that result from soldering.

Obviously this is not intended for industrial use but for small hobby soldering projects. I use it to minimize the amount of fumes because they give me headaches and it serves me well for that purpose and also wanted it to be small so I could store it in the toolbox with my other soldering stuff. A larger filter and fan would admittedly be more effective. If you are truly concerned about the acids eating your roof you should probably get a larger exhaust fan that is designed for that purpose.

kidharris (author)darkcheops2013-11-26

I wouldn't be so concerned about my structure or roof because it is such a small amount of soldering that I do now. The acids condense on cool surfaces and when I used to solder sheet metal I was always finding stuff in the shop that was corroded that shouldn't be. More in the winter than the summer. I finally figured out that it was the fumes from the soldering operation doing it. Moved it outside and problem solved.

Now I wonder about connectors and the internals of some of my equipment. I would hate to find out that I was contributing to the premature failures of my more expensive tools & electronics. I do use a cheap used ($5) bath room exhaust vent over my work table with a homemade hood & ducted outside in my shop. I use a used kitchen range vent in my welding area. Just for my peace of mind. You may want to consider what you are pointing the exhaust of your fan at.

If you are having headaches you may want to consider throwing some activated carbon disposable face masks in your toolbox as well.

darkcheops (author)kidharris2013-11-26

I may do that and thanks for the advice.

darman12 (author)2013-11-25


red7media (author)2013-11-24

this is a good idea, but if you are using an iron, most likely you will have a 12 Volt source near by I repair laptop jacks for a living and the fums may have bothered me may a few times after 1000's of repairs.

pfred2 (author)2013-11-20

Fumes off a soldering iron never bothered me.

rnshaw (author)pfred22013-11-21

I think its more about the potential hazzards:
Solder Fumes and You : HSE UK
Hazards : Cooper Hand Tools / Weller

pfred2 (author)rnshaw2013-11-22

Having been ill myself from flux fumes I realize the potential off a soldering iron is nonexistent. The volume off a soldering iron is simply too low to be of any real concern. I managed to get ill dumping a pound spool of flux cored solder into my 800 watt solder pot. I could have used a bit more fresh air then. I'll say this if flux is making you sick you'll know it. It won't be any vague thing in the back of your mind. No, you'll be doubled over retching your guts out on the floor!

Kevanf1 (author)pfred22013-11-24

The potential hazard from fumes off a soldering iron are more than likely cumulative. If you don't solder very much then ok, you will 'probably' be ok. But if you tend to solder more regularly you'll either want a decent extraction system or make one of these nice, quick and simple fume extractors. I think it's a useful 'ible' and the author is to be applauded for his work :)

specialkk99 (author)2013-11-20

that's a 9v fan correct?

darkcheops (author)specialkk992013-11-20
this is the fan I used. It is rated for 12v but the 9v will run it.

gomibakou (author)darkcheops2013-11-22

These typical DC12V fans works from a range from 5V til 13V in extreme situations. Being safe, 6V to start it is fine, 12V as maximum is recommended.
The only difference is they aren't regulated so, less voltage = less current = less torque (it can be easily stopped with a feather ;-) ), but for blowing air or smoke, it's not a problem at all.

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