Introduction: Solder Fume Extractor

Picture of Solder Fume Extractor

I finally got tired of breathing solder fumes and made an ultra-low tech solder fume extractor. "Professional" versions of this device can be had for ~$100-$200 (for an example, see I decided this was too much money, and built one for $3.

Step 1: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Here's what you need:

(1) Carbon filter (found at Wal-Mart, I used the Hamilton Beach True Air Replacement Filter) - $3
(1) Fan (I used a Honeywell 3 speed fan I had lying around the house)
Some cardboard box and duct tape

1. Cut 5 squares of cardboard of equal size, sizing them a little larger than the filter
2. Using 4 of the squares, build a cube with walls only in the X-Y plane (imagining a room, you would not create a ceiling or floor)
3. With the fifth square, cut a smaller square about 1/2 inch in from all sides and punch it out
4. Tape the filter to the fifth square
5. Tape the fifth square/filter assembly to the "ceiling" of the cube, charcoal side of the filter facing out
6. Tape the box to the "sucking" side of the fan, and tape any openings on the fan to ensure suction through the box/filter
7. Turn fan on and solder like crazy!

This really works like a charm, and the charcoal filter does a great job of scrubbing the fumes from the air. This is a pretty simple project, but thought I'd post it to possibly help out anyone who is suffering from solder fumes. I haven't had this running for long periods of time, so after a period of time it may prematurely burn out the fan's motor due to increased resistance to air movement.

Happy soldering!


smuhammad15 (author)2015-10-22

where do I get a carbon filter or hepa filter ? hardware store ? electric store ? what type of mart is Walmart ?

Zaacharia (author)2015-09-18

I have sleep apnea and been using CPAP for over 30 years and have a lot of CPAPs left over after upgrades. I use my old cpaps to bring in fresh air for me to breath.

tomc53 (author)2015-04-08

For those who never have the time, I found one on for $40.

canucksgirl (author)2011-12-19

I've been directing several people to your ible on the Solder Fume Extractor, and after reading an article about the health effects, I wanted to share it with you.

In it they reference a Danish Study on the harmful effects of Lead-Free solder and they go on to suggest that not only should you use a carbon filter, but you should also use a HEPA filter.

Maybe after reading the article you could modify your design (just a suggestion) as I really don't have any interest in creating an instructable showing virtually the same thing but adding a HEPA.

Great job with your design.

sentryair (author)canucksgirl2012-08-20

You are absolutely correct canucksgirl. That OKInternational write-up you linked to specifically states that "A HEPA filter is crucial to overall success (...)" .

We did an efficiency test (conducted and analyzed by a 3rd party) where we analyzed the fume removal of a Weller Smoke Absorber that utilizes a very similar "activated carbon filter" that this article uses. The particulate removal was 11.1%. Whereas a product that utilizes a HEPA filter was measured at 95.3% reduction.

We strongly recommend that anybody who wants to build their own fume extractor to utilize appropriate filters. Or to vent outside.

You can read more about the Hazards of Solder Fumes on our website at

chamunks (author)canucksgirl2011-12-19

I might do this, if I can make it out to the local thrift store for a fan. I already have a pretty decent hepa filter from another project. I also have some carbon cloth that I can use as a prefilter. Though now that I'm saying this I might actually have all that I need. I just need time now :P

canucksgirl (author)chamunks2011-12-19

Now if we could only buy more time.... (ah the things I could accomplish) :D

radiorental (author)2006-05-29

this is a really good idea. A long time friend Bob, a lab techincian in the UK passed away from throat cancer a few years back. Given the amount of time he worked in front of a soldering iron (and he didnt smoke) there is little question in my mind that the solder/flux/lead he breathed in contributed to his disease. I doubt this would burn out your fan either. The increased load due to the reduced airflow is probably negligable. Nice instructable.

endolith (author)radiorental2008-07-16

That worries me. :(

happytomato (author)endolith2008-08-16


waldosan (author)happytomato2011-12-17

don't worry he just said that he breathed in more solder smoke than a smoker does cigarette smoke. also this is an instructable on how to clean the air from the solder smoke so it's not like there aren't options.

scubaru (author)2010-08-10

Now I can see this one simply recirculates the air after it has been filtered. Any smell/odor from the other side? Have you found a faster fan speed to be less effective as it may force the air through the filter instead of allow the filter to do its job?

Dr. Solomon (author)scubaru2010-08-10

I've had no problems with the recirculation technique outlined here, and haven't noticed any smell in the air after it has passed through the filter. I've found that higher fan speeds don't necessarily seem to improve performance, but your mileage may vary depending on the fan you use, I suppose.

scubaru (author)Dr. Solomon2010-08-11

Now I am assuming you only use this for soldering. Have you tried it with anything that produces more smoke? I am looking to use the Carbon filter idea to clean up any cigarette smoke from my roommates this year. During the winter months I'd rather not be venting smoke/ heat outside so i'd rather a recirc approach. Thanks!

Dr. Solomon (author)scubaru2010-08-12

I've never tried this with anything other than solder smoke. Please let me know how this works if you try it with cigarette smoke.

austin (author)2006-05-30

is lead free solder still dangerous or at least very dangerous. I mainly use lead free but i haven't ever used much ventilation sooo...

masterochicken (author)austin2009-12-18

None of it is dangerous.

Radioactive_Legos (author)austin2009-03-06

Apperently, the temperature at which most soldering irons operate does not actually melt the lead.

your right on that one. most lead melts at approx 1300oC

kanamin (author)godfreyandthandi2009-05-15

you mean boiling point right? lead's melting point is 327°C but a eutectic mixture of lead and tin (63/37 solder) melts at a temperature lower than the melting point of either.

radiorental (author)austin2006-05-30

I'm sure things are less dangerous than they used to be. I thought it was the flux that was the nasty stuff. I notice that the labs here in the US dont have vent ducts where as the ones in the UK (same company) do have ducts. Odd.

endolith (author)radiorental2008-07-16

I read that the flux fumes from lead free solder is more dangerous than the flux fumes from leaded solder.

xtank5 (author)2007-10-21

What if you blow the fumes through the filter? Would that possibly save the motor?

dgunz59 (author)xtank52009-07-15

ya id think the suction of the fan right nxt to you when u solder would filter it good, cause usually i just open a door and or a window (get a cross breeze through room) and turn on the fan, ive probably inhaled more than i shouldve haha, but ya suck the fumes through the filter first

spoted (author)2009-03-05

Hey guys, speaking of fume hoods and soldering under heavy fumes. I was searching for that kind of equipment for a while now and found this really interesting website that may help you with all your needs. Take a look, best of all I had a very interesting talk with their representatives. Very helpful.

barold (author)2006-10-14

I found this article in my search for a DIY fume hood for working with resins (artist's studio) this is interesting but one of the concerns I have to deal with are sparks igniting flamable vapours... are these fans/motors isolated?

jason (author)barold2007-01-11

If you are working with explosive vapors you need to use motors that are specified as "explosion proof". I seriously doubt that the motors in off-the-shelf room fans are explosion proof.

stevebezan (author)jason2009-02-20

They aren't. My son was renting some warehouse space and we found the guy beneath him was using a box fan to vent organic solvent fumes. We found this out after it caught fire and burnt the whole building to the ground. The extra few bucks for proper venting is money well spent.

Moda May (author)2008-12-27

Somewhere at PRATT I heard of using a wet/dry vacuum. -May have been from another student (which would obviously be unreliable). Has anyone heard of this before or know any dangers in it? I'm wondering why not a regular vacuum?.... The wet dry vac doesn't have a filter like a regular vac does.

Dms12444 (author)2008-09-06

Good job ps: This device is actually called a fume hood.

Dr. Solomon (author)2007-11-08

Glad to see so many people sharing ideas on how to make the air cleaner! As an update, I've been running this fan for about a year now, and have had no problems with premature fan death. Solder on!

Spokehedz (author)Dr. Solomon2008-03-27

This is fan-tastic! (I'm a Komedy Jenius!)

ledzep567 (author)Dr. Solomon2007-12-26

I HAVE THAT EXACT FAN!!!!!!! did it come with another exactly like it from costco???????

Dr. Solomon (author)ledzep5672007-12-27

I think I bought it a Walmart...but it was in a two pack. These particular fans work great.

LastMaster (author)2007-11-06

I was concerned on Solder Fumes so i started looking up fume extractors.. and i ran into this. Im probably gunna make a smaller one though dew the size of the fan i have laying around here :)

Junkyard John (author)2006-05-30

Great Idea. You could also use those cooling fans designed for computers. Also, after soldering like crazy, you could reverse the direction of the fans over a garbage can, so that the fan can clean the filter and won't meet increasing resistance.

gabolema (author)Junkyard John2007-10-24

how exactly can u do that? I have many of those, and want an it difficult? thanks!

twisted glass (author)2007-10-02

Hello all this is off this subject but its the closest thing i can find too help me. Im a glassblower and i use oxygen and propane too melt glass and add metals too the glass like silver gold exct. but im haveing troubles finding a way too ventilate my workshop and heat it in the winter and cool in the summmer. Right now i use a atic fan but its pullin way too much air out so im gonna construct a box too add a dryer hose too condence the area of exhast but is there a certian formula i can use too figure out air intake i can go on and on but pls someone help i cant figure out how too stay warm or cool and have a healthy breathing enviroment at the same time sorry about the run ons lol

rush_elixir (author)2007-05-10

Needs more picture. but very nice! I made mine with the exhaust fans on discarded PC's and use a plastic cone more suction power and can be driven thru USB

sockeye101 (author)2007-03-26

you should put this in the "Use it Again" contest.

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